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.


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:


Founder of Pothi.com Podcast at MyKitaab

MyKitaab podcast in India features experts in the publishing industry in an effort to helps authors get published. Jaya Jha, founder of Pothi.com and InstaScribe, was featured here. We get to know more about the woman behind the organization. Jaya left Google where she worked for some time with a better idea of what an organization should like. This alumnus of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow is also one of the most viewed contributors in the publishing space on Quora. Jaya talked about her books Moving On, and her collections of poems in Hindi called Kuch Pal and Tumhare Liye as well. She also spoke about her venture Summary Town.

Jaya has mentioned an important tip for writers- they need to work on marketing their brand or creating a platform as early as a year before release of the title, be it fiction or non-fiction.

For more publishing gyaan, listen to the podcast here: http://mykitaab.in/podcasts1/pothi

Founder of Pothi.com nominated for the L’Oreal Paris NDTV Women of Worth Award

We have some good news. The founder of Pothi.com, Jaya Jha, has been nominated for the L’Oreal Paris NDTV Women of Worth Award.

Don’t miss the online video online:  http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/ndtv-special-ndtv-24×7/women-of-worth-meet-the-nominees-of-social-literature-category/405632

In her segment Jaya talks about her first company Pothi.com- a platform where authors can come online, upload their books, and then sell them.

You can vote for her online here – http://sites.ndtv.com/women-of-worth/nominee-jaya-jha/

You can can SMS WOW JJ to 56388.

India Public Domain 2016: 21 Indian authors whose works entered public domain in 2016

In keeping with our our tradition  (2012,20132014, 2015), we have compiled a list of Indian authors whose work has entered public domain at the beginning of this year. The criteria for a particular work to enter public domain this year is for the author to have died in calendar year 1955 and the work to have been published before his death. If the work has been published after the author’s death, it will only come out of copyright after 60 years from date of publication.


We collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia, books on the history of Indian literature (brought out by the Sahitya Academy) and other online sources. While the sources for individual photos and pieces of information have not been attributed, we would like to acknowledge all these sources here. Many of the sources are linked below.

There are bound to be mistakes in this data. So please point out anything you notice. If you know of more Indian authors who died in 1955 and hence have entered public domain this year, do let us know and we will add it to the list with your reference.

Why should you as a writer or someone who loves books care? An author entering public domain means that most of his works are now free to be republished, translated, and converted to different formats and introduced to a new audience in any way you can imagine. It is possible to digitize these works and conserve them forever. So dig into the list and find some gems. And when you find one, let the whole world know.

Barada Charan Gupta (?-1955): He was a geologist and writer. He was a member of the  Sabujpatra group of writers in colonial Bengal, a group who advocated free thinking and rationalism, and showcased Cholitobhasha, or Standard Colloquial Bengali dialect. Gupta’s contributions to Sabujpatra  have been published with  a foreword by Rabindranath Tagore. He had also authored a subsequent book.

Bokhud Dehlvi (1863-1955): He was a disciple of Dagh Dehlvi and educated in sher-o-shayari. His sense of linguistic nuances and worthy colloquialisms make him much appreciated.  His compositions include Guflar-e-Bekhud and Shahsavaar e Bekhud.

Brijmohan Dattatriya Kaifi (1866-1955): An Urdu litterateur, he is famed for Kaifiyah, a book about the Urdu language and literature and stylistic issues, and  Urdu hamari zuban, an essay in defence of Urdu.

Benudhar Rajkhowa (1872-1955) was a prominent writer, poet and dramatist from Assam. He was also an editor of the Bijuli magazine for while and wrote for a leading Assamese magazine at the time. His books include  Duryodhanar Urubhanga and  Daks Yajna. He also composed poetry and was a playwright and translator. In his satiical plays, he advocated feamle education and criticized the consequences of polygamy.

Khwaja Hasan Nizami (1873-1955): A ver popular Urdu novelist, his famous works include  a historical novel called Tamanchah bar rukhsar-i-yazid and stories based on the rebellion of 1857 called Angrezon ke qisse.

Maula Bakhash  Kushta (1876-1955):  Even though Maula Bakhash Kushta did not receive a formal education, he became a Punjabi and Urdu poet of great fame. He wrote Kissas and ghazals in classical Urdu.

