Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to get published?

Lately, more than half of the mails that I'm receiving ask me how to get published. Tired of typing the same thing over and over again, I think this blog post would be of help:
  1. In India, publishers can be approached directly. No mediators are required.
  2. You can google all publishers and mail your manuscript to them. Some publishers are keen on having the hard copy and they ask you to mail the hard copy. Though it's said that they go through each and every manuscript they get, I have a serious doubt.
  3. Rejection is a widespread disease. Reasons might be very genuine such as you are not at all good to sometimes, what you are writing doesn't suit their publishing scheme. Be persistent and try to think why something is not working. 
  4. If you are getting rejected from everyone for a manuscript that you clearly see is having big market - it means that your writing is still amateurish. Accept it. Improve it. Shoot back.
  5. The big houses take some time to respond and sometimes they don't respond at all. Sometime after 2-3 months you hear from them saying that your manuscript doesn't suit their publishing scheme. It'll be disappointing. I have been there - consistently. 
  6. The concept of literary agents - though it has nascently emerged - is bullshit. Agents are pimps who target novice authors having no idea/network/foothold in the publishing industry and take away a significant portion of their royalties. But if you actually have no idea about how to go about publishing and you suck at self-marketing, then they can be of significant help - at least they can get you big houses and also get a good editor to you. They just use their contacts to make it easy for you.
  7. Big publishing houses don't mean that you will sell. Ironically, smaller publishers churn out more number of bestsellers in comparison to big publishing houses, because current readership of India has more non-English background readers and they prefer light fiction over literary books.
  8. Smaller publishing houses' editorial teams are an imaginary entity. The editor associated with small publishing houses is either some random blogger/a failed writer and they get peanuts for editing the book. How can you expect them to do a great job at it? Most of the times they publish the raw manuscript, without even editing a paragraph in it. Editing is important - even if you have an excellent English - because it makes the manuscript much more readable, compact and weaves the corners to make the flow better. If you are going with a small publisher, get it edited by some freelance editors. I can refer you some editors, if you wish.
  9. There are few publishers who are very good and they respond via mails as well. Westland is one. But they are very selective about your quality of writing. You can try writing to them.
  10. The way to steer yourself without an agent in the publishing industry is by networking with people in the industry. How to do it? Try twitter. Associate with a lot of social groups - where you get to meet a lot of people. Hang out in creative places. Exploit your already existing network - ask your friends if they know someone in the industry, schedule a meeting. Get out of your comfort zone and meet a lot of people.
  11. It's very important to be in a metropolitan city to get a strong foothold in the publishing domain. The concept of networking doesn't exist in smaller cities. So, come to Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru. 
  12. Don't ask an author to refer you. Authors have got very little say, since they are not a part of the publishing houses - they are just their customers. Rather ask a publishing/media person to refer you - it'll have a better impact.

All the best.

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Last Breath

2007, Summer.

The temperature was 38 degrees, it had been half an hour in the scorching heat. We were in the no man’s land, the area being prohibited, and there was no-one to prevent trespassing. The sun was showing no mercy on us - Aman and Harsh(yeah that's me) : college returns, who decided to break the monotony of the ongoing vacations by spending some time in the countryside - the mines near our city.

Half an hour ago, we parked our butts on the hot seat, our bottoms feeling as if they were on a toaster, of a five years old Suzuki Fiero, and dragged ourselves towards the undiscovered areas of our city. The area was picturesque and that gave us, the budding photographers some incentive to compensate our play with the scorching heat. After passing through the crude road, with the tyres of the bike become brown with mud, we got completely drenched in sweat. I chided myself for having worn my new T-shirt that day, which was now stinky because of the sweat-drops rolling down my neck. After hopping here and there for about 15 minutes, at last we found the place which offered us a grand view of numerous hills. The  majestic sight of something like The Grand Canyon filled my mind with awe and wonder. I had been untouched by such a beautiful place that too lying hidden and undiscovered in my city. I jumped all through the way and finally made it to the edge of the hillock. The smoke of underground fire filed my nose, reminding me of the similar smell encountered in the chemistry lab when they conducted that H2S experiment. I sensed that it was a risky place, but the advertisement of DEW during that time with the tagline 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai' inspired me to stay firm. Just six feet from the edge I was thinking of capturing the panorama of the canyon.

Humming Creed‘s famous song One Last Breath, I moved ahead with my right leg trying to find a vantage point only to realize that it was not at all the right thing to do. To my surprise, the land beneath me began to go down. No, it wasn’t a landslide, it was not a swamp, but it was actually loose soil, which had inside it - fire, underground fire. The area had burning coals within it all around and was prone to be swallowed by the earth. Everyday newspaper editors filled their local columns with one news of 'land swallow' in Jharia - that’s the name of the place where we went. The place was prohibited for the laymen, and we, the future engineers of India were not counting ourselves in this category of ‘Layman’. And that day, this future engineer of India was going to get roasted in the underground fire of its own country. My feet trembled as I saw the soil beneath my feet trickling down.

Within a moment, I realized how bad this death would be as there would be nobody to ever get to know the cause if my death, nobody to relish the sight of my red hot tandoor, rather I would add to the national reserves of coal! I saw Aman at a considerable distance from me and told him not to proceed that side, as the soil was very loose. I took two photographs(see my passion for photography!) and ran back as fast as I could. Had it been a 100m race, surely I was gonna win. Several lumps of soil were swallowed by the earth as I hurled my 58 kg light body over them. I felt like HULK because for the first time I saw that my 50 kg was enough to crush the grounds by about two inches. By the way, have you ever wondered why HULK‘s underpants do not get torn when he transforms from a human to a HULK? I was feeling a sudden power in my veins (and arteries too). And this sudden power was suddenly overpowered by the ground, as I tumbled on the way back while adoring my power.

Seeing his friend enjoying the song One Last Breath alone, Aman could not resist. He came running towards me and helped me out. And we hand in hands, with utmost caution, proceeded towards the safe place and took three shots through our silly 2 mp phone camera. Finally a sigh of relief !

Thanks to the Suzuki Fiero, my perspiration was air-conditioned on the way back and set-wet zatak did the other work, and the ordeal was etched in my mind, forever.

The Place Where I Stood