During October, Sonia Rao, the NaNoWriMo ML for All India, organised a number of interviews and workshops in Wrimo India to get participants geared up for November. As part of this series, Ms. Vaishali Mathur, who is the Executive Editor at one of the most important publishing houses in India – Penguin Random House India – joined us for an online interview. She was amazingly patient with everyone, and took the time to answer every single question posed.
There were many insights, some which surprised me, and some which I have always known. An interesting point for me was that brilliant writing trumps almost all other considerations.
The following are the key takeaways from the interview:
- No market for short stories / novellas. Similarly, there is a very small market for science fiction. Traditional fantasy may be difficult to get published, as it would be compared to the books coming in from international authors.
- Ebook and paperback rights go hand in hand. Publishers will not do paperback only deals.
- Getting a literary agent can be important even though publishers accept manuscripts directly. It was clearly stated that manuscripts coming in from agents get read and considered first.
- Publishers do not reject a book outright. Also, how an author has been published earlier does not impact his chances now. What they do look for, is the author’s network and marketing capabilities.
- Publishing excerpts or even books on online platforms like wattpad or even social media are not held against a book. However, publishers will then consider how these postings have been received.
- Publishers are open to submissions from international self-published authors. This could be one way for authors to enter India, if they are willing to part away with India ebook rights.
- Publishers expect the author to shoulder the burden of marketing. This is especially true for first time authors. The author’s platform is something which can be the difference between acceptance and rejection of a manuscript for a debut author.
- A quick summary on things to keep in mind when approaching publishers:
- For an editor to become interested in a proposal, it should ideally be short and crisp, with 3-5 sample chapters and a well written author bio. An author should look at getting an editor for the chapters being submitted, at the very least.
- Poorly written proposals and proposals that begin with author’s story of desperation turn editors off and they thus have a higher chance of being rejected.
- Also, a manuscript which is way too long for its genre will have a much lower chance of being accepted.
- Besides this, it is fine to send the proposal to multiple publishers at the same time, but it is a good practice to mention that this has been done. Also, it is better to mention if the book is part of the series, and how many books there would be in the series.
- The top three things to keep in mind when approaching a publisher are: You are competing with the best in the world, so writing has to be absolutely brilliant. Then pushing the book right from the word go and lastly, enough marketing.
- Above all, the author should be sincere and should have complete belief in his work.
The above points resolved a lot of grey areas for aspiring authors. While the general guidelines as mentioned above hold true most times, I do believe a few things would change from publisher to publisher.
About Ritesh Kala:
Ritesh is the founding partner of Read Out Loud Publishing LLP, a company started with the objective of bringing great literature to India. Read Out Loud is a Book Marketing and Book Distribution Company which aids authors to bring their books to book stores and online sales platforms in India. Read Out Loud also produces audio books.