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Book Publishing in India: From Manuscript to Bestseller

In this blog, you will learn about the following sections:

  • What is book publishing in India?
  • Types of book publishing
  • Stages of book publishing
  • Factors to consider before publishing your book
  • Tips for a successful book publishing journey
  • Overcoming book publishing challenges
  • Evolution of book publishing in the digital era
  • Future trends in book publishing
  • Publish your book for free

“If there is a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Toni Morrison

Ask any published author, they’ll tell you a secret: Writing is the easy part.

You might have heard the stories of J. K. Rowling or Amish Tripathi and how they had been rejected multiple times by various book publishers. For most writers, words come to them easily but finding a publisher, submitting the manuscript, getting copyrights for the work and then selling the book is a difficult job.

There is a lot of hullabaloo when it comes to book publishing in India. When a new writer wants to join the big league best-selling authors, they realize that they have to do a lot of research and put in hard work to get there. We are trying to make it a little easy for those writers. (And also for those who were previously cheated by big bad corps.)

So, let us come to the most basic question… what is book publishing in India?

What is book publishing in India?

Publishing is any activity that helps you make any type of content available to the public. The content could be information, literature, music, software, or something else. You could publish the content for sale or distribute it for free to others.

Traditionally, the term publishing was limited to printed content such as books, magazines or even newspapers. However, with the advent of the digital era, there have been multifold changes in almost every industry including the publishing industry. Ebooks, micropublishing, video games, websites, academic journals and even blogs like this one are said to be published when someone shares them online as content for people to consume.

The commercial publishing industry includes a lot of variety, starting from your free WordPress hosted blogs and leading up to multinational media companies such as Thomson Reuters.

When we talk about book publishing in India solely, there are many different big and small publishers who are printing numerous books every year. Let us understand the types of book publishing in detail.

Types of book publishing 

How do I publish my book? If you have this question, then this section explores the different paths authors can take in the publishing world.

1. Traditional book publishing

Traditional book publishers are selective about the types of book they publish. However, if they select a manuscript, then you need to pay nothing. As the author of the book, you need to give the selling and publishing rights of the book. And in exchange, you get free editing, design, publishing, marketing and distribution services. Moreover, you also get a percentage of the profit as royalty for every book that sells.

However, such publishers get tons of submissions every year and they only select a handful of writers. The best bet for most writers is to go through a literary agent but even that does not turn out to be fruitful at times. The main source of income for these traditional publishers is through the sales of the books. 

Pros of traditional book publishing:

  1. Expertise and resources available.
  2. Prestige and validation.
  3. Established distribution channels.
  4. Potential financial support through advances.

Cons of traditional book publishing:

  1. Lengthy book publishing process.
  2. Loss of creative control.
  3. Limited royalties compared to alternative book publishing models.
  4. Difficulty in getting published due to high competition.

2. Self publishing

Self-publishing companies don’t really have any kind of selection process and they publish all books of authors who approach them. They follow a print on demand system in which they keep printing a limited number of copies of your book in stock. Some self-publishing companies also offer editing and other services at an extra cost to their clients. You have the complete freedom to choose (if any) which services you want along with the printing process. 

Alternatively, you can outsource all different processes to different companies or people. For example, you can hire a freelance editor to edit the book, hire a freelance book cover designer for the cover, and print the books through a company that offers printing services.

The best thing about this method is that you will retain the complete rights of your book. However, you also need to be prepared to invest a good amount upfront in publishing your book if you opt form self publishing since the author bears all costs here. 

Pros of self publishing companies:

  1. Creative control over all aspects of the book publishing process.
  2. Faster publication timeline.
  3. Higher royalty rates and potential for greater profits.
  4. Accessibility and ease of self-publishing.

Cons of self publishing companies:

  1. Limited resources and support compared to traditional book publishers.
  2. Self-promotion and marketing responsibilities fall on the author.
  3. Perception challenges of self-published books in the traditional book publishing industry.
  4. Potential upfront costs for editing, cover design, and distribution services.

3. Electronic book publishing (ebook publishing)

With an increased use of ereaders and ebooks across the world, electronic book publishing in India is the newest trend. There are several platforms where you can publish your ebook and get royalty in exchange. Some of the most popular ones are Kindle, Wattpad, Google Play Books, Apple Books, etc.

