James Hemmingway Short Fiction Award on the anvil


Publishing industry is full of success stories of small but powerful entrants in the industry. One new kid on the block is SIM Publishing, which has recently announced a new short fiction award as well. Here, Hersh Bhardwaj, publisher, SIM Publishing, shares more about his new venture, in conversation with Varsha Verma. AABP: Tell us something about the inception and journey of SIM Publishing?

Hersh: Before starting SIM, I headed marketing for a US publisher and a Canadian/Chinese publishing house. I also did a small stint as a literary agent and sold an American author’s novel to Speaking Tiger. That’s when I realized that the Indian publishing needs a platform for voices of global value. Irrespective of previous publishing history, I wanted to bring forth the unheard voices and put them on a global stage. With my experience of international book markets, we are already in the process of selling both of our first two titles to European publishers. I also wanted to bring relevant never-published-before literature back to India. We are in process of acquiring rights of a renowned Serbian author.

AABP: Tell us something about James Hemingway Short Fiction Award-2017?

Hersh: The award is an expansion of our international thought. Not only it hopes to imbibe the values of ‘global in local’ by finding and publishing stories on Delhi theme to global stage, we also hope to revive the short fiction genre in India. Most publishers are scared of publishing short fiction, especially in English. We want to commit to publishing at least 30% of our publishing list to short fiction. As we are expecting entries both in Hindi and English, it is really a unique award.

AABP: What kind of entries have you received? Tell us something about their quality?

Hersh: We have received no less than 500 registered queries within two months of submission call. We have in excess of two hundred submitted stories so far. Overall quality is above average, and a lot of submissions are amazingly well written. I have read most submission personally, and both in Hindi and English the standard of submission on the theme is world class. It’ll be extremely tough to pick the top twenty one nominations and then zero-in on a winner.

Hersh Bhardwaj, publisher, SIM PublishingAABP: When can the readers expect the book on these entries?

Hersh: We are committed to launch it no later than New Delhi World Book Fair in 2018. It’ll be a hybrid book consisting of both Hindi and English stories included. We will also get the Hindi stories translated, as we will pitch this book to global audience.

AABP: Where do you find your company five years from now?

Hersh: Five years down the line, I want to be surrounded with books that I am proud of. It’s really difficult to reject a manuscript, especially in the early days when you need content but we want to stick to our vision of producing international quality books of global value. I want to have a list of great literature from around the world under our brand, and a list of our books with translations in multiple foreign languages.

AABP: What are the major trends you foresee in the industry?

Hersh: Audiobooks need to do better. I also predict a Kindle revival, or any equivalent form of digital reading. With Amazon aggressively spreading their publishing footprints in India, I hope to see more vernacular and regional literature coming out. Thankfully, Hindi is doing well. Publishing technology will see many innovative startups in coming months. The incompetent must give way for the innovative and proficient. Let the written word soar.

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