So you think you have what it takes to be the next Amitav Ghosh, Rohinton Mistry, Anita Desai? You think you can put your ideas into words? You dream of becoming a writing sensation? You cannot think of anything else other than writing? Stories, ideas, opinions keep sprouting up in your mind even when you are busy in your work? Then this is the post for all you guys!
Lets get some things straight right-away. Everyone isn’t a Rohinton Mistry or an Amitav Ghosh or an Anita Desai. And so understandably a lot many of us have set their standards pretty low. Chetan Bhagat is widely regarded as the God of Indian writing. Whether that’s good or bad, I leave the reading public to form their own opinions.
Once the idol is set and the content is decided and penned down; the biggest question, “How do we find a publisher”? To get a deeper understanding into this, I approached a couple of publishers by email. Some of them were renowned names like Random House India, Hachette India, Fingerprint Submissions etc. While some others weren’t so renowned.
Expectedly, the renowned ones asked me to send in my submissions along with the CV. And once I did, they replied back saying that they would get back to me within a few weeks. The replies from two of the not so renowned ones made me think about a deeper malaise among the Indian publishers today –
Publisher 1 – He read my work and seemed genuinely interested in getting it published. But then, he told me that Rs 1500 per script is what I am supposed to pay. He told me that the money was based on the following tasks –
Publisher 2 – He didn’t bother reading my work at all. He said –
“It costs around Rs.70,000/- to produce the first edition of 1000 copies. And you have to spend at least Rs.30,000/- on publicity (which will go towards giving away free copies and deep discounts) to have a realistic hope of selling 1000 copies.”
He went on to bargain with me and also convince me of how even a lot of Chetan Bhagat’s works have been ghost written. According to what he said, it seemed as though a lot of first timers spend a lot of money to get published.
All the publishers may not be like this. Probably even these two may not charge all their writers money to get published. Probably, the Indian publishing industry isn’t really at a very bad stage. Probably I am thinking too much.
But what you take home from this is that “Writing has to make business sense.” If it doesn’t, people won’t really care. Obviously agreed. But then, where is the merit in selection gone? Are we really generating quality with such printers in the garb of publishers? Is it all just about making money and having a brand name, giving some interviews and that’s all? Is writing just reduced to being measured by meaningless numbers in today’s world?
One of these publishers is a startup while the other one is seemingly well established with well educated ‘entrepreneurs’ running it. If there are two who can have such views, who knows how many publishers like these still exist across the nation. So what exactly is there problem? Some are started by entrepreneurs while others by wannabe writers who only write about SEX! They know its really difficult to build their credibility among the top writing class of this country. So why not target the 15-25 yrs crowd who is desperate for some fame and money? And that’s what makes them tick and rake in the moolah.
So now think again. Do you really have the money to become a writer? Because according to a lot many publishers “It’s not all about talent, but your bank balance.”