Sometime back when I was researching on various topics for my books, I had no one to ask, simply because no one was writing on the different topics I was writing in. So, it was virtually impossible to convince publishers about the content of the book. For them, it won’t sell. At once I thought to self publish books.
But when I went through barely a handful of fitness and health books by Indian authors, I was way too irritated, because what was published wouldn’t be even considered for reading elsewhere in the world, where people have been writing and researching on these topics since long. The publishers were happier to print this type of content in India, simply because it will sell among the people who want everything served to them in a platter, and want to see results automatically, overnight. And these people are in plenty in our country. in simple terms, “SHIT SELLS!!”
But these books sell in India, and they sell for the following reasons:
- They are almost always endorsed by an actor or actress. Blind celebrity followers take this as a sign of good content and buy it.
- These books are short and very reasonably priced. These books are very handy in size, and very cheap to buy, like the ones you find on Indian railway stations. Most people who are not readers but just want to pick a book for a general reader will always go for a cheaper book.
- The person writing the book is not doing any research, but because they are famous among the actress and actresses groups, and so get maximum publicity, they are a ready marketing tool for the publishers.
I myself will never be convinced to write such useless content. I want books to compete with international authors writing in the same genre. Whether I write ebooks, books, or articles, I cannot satisfy myself with just any content.
I published my books initially with a conventional publisher, but I was wrong. I met this person through contact. We had a meeting, and everything seems rosy, until after two years, when I had over five books in the market, which were hardly selling, and the guy was eagerly asking for the next book. I had no help in terms of editing, or formatting. The print quality was putrid, and I was, of course, getting irritated. I had to perforce withdraw my books from the market, and rethink.
In between I met a publishing agent, who instead of helping me, simply criticized me, which was again fine, as he looked experienced; till he told me to write a book, just like the shitty ones in the market, with titles like “best workouts at home to lose fat instantly” or a similar type of diet book, which according to him is what Indians want. My next move, thank your sir.
That seemed like a problem in India. We undermine our own people and are ready to recommend crap, just because it’s written by a white guy. Anyways, time to move on. The only step left with me was to go with self publish books. Below are the reasons why chose to go the self publish books way:
- I was writing on certain topics, on which no one had written before in the country. So getting it beyond the publisher’s senses, would have made me senseless. For them writing is something that will sell, or you will get the ‘please try next time’ note.
- The print publishing industry is in a nosedive and for them taking any risks with newer topics and authors is simply a no. New age publishers like Amazon kindle and Google have changed the way the industry looks at books. And they are here to stay.
- Editing is the biggest issue. When you are writing non-fiction that too a bit technical, then there aren’t many people who would understand what you want to say, especially when it is on topics never been written before in India. A change in a single sentence or a deletion of a technical term, by an editor, can change the entire meaning of the chapter. You have no option but to edit it yourself. Yes, the text may not be as rosy as done by a good editor, but it will at least make sense. Yes, you will have to go through the book multiple times to point out grammatical errors and remove the unnecessary text, but then your book is your baby.
- The entire process for conventional publishing may take well over eight to twelve months. Even if somehow your book is selected by a traditional publisher, they will give you a time of maybe a year or more for the book to come out. That’s way too slow for me.
- A conventional publisher will have tons of terms & conditions for you to follow. If you want your book to look like something you have in your mind, your publisher may not be in agreement, as he is simply looking at maximizing profits. I wanted my book “Seduced by Sugar – Are You?” to be made in full colour and high gloss paper. A conventional publisher would have never done that, as in India, this type of print quality won’t sell, especially in my genre. Though I have even given that up and sticking to ebooks now.
- You wouldn’t gain anything out in terms of profit. There are very fewer chances that your book will really be on the top of the charts, as marketing is actually your baby, even under a traditional publisher. The only real help a traditional publisher gives you is distribution. The royalty rates offered by a traditional publisher is not approx 7-10%. Most top authors have spent a lot of money on their own to promote their first books before they were approached by a traditional publisher. On the other hand, most self-publishers give you a royalty up to 70-100% on your books, which means you keep everything you earn.
- I had no celebrity face in my book. A celebrity who has no relation to anything in the book, need not promote the book. For me, a celebrity is not a person working in the entertainment industry, but someone who has achieved something in their chosen field be it a doctor, engineer, scientist, defence forces personnel, government official, pilot, etc. Why do you think you need to have the face of an actress on the face of a diet or workout book, who actually has no real relation to it? The answer is purely marketing. But instead, what you will have to pay them just to put their face on, you better spend on the marketing budget of the self publish books.