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…

Sample chapters sent, now the wait begins..

Sample chapters of the book

I had decided to send the sample chapters off to the publishers specifically today. The reason was that today happens to be Akshay Tritiya, which is considered to be a very auspicious day in the part of the world I come from. Not that I am a superstitious person. It’s just that instead of sending it with no set date in mind, (my earlier stand was that “I will send them when I am ready!”) today became a deadline of sorts. And thats what kept me going.

The constant feeling I get is that the whole experience is very similar to applying to grad school. The following thoughts might make you concur with me.

Before sending to the publishers, one has to scan the universe of publishers who will entertain one’s category of work. In my case it was fiction, which is a satire. It is mostly based on my own life, so it could be an autobiography of sorts. But it is also humor. So which category I should pitch it as?

I also had to do research on why publisher  X? Why not y? What is it that they look for? What is their response time? Some publishers in India have given a time range of four to twelve weeks. Others ask for a response time of five to six months. That is a very wide range. So should I consider the self publishing option? Should my book be a e-book only?

Lots of questions to be answered. From a reader’s perspective, why would anybody want to read my book? What is the message that they would get out of it? Why would anybody want to spend four or five hours of their time (maybe more!) reading my story?

As you can see, writing a book is no easy task. Especially for a first timer.