I have great respect for the writers of the yore who wrote, found an empathetic publisher and got published eventually. I can actually feel them take a deep sigh of relief and their hearts leap up a ‘hurrah!’ as the in-house editors and the publisher took up the remaining exercise of proofing and advertising or publicising the price may be so that more copies could be sold. The author got his/her royalties and the publisher their pound of flesh and that was that. This is much the traditional way it’s been for as close as during the late 80s and into the 90s when the paucity of good publishing houses showed their uppity noses and gave the short shrift to wannabe writers. The people…driven people who had faith in their manuscripts and stories turned to publishing the books themselves, i.e., went independent, managing to incur huge monetary investment and usually failed to recover their funds. Not only did they incur personally loss as such; there were derisive allusions and scoffing for all their efforts as ‘vanity publishers’.
That the vanity books must have given some positive result for all that bogey attached to it gets credence by the fact that the independent or the indie publishing as it is called now is very much alive and thriving. In fact many traditional writers are looking this way for the huge reach; more say in the percentage of their earnings and even the power to keep the story intact i.e. as it had been intended by the writer; without any outside influences turning the story a different way is enticing more people towards it in hordes. This is especially true in the case of digital publishing that has opened the floodgates of any and every creative impulse in the world. You’ve written poetry, short stories, biography, murder mystery, romantic novel or anything that held your fancy, you’ve got the chance of getting it shown to the world at the click of the ‘publish’ button! Easy-peasy.
Did I say easy?
Well! Here I am ready to respectfully give a double bow (if that is possible; D) to the next wave of writers and authors who are actually self-publishers and who are an evolved version of the vanity publishers of the yore, who being armed with way better technology are akin to a ‘lone ranger’ who has to fend for him/herself out in the fields once the button has been clicked. Actually, hitting the publish button is possibly the easiest thing to do in the writing business. It is the latter part that takes up most of your attention once the writing is up in the air. As a newbie writer on the horizon with no real knowledge of how technology could be used to avail a book on a public platform especially in India I have taken the leap with hopes that it’d lead to some tangible and fruitful results. I went the indie way and it’s not plain vanity at play here!
All through the primary and middle school years of my children I was a disheartened parent who could not find enough good poems that could be used in classes that were about good, gentle sounding real life situations with meanings that did not necessarily sound preachy or had double meanings. I mean poems for children should be just that….for children. That is considering it is for children who are an entity that have simple, logical, rational brains that did not need a patronising word thrown at them from every available turn. Keeping that in mind, I was able to make a neat collection of 15 poems called ‘The Vagrant’ that I wrote over a period of two years, edited and proofread for n number o-f times in the next couple of years before I despatched it for a feedback to a couple of English professors at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) as well as some students who were my beta-readers and who gave me the required input regarding my efforts.
Here I would like to add a note of caution and that is that whatever said and done English is our second language though it seems closer to us than our own mother tongue. Hence, it is advisable that one really pays attention to the story/poem as well as the language before thinking of going into print. If the thoughts are honest but not supported by the right notes of the language, it will bog down the good content as well as ones aspirations. So it pays to be very critical of one’s work and get a third, fourth or fifth viewpoint on your baby. A detached version than say your own view on it.
So all this while, I’d been simultaneously reading and scanning the net for the developments taking place in the publishing arena. Amazon had made great strides in the self-publishing business and many Indians had gotten a break through this platform. The hugely popular writer of the Indian historical fiction got his break first as an indie writer with ‘The Rozabal Line’ (under a nom de plume Shawn Haigins) and who was then picked up by a traditional publisher Westland (relatively newly established).
That was heartening to the extent that one came to realise that it is okay to have to struggle before one achieved some amount of fame and recognition! And that you need to search for the best course of action under the circumstances and take the required action asap. In my search for the best way to go in for, I searched the net extensively. There are several self-publishing companies in the Indian market now- pothi.com, flipcart.com, amazon.com, partridgepublishing.com and many others who are dotting the scene literally! I spent enough time on many of them asking questions, removing my doubts as also knowing precisely how they functioned. All these sites are made to give a step by step self-help instructions into getting a good thing ready. It’s not really very different in any of these sites but when the time came, I chose to publish my book via the Smashwords.com. It is an American website that helps self-publishers and which I thought was more user friendly than any of the lots. Luckily for me, I got in contact with a professional computer whiz and a talented cover designer who got my book together for me in almost no time. Here’s a link to it, THE VAGRANT.
Since I was going to do a digital book only, it didn’t really matter where I got it published from. The biggest factor that I saw in Smashwords was that it marketed the book to multiple retailers. It also allows the author to have own say in its pricing, availability or non-availability to any particular retailer as well as earn more than 75% of one’s sales. Anybody wanting to know more about its working can go to its site on the link provided above.
Imagine the shock when I realised that for something that can be easily got online, one not only had to be a plain old writer/author/poet, but also an ace in marketing the product as well! Most self-pub companies publish it for free but charge you for any professional help you ask of them. Some were quite reasonable, but many were too steep to even consider them seriously especially when they weren’t going to do anything to help promote your work. Self-publishing is a major thing trending the foreign shores as of now and Indians are not too far behind too. But the thing is, the whole publishing business is more organised and amenable there than in India. They have web designers who know the specifics of the trade, the cover designers, editors, beta-reader clubs and all those tools that help in the making of a book and then airing it. All this gives a very professional look to the end product- the book which is the first important step after which comes brandishing your product as a brand. Smashwords has its own eBooks on marketing tips and publicity, growing your traffic that give a close look and pointers about how to go about the latter part of business post publishing.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I am trying to garner interest in my book by using the social media as well as I am able to. I am active on twitter, facebook and google+. You can find me on my twitter handle richa04richa and Facebook page.
Internet market is bound to see a healthy growth in this field and it may be that a one-stop shop for all our digital and print book needs will be found just around the corner. Or as my twitter handle says- just around the round corner!
Hope you enjoyed the post! I definitely hope you can enjoy my published work too ‘THE VAGRANTS’.I would like to have your view on this. Thank you very much.