This is one question that most writers ask before getting published but tend not to take the advice seriously. I am not an exception. And so aren’t many other people who I know. So I’ll say a few things from my experience (and mistakes).
Let’s start from the beginning. I assume you have an idea or a story that you want to convert into a novel. Great! Almost 10 percent of your work is done. Now proceed towards getting it half done.
Write the manuscript.
Don’t be hesitant in taking inspirations from wherever required. Read as much as you can even when you’re writing. Try not to make mistakes. Remember: First draft is always bad! Edit, redo, rewrite. And lastly, have someone proofread your work. Preferably someone who has a good command over English and hates you. (More critical, better)
For Indian writers, it is generally recommended to have a word count of round about 45-50k and around 2-3 page synopsis.
Done with the manuscript. (50% there)
You may have done it earlier, you can do it now too, think of a good title for the book. Keep three things in mind:
1. The title should be catchy enough.
2. It shouldn’t give away too much about the plot. But enough to let the reader understand what’s going on.
3. Optional, better if followed: it should be original and SEO friendly.
Once you’ve reached a good solid draft, take a look at it and decide which are the three best chapters. You could go with the first three as well. If both the things are the same, you’re in for good.
Now comes the tricky part. Finding the publisher.
India is a country filled with people. And we’re so many that even if a tiny .01 percent decide to open publishing houses, that counts for like .1 million of those. And that’s a sad truth. We have publishers waiting for authors like eagles wait for carcasses. Specially the Debut authors who are supposed to be naive, lacking the knowledge of the industry and impatient, ready to see their name on a book as soon as possible.
But there are some who are good too. Unfortunately, they sit on the top of the pyramid and take a lot of time sometimes not to reply at all. But patience is a virtue. Here’s what you need to do once you’re done with the manuscript.
Keep the following ready.
- Three sample chapters, including the first one.
- An author’s bio.
- A resume (Optional)
- A synopsis of the book.
- A title and an index.
- Acknowledgement, preface, prologue etc (For later stages.)
To give you some names, there’s many publishers out there like: Rupa, Penguin, Hachett, RandomHouse, Westland, Ebury etc. (The level 1 time takers)
There’s a stream of level 2 publishers as well who may take lesser time in replying but their market image and distribution is also a level down. I won’t be taking names. Just go to Flipkart or BookAdda and browse the top 100 hot selling books and you can see the names of their publishers too.
You need to take the email address of the publisher and mail them the sample chapters along with the synopsis and author’s bio. You may or may not receive a reply promptly. You may or may not receive a reply within three months. You may or may not receive a reply EVER! Deal with it. You’re just another writer in a pool of thousands. It has got to take time.
Now here’s what makes it worse. A level 1 may take time in replying and a level two may reply earlier giving you a thumbs up. It’s time for you to do some research. Don’t make a mistake that most writers do. Going for a mediocre one because it was early. Writing is not like Cricket where a 40 year old is done. Have patience. Give it time.
If you’re say 25, maybe by the time you get published you’ll be 26 or 27, that’s an amazing feat at that age. Don’t settle for a bad publisher at 25 just to regret it later. I’ve seen publishers asking for as much as 50,000 rupees from writers. That’s a simple and strong red flag. You don’t need to spend to get published. You may need to promote at your own cost afterwards though.
Never say yes to anyone who asks for money (apart from general editing costs that may be upto 5000 at max).
Never say yes to a publisher who doesn’t have a book in your nearby crossword store or flipkart.
Never say yes if you’re confident about your story but the publisher doesn’t have any name in bestsellers.
Once you decide which publisher to go for, be confident with it. Do more research and remember that you can opt out anytime you want if you find any problem. Read the contract thoroughly before signing and make sure you’re in terms with the PR team on how to promote the book.
Make sure you get the free author copies (Generally 10 or more). And keep a track of the number of books sold and your royalty from time to time. Never hesitate to ask it anytime. Do it on call instead of mail, makes a better impact. But keep a record on mail as well.
Once you’re done. Congratulations. You have written a whole book in the era where people find it hard to even read one. Now be ready for reviews and put your heart and soul into promoting your book.
It’s like a first marriage. It may go bad too. But you won’t be able to forget it. It’s a dream come true. Strive to become better and no matter your genre was mythology or a chic lit fiction, make sure you use your upcoming popularity to spread the right messages and help others.