In electronic publishing, you need to upload your manuscript and cover image with other details to these platforms. There is a fixed percentage of royalty provided by these platforms. And you will receive the amount directly in your bank account.

Many publishing houses also offer ebook publishing along with the physical publishing of your book. This helps increase the reach of your book on a global level even if your book publisher is limited to a certain country or region. This was proven to be especially useful during the Covid-19 situation since many countries went under lockdown and normal activities were suspended. Thus, authors were able to continue selling their ebooks and readers could read the books from the comforts of their homes.

Pros of electronic or ebook publishing:

  1. Instant global distribution through digital platforms.
  2. Lower production costs and higher royalty rates compared to traditional publishing.
  3. Flexibility to update and revise content easily.
  4. Accessibility for readers with e-readers, tablets, and smartphones.

Cons of electronic or ebook publishing:

  1. Higher competition due to the ease of self-publishing in the digital space.
  2. Difficulty in standing out among the vast number of e-books available.
  3. Limited opportunities for physical bookshelf placement and visibility.
  4. Technical challenges for authors who are less familiar with digital publishing tools.

4. Crowd-funded book publishing

Crowd-funded publishing seems like traditional publishing at first glance. What happens here is that when you approach a publisher, they ask you to sign a contract. The contract states that you will sell a certain number of copies in a period of preorder for your book.

For example, you will be asked to sell around 500 copies of your book in the preorder period of 50 days. The money that comes in from this initial sale is then invested in the publishing and distribution of your book.

However, if you are able to sell only 250 copies, then you will need to pay the publisher for the rest of the 250 copies. This would be a big gamble for you if you do not have a big fan base already.

Pros of crowd-funded book publishing:

  1. Ability to secure financial support from readers and fans.
  2. Increased creative freedom and control over the publishing process.
  3. Built-in audience engagement and community building.
  4. Potential for generating buzz and pre-sales before publication.

Cons of crowd-funded book publishing:

  1. Reliance on successfully raising funds, which may not always be guaranteed.
  2. Additional time and effort required for marketing and managing the crowdfunding campaign.
  3. Accountability to deliver promised rewards to backers.
  4. Potential for added pressure to meet expectations of supporters.

5. Hybrid book publishing

Many people feel that there is a large gap between self publishing and traditional publishing. On one hand, traditional publishing has a high barrier for entry. And on the other hand, with a lack of support from the publishers, self-published novels often have poor sales and outreach. To bridge this gap, there is a new type of publishing. 

With the help of hybrid book publishing in India, authors can get their book published through experienced publishers but they have to pay a price for the services they avail. Writer’s Pocket is one such example of hybrid book publisher.

Pros of hybrid book publishing:

  1. Combines elements of traditional publishing and self-publishing, providing a middle ground.
  2. Access to professional editing, design, and distribution services.
  3. Potential for wider distribution and higher royalties compared to traditional publishing.
  4. More control and involvement in the publishing process than traditional publishing.

Cons of hybrid book publishing:

  1. Some upfront costs associated with any optional book publishing services.
  2. Varying quality and reputation among different hybrid book publishers.
  3. Potential loss of some creative control, depending on the specific publication house.
  4. Limited marketing and promotional support compared to traditional book publishers.

So while traditional book publishers earn solely from the sales of the books and self-publishers earn through the service fees, hybrid book publishers aim at earning from a mixture of both and also help the authors boost their outreach in a much better way. They take advantage of both types of book publishing and create the best of both worlds.

We hope this helps you distinguish between the different types of publishers or publishing. Now, if you are thinking about how exactly these publishers function then I guess we should talk a little bit about the stages of book publishing. Ready? Yes? Alright, then.

Stages of book publishing

Different types of publishers tend to follow different processes. However, the basic stages of book publishing remain mostly the same everywhere. Of course, publishers need to alter the various stages of publishing based on the type of your book and requirements.

For example, if you are working on a book that is a compilation of poems and want to include illustrations in the book, then the process of creating illustrations and adding them with the content would be an extra step. If you have written a novel that you decide to get published via hybrid or self-publishing and want to edit the book yourself, then the copyediting stage would be skipped for your book.

Hence, the stages keep changing based on what your book is about and what it requires. However, the standard process for book publishing includes the following stages.

