Self publishing books in India has come a long way today.
When I looked to self publish my book in 2016, I had a fewer options than I have today. People had the notion that traditionally published books do a lot better than the self-published books, and that was a huge barrier while marketing. But today, the scenario has completely changed. The readers now judge the books according to the content that they bear, and not just the publishers with whom they are published. This massive change has surely paved a way for the authors who want to shine in the world of books in spite of being self published. It’s now much easier to self publish books in India. In this article, I am going to share all the knowledge that I have gained over years regarding self-publishing books and their market.
There are many questions I have answered below and have elaborated on all the points. Keep reading to know the insights on self-publishing.
Here is a Definitive Guide to Self Publish Books in India.
- What is Self Publishing?
- Why Self Publish Books?
- When to Self Publish?
- Things to consider before publishing your books
- Is an Editor needed?
- How to Self Publish a Book?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Self Publishing Books
- Why Self Publishing Books has Mixed Views
What is self publishing?
Simple answer: In Self Publishing, you are the publisher of your book. You take all the measures to launch your craft in the market and take upon all the things required to do so.
Why self publish books?
That’s the question that arises in the mind of upcoming authors. Until now, the pattern for getting a book published was pretty simple. Find a traditional publisher, write a mail of submission to them, and wait till a response is received.
With the emergence of self publishing solutions and houses, the process is now a lot simpler. If you have a manuscript ready, you can either go for the free mode of self publishing or pay to the publishers and they will set up everything for you – from book cover design to online/offline distribution. It’s a pretty straightforward approach (read business) if sought. That means it becomes a three-step hassle-free process for you. Find the publisher, provide the manuscript and details, and bam! You are now a published Author. That simple.
Like Rohan Govenkar, the author of two books – 1000 Kilograms of Goa & Oh My Goddess! – states:
“Self-publishing has enabled many writers to see their dream turn into fruition, given that the journey to getting one’s book traditionally published is long, tiring and often frustrating. The positive side of this is that if a writer has enough confidence in his work and his ability to market it, he can at least overcome one large hurdle – of not receiving a platform.”
That’s how it goes.
When to self publish?
When you are confident enough to do so. Yes.
Imagine that you have written a book and have sent several proposals to various traditional publishing houses. You are very well aware that you have written a script that will sell, will amuse readers and will be a distinct read – a story never written before. And now you have to wait. Some publishers give you a replying time of 6 months, whereas some say it will not take more than 15 days. And you are hesitant to get published with new traditional publishing houses as you fear that your book won’t get the required exposure. So you wait and wait. For one mail of acceptance.
Sounds familiar? Trust me, I did the same. I sent my script to some giant publishers too but never received a mail back in spite of multiple follow-ups. I felt disappointed.
Hence, I chose the road to self publishing. Honestly, there’s not much a difference here. I have heard success stories of self published authors, and those are heartwarming. I have come across several traditionally published authors, who feel that they weren’t marketed well so their books didn’t do well at all.
If you have the confidence that you have written an exceptional book and that you are capable of marketing and selling books, self publishing could be the right choice for you.
Let’s get into the next part of this now. Let’s see what makes a self published book better.
What should you do before considering self publishing your craft?
Here’s an infographic of the checklist you must follow.
Understand your audience.
Know what type of audience you want to target. You wouldn’t want to market to the ones who are uninterested. That way you will waste your resources.
Plan the marketing strategies.
Every successful self-published author knows the importance of marketing. Marketing strategies can include basic concepts like sharing excerpts of your works in your circles even one year prior to their publishing. You need to maintain a buzz. Most importantly, get your audience engaged and develop accordingly. Without marketing, you are at a huge loss.
Set up social media accounts.
One of the things that writers overlook. It’s always better to set up social media promotional accounts, including a Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram account, and share relevant things related to your work there. That gives your readers a definite place to find all the stuff that you write.
Set up a Blog.
Along with all the promotional tactics you work on, starting a blog of your own is worth the investment. A website helps you brand yourself as an author and acts as a one-stop place for all your marketing needs. Get a website designer, set up all the required pages and information about you and your book, and start blogging! Help the community of us writers and authors, write something about what you love, post stories and prose, or redirect your readers to the website to let them more about yourself! Getting a website for yourself is a mandatory step in today’s era of digital marketing.
Read right now: A Complete Guide to Start a Terrific Blog in 2023!
Don’t ever hesitate to promote your craft.
From my own experience, I have learned that self published authors hesitate to promote their books in public. Events, promotional media, all that is fine, but one shouldn’t fall short of words while telling people that they have written a book and they would like everyone to know about it. I know it feels bad while over-promoting things, but remember the Golden 7 rule. If a viewer sees your promos more than 7 times, they are more likely to check your book out, if not buy. That counts as a success, no? Even though a smaller one, but still. Build curiosity for the people. Don’t give too much, and don’t give too less either.
