Saturday, December 10, 2022


Publishers are generally not interested in encouraging new writers unless they are celebrities or well known for their subject specialisation. Many of the famous writers of today had to face rejection by several publishers before their first book got accepted. I had some experience with this when I wanted to publish my first book- my autobiography in 2009 which I wrote post retirement Two Chennai-based publishers were interested but were not giving me a firm commitment. In the meanwhile, my good friend Srinivasamurthy of Productivity & Quality Publishing, specialising in management books offered to help me provided I promised him a book on Rural Marketing (my area of specialisation then) which he would publish. He however wanted me to self-finance my autobiography and wanted Rs 1,00,000 for printing 1000 copies. He promised to give me 500 books to sell myself and on the balance that he sold through his distribution network, he promised me a royalty.

The concept of digital printing and print on demand was yet to make its appearance then. Being an impatient man I agreed to the terms and within six months the book was ready featuring my cartoon by legendary cartoonist R.K.Lakshman on the cover. I had a dream launch of the book at a meeting of the Rural Marketing Association of India (of which I was a Founder President) where I was being given the Life Time Achievement Award by the association. The two-in-one function held in Chennai with a packed audience consisting of friends and well-wishers was a resounding success. I sold 100 copies of the book on that day. Within the next two years not only I sold most of the copies I had through aggressive marketing among my contacts but also received a handsome royalty from the publisher over a period of four years, which was the net amount I earned out of my effort in publishing my autobiography. My next book on Rural marketing sold about 2000 copies and I was happy with the good royalty I got from the publisher. However, I lost money on my self-financed third book, the first collection of my essays, because I had printed more copies than what I could sell through my contacts.

Right from the beginning I had decided that I would try my hand at different genres of writing and realized that no publisher would be interested in supporting me in my experiments. By this time self-publishing, digital printing, and print on demand were becoming popular and I got introduced to Mr Diwakar of Compuprint who is a specialist in this area. I decided to use the services of Diwakar who not only prints my books but also publishes them. Needless to say that I self-finance them. He also gets the ISBN no. and uploads my books on Amazon and handles the orders received. But he has no arrangement for distributing the books to book shops.  I, on my own, ensure the sale of my books in a couple of book shops in Chennai by directly contacting them.

I am clear that I am publishing my books not to become a world famous author or make big money through my books. I am doing this because of the immense joy it gives me every time I publish a new book and it is favourably received by my readers who are growing in numbers. Besides, holding the first copy of every new book is like holding your new baby. I market my book shamelessly and promote it through social and other media, which helps create awareness about my book but does not result in big sales. What gets me the result is the direct marketing efforts to targeted audiences. 

Since I do not have the benefit of getting my books sold through a distribution network, I initially print 150 copies and order extra copies as and when I run out of copies. Some of my well-wishers even order extra copies to gift them to their friends. The fact that I have a huge network of friends through my association with several voluntary and professional bodies and my background as an ex-adman helps in selling my books. 

I am very happy with the system I am following because I am completely in control of my book projects and know exactly know where I stand with the sales at any point in time. The same cannot be said about the experience of many of my friends who have used the services of a well-established self-publishing house and even after two years they don`t know where they stand in terms of the sales of their books. Most of them have not even recovered 40% of the investment they made in self-publishing their books. It is a well-known fact that good publishers can help in distributing the books but cannot guarantee sales. If an author is interested in selling his books he has to relentlessly promote his book through every available media and at every available opportunity. Even well-known authors have to do this when their books are released.


Thanks to self-publishing and print-on-demand facility today every other writer is able to become a published author. It is also called `Vanity Publishing`. Today Self-publishing or Vanity publishing is an accepted norm in the world of writers/authors. It is also an ideal solution for those who want to see their writings in book form. They can print limited no of copies of their memoirs or any other book that they have written for free distribution. With the experience of publishing 12 books in 13 years covering seven genres of writing I have already helped 15 friends self-publish their books.  I will be happy to offer my services, pro bono, to anyone needing advice on self-publishing their books. 


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