Adam Croft, Deepak Chopra, Benjamin Franklin, Zane Grey, Rudyard Kipling, D George Bernard Shaw, Walt Whitman, and Mark Twain…we all know them… they all are great writers. Besides, there’s one more aspect which is common among them…it is Self Publishing, which has existed for over a century and with the onset of e-revolution, it is now becoming a rage. And so, self-publishing is helping many amateur, aspiring and first time writers to have their own titles. Bhrigu Chadha (author of The Dead Metalhead) and Harshit Bhavsar (author of Lead to Win), both self-published authors, share more on this fast catching up trend with Smita Dwivedi. Self-publishing: the easier route?
What is Self Publishing? It is basically the publication of any book by the author of the work, without the involvement of (third-party) publisher. All the pre-press and post press processes are taken care by the individual. With the onset of new technologies like print-on-demand and online retailing, this trend is catching up really fast. We all love to carry our world in our smartphones or tablets and such technological advances have eventually created a new niche market for e-books, which again add a required fillip to this trend. So instead of running around from publisher to publisher with their prized manuscripts, many authors have resorted to be their own publisher. Many health and religious book writers often resort to self-publishing…they have their own set of followers who eventually become their readers. But, now anybody can become a published author.
To start with what prompts these young writers to go for self-publishing? We spoke to two such authors: Bhrigu Chadha and Harshit Bhavsar. Bhrigu Chadha is working in one of the leading IT companies in India. He is a song writer/guitarist and composed progressive metal for his band in Pune. While Harshit Bhavsar started his entrepreneurial journey with inception of Universal Hunt brand in 2007 to fulfill the larger vision on inclusive growth by entering into various fields which directly impacts the life and lifestyle of people. Harshit ensures strict adherence to three basic principles for success: discipline, attitude and innovation. He is a Chemical Engineer and MBA in Finance.
wRIGHTe to publish
On asking about the reason for self publishing, Bhrigu adds, “The Dead Metalhead revolves around a highly non-commercial storyline. It is a psychological thriller based around a metal music fan. My narrative is very unconventional. The story also talks about the dilemma concerning salvation through murder and suicide. Any regular publishing house would have changed my script to make it appealing to the masses, whereas I have a very niche-target audience in mind. Self-publishing accounts for these unique factors in a more favorable way while reducing financial risks.”
For Harshit, the idea of his book first triggered when he thought of gifting something very special to his son Aditya, a rare treasure of knowledge which will always remain as a handbook for success, a guide for lifetime. “We are in "Business Consulting" through recruitment at the top level. This book is also a tool and an extension of our Universal Hunt brand. We wanted to explore various ways to market Universal Hunt brand through Lead to Win products, hence retain the publishing rights for the book with us,” shared Harshit.
The digital publishing options on platforms like Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing programmes and Barnes and Noble has made things much easier, so both of them never approached any conventional publishers. Moreover, now there are firms like Cinnamon Teal, Pothi.com, Little Fairies and Power Publishers which, unlike regular printing presses, can print you as few copies as you want, starting with one.
Good books get good buyers
Once the product is ready, what are the marketing strategies for promoting their brands, “I have done free distributions at local rock events and paid advertorials. That is where I get most of my readers from. Cinnamon Teal, the self-publishing house, helped me put the book for sale on Flipkart.com. It is regularly selling on Flipkart due to online ads and reviews. But Flipkart delivers only in India. My book has potential audience in Scandinavian countries, South Asia, UK and even US. To be able to make the book available in these regions, companies like Cinnamon Teal are going to help me. There are other marketing services that Cinnamon Teal can provide at an added cost,” shared Bhrigu.
As per Harshit, marketing needs to be more aggressive in this case, as he shared, “We contacted 2-3 publishers who were ready to engage with us as only distributors and not ask for complete publishing rights. We got positive response from all including Magna Publishing who are our current distributors. However, there are no exclusive rights given to them. Moreover, we have been doing active marketing through POWERHUNT TEAM. We have also created a separate website (www.leadtowin.in) for Lead to Win and posted its banner on front page of www.universalhunt.com website which has decent traffic. Also a dedicated person has been appointed to market this book in corporates and other institutions. Besides, Magna has also been doing lot of direct corporate events.”
The print-on-demand model is customized to individual goals. It works better for a niche audience, provided you are willing to invest into some real marketing. But for the authors, is it a profitable venture? To this, Bhrigu replies, “Commercially, it would be hard to make it profitable. The investment for the author is high when it comes to distributing even 1,000 copies to book stores. It would work extremely well if our internet penetration in India was more than eight percent. This model would actually rule if everyone could use the internet to order books and pay cash on delivery. Although, the copies are sold regularly on Flipkart, I haven't seen huge returns as yet.”
Future holds good
On asking about the future of this trend, Bhrigu shares, “The main benefit of going through a conventional publishing house is that they do things to promote your book. Getting the same magnitude of publicity through a self-publishing house would be highly expensive. But again, it really depends on what audiences one wants to target.”
However, things are not same for Harshit, as he adds, “Yes it is a profitable venture but we certainly need to scale up. I am not satisfied yet with the scale. We would continue with similar model but need to have stronger PR and media management from the beginning and keep that as an ongoing process, with marketing initiatives much more aggressive.”
So what are the plans for the future, and Bhrigu happily narrates, “If I'm ever writing a masala story for the mass Indian audience, I would go for a conventional publishing house. But I'm sure that I am not going to write such a book. That's just not me.” For Harshit, self-publishing is a good model and he wants to continue with it.
A word of advice
On a concluding note, what advice would you like to give to struggling authors who would like to see themselves published, and they both have a tip to share: Harshit says that he views writing book as a tool to support a current business/profession or a passion to reflect and refine thoughts to further fine-tune the vision to existing business/profession, so one needs to have clear plans for marketing rather than publishing. While, Bhrigu says, “The commercial novel content is very clichéd. Write a good, meaningful story. Put more art and intellect into your book, not just entertainment.”
“If the topic/content is good then I don’t see any issue with engaging a good publisher but even after you get the best publishing house behind you, if you are not involved in marketing personally, all efforts can just go waste,” concludes Harshit.
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