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:
- In India, publishers can be approached directly. No mediators are required.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.