October 17, 2013

Publishing Houses

Dear M,

Everywhere you look, there is a publishing house waiting to cater to your needs. As an author, you do not know where to go.

One of our earliest dreams revolve around the biggest publishers in the country. We imagine them snatching us away as the brilliant new author of the day. Then, once we start querying, we realise that it is not easy to get noticed by the biggies. Even worse, it is not easy to get noticed by the medium sized ones; it is not easy to get noticed even by the small (but credible) publishers.

Today there are several small publishing houses sprouting at every corner. The moment you type 'publishing' or 'writing' or 'author', advertisements battle among themselves to pop up, to lure you into the wonderful world of publishing success. You have no idea which one to turn to, and which ones to ignore. Everyone promises us what we are looking for.

Most of us still prefer (as far as our dreams take us) to go for traditional publishing by known publishers. That is a safe and bankable option. At least you have a fair idea of what you are getting into. And we have the feeling that we can leave the important things in their hands. After all, we are new too. We could do with some hand-holding.

The problem with small and new publishing houses is that you have no idea what marketing tactics they are going to employ to publicise your book. You want the whole world to be able to buy it. You have interested people from the USA and Germany asking for the link to purchase a copy. If your little publisher doesn't have the ability to put it up for sale online, you are going to have to say "Sorry" to these potential readers more often than you like.

On the other hand, (or if you have experienced traditional publishing once and wish to try have a little more control) self-publishing is a good option. You could get the book formatted and edited and presented the way you like. You could market the book in the places you like. If you are ready to go all out and sell your book online and offline, and leave no stone unturned, then self-publishing could be for you. (But if you are not the person who wants to go out on the road and yell out your book's title like a newspaper seller until your voice is hoarse, then don't even think about it.)

But whoever you choose (especially if they are new or unheard of), run a basic check on them to see what they have done with their first books, and how those books have fared.


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