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Why Self-publishing May be a Good Idea for You Big publishers have a lot of manuscripts in the pipeline and it make months before your turn comes

By Ganesh Vancheeswaran

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Alright, so you have an idea for a book. Better still, maybe you have put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and written out a few chapters already. You are convinced about the power of your topic and believe it will be relevant to a vast audience out there. You think there will be a lot of takers for it in the market.

That is, until you get a rejection letter from a few publishers. You wrote out the outline of the book and the first two or three chapters and sent them off to the biggest names in the publishing business, full in the belief that at least one of them would agree to back you. And now, you are staring at their politely-worded rejection letters that lie in your inbox.

If you are the honest kind, you will admit that your world came crashing down on you that moment. You had pinned all your hopes on the possibility that at least one publishing house would come through; and so, you find it difficult to come to terms with the rejection and have no clue what to do now. This is especially true because there is an inscrutable aura around the publishing industry, which makes it difficult for us to understand how it really works. This can and does daunt us sometimes.

Panic not. Consider self-publishing your book.

In the last few years, self-publishing has emerged as a viable option for authors. Essentially, this means that you find a self-publishing firm to do most of the things for you that a mainstream publisher normally does (editing, designing, layouts & pagination, getting the book an ISBN number, printing it and hosting it on online booksellers like amazon).

Only, whereas a mainstream publisher would have absorbed all the costs involved in this entire process, self-publishing requires you to pay for all these services. But they will pay you a royalty on the sale of copies, just like a mainstream publisher would.

The copyright of the book remains with you according to the laws of your land. The chief drawback (at least in India) is that self-publishing firms do not distribute your book to offline booksellers. However, they supply to online stores like Amazon, Flipkart and Infibeam. Another option is to publish your book directly on Amazon, though it will be available only as an e-book.

Self-publishing is a good option under certain circumstances:

  • Mainstream publishers aren't backing your book.

I have already explained this scenario.

  • You don't hear from mainstream publishers for a long time.

It happens more often than you'd imagine. Big publishers have a lot of manuscripts in the pipeline and so, it may take months before your turn comes. This also means that they aren't able to reply to every aspiring author who sends in a manuscript. But since you believe in the power of your proposed book, it'd be wrong for you to give up on the book even if you don't hear from publishers to whom you have sent sample chapters. I recommend that you if you haven't heard from publishers even after the usual waiting period (which would be explained in their submission guidelines), you should consider self-publishing your book.

  • You aren't confident of pitching your book's idea to mainstream publishers.

You may not admit it, but it is likely that after sending your manuscript to publishers, you do have butterflies in your stomach. After all, you are an aspiring author and not an established name in the business of writing. You are competing with thousands of others in trying to reach publishers and get their backing; there is no guarantee that your idea will stand out and grab their attention. On top of it, you may not be sure of your writing ability. In such a scenario too, self-publishing would be a good option.

In all the cases explained above, self-publishing allows you to bring your book out and get reviews from the first set of readers (which can be critical in deciding the fate of the book). Strengthened by the feedback (which I am assuming will be positive if the content is good, even if the style is not), you can pitch the book to a mainstream publisher again. This is how I got my book "The Underage CEOs' published, but that is a story for another article.

The bottomline is this: please remember that nobody knows the worth of your book more than you yourself. So, do not let things like delay or rejection stop you in your journey to publish it. Think of self-publishing it; this could be a step towards getting published by a larger publisher at a later date.

All the best!

Ganesh Vancheeswaran

Author, ‘The Underage CEOs’

Ganesh Vancheeswaran is the author of the popular book ‘The Underage CEOs’, published by Harper Collins. He is a freelance travel writer, brand consultant and productivity coach.
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