Becoming a published writer these days is as much a matter of prestige as it is about creative satisfaction. It’s true that an author is someone who looks at the world differently. But more than that, an author is someone who is looked upon differently by the world — in a different light, that is, as compared to us ordinary mortals.

This might explain why getting a book published seems often to figure at the top of every professional’s — or, for that matter, non-professional’s — wishlist. Everyone who is anyone wants, at least on the side, to become a published writer today. Bankers, engineers, government administrators, businessmen — they all happen to have a book in them. The only problem many of them face has to do with getting that book out.

Having your work published is never easy, especially so if you’re looking to get the imprint of a popular publication house on the cover of your book. The screening process can be rigorous, and a lot still depends on plain luck. What are the chances of your manuscript landing into the right hands at the right time? Besides, not everyone is up for the painful grind that unpublished writers are expected to go through — running from pillar to post to get commissioning editors to read your stuff.  Nor can most prospective authors afford to recruit expensive literary agents to do their bidding for them.

There’s one way, however, to avoid all this unpleasant stuff and still get your book out: by self-publishing it.

Naveen Valsakumar, co-founder of Notion Press, a publication house that helps writers self-publish their works, trained as an engineer and had dreams of getting his own book out one day. When he was unable to find a publisher, he was disheartened and contemplated giving up writing altogether. But he eventually refused to give in, and established Notion Press in 2012 with the intention of lending a helping hand to struggling writings.

“In spite of having a friend in the industry, I couldn’t get my work published,” Naveen told Guardian 20. “I don’t blame the publishing industry for it. From their point of view, they’d have to spend a huge amount of money on your book, so it’s very natural that they expect a good return on their investment. This becomes easy if the writer is already a celebrity but in the case of a newbee, it’s too big a gamble to make, which they prefer to avoid.”

Notion Press offers various publishing, designing, editing, printing and distribution options to both authors and publishers from around the world. This is a startup that aims to solve the problems in book publishing and distribution by creating highly scalable solutions that work across the globe.

“Self-publishing is a very simple process. Companies like ours ask authors to invest in their own books, while we assist them with the process. The author is kept in the loop with respect to all the different aspects of the book, which he chooses himself too. So you can your bring out your book exactly the way you want it and sell it the way you want it too,” explained Naveen.

Zorba Books is another self-publishing firm, which is headquartered in Gurgaon. “In self-publishing, the author isresponsible for everything that has to do with his or her book. You can either do all this on your own or take help from companies like ours which have contacts and can make things a bit simpler,” said Shalini Gupta, founder, Zorba Books.

Self-publishing, according to Gupta, frees the author from “the whims and fancies” of corporate publishing houses. “It empowers you to turn your manuscript into a book without being dependent on the whims and fancies of a traditional publisher,” she said. “You will be known as an author, which is the reason you were writing in the first place. It allows you to share the product of your creativity, your book, with the world.”

Put simply, this is how self-publishing works: you first write a book about a topic of your choosing and then you simply approach one of the several self-publishing companies that help you put your book together and bring it out. All these firms offer several packages with different services like designing, copy editing, cover design and marketing as part of the deal, which can cost you anything between Rs 20,000 to several lakhs depending on what you choose. 

The prices also depend on the number of copies you want printed. One of the great benefits of self-publishing is that writers gets to keep all the sales proceeds that accrue from their books, since all the publishing and distribution costs are incurred by them.

These self-publishing firms offer several packages with different services like designing, copy editing, cover design and marketing as part of the deal, which can cost you anything between Rs 20,000 to several lakhs.

“The company doesn’t possess any rights on the book as we are just agents that facilitate the publication process. All the sales proceeds of the books go straight to the writer including copyrights and rights for reprinting,” says U.K. Das of 24by7 Publishing, a self-publishing firm based out of Kolkata. 

There used to be a time when self-publishing was looked down upon by industry veterans. But all that has now changed. When journalists like Chaitanya Padukone, winner of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, choose to self-publish their books, there has to be something going right for this mode of publication.

“I chose to self-publish as my book,” Padukone told Guardian 20, “as it had been delayed by five years due to a failed collaboration. When I finally went about it myself to a publisher they asked me to wait for nine more months, which was something I really didn’t wish to do.” Padukone self-published his book R.D. BurMania: PanchaMemoirs in collaboration with Notion Press.

“I selected,” he said, “the most expensive package the company had and also paid further for additional editing as a fresh pair of eyes help the little omissions a writer fails to see at times. I even chose the design of the cover myself and travelled to Chennai where the company’s office is based to oversee the designing and printing process.”

For prospective authors, Padukone has the following advice: “My advice to anyone going for this method of publication would be to select the basic package which offers more e-books as it’s cheaper and less taxing. Going in for a paperback extensive package will not just increase the costs but will also become more labour-intensive, for there a lot more aspects involved in the physical book if money is a factor.”

Adhitya Iyer is another self-published author who recently brought out his book, The Great Indian Obsession, himself. Not only is his book self-published, it is also crowdfunded. “I wanted to write a book about the obsession Indian’s have towards engineering,” Iyer said. “But money was something that was lacking. So I crowdfunded my entire cost of research and self-publishing on Kickstarter and managed to bring the book out. All I’d say is that if you really want to write, all you need is the will to do so. The money and all is something that in today’s world is just out there. There are people who are more than willing to help,”


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