1 Idea generation –

brainstorming and developing ideas for the plot, characters, and overall concept of the book. Basically, this stage is just you deciding what you want to write about.

2 Plot outlining –

in this stage, you design a structured plot outline of the book with main plot points, subplots, character arcs and key events. Later on, you can sit and fill in the details with ease.

3 Research –

if your book needs any historical research or technical details to ensure accuracy and no loopholes, then this stage is an important one.

4 Writing the first draft –

which is the process of you writing your book. Simple as that. (And since you will also be battling writer’s block along with content creation, does this count as 2 stages?)

5 Developmental editing –

here you will be reviewing and revising the first draft to improve clarity, coherence, and overall quality. Developmental editing for books does include the basic checks for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, but it mainly focuses on refining the plot, characters, and the narrative structure. You can do this on your own or you can hire an experienced editor to help you out.

6 Beta readers and feedback –

you share your manuscript with trusted beta readers or critics to gather feedback on the story, characters, pacing, or any areas that may require improvement.

7 Line editing –

as per the feedback from the beta readers, you make any changes that you think will make the book flow better. A line editor carefully examines each line of the manuscript. They refine the prose for clarity, conciseness, and impact. They may suggest rephrasing sentences, improving transitions, or enhancing the overall narrative flow. Line editing aims to enhance the writing style and elevate the reader’s experience by creating a smooth flow and engaging prose.

8 Copy editing –

in this stage, the copy editor works closely with you to ensure that the book is free from any grammatical errors. A copy editor meticulously reviews the manuscript for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax errors. They ensure consistency in language usage, check for clarity and readability, and make necessary corrections or suggestions to improve the overall quality of the writing. Copy editing helps polish the manuscript and prepare it for the next stages of production.

9 Proofreading –

one last thorough round of proofreading to catch any remaining errors, typos, or inconsistencies before the book goes into production.

10 Copyrights –

as per the Copyright office of the government of India, the acquisition of copyrights is automatic. What this means is that if you are creating any literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work, you will automatically get the copyrights of that particular work. However, the government also insists on applying for the copyright officially so that it can serve as evidence in any court of law in case of any problems related to the ownership of copyrights.

11 Acquisition/contract signing –

acquisition is usually a stage in traditional book publishing when the publisher acquires the selling rights of your work. In other types of book publishing, there is usually the contract signing stage in which you and the book publisher negotiate a deal before signing a valid and legally binding contract.

12 Typesetting or formatting –

formatting the interior pages of the book, ensuring proper typography, layout, and formatting for both print and digital versions.

13 Book cover design –

brainstorming with a professional book cover designer for creating an appealing cover that represents the essence of the book and attracts potential readers. After all, people do judge books by their covers. 

14 ISBN and metadata –

acquiring an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for the book, which is a unique identifier. You can also create metadata here which includes title, author, genre, description and relevant keywords. This information helps in listing the book on any platform for effective book discovery and categorization.

15 Printing & production –

this is where the dreams come true. This stage involves multiple minor stages such as choosing the right paper, sourcing good quality paper, printing, cutting as per size, binding it together, adding gloss or matte finishing to the cover and running the book through several quality checks.

16 eBook –

converting the manuscript into various eBook formats compatible with e-readers. 

17 Distribution channels –

this is where the book publisher ensures that your book is easily accessible to your readers by partnering with multiple distributors and listing your book on e-commerce platforms.

18 Book launch –

organizing a launch event or online campaign to celebrate the release of the book and engage with readers. This can include book readings, giveaways, author interviews, and leveraging social media platforms for maximum exposure.

19 Sales and royalties –

monitoring book sales through various channels, tracking royalties earned, and ensuring proper accounting and payment.

20 Author platform building –

book publishing in India is not a one-time project. It is important to build an online presence and author brand through consistent content creation, engagement with readers, and participating in literary events or conferences. This helps your book reach new readers and increases your sales. If you have the budget for it, then it’s also a good idea to create a website that tells people about you as an individual and has information about your book/s.

21 Ongoing marketing and promotions –

you can partner with book reviewers, celebrities, readers, influencers, digital news platforms and other sources to help you reach your book to the target readers. You can also host giveaways of your book through other media communities to get more people talking about your book.