Karunanidhan Bandyopadhyay (1877-1955): This Bengali poet wrote poems revolvoing around the idea of BhaktiSanti Jal, Dhan Durba and Rabindra-arati are some of his works.

Dinabandhu  Jha (1878-1955):  Known as called Mahavaiyakarana, he composed the greatest treatise on Maithali grammar called Mithila Bhasa Kosa , and Dhautupatha, a dictionary of verbal roots.


Jnanadabhiram Barua (1880-1955):  He was a freedom fighter, writer, dramatist, and translator of Assamese. His works include Venishor SaudPancharatnaDodair poja, and Bialator Sithi (Letters from Abroad), and  Mor Katha, an autobiographical book.



Aslam Jairajpuri (1882- 1955): He was an Islamic scholar and professor of Arabic and Persian at the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia. His famed work includes Talimat-e-Qur’an and History of Qur’an. Some of his works include Tarikh-ul-Ummat,   Risala Mehjob-al-Arth,  NovadratFateh MisrHayat-e-HafizHayat-e-Jami, and many others.

Aslam Jairajpuri

Iqbal Ahmed Khan (1884-1955): He was a famous Urdu poet, writing under the pen name Suhail. He donned many hats- Islamic scholar, lawyer, educationist, nationalist and a politician. His work has been featured in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Urdu Literature.


S.G. Shastri (1890-1955) : He was one of the major translators of Kannada. He even adapted Eurpean plays like Ibsen’s Doll’s House.


Samad Mir (1893-1955?): This Kashmiri poet used the idea of Sufi mysticism, folklore and personal experience in his poems. Akanandun  is his famed work.


Shankar Dattatraya Javdekar (1894–1955) also known as Acharya Javdekar was a Marathi writer, freedom fighter and journalist. He combined socialist and Gandhian thinking in his book Sarwodaya and Samajwad; his other works include Lokamnya Tilak Wa Mahatma Gandhi and Adhunik Bharat.


Ramnath Biswas (1894 – 1955) started out as a manager at a swadeshi company. This is where he learnt to drive a car as well as a bicycle. He joined a revolutionary group and so was expelled, after which he enlisted as a soldier in World War I and began a life of traveling. Biswas traveled around the globe on his bicycle, raking up 51,000 miles. After a life of travel, he moved to Kolkatta and began to publish his travelogues with  Anandabazar Patrika. He has written over 30 books including  a book called Tour Round The World Without Money.



Ramnarayan V.Pathak (1887-1955):  This eminent Gujarati writer and critic incorporated Gandhian and socialist views into his writing. His work Avatikal is a scientific look at socialism in the Indian context. His Brhat Pingal is a great work of prosody. He wrote essays and poems as well.


Rupnarayan Sinha (1904-1955): One of the pioneers of Nepali language, Sinha is well-known for his ornamental prose style. Bhramar is one of his best works.


Yashavant Pandya (1905-1955): This Gujarati playwright has written several plays including Padada Pachal, Saratna Ghoda and Yasavant Pandyanan Balnatako. Like many Gujarati writers of his time, he wrote maninly one-act plays.


Maharaja Bodhchandra Simha (1908-1955):  This Manipuri poet and the last king of Manipur wrote Singel Nacom.


Asrar ul Haq Majaz (1911 – 1955): He was an Indian Urdu poet remembered for his romantic and revolutionary poetry in Urdu. The maternal uncle of the music composer Javed Akhtar, Majaz’s flair for Urdu made him a favorite at Aligarh Muslim University and later at All India Radio. He died of alcoholism and a broken heart in Lucknow. Some of his important works are Naya Adab, Parcam, Shab-e-taab, Aahang and Saaz-e-Nau.



Saadat Hasan Manto (1912 – 1955) is perhaps the most celebrated South Asian author. He wrote prolifically, his master genre being the short story, of which he has written 22 collections. His brazen honesty and treatment of sex won him much fame and adulation, though he was tried for obscenity thrice in British India and later on in Pakistan. He wrote about hypocrisy and the destruction of the moral edifice. Some of his best stories include Toba Tek Singh, Thanda Gosht, Kali Salwaar, Khol Do and many others. His publications include Do drame, Ao, Tin Auratein, Chugad, Khali Botlen Kholi Dubbe, Titanda Goshi, Namrood ki Khudai, Gorki Ke Afsane, and Phansi. He died in Lahore.





Readers Can’t Digest – Week 65 (30-Nov to 06-Dec)

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