The emergence of self-publishing as an option to bring a writer’s work to the world has changed the entire industry over the last few years. While some of the developments have been positive, such as the increased author royalties and easy global reach, there have been negatives as well.
For one thing, the sheer quantity of books now available in the market has led to the creation of clutter. The number of books available on Amazon numbers in the millions – for anyone who is not already famous, it has become harder than ever to get noticed.
So what can an Indian Author do to get noticed and ensure that his or her book is not lost amidst the clutter?
1. Stay away from Vanity Publishers
A number of self-publishing companies, some with very famous names and brands backing them, have recently emerged in India claiming to be able to help writers get published. These tend to charge large amounts of money and in return, to get your book published – but they do not offer anything you can not get done yourself and at a more value-for-money price.
2. Edit and proofread
Amazon and Smashwords, the two most prominent self-publishing platforms in the world, have made the process very simple. With the possibility of seeing your name on a book in a matter of minutes, it can be tempting to upload and publish your very first draft. But that could be mistake. First drafts are often riddled with errors. So are second and third drafts, and it is a fact that the creator of a work cannot have a dispassionate view about its quality.
It makes a lot of sense then to invest the money in a quality editing service and go for both line-editing and developmental editing. Your book will only improve for it. Remember, when you self-publish, you are the only person responsible for the success of your book; but that does not mean you will not need help.
3. Get a professional to design your cover
Remember the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”? It is obsolete. For your book to stand out among the millions of titles available to readers, it is important to have an attractive cover. Graphic artists and designers will make their services available to you for a price – do not crimp and try to create a cover yourself unless you are an artist with a proven track record. If your book’s cover can convey the essence of your work and interest people, it will go a long way towards your book’s success.
4. Write a good blurb
A blurb is the text on the back cover of a physical book. For an e-book, it is usually the text that is put up on the selling page under ‘About this book’. After the cover, this is the next thing a potential reader is going to look at. Make it attractive. Make it arresting. Without giving away the plot of your novel, (in case of poetry or non-fiction this isn’t such a major concern, of course) give just enough to engage a reader and make him want to know what happens to the characters in the book.
5. Make a print edition available
A lot of self-published authors only make their books available in the Kindle format, or at most across multiple e-book platforms. It is essential to remember that paperbacks are still the dominant form in which books are sold, particularly so in India. Print-on-demand services are available that can ensure that readers who want a paperback can order one, and while the quality of the paper and cover might not be as good as that of the better publishing houses, it gives you access to a segment of the population you might not otherwise have had.
6. Watch out for copyrights
A lot of work is copyrighted. Before using any images on your cover or inside your book, or the names of movies, songs or actual people, ensure you are not violating anyone’s trademarks. If at all you are using such material, do contact and take permission from the creator of that work, or at least take an opinion from a lawyer. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are sued for damages in excess of what you will earn from the book.
7. Market your book
Finally, once you have sorted out the editing, the cover, and availability and the legal issues, your book will be out there. Ready for the world to place orders for it. Except that the world won’t. While many traditional publishers will take some effort at least to push the books they have printed, in a self-publishing market, you have to get the word out yourself. So do it! Shout from the rooftops, make some noise. You do not need to spam people’s social media feeds (in fact, don’t. It’s counterproductive). But do not be shy to tell people. You are a writer now, and people need to know what you have written.
Self-publishing has opened up a glorious opportunity for budding writers all over the world, including India. But here, we often miss out on the little details, the meticulousness that is needed to separate the wheat from the chaff. Give it your best shot though, and leave no stone unturned to ensure your book achieves the success it deserves!