22 Author development –

you can continue to hone your writing skills and exploring new ideas. You can also seek opportunities for growth as an author through workshops, writing courses, or networking with other authors.

As you might have noticed— a lot of marketing and promotional activities involve the use of online media. Hence, it is imperative that we take a look at how the digital era truly impacts the publishing industry.

Factors to consider before publishing your book

When it comes to publishing your book in India, there are several paths to consider. Each option offers unique advantages and limitations. 

Here are some factors to help you choose the right publishing path for your book:

1. Goals and Creative Control

Consider your goals as an author. Are you seeking widespread recognition? Maybe a traditional publishing deal? Or do you prefer to maintain complete creative control? Traditional publishing does offer wider distribution and access to established marketing channels. However, self-publishing allows you to retain creative freedom and make all the decisions regarding your book.

2. Budget

Evaluate your budgetary constraints. Traditional publishing typically involves upfront costs, such as agent commission, editing (before manuscript submission) and marketing. Self-publishing allows you to control expenses by choosing the services you require. However, it’s essential to invest in professional editing and cover design to ensure a polished final product regardless of which path you choose.

3. Time:

Time is a crucial factor. Traditional book publishing in India can take longer due to the submission and review process. However, self-publishing allows you to set your own timeline. But it requires you to manage various aspects of the publishing process independently.

4. Marketing and Promotion:

Consider your marketing capabilities and willingness to invest time and effort in promoting your book. Traditional publishers often have established marketing and distribution channels. But self-publishing requires you to take on marketing responsibilities. Evaluate your marketing skills and decide if you’re willing to build your author platform and engage with readers directly.

5. Creative Freedom:

If maintaining complete control over your book is essential, self-publishing offers the most creative freedom. You decide on the cover design, formatting, pricing, and distribution channels. However, traditional publishing may involve some compromises as publishers cater to market trends and reader preferences.

6. Distribution:

Consider how you want your book to reach readers. Traditional publishers have established distribution networks that can make your book available in bookstores and libraries. With self-publishing, you can leverage online platforms such as Amazon and other e-commerce platforms to distribute your book globally.

Tips for a Successful Book Publishing Journey

Now that you might have chosen your publishing path, you need to make it a success. Hence, here are some tips to navigate the publishing journey successfully:

1. Build Your Author Platform

Establish a strong online presence. You can do this through a professional author website, social media accounts, and an email newsletter. Engage with readers, share updates, and build a community around your writing.

2. Craft an Engaging Book Synopsis and Author Bio

The first thing that a reader reads in your book is the blurb on the back cover. Write a compelling book synopsis to entice readers and accurately reflect the essence of your story. Create an engaging author bio that showcases your writing credentials, experiences, and passions.

3. Design a Captivating Book Cover

Invest in a professional book cover design that grabs attention and reflects the genre and tone of your book. A visually appealing cover can significantly impact sales and attract potential readers.

4. Professional Editing

Hire a professional editor ensures that your book is free from grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies. A well-edited book enhances the reading experience and boosts your credibility as an author.

5. Implement Effective Marketing Strategies

Utilize social media platforms, guest blogging, author interviews, and online book tours to promote your book. Engage with book reviewers, seek endorsements, and explore advertising opportunities to reach a wider audience.

6. Connect with Readers:

Engage with your readers through social media, author events, book signings, and virtual interactions. Respond to reviews, participate in book clubs, and foster meaningful connections with your audience.

Overcoming Publishing Challenges

While book publishing in India can be rewarding, it also comes with challenges. Thus, here are some common obstacles and tips for overcoming them:

1. Dealing with Rejection

Rejection is part of the publishing process. Don’t let it discourage you. Learn from feedback, improve your writing, and keep submitting your work. Persistence and resilience are key.

2. Finding Reliable Publishing Professionals

Research and seek recommendations when hiring editors, cover designers, and other publishing professionals. Look for people with experience in your genre and consider their previous work and client testimonials.

3. Navigating Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights:

Educate yourself about copyright laws and the process of obtaining copyright for your work. Understand your rights and obligations as an author, and consider consulting a legal professional if needed.

4. Exploring Distribution Options:

Investigate various distribution channels, both online and offline, to make your book accessible to a broader audience. Explore e-commerce platforms, local bookstores, libraries, and book festivals to expand your reach.

