Category Archives: Marketing

Five Mistakes an Indian Self-Publisher/Author Often Makes

15401031_084808915a_z1. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author sometimes picks up images from the internet

Although everyone has access to thousands of images online, most of these images can not be used in your self-published book.  There are two major reasons for this:

  1. Legal Issues: There is a general feeling that any image on the internet is free. This perception is incorrect. Most images are protected by copyright and users could face legal consequences if they use images that are copyrighted and thereby do not have permission to use. Unless specifically mentioned in public domain or under suitable creative commons license, you should assume that the image is copyrighted. Also when you search for images at google you can search using the usage rights option.Read this: http://creativecommons.org.au/blog/2015/08/think-before-using-photographs-from-the-internet/

     

  2. Technical Issues: Most of the images on the net are low-resolution and don’t print well. You need a minimum resolution of 300 DPI for the image to print well, otherwise the resulting image will be pixelated. More about understanding image size and resolution here

    So think twice before you use an image from the internet.

 

2. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author doesn’t often write in the language s/he is comfortable with

Many writers opt to write in English not because they are well-versed in the language but because it is far more convenient to get copy typed and not worry about font issues. Plus the English language has a wider reach.

Unfortunately, without  fluency in the language you publish the book in, having a wider target audience is pointless. Writing in a language you are not comfortable with means you don’t put your best foot forward. Nowadays books published in regional languages are making a mark, so why hesitate to write in the language that you love?

3. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author doesn’t always think about marketing

Whether it is traditional publishing or self-publishing, marketing is key and this is something the author is responsible for. Just because the book is written, readers won’t come. The writer has to think about building a platform even before the book is written.

4. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author is prone to scams

Instead of focusing on platform building authors end up being taken for a ride and  fall prey to expensive promises.  If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Publishing is the easy part. Getting readers and becoming an author readers are looking to read is difficult. If someone promises to do that for a lot of money, they are probably lying.

5. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author is usually paranoid about manuscript protection

“One setback many writers bring in their own path is their obsession with protecting their manuscript,” says Jaya Jha, co-founder of Pothi.com. “If you are just starting out, your problem is obscurity, not theft or piracy. Focus on writing the best book and bringing it to as many people as you can, instead of being paranoid about someone stealing your work. Selling a book is a difficult task. People, in general, aren’t on the lookout for a manuscript to steal.”

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What makes for a bestseller in India?

A bestseller could be defined as a book that sells at least 10,000 copies every year. Any book genre can be a bestseller, but there are some books that sell more than others.

Education Books: Yes, this is number one in the list! According to Nielson’s India Book Report:
The K–12 market (school books) has grown from 63 billion INR ($956 million) in 2007-08 to 186 billion INR ($2.8 billion) in 2013-14. Higher education book sales have grown in this period from 16 billion INR ($242 million) to 56 billion INR($849 million).

So if you want to write a bestseller, why don’t you write a book about how to ace an exam? Take one of the books at Pothi.com. Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann Mcdowell is a fast selling book . “This book is proof of how the Indian book market caters to a textbook bestseller phenomenon,” Jaya Jha, founder of Pothi.com says.

Romance fiction: If fiction has any say at all in the bestselling space it is primarily in the romance genre. Though forums like Quora lead you to believe otherwise, books by Chetan Bhagat are quite popular. Other romance authors who have aced cupid’s formula are Durjoy Datta, Nikita Singh and Ravinder Singh.

Mythological fiction: It’s impossible to ignore myth in India. You may be an urban yuppie, but everywhere there is the memory of myth- stories you have heard, stories you see sprouting up as architecture, television dramas based on epic heroes. Writers like Devdutt Pattanaik and Amish Tripathi have spun stories out of existing stories and now have a huge fan following.

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Once you write the book for the appropriate target audience, a lot of marketing goes into making the book a bestseller. You have to remember that if you are writing for a traditional publisher, you earn 5-10% royalty; with self-publishing you bake the cake and eat it too.

When it comes to both kinds of publishing, authors are expected to pitch in when it comes to marketing effort. The author’s platform is often a criterion.

Says Jaya Jha,“The real difference between traditional and self-publishing isn’t so much that author gets to rest after writing in traditional publishing but that the ultimate responsibility as well as control lies with the author in self-publishing.”

