Back on Track

One of the most important things that I have learnt from talking to and reading about other authors is that they are incredibly focused when they are writing a book. Some have a set schedule: they might write during a specific time of the day. Others carry a letterpad and a pen to write down their ideas. One writer even told me that she tuns into a hermit: she spends a couple of months every year in central India, where her family owns property that is literally in the middle of nowhere.

You might have guessed that in my case, do none of the above applies. And that is a problem. So I am pushing myself to bring my writing back on schedule, I am hopeful of completing my draft in a month’s time. It is also unfortunate that I lost one potential reader past Monday, my mother, who was very keen on reading my first book. One hopes that the final product will do justice to her enthusiasm.

Book writing in pause mode… time to hit the ‘play’ button?

After two weeks of consternation and promising myself that “I’ll start writing from today”, I am finally admitting that the book writing has hit the pause mode. To motivate myself, I started reading a chapter I had written about two months ago. It was a lengthy read – funny, but long. So I took a pen and started slashing away words, sentences, paragraphs, and finally entire sections. I am still not sure if a pen is mightier than a sword or not, but I certainly used my pen like one today! I had first hand experience of what ruthless book editing could be.

On a positive note, a co-worker showed me a book that one of his friends has recently self-published. If her friend can do it, so can I.

Submissions completed (or so one thinks)!

It has been over a month since my last post and my apologies for that..The whole process of identifying the publishers, researching their submission process, formatting requirements, and other minute details took much longer than I had imagined. It was a tedious exercise but a wonderful learning opportunity.

When one scans the universe of publishers in India, one realizes that it is very difficult to find specific information on them. Some have great websites but accept manuscripts only through literary agents. Others correspond via email only, some others still believe in receiving hard copies of the manuscript, the old fashioned way.

Out of a total of 22 odd English language publishers in India that I could get some information on, I have developed a short table of their publishing requirements, which I shall post separately in a later blog. In the meantime, I am adding a preview of what this table looks like.

What publishers look for
What publishers look for

In particular, I would like to draw your attention to “Other Information” part. Some publishers like to see how much homework you have done to identify the marketing potential for the book. They want to know who is the target audience, are there similar published books on the topic/ theme you are writing about, what is the book’s value proposition, etc. Even though many publishers do not ask for this information, I would recommend first time authors to include this information in their cover letter. This will achieve the following results:

a. Push you, the author, to start thinking about the marketing aspects of the book. It has been said time and again on multiple forums that marketing of the book is just as important (maybe more important!) than its content.

b. You will be able to show to the publishers that you are genuinely interested in seeing your book getting published, and are willing to take the extra efforts required in that direction.

In my case, I used to maintain an online diary that received over 70,000 views over a two year period. That, and long hours of internet search, visit to bookstores, talking to people, and also reading the books’ reviews gave me an idea on books that were written on the same theme as the category I was writing in. Not that doing so has worked wonders so far..

The results of the submissions have started arriving. I had approached a total of 12 publishers in the first go, and I have received two rejection letters and one shortlist over the past month. As a finalize my manuscript, looks like it is a long period of wait and watch…