5. Book Promotion and Launch:

Plan a comprehensive book promotion strategy well in advance of your launch. Organize virtual or physical book launch events. And don’t forget to leverage social media to generate buzz.

Evolution of publishing in the digital era

So what is your average daily smartphone usage? Mine is definitely too high to reveal. And I know that is the case with most of us these days. Since more of us spend so much of our day on our phones, it does impact every other aspect as well. Yes, including the book publishing industry.

The digital era has completely transformed the way books are created, distributed, and consumed. Thus, we now have a whole new way to connect authors with readers all over the world. Say hello to e-books and online platforms!

This opens up exciting opportunities for you to share your stories with a global audience. And guess what? It’s easier than ever before!

Thus, we no longer rely solely upon printed books. The rise of digital content has taken us to new horizons, offering a world of possibilities. With digital book publishing in India, you, as an author, can let your creativity run wild. Your stories can reach readers regardless of geographical boundaries. And the readers can enjoy their favourite books with the utmost convenience, right at their fingertips. Whether it’s on an e-reader, tablet, or smartphone, everyone has access to a vast library of captivating stories wherever they go.

Challenges in digital transformation

But as with any great transformation, there are challenges to overcome. Similarly, here, piracy is a looming threat that authors and publishers must face head-on. It’s a battle to protect their hard work. And ensure that readers have access to authentic and high-quality content. Moreover, let’s not forget the need for authors to adapt to new digital marketing strategies. Hence, it’s crucial for authors to find innovative ways to stand out and capture readers’ attention.

However, let’s not dwell on the challenges alone. The digital era brings with it a whole new level of excitement and interactivity. Imagine reading a book that’s not just words on a page but a multimedia experience! It’s an immersive adventure that captivates our senses and ignites our imagination.

Moreover, the digital landscape also offers readers an incredible range of choices. With online platforms, social reading communities, and clever recommendation algorithms, we can dive into a treasure trove of genres, discover hidden literary gems, and engage in lively discussions with fellow bookworms from all corners of the globe. It’s a literary paradise where the possibilities seem endless.

So, as we navigate this digital age of book publishing, let’s remember that at the heart of it all are the human connections forged through storytelling. The books we read, whether in print or digital form, have the power to touch our souls, transport us to different worlds, and create lasting memories. As readers, authors, and publishers, we’re embarking on an incredible journey together—one that will undoubtedly shape the future of the written word.

So, let’s celebrate the wonders of the digital revolution and embrace this new chapter in the world of book publishing in India. Let’s keep those stories flowing, those imaginations running wild, and those connections between readers and authors thriving. After all, it’s through the magic of books that we truly come alive.

Future Trends in Book Publishing

The book publishing industry is continuously evolving. and we are not talking just about digitization Here are some future trends to keep an eye on:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning technologies are being used to enhance the publishing process, from editing and proofreading tools to predictive analytics for market trends and reader preferences.

2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

VR and AR applications can create immersive experiences for readers, enabling them to interact with characters and settings from books. These technologies offer new avenues for book promotion and engagement.

3. Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the publishing industry by providing secure, transparent, and decentralized systems for copyright management, royalty tracking, and content distribution.

4. Rise of Audiobooks and Podcasts

Audiobooks and podcasts are gaining popularity as alternative formats for consuming books. Consider exploring these formats to reach a broader audience and provide an immersive listening experience.

5. Sustainability and Eco-friendly Publishing Practices

As environmental concerns grow, there is an increasing demand for sustainable publishing practices. Hence, consider eco-friendly printing options, digital distribution, and environmentally-conscious packaging choices.

Are you working on a book? Publish it for free

If you are working on a book, we have good news for you. Writer’s Pocket is a publishing house that started with the aim to provide a platform for new writers in India. While we do have paid packages for elaborate guided publishing, we understand that not every writer wishes to invest thousands of rupees in publishing their art. Hence, in 2022, we made a resolve to make publishing more accessible for all writers. We launched a new offer which only requires you to pay a nominal processing fee and publish your book easily! Want to know about it in detail? Check out our Free Book Publishing offer today!

If you are here just to know more about book publishing in India, feel free to drop your email below and subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates in your inbox.

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