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A Startup That Can Create Our Country's Next Rushdie And Narayan

A Startup That Can Create Our Country's Next Rushdie And Narayan
Image credit: Notion Press
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Writing is an art, which when combined with publishing brings an author's hard work to fruition. A number of words combining together, which forms this piece of writing, is the author's medium to reach the masses and share their story. But getting into the world of publishing isn't so easy. Known authors, like J K Rowling was herself rejected 13 times before Harry Potter was taken up by Bloomsbury Publication.

However, in the internet age, everyone's a writer and these writers need a platform to share their opinions. But where do they find a publisher?

After a bad experience with the publishing work and problems related in the process, three individuals came together to form a self-publishing business. They realized the need of fairness for authors coming from all walks of life. Carrying forward this major legacy as the business objective, Notion Press was found by three co-founders: Naveen Valsakumar, Bhargava Adepalley and Jana Pillay.

Taking us through the rabbit hole in a world of authors, Naveen talks about his venture and the world of publishing.

Beginning of venture

Notion Press is a self-publishing platform for Indian writers to publish and sell books around the world in both print and eBook form. We started in 2012, and since then have published over 2000+ authors and distribute books to over 100 countries. We work with a lot of first time writers and provide various tools and services for Editing, Book Design, Marketing and Distribution. I started Notion Press with two of my friends from School, Bhargava Adepalley and Jana Pillay to provide a good platform for new writing talent from India to emerge.

Self publishing, your cup of tea above other verticals

Before starting Notion Press, we tried getting our book published and quickly realized how insanely difficult it was to publish a book. Most good publishers were either publishing established authors or celebrities. The question was, if this was the case, where will the next new writer come from? We are not huge fans of the traditional publishing model for books where an editor decides what gets to be published and what doesn’t. A lot of times these editors have been horribly wrong and the proof is that some of the biggest writers of today were not identified by them, they emerged via the Self Publishing route.

Target audience and current traction

People write for various reasons - they have a story to share, they want to leave a legacy behind, some knowledge or expertise they want to share etc. Our target audience is anybody who has written or aspires to write a book. We have published over 2000 authors and publish 150+ new authors every month.

Business unique from others

Our business is a mix of extremely people driven processes like editing and design where you need creative people, and technology driven processes like printing, distribution and marketing where you need very analytical people. Our key differentiator is our ability to marry both these sides of our business seamlessly for the benefit of both authors and readers.

Role-model for setting up Notion press

We love Zoho, FreshDesk and Flipkart. These three Indian companies have done largely for the start-up community than any other company out there. Today, most of us who want to start business  get to learn from their success and mistakes. I even admire Amazon.

Initial Consumer Response

Luckily for us, we have always had extremely supportive customers who were willing to count on us even when we were just three people. I still remember the time when we did not have an office and had to do meetings at our customers’ homes.

Biggest challenge on the path of business growth

The biggest challenge was to build awareness among writers about self publishing . Book is a product which needs to be engineered to address the needs of its audience. To build awareness, we started by sending out daily educational emails to authors who registered with us, offered free publishing consultation for anyone who wanted to write or publish a book and started the Notion Press Academy - a place where people can learn about writing, editing, publishing and marketing.

The name game story

It’s a crazy story. We kept searching for domain names and weren’t able to find anything that we were happy with. We realized that finding the name for the company was easy but finding a suitable domain name was the challenge. After searching for 15 days with various options, we finally found that ‘IdeaPress’ was available, and we were super excited. By the time I could finalize it, I found that it was taken. Frustrated by that, I just used the thesaurus to find other words for ‘Idea'. The first word I saw was Notion, tried out Notion Press, found that it was available and bought it.

Lighter side to face problems

One thing that works for all three of us is our sense of humor. We are the kind of guys who would want a fun place to work than a hyper stressed out on productivity kind of space and our work culture at Notion Press reflects that. 

Future growth and expansion plans

We are going International this year. We have always envisioned Notion Press as a global publishing brand and have built everything to scale for the global market. We are launching our US operations in the middle of July and would be launching in three other countries by end of this financial year.

Craziest feedback from customers

No crazy feedback. But, once I had this author who called me up at 5.30 in the morning and said his name was JK and he wanted to publish a book with us and wanted us to make his book an instant bestseller from Day 1. Groggily I said, ‘Sure, your book can become an instant bestseller Mr. JK, but only if your last name is Rowling.’ There was this 5 second awkward silence and then he said he will call me back and hung up. I still haven’t heard from him.

Edition: November 2016

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