Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Traditional publishing: How to choose the right publisher for your book!
Why am I writing this? I have spent years, don’t several mistakes, wasted so much time and energy to understand this. I don’t want fellow writers to do the same mistake and waste the same amount of time. I write this not because I am a best seller or an expert. I write this as I want to share with you what I am learn as I learn.
If you are reading this article I assume that you have your manuscript ready. What do I mean by “Ready”?  It should be completed from your end, edited, proof read and beta read. Chetan Bhagat said he wanted to make India read but what he did not know was that his books and his success was going to make India want to write. Today every other person I meet wants to write a book, a story of his/her life. Every one of us is born with the skills to tell stories, just that some of us have realized it and the rest haven’t. This means that most publishers receive hundreds of manuscripts every day. So what do you have to do to stand out? Giving your script error free is the primary requirement. So edit it before you even send the proposal to publishers.

This has also given rise to increasing number of publishing houses coming up. Publishing is a really good business these days; have a tie up with a printing press, be active on social media, learn to list books in amazon and flipkart and you are entitled to call yourself a publisher. That’s good and at the same time really bad. Good because the odds of us getting our work published is high. Sad because it also increases the probability of us ending up with a wrong publisher. Who is a wrong publisher? I will tell  in a private chat if you really want to know. 

Now, let’s come to the point, how to choose the right publisher for your book? You have your manuscript ready so you must be knowing the genre it falls under. Say, it’s a crime thriller.

1.      Go to any ecommerce site like amazon, flipkart.
2.      Search for the top 100 best sellers under crime thrillers.
3.      Make a list of at least 20 of them. Also note the author’s name and the publisher’s name.
4.      Now search in the same ecommerce site for each of the publisher.
5.      Create another list with the publisher’s name, number of books published and the names of the books.
·         Now, check for the quality of the books published by these publishers. Check if any of them have become best sellers. If yes, shortlist the publisher. Because it takes a lot of marketing for a book to become a best seller. (Don’t ask me why we gotto look for the best seller when the books are from the top 100 best sellers. Amazon’s best seller rank changes every hour. For example my book was in top 50 for a month when it was launched now it’s not. So if you had seen the site at that time you might have my book in the list but in reality it’s not a best seller yet.)
·         Then, check their sites. Do they have a site? Facebook page? Are they promoting their books well? Yes?! Then short list the publisher.
·         From the list of authors check for people who are in your facebook list or who have a mutual friend with you. Try to get in touch with them to know how happy they are with the publishing house.

Points you need to check with the author if he/she is willing to reveal:
1.      Did the publisher publish the book according to the plan? Was the delay too much?
2.      Is the publisher compelling the authors to edit with his editor and pay a huge sum for it?
3.      Is the publisher deciding on the cover himself and is the writer charged for it?
4.      How is the promotions planned? Are the writers compelled to conduct contests and pay expensive prizes?
5.      What happens after the first edition? Does the book go for a re print at all?
6.      Are the writers compelled to guarantee on pre orders and buy certain copies? I don’t say ‘yes’ to this is bad. But how workable this point is should be discussed. They also need to earn. What if the book doesn’t sell at all? J So just check on this point but if the numbers are alarming cross the publisher from your list.

After you discuss these points compare it with your idea of publishing, what your requirement are. If you are satisfied short list the publisher.

But the challenge of finding the right publisher doesn’t stop there. The vital point here is to read and understand the contract well. Things to check in a contract before signing:
·         Don’t get too excited if it’s your first book. In the hurry to get the book out don’t sign without even reading it.
·         The most important lesson is to first assume that your book has become a best seller already, now look at the contract with the eyes of a bestselling author.
·         Compulsion to buy books and if the number is okay with you.
·         Who holds the kindle rights? What’s the royalty given if it’s the publisher?
·         Copy rights should be with the writer. (MOST IMP POINT)
·         How many years is the contract valid for?
·         Who holds the right for international publishing?
·         Movies, radio, tv adaptation, merchandise- what’s the royalty?
·         What if the book is being re published by someone else? What’s the clause about it?
·         IS there a second book contract? Do they hold the first rejection rights to your next work? If so, you will have to get a No objection signed before you approach another publisher for your next work.

So these are some points I check for. If you have anything else to add please add in the comments below. Again let me tell you I am not an expert or a best seller. I just wanted to share what I think I know. Hope it helps.

Check out some of the indian publishers and their submission guidelines here->

5 Scribbles:

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  2. Thank you for this insightful post. I don't yet have my manuscript ready but these are very important points that I will make sure to keep in mind. Does it scare you sometimes that so many people want to write these days? Because this leads to a lot of good books going undiscovered?

    1. Why would it scare me? :) When we have competition we will try to better our work's quality. Right?

  3. I was under the impression that when a book gets traditionally published, there are no charges on anything related to the book on the writer. The points that talk about editing charges and cover charges are indeed surprising, why would they do that? In this case, what makes them any different from vanity publishing?

    1. True! Luckily my publishers haven't asked me to do anything like that.. but there are even publishers who are asking for money to print calling it traditional publishing.


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