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Self publishing: From EL James to Ashwin, Amish and now Vineet Bajpai

Entertainment Culture

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

EL James did it, so did Amanda Hocking, Ashwin Sanghi and Amish Tripathi. Now Vineet Bajpai is doing it for the third time.

Self publishing is not everyone's choice for bringing out a book but why do some writers take this route?

After being rejected by most publishers, Sanghi self-published his first novel, "The Rozabal Line", in 2007 via a US-based self-publishing platform.

There was no Kindle that time and self-publishing meant print on demand in which the book is listed on websites and a customer order triggers a printing and delivery of the book.

Sanghi designed his own book cover and hired a freelance editor to work on the manuscript. He started blogging and became active on social media.

"I created a YouTube trailer for the book and managed to sell 900 copies in the first year," he says.

But he could sell his books only via American online retail channels such as (as the India channel did not exist) and and his titles remained unavailable in India.

But luckily for him, he was able to strike a deal with Westland.

On the other hand, Bajpai's first three business and inspirational books were published by Jaico Publishing House.

However, when it came to his fiction titles, he decided to self-publish them.

Over a series of three books, "Harappa: Curse of the Blood River", "Pralay: The Great Deluge" and "Kashi: Secret of the Black Temple", Bajpai has blended Indian myths from Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, with contemporary crime and religion.

"There were several considerations that were different from management or non-fiction writing. The first and the foremost was the scheduling of publishers. In a genre as competitive as historical and mythological thrillers, waiting for several months for your turn in the publisher's long list of books for the year, was something we were not prepared to do," Bajpai told PTI.

He wanted the first book of his Harappa Series to be out in the readers' hands as quickly as possible.

"With the nimbleness of publishing independently, we were able to release the sequel 'Pralay: The Great Deluge' within nine months of Harappa's release. A traditional publisher would have taken perhaps two years for the same project. So we gained speed," he claims.

The other aspect of his decision was purely commercial.

"Harappa was a winning manuscript, as per whoever saw it. We knew it was going to be a mass-market seller. Without going into details, it made much more financial sense to become an independent publisher for my work rather than going with a publisher," he says.

According to Bajpai, he did not miss the services of a niche publisher.

"We could focus all our resources, all our bandwidth, all our creativity and all our marketing effort on just our own titles. Such a focused, streamlined and concentrated campaign cannot be offered by even the most well-intentioned publisher, simply because it does not fit into the business model of a conventional publishing business," he argues.

He says absolute creative freedom, speed and superior commercials are some of the advantages of self-publishing.

"As long as you get to keep both author and publisher shares of the revenue, you will always be able to monetise your literary talent better," he says.

Literary agent Kanishka Gupta feels Bajpai, who is an entrepreneur, chose self publishing because of the substantial financial resources at his disposal.

He says he would recommend self publishing only if authors have exhausted all options of publishing traditionally and if they have enough financial muscle to ensure adequate availability and promotions for their book.

"The most important advantage traditional publishers bring is credibility and quality control. Most of the top publishing houses accept manuscripts after several rounds of evaluations and a lot of deliberation so one can expect a certain standard from them. Traditionally published books are also taken far more seriously by trade i.e., the distributors and booksellers," he says.

He considers rejection by publishers and agents; and to have complete control over the processes such as editing, design, publishing timelines, marketing initiatives and so on as some of the reasons for opting to self publish.

Gupta says many writers approach him after self publishing because they're not happy with the outcome.

"They complain about poor editing, design but more importantly the lack of availability of their books in bookstores. Unfortunately, no mainstream publishers consider books that have already been put out in the market," he says.

Travel writer Ajay Jain also self-publishes his books, including the recent coffee-table work "Indians".

"Self-publishing gives me greater control of the editorial agenda and the creative process. I also invest in the best printing processes, paper and binding to do justice to my work - publishers can tend to cut corners in the interest of economic viability. Very importantly, I retain complete ownership of my intellectual property and copyrights and can multipurpose my content as I like," he says.

Lipika Bhushan is the founder of MarketMyBook, a full service digital marketing and PR services agency that provides marketing support to all writers alike irrespective of whether they are published by a big brand or independently.

"These days, almost all writers are expected to contribute their time, energy and money in marketing their books so I think a few are taking it to the next level of independently publishing their work for the reasons of time and creative independence. Some of the biggest names in both international and Indian writing scene have made a success of independent publishing," she says.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sun, August 26 2018. 12:50 IST