Self-Publishing-The Future of Indian Publishing Industry: All Your Questions Answered

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Being one of the founding members of the first self-publishing company of Odisha, Dream House Publications, I still receive a lot of query from author about the working and benefit of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. Self-publishing firms in India are now densely populated and marching towards being the face of Indian publishing soon. In this article I will try to clear some myths, doubts, limitations, etc. about self-publishing in India.

1. What does it mean by self-publishing in India?

Self-publishing is a costlier but a quick solution for budding authors to get their work published in India. Various traditional publishing houses received thousands of scripts every day and to choose one they take roughly around 6-7 months and in most of the cases an author even don’t get a reply.

But with self-publishing house the selection of script takes 7-15 days as they roughly receive around 10-15 scripts a day. Self-publishing means you retain rights for your work and can expect a better royalty of around 20-25% upon the sales figure. You also get an all-inclusive offer including editing, cover design, etc.

Self-publishing in India is now a nightmare with so many players offering various packages ranging from 25,000 INR to 1,00,000 INR or more. As an author you need to be very careful while choosing a right partner for your first work. But I would suggest not to expect a huge popularity or overnight distribution of your title to pan India. Both the self-publishing and traditional publishing have their pros and cons and you can get a rough idea for the same in the next question.

2. How self-publishing is advantageous over traditional publishing?

There are not many differences between a self-publishing and traditional publishing house despite the investment of the author. To concise the same some of the major differentiators are as below.

Self-Publishing

Traditional Publishing

·         You invest the money for publishing

·         Script review and acceptance takes 7-15 days and you can get a confirmation for print.

·         Author gets a higher royalty on sales from 20-25%.

·         You can get the printed material delivered to you within maximum 1 month.

·         Self-publishers give you a better social and online presence.

·         Self-publishers has limited distribution coverage.

·         The publisher invest the money

·         It takes a really long time for script review and acceptance.

·         Authors don’t get more than 5-15% of royalty.

·         The acceptance, editing and printing process takes 5-6 months.

·         Traditional publishers do not guarantee you the social and online presence.

·         Traditional publishers have very strong distribution and you can expect your books across stores all over India.

3. What is best for a first time author, self-publishing or traditional publishing?

To answer this question I would suggest if you are really confident that you have a great story to tell to the crowd you should always aim at traditional publishing. But you have to wait for a long time to be noticed by the publisher. At the same time if you can’t wait for your dream to come alive and can bear the costs you can choose a self-publishing house. It is totally your call as an author.

In my opinion if you have just started writing and completed your first work then approach to some self-publishers and you can get a real feedback for your work. So take your time and explore both the world before your final decision.

4. What to expect form self-publishers?

You can’t expect a very strong distribution network with self-publishers or a very seasoned and professional editorial team. But you have all the rights to expect a fair return of your investment from a self-publisher. Some of the points that you should ask your self-publishers to do are as follows,

  • A comprehensive package including editing, layout and cover design.
  • Social media promotion and branding materials.
  • Strong online distribution and a decent offline distribution covering at least one part of the country.
  • Sample copies and review copies along with 40-50% discount on self-purchase from the publisher.
  • Editing revisions and detailed editorial feedback for your work.
  • You can ask for a formal agreement with the publisher for the mutual commitments agreed.

5. What are the limitations with self-publishing in India?

As discussed in question number 2 you can’t get the distribution benefit of traditional publishing and you can’t also get the seasoned editorial board. However there are many advantages of self-publishing.

6. How my book will be priced?

It completely depends on your agreement between the self-publishing house and the author along with the genre of the book going to be published. However many self-publishers in India price their books in the range of 150-250 INR.

7. What about the distribution facilities with self-publishing mode?

You can’t expect an overnight pan India distribution with the self-publishing mode. However you can experience a better online distribution including digital editions and reach through social media promotions. The offline distribution with the self-publishers can cover a region at max due to limited fund flow and other generic reasons.

8. What will I get in return for my investment?

For your investment you can expect the following in return from your self-publisher and there is absolutely no harm in negotiating.

  • A comprehensive package including editing, layout and cover design.
  • Social media promotion and branding materials.
  • 20-25% of royalty on sales figure.
  • Strong online distribution and a decent offline distribution covering at least one part of the country.
  • 50-60 Sample copies along with 40-50% discount on self-purchase from the publisher.
  • Editing revisions and detailed editorial feedback for your work.
  • Best quality paper of attest 70-80 GSM and 4 colour cover of 250-300 GSM thickness.
  • Decently pricing for the book after adding mark-up to the cost.

9. Do self-publishing firms pay loyalty on time?

There is always a risk involved in any business and to make sure your timely royalty pay-out it is always suggested to sign a formal agreement stating all the clauses. When you are signing an agreement you can rest assured at least legally that you will get correct sales report and royalty pay-out from your self-publisher.

10. Is there any legal complicity with self-publishing mode?

There is absolutely no legal complications, however it is always preferable to check the legal status of the self-publishing house before deciding upon them and at the same time prefer to sign formal agreements. With self-publishing mode you retain all rights for your book including the copy rights and all and it may vary depending upon the terms of contract being signed.

11. Is there any other ways of publishing for the first time author?

If you are unable to get into the complexities of the physical book printing and try to test launch your work you can do the same by publishing an online version of the work. The easiest way is to do it with the Play Store or Amazon Kindle. There are also a lot of online media offering conversion of your raw scripts to digital format and making it available online.

12. Is there any hybrid mode of book publishing in India?

With the changing need of the hour some of the self-publishing houses are coming up with hybrid mode of book publishing which also give the benefit of traditional publishing for deserving authors.

Emerging publishing houses like “Dream House Publications” provides the flexibility of cost sharing option to the author and even publishes the second edition free of cost for deserving scripts. You can get the details of their offering at http://dreamhousepublishers.com/faq/

13. What to keep in mind when choosing a self-publishing house?

When you choose to go with a self-publishing mode you should keep in mind that you can’t get the distribution depth like the traditional one and you should always prefer to sign formal agreement mentioning every transactional terms and conditions.

14. I can’t afford the cost of self-publishing mode; can I wait and consider traditional publishing?

If you are confident you should wait for a confirmation or else you may choose another way of digital publishing.

15. What are the major self-publishing houses in India?

Some of the major self-publishing houses to consider in India are,

This is not the complete list of the booming self-publishing houses in India and represents some of the major and fastest growing publishers.

16. What are the major challenges in India for self-publishing houses?

There are challenges in every field and it is also true for Indian self-publishing industries too. Some of the major challenges in my opinion that need to be addressed are as follows,

  • Highly competitive industry structure
  • Price and promotion wars
  • Financial constrains or lack of funds to expand reach
  • Lack of innovation and experience in the sector
  • Cost management

This comes to an end for the list of questions that you as an author might want to know. However it is not the end, but the starting for a great decision to enter the literary world. This is just a beginning of your career as an author and you need to have a clear idea of the industry and how it operates and benefits you. I believe that this article will help budding authors to clear some of their doubts about publishing modes in India. You are always welcome to drop your questions in the comment below and I will try to answer as per best of my knowledge.

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