Confessions of a self-published author!

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-Prashant Pinge self-publishes a book after establishing himself as an author through traditional route.

Prashant Pinge is an acclaimed author of children’s fiction from Mumbai. He has been writing for over a decade, with five books and two short stories to his credit. His books have been nominated for the Crossword Book Awards, with Raja & the Giant Donut being shortlisted in the Children’s Writing category in 2011. More recently, he selfpublished his book Sceadu.

Here, he shares more about his experience of self-publishing.

Varsha (ABP): Why did you go for self-publishing?

Prashant PingePrashant: I have taken the traditional publishing route for all my previous books. So the decision to self-publish my YA fantasy, Sceadu, was not an easy one. The biggest deterrent was my complete lack of knowledge of the publishing industry.

However, there were a few reasons that attracted me to venture down this road. Firstly, the self-publishing industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past five years, especially with the availability of several online platforms that have dramatically increased reach.

Secondly, there are a lot of online resources available today that provide information about the self-publishing process. Thirdly, self-publishing would provide me with complete creative control, something that was really tempting given my background as a marketing professional. Lastly, I have always loved to experiment and knew that regardless of the outcome, the experience would be a reward in itself.

Varsha: How has been your experience?

Prashant: The experience has been a very interesting one so far. The preparation phase started almost five months prior to the actual date of release since I had to manage every aspect of this process with very limited resources at my disposal.

It involved a lot of multitasking to ensure that everything came together properly at the time of the launch. Of primary importance was to get the book, including cover design, ready well in time and in all the popular e-book formats. It required spending long hours learning from the numerous resources available online.

Then there was the aspect of pre-launch publicity which was a key factor in creating buzz around the book. The book launch went as planned, but the marketing continued even after that. In general, the actual ‘publishing’ has been a relatively straightforward process. It has been the marketing which has consumed a lot of time, so much so that it hasn’t allowed me to pursue much writing during this period. Also, while sales have been growing steadily, I do feel somewhere that a physical distribution channel, even in this digital age, would have made things easier. All in all though, my journey in self-publishing has been a tremendous learning experience.

While we do see online marketplaces slowly propagating to the smaller cities and towns, I feel that a physical network still offers a significant advantage in this industry.

Varsha: Do you think it would be better if you went through a publisher route? Why/Why not?

Prashant: I think this question is best answered at an individual level. Both routes offer various advantages and disadvantages. In the traditional route, the publisher has a lot of resources in place, especially with regards to editing, distribution and publicity. There is also the aspect of credibility associated with a publisher.

However, this route can often take long, even up to two years at times, and is often not even available to many authors. The greatest advantage of self-publishing is that it offers authors a chance to see their work made available to the world. There are many good authors out there who remain unpublished and selfpublishing is a boon for them.

This also happens to be the biggest disadvantage as anyone who fancies themselves to be an author now has an easy outlet to publish. This has, to a large extent, damaged the credibility of this channel, popular as it may be. Self-publishing, however, is very simple, cheap and quick, and also provides authors with a better earning model than traditional publishing, assuming similar sales of course.

Varsha: How are you marketing your book?

Prashant: The toughest aspect of publishing, be it the traditional route or the selfpublished one, is marketing. It is no secret that the number of books that are published every year is staggering. It therefore becomes essential to ensure that your book stands out amongst the competition.

And this is an extremely difficult task to achieve unless you already have substantial recognition in the market. Even traditional publishers have very low marketing budgets although they can provide an advantage through their established publicity channels. Besides, the market is so dynamic, with so many books released every day that it is very easy to get lost in all the information. In my case, I started early, about five months prior to the launch to ensure that a steady buzz developed until it culminated in a publicity blitz by the time the book was ready for release. I got an attractive cover made, developed an animated trailer video, had my website redesigned, sent out my book for reviews, wrote blogs, contacted the media, participated in book tours, chalked out a social media plan and the list goes on. There are, in fact, a lot of resources available online for book marketing. Everything depends on how much time and money you are willing to spend.

Varsha: Where all is your book available?

Prashant: Sceadu is available as an e-book on all the major online bookstores around the world such as Amazon, & Noble, iBooks Store, Kobo, Ciando and Flipkart. It is also available for download in various formats on Gumroad, an exclusive online platform for selling digital content. I am currently exploring the possibility of making it available as a paperback.

Varsha: What about your next book?

Prashant: My next work, a children’s book, is being traditionally published later this year. I am currently working on a romantic comedy, which I also plan to release through a publisher. While my experience with self-publishing has been fantastic, especially as a marketing professional, it is a lengthy process which hasn’t allowed me to devote much time to writing. The other aspect which I especially underestimated was the importance of a physical distribution network, especially in India. For instance, the publisher I usually work with has a network spread across more than 120 cities in India. While we do see online marketplaces slowly propagating to the smaller cities and towns, I feel that a physical network still offers a significant advantage in this industry.

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