It takes a great deal of effort to sell your book. You can earn a lot more money self-publishing but for this you need to do your homework right by spending a lot more of your time in marketing it by participating actively in the launch, perfecting your social media pitch and actively promoting yourself. Once the sales starts picking up by word of mouth, you can sit back, relax and see the book turn into a bestseller.

Check out these links for more ideas about writing a bestseller in India:

Preview is for showing the book, not hiding it

Authors work hard on their books. It is, therefore, natural for them to be very protective of their manuscripts.  However, all the authors, especially the new, unknown ones, have to carefully balance the threats of piracy and the threats of obscurity. If the book is not known then you can be sure that the book will not be pirated. But in that case it won’t be bought by anyone either. How much to open up your book and how much to protect it is probably a matter of endless debate. So, right now we will not get into that, but we will focus on a small feature at Pothi.com called “Preview”.

When submitting their books the authors can specify certain portion of the book to be exposed for people to read online as “Preview”. We mandate a minimum of 10 pages to be included there. The idea is that most people publishing with us are first time authors. Plus the manuscript has not been vetted by a third-party. So, it is important that the potential readers get to see enough of the book to make a decision about whether or not to buy the book. We have put a minimum number there, because we feel that the exposed content should be enough to let users make up their mind about the book.

Some authors make good use of this feature. Let’s say you have written a novel. And you expose 60-70% of the novel, or even 90% of it on the site as “Preview”. What is it that you should be scared of? That people will read it for free and not pay for it? Consider this – if somebody actually reads 90% of your book, then he is probably sufficiently interested in it and would want to read the ending. He might end up paying for it. But if you circumvented the minimum 10-pages mandate by only exposing your table of contents and preface, the reader never had a reason to get interested in the book and hence would never consider buying it.

The logic will have to adjust for different genres and forms, of course. Exposing 90% of a short story collection will not have the same effect (it may still be useful for other reasons – e. g. the person may be induced to buy your next book). But exposing around 40% of the book would be worthwhile. Somebody who read 2 of your stories online, might be interested enough to pay for the remaining three too. Somebody reading only the preface and table of contents may never bother.

Similarly, one should expose at least one chapter (more the merrier) with substantial content for non-fiction. Don’t put “Introduction” and “Foreword” in the preview. If there is something about the book you want the readers to know “Description” is the section to do that. Make good use of “Preview” feature and put in an actual chapter in there. Let the reader find solution to an actual problem and decide that she wants to read the rest of the book too.

So, if you want to update the “Preview” of your book to make it more meaningful, here is the FAQ detailing how to update your book.

[Self Publishing Guide] Self Publishing Your Book – Step 5: Marketing

This post is an excerpt from our Self Publishing Guide for Indian Market. If you have not, you may want to read the following post in this series before starting on this one

Although marketing comes as the fifth step in publishing, fact is, the buzz should start even before writing. Marketing a book is all about building the author’s brand. It takes time and you have to work towards it. If you recall the hype surrounding release of a Dan Brown or a JK Rowling book, you will understand the concept. The books sell on the author’s reputation, which is created by a team of professionals representing a publishing house.

This obviously is a limitation for an independent author who has chosen to self publish. But the good news is, with the Internet, everyone has a free and effective marketing tool to reach their audience. This works especially well when going for POD. You can get your readers, book orders and then have the book printed. It is important for the author to build a brand before trying to sell the book. Just coming online with a book to sell won’t be effective.

  • There are many social and professional networking Internet sites where you can promote your work. Among them Orkut, Facebook and Twitter have the largest following. Build your profile on these sites to market your book economically and effectively. But build up your credentials before making your sales pitch.
  • If you have written a book about your professional expertise, market it on professional sites like Linkedin where you can join groups with shared interests. Also explore book centred websites like Shelfari and Librarything which provide excellent opportunities for marketing.
  • Adding your book to Google book search displays it in relevant search results.
  • You can also create a website about your book. Request a friend or some prominent personality to write a review of your book and post it on your site as well as their networking sites. You could even write about your own experiences while writing the book.
  • Put up extracts from your book on your website for others to read. This will catch the reader’s interest and help sell your book. Don’t worry too much about piracy. Nobody is interested in a great but unknown manuscript. Book pirates only target bestsellers.

Apart from the Internet, you could also arrange for a press release in the local newspapers. If you know someone in the print media, you could have reviews of your book published in newspapers/magazines. Remember:

  • It is easier to market a non-fiction book in your area of expertise rather than fiction or poetry.
  • Think about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The market is flooded with books and other content mediums. Why should someone buy your book?