If you’re done writing your first novel and need to sell it to a publisher in India as a literary and commercial success, here a quick guide that you may find helpful:
Before approaching a publisher with your manuscript, you need to prepare a list of publishers who would receive your manuscript for evaluation and obtain their contact information. So buckle down for your recon mission (sounds fancy, but all you need to take along is a pen, a notepad and a keen eye) and visit a large bookstore like Crossword or Landmark.
Spend extra time in the aisle of the bookstore where your great story belongs to (non-fiction, fiction, self-help etc.) and note down the names and contact information of publishers for those books.
Carry out the same exercise for the prominently displayed books in the other sections of the bookstore. This would ensure that you shortlist only those publishers with a robust distribution network, weeding out publishers with poor distribution you may come across on the Internet. Once you return from the mission and hang up your boots, you’ll have a list of potential publishers for your book. Some of the top publishers in India include Penguin India, HarperCollins, Random House and Rupa. Make sure you include these publishers on your list!
If you’re not a recon person and have the resources to afford a literary agent, go ahead! Two names I’ve come across time and again are Ms. Renuka Chatterjee, Osian Literary Agency (www.osians.com) and Jacarnanda Press (www.jacaranda-press.com). Literary agents have a strong connection with global publishing houses and a persuasive style of selling manuscripts to them.
If you can’t afford a literary agent or none of them pick your manuscript, don’t lose hope. In India, unlike most other countries, you don’t necessarily need a literary agent; you may contact the publishers directly. But before you go all guns blazing, add another column to your list of publishers: submission guidelines. Visit the website of every shortlisted publishing house and note down (or simply copy-paste!) the submission guidelines for each publisher. This could be a little tedious, but it’s a crucial step because most publishers are very particular about manuscript submission. Sometimes, there are different guidelines for fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry. For e.g. a particular publishing house may want to see a book proposal first, which includes a chapter outline of all your chapters and two or three sample chapters, while others may want you to send your complete manuscript at once. Most of them want the manuscript or the proposal typed on A4 sized sheets, double-spaced and using only one side of the page. Different strokes for different folks!
An alternative to traditional publishing is self-publishing your book. One of the well-known self-publishing companies in India is Pothi (www.pothi.com). The advantage with self-publishing your book is low investment, as it offers the option of print-on-demand. You don’t need to stock your self-published books; the self-publishing company prints each book as it’s ordered online. However, in case of self-publishing, since customers don’t get to see your book on the bookshelves of large stores, you may consider hiring a publicist to market your book. A word of caution: Beware of lesser known publishers who ask you for an investment, or a fee for getting your book published. For all you know, the cost of publishing your book maybe a fraction of what they ask you to invest.
Once you’ve sent your manuscript to publishers with a heart full of hope, take a patience pill and brace yourself. There’s no better way of saying this so I’ll just go for the least subtle one. There will be rejections. It is a fact that you must deal with, no matter how highly you think of your book. But remember one thing. Had J.K. Rowling been disappointed by the initial twelve rejections of her book, she wouldn’t have gone on to become a multi-millionaire and the twelfth richest woman in Britain within five years. My advice is to keep trying until you get your book published because as they say, you either succeed or you give up!
Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in December, 2009. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
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—About our writer:
Kanika holds an engineering degree from PEC, Chandigarh and an MBA in Marketing/IT from IMT, Ghaziabad. She is working in the Consulting division of a leading Indian IT company in Bangalore. Kanika has extensive experience in writing business proposals, reports, white papers and web content. An avid reader of books and socio-political magazines, she writes articles on current affairs and has a penchant for fiction writing, with her first novel releasing next year.
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