Have you gotten your script edited by a professional editor? Why is it important?
When I finished writing and self-editing my debut, Canvas of a Storyteller, I immediately looked out for editors. Being in the circles for over two years, I learned the importance of manuscript editing. But why get it edited?
Even though my book was self-edited over a dozen times, my editor, Jesal Jani her name, pointed out a dozen pages full of errors. I noticed some points that I hadn’t considered ever before, and she was right. I had left some loopholes as well, which she helped me fill. I am proud of my decision of hiring an editor, which made my book what it is today.
A famous saying goes like this: “Even the editor needs an editor.”
And it’s absolutely true. Your readers want a grammatically and plot-wise flawless, if not perfect, craft from you, and it is your moral duty to deliver the same to them. Your story is all about your way of expressing, I understand, but not delving into its core fundamentals can prove to be a big turn-off for your readers. So it’s mandatory to get it edited.
Adding further, I have heard many upcoming authors saying that they would just write a script and hand it over to the editor, and an editor will do all the work. Wrong. Entirely wrong.
An editor’s work is to add the required glare to your work, and not fix everything that you left unnoticed. Neil D’Silva explains the big NOS for an Editor in his elaborate blog post, and also states the role of editors in your journey. He says: “Editors are not a trashcan where authors can dump half-baked, poorly-written, and poorly-constructed manuscripts. You, as an author, have to make sure your manuscript is as good as you can make it before submitting it to an editor.”
So before getting published, make sure you get your manuscript edited.
Now comes the most important question: How to self publish my book?
There are multiple ways to get self-published. The notion that only traditionally published books make it big is now not so true. So how to proceed? Let’s get into the details.
If you prefer to get published with an ebook, you can head over to Kindle Direct Publishing, and follow the steps-takes at most 24 hours for your book to get live. There are many authors who made it big using KDP, Neil D’Silva, Rasana Atreya, Sudha Nair, Sundari Venkatraman, etc. are just a few names who made a huge impact as self-published authors. The process of publishing the ebook on Amazon is buttery smooth and won’t require any technical knowledge at all.
Now, let’s get to the next one, the free Print-on-Demand publishing route.
Sites like Pothi, FreeSelfPublish, and White Falcon Publishing allow you to publish paperbacks for free. Yes, totally free. You just need to upload your manuscript and a paperback cover. They will take things ahead. For the free plan, they host the books on their own online stores, but if you want to extend to popular online stores like Amazon & Flipkart, you need to pay a minimal fee for the same. And you are good to go. But here, you need to understand that the prices of the books are pretty much high. Most of the free self publishing solutions (for paperbacks) I saw work on the ‘prepaid transactions only’ basis-reasonable enough, as they print on demand-and could affect the sales of your books.
Let’s talk a bit more about this. This is what Pothi clarifies the things to consider in the publishing route I stated above and speaks about itself too:
Pothi.com is a provider of publishing tools, services and a platform. Backed by Print-on-Demand, this platform allows people to publish and sell their books in print without having to invest upfront on bulk printing of copies. It also supports eBook publishing. It can be used by an individual, self-publishers, as well as other organizations, NGOs and publishers.Unlike most of the other self publishing platforms, we do not work on a package basis. This means that you only have to pick and pay for the services you do require. This also means that an author can use Pothi services anytime after their manuscript is competed.We are a free publishing platform. That means that there are no hidden costs anywhere, as long as you prepare your files according to our specifications. Only if you avail any services for file preparation or extended distribution do you have to pay individually for the services you choose to avail. They are not mandatory to avail from us. In case of print book, if you order copies for yourself, then you have to pay their author price and shipping cost. We also do not have a minimum order quantity. You can print even a single book if you like.We are not a publisher. We only provide a platform for publishing. Hence, for the books published through Pothi.com, the user submitting the books or the organizations they are working on behalf of, are the publishers of those books.
However, the requirements are pretty different for the paid Print-on-Demand publishing packages.
When I looked for self-publishing houses, I found various houses that offered multiple services at various prices, some expensive and some cheap. The drawback here was that my books would’ve been priced higher than expected – in regards to the pages that my book had. So yes, when I searched for a self-publishing house to go with, I found many of them through the internet. Just hit up a search for the term ‘Self-publishing houses in India’ and you would a dozen of them instantly. So yes, let’s get to those now. I will wrap up the introductory part quickly.
There are some giants in the self publishing business and some new and cheap ones. The established ones charge comparatively higher than the lesser-known ones. Many a time we get confused with such high variance at prices and end up taking opinions from other authors.
