Book publishing in India: self-publishing grows there too

Please welcome Dr Hiten Vyas, founder and MD of the very popular publishing journal in India, E-Books India. Hiten brings us up to date on the book publishing industry there and how self-publishing is growing rapidly in that market, as it is in many others worldwide.

Book publishing in India: self-publishing grows there too

“Authors who self-publish an e-book can get royalties of up to 75% of the retail price of every title sold.”

Usually, as an author in India, if you want to publish a book you can submit your manuscript directly to a publisher. Another method is to find a literary agent to act on your behalf to find you a publisher, and negotiate a favorable contract for you. These two approaches are both associated with the tried and tested traditional publishing model.

If you do land a deal with a publisher to produce your book, you usually get paid an advance on royalties. Getting such a deal can be attractive, because it will usually include editing, producing and marketing your book. In return, you’re selling off rights to your book to the publisher to distribute and disseminate it.

Enter Self-Publishing

However, this model is infamously or famously (depending on which way you look at it) littered with tales of authors constantly getting rejection after rejection; Amish Tripathi of the Shiva Trilogy fame being one example.

Tripathi of course decided to use a different approach, one which is still a relatively untapped sub-sector of the Rs 12,000 crore  publishing industry in India, known as self-publishing. The rest in Tripathi’s case is as they say, history, as his success story has been a flagship event in promoting self-publishing across India.

The key hint as to what self-publishing is lies in the name itself – you as an author are in charge for the writing, editing, proofreading, cover design, producing, marketing, and selling of your book.

With this model you’re no longer just an author. You’re an entrepreneur who is creating and delivering a product (your book) for your customers (your target readers).

Although there can be numerous costs to consider with self-publishing, as there isn’t a publishing house to take away this burden, this model offers a number of benefits.

The key benefit is freedom

You get to write the book you want to and put it up for sale, as opposed to having a publisher, or editor dictate what you should write. Once your book is for sale, you can go back to it, make changes to the manuscript, and put it up again for purchase. You also have total control of the rights over your book. If you want to sell your book in countries other than India, you can do so.

Money matters

Also, self-publishing can be potentially more lucrative. This is illustrated best through e-books. E-books in India are still nascent, making up 2% of the overall book market annually.

However, with no printing, binding, and distribution costs, authors who self-publish an e-book can get royalties of up to 75% of the retail price of every title sold. The e-book version of your title that is sold through a traditional publisher, can see this rate reduced to 10% to 20%.

How authors can self-publish in India

If you’ve written a book and want to self-publish it, how exactly do you go about doing so? All the tools and resources you will need are accessible via the Internet.

Unless you can handle the entire publishing process yourself, you will need the services of editors, proof-readers, book designers and cover design specialists. These you can find individually or buy packages from self-publishing companies that are sprouting up across India.

A leader in this space that has been around since 2008 is of Bangalore. Pothi provides a platform for authors to self-publish their books in both print and e-book versions for free. Others include NotionPress of Chennai and Zorba Books of Delhi.

Access to main retailers

Such organizations offer fee-based services that take care of publishing, formatting, cover design, editing, printing, and distribution to major retailers such as Amazon, Flipkart, Crossword and Landmark.

As self-publishing grows in India, so will the number of such companies, increasing competition in the process.

POD: a cost-effective print model

In order to self-publish a print version of your book, many of the self-publishing organizations offer what is known as Print-On-Demand (POD), which is a method of printing using digital technology to print books. POD takes away the cost of having to print a large amount of books which have no guarantee of selling.

POD fits in well with self-publishing, as most self-published authors won’t expect to sell tens of thousands of copies of their books. Instead, books are printed on demand when an order is placed, which could even be the purchase of one copy.

Self-publishing e-books

For the publication of e-books, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program is available for authors in India to use. Amazon’s technology to publish e-books is top notch as one would expect from a company worth $158 Billion.

If you’re writer of e-books in regional languages then platforms are being created to enable you to self-publish, like those available from Pustaka Digital Media. Such organizations, who are stamping their mark today, will tomorrow become the leaders in the area of e-books in Indian languages.

A rewarding challenge for authors

For authors looking to get into self-publishing, the journey is both rewarding and challenging.

It’s rewarding because you’re empowered to get your book out for the world to see. It’s challenging, because getting your book onto online stores and into bricks and mortar book shops is the first major hurdle.

A barrier even bigger than the first, is making sales of your title. This requires a marketing plan, which ideally you should start working on before you’ve even begun to write your book.

NB from Suze: if you’re a prospective author who needs help with book marketing – whether you’re in India or elsewhere – you’ll find this article by another great HTWB contributing writer, Alana Munro, very helpful… 

Book publishing in India: self-publishing grows there too

Dr Hiten Vyas

About the Author:

Hiten Vyas is founder of e-Books India, which is India’s largest online magazine for writers, writing tips, self-publishing and industry insights.

Hiten has been involved in the digital publishing industry since 2008 and is a prolific eBook writer, with over 25 titles to his name.

photo credit: Unlisted Sightings via photopin cc




  1. Hi Suze,

    I just wanted to say a big thank you for having me over at your blog! 🙂


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