What is the difference between all of these houses? Why do some charge high and why some are low? Practically they all offer the same kind of services, but the difference lies in the way they execute those things. I have met authors published under bigger houses, and heard mixed reviews from them. Some are very satisfied with the service they received, on the other hand, some detest it. I cannot add my own insight about them here because I haven’t worked with any of them. But the one with whom I published my book, I can say that I had a satisfactory experience, if not on a par with the veterans. They delivered what they promised. So do all the other popular self publishing houses. It’s all about personal choices and your understanding of the approach to these things. Self publishing houses that offer packages are growing – a lot, in fact.
Bonus Question: How do I design a cover for free for my ebook?
Head right over to Canva. It gives you a huge repository of ready-made cover designs. Add the title of your book and your name as Author and download it. Done!
Key Question: What are the advantages and dis-advantages of self publishing?
I have seen many aspiring authors wondering about this. How would self publishing benefit me? Or would it turn out to be a bitter experience?
“Self-publishing has indeed given a way for good authors whose books haven’t been picked up by trade ones because the latter did not find them commercially viable or for some other reason. A lot of authors are indeed finding success.
Whereas, at the same time, we are finding that a lot of authors who think it best to put up any kind of content out there without understanding that though it is easy to publish, the book should still undergo a rigorous procedure.
Also, the infrastructure for getting printed books and distribution is still non-existent where indie books are considered.
Thirdly, there is still a stigma attached to self-published paperbacks among avid readers who are prone to think, with good reason, that the content may be sub-par to consume. However, there are some changes and this stigma is slowly going away.”
That’s what I am going to elaborate ahead and put forth my points.
Why could self publishing prove to be a platform of mixed views? Here’s why.
Most of the self published authors chose the route because they were tired of waiting in the queue – in spite of having a lot of potential to make an influence through their books. So here goes the first advantage: You won’t have to wait for approvals.
When I self-published my book, it was an easy process. I went to the website of the publishing house, uploaded a few sample chapters through the submission form of the publishing house, and within 2 hours I received a call from their publishing consultant confirming that they accepted my manuscript for publishing. I provided them with the manuscript and the cover (I had got it designed by a cover designer) and in the next 20 days, my book was up on all the major online selling portals in India and worldwide. Done!
For the marketing part, let me be utmost honest: You are your sole marketer. Yes. The marketing services offered by the self publishing houses do less to nothing for your book and its sales. Why? Let me tell you why.
Every year, the market clamors with lots and lots of books. Self publishing houses are increasing rapidly so are books.
Like Banaja Prakashini, a professional book reviewer, states:
“Self publishing has reduced the publishing industry to sheer business, rather than a way to spread knowledge.
Publicizing leads to ignorance of quality content.
Too many authors as you can easily pay for publishing.
The readers tend to be disappointed with low quality content as there are too many novels.”
That’s the truth.
The book marketing campaigns that worked a few years ago, won’t be applicable to today’s market as those are repetitive and boring after a certain time. The self publishing houses follow the same pattern for all the books that they market, hence the marketing campaign for your book won’t hold anything unique (the equation of you with them still stays as ‘customer’ and ‘service provider’ so it won’t make a different impact) and your book won’t get the exposure it requires.
Hence the best practice is to self-market your books. Work on a detailed campaign that you think will work best for your book and its sales. Find experienced people and understand the working of social media and offline marketing groups both for online and offline marketing. The main goal is to create a buzz. Marketing your books is a great advantage to you, but it can also be a disadvantage, as you are doing the things on your own, and you are new to this and are confused regarding doing things. But trust me, patience works wonders. Keep doing your work and you are good to go. Remember the Golden 7 Rule I told above? Follow that too.
In a market where competition is a lot tougher than it looks, it’s hard to build a market for your books. But again, it depends how innovative you are. I started marketing six months before I actually published (and I owe all of it to my friends and readers), shared excerpts in the start, then asked my friends and readers to change their display pictures to my book’s cover, asked them to share my works, and that helped me reach a larger audience than the one I already had. I had left no stone unturned to market my book. The most recent impressive marketing campaign I saw was from Rahul Vishnoi for his debut novel Who Burned the Moon? and that generated quite a hype for him and his works. That’s why I said above: Don’t hesitate to market your craft. It’s your baby. Be proud of it.
I think that’s all I can accumulate in this post as of now. Let’s have a summary of these points in the conclusion below.
Although Self Publishing seems like a herculean task, it can work wonders if done right. Of course, there’s no perfect strategy that works for all the books – it has to be unique-there are multiple ideas that actually work.
So what have we learned till now?
I have tried to cover all the aspects of self publishing books in India in this article.
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