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What does Self-publishing Look Like in India?

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Find everything you need below!

Bhashwati Pyne

Writing a book is a difficult task. Everything boils down to one thing: work.

It takes a lot of effort, yet it is only writing. It's significantly more difficult to publish and distribute your own book. Finding a publisher, persuading them to publish your book, and, if you're lucky, having your book accepted. This procedure is not only exhausting but also never-ending.

Most of the things we discussed would resonate with you, especially if you are an Indian author.

Fiction sells like hotcakes, but finding a publisher willing to publish less glamorous genres is difficult. Authors are now opting to self-publish rather than being forced to do so since it allows them to think and act autonomously.

Self-publishing is the greatest option for a variety of reasons, including freedom and financial rewards. It's important to realise that self-publishing a book is similar to starting a business.

It necessitates a great deal of incubation and ongoing engagement.

It's not just about writing when it comes to publishing a good book; it's also about editing, formatting, designing a cover, and properly marketing it.

All of this necessitates unwavering attention and a complete understanding of the processes involved. The publishing sector in India is no longer in its infancy.

It has exploded in popularity in recent years, with a slew of new players offering professional book services to authors at competitive prices. India, which is one of the top ten publishing markets in the world, is booming. In India, best-selling authors such as Ashwin Sanghi and Amish Tripathi have been vocal proponents of self-publishing. Only half of the battle is won when the book is completed.

Once you've finished writing, you'll realise that writing was arguably the easiest part of the process. Hold on to your seats because the self-publishing procedure is rather exhaustive.

Editing and design, as well as marketing and distribution.

Recognize the challenge

The largest difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, according to Sameer Kamat, author of Beyond the MBA Hype (2011), is the author's role in the project.

He or she must think beyond the written word.

"It all starts with the creative ­ editing, cover design, video trailers ­ and ends with the business ­ price, distribution, and marketing. It can be exhausting."

Kamat operates two websites devoted to writing and publishing, and, where writers can seek his advice on how to design their own path to success.

Check out the facts

To avoid the long wait for a conventional publisher, Bengaluru-based author Anil Shetty (Life of I, 2012; Project of Hope, 2016) opted to self-publish his works.

"It takes them six to eight months to answer at all," Shetty says.

"I wanted to communicate with my audience."

Although the motives for self-publishing vary, Sameer Kamat warns aspiring authors that "seeing self-publishing as a stepping stone to securing a publishing contract is a foolish strategy."

A few well-known authors, such as Amish Tripathi (Immortals of Meluha, 2010, self-published) and Ashwin Sanghi (The Rozabel Line, 2006, self-published), have succeeded, but they are the exceptions, not the rule.

"Most traditional publishers won't touch a self-published book unless it's already a huge success." he continues.

What they all agree on is that for most authors, living off royalties is not a good plan.

"Royalty in India is a joke for first-time authors," says one author "Kamat observes.

Spend money on professional services

"These investments are non-negotiable," Anil Shetty knew he'd have to engage pros to edit and design the book "he declares While Iyer chose to have book releases with celebrity visitors in attendance, he also chose to have an online book trailer.

He was particularly pleased that the cover had captured the attention of a "youngish crowd." "and chose a wacky blue and yellow colour scheme. "People literally judge a book by its cover," he claims, after spending "hours" observing what readers choose at book fairs.


Moving on to the treacherous terrains, marketing and selling a book may be the most difficult aspect of the entire process. When you self-publish, you become an authorpreneur, not just an author.

You are not just the author, but also the book's publicist and marketer. You must think and behave like a businessperson.

There are simply too many books written each year; the true challenge is to get readers aware of your book and convince them to buy it. Your job as an author does not officially cease when you finish the manuscript; it only finishes when it appears on the bestsellers list. But how are you going to get there?

To connect with a large number of people, you'll need a lot of like-minded people.

It's probably safe to suggest that you should begin developing a marketing strategy as soon as you finish writing your book. Some authors begin selling their works before they even finish them.


Most of the time, costing isn't the initial step, but when it comes to self-publishing a book, you'll need to set financial limitations before it influences your work.

Due to a lack of knowledge, many new authors wind up overspending on the publishing procedure.

Long before you start the procedure, you can start tracking your spending.

To create a logical budget, go through the entire publishing process once and record which steps are projected to cost the most, least, and an intermediate amount of money, so you can keep track of if you are paying more than is necessary.


It's not easy to run a bookstore. Self-publishing books, in particular, are notoriously difficult to distribute.

Traditional publishers have an insurmountable edge in terms of distribution network reach, which only a few self-published writers can overcome. Self-publishing platforms, on the other hand, have broken the code. Stacking indie books on the shelves has been made feasible thanks to a dedicated sales staff and long-term connections with merchants.

However, the good news is that traditional distribution methods are no longer required.

E-commerce is exploding over the world, and its effects are being noticed in the publishing industry as well. E-commerce platforms are the most popular since they offer a wide range of possibilities and are simple to use.

Self-published authors benefit from these sites since the network is large and comparatively easier to break than traditional publishing.

It's a double bonus if it's an e-book. E-commerce platforms in India, such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Bookadda, make the procedure easier. However, it is both simpler and more complex.

The book should be promoted well.

People talk about their books on social media when they first start writing it.

Many people say "As part of my investigation, I went to colleges. I shot images and added narratives to them."

Most potential readers were already aware of his book when it was made available for pre-ordering online. They never missed a chance to display the book to potential readers after he acquired the copies.

Kamat recalls negotiating with book dealers, waiting outside bookstores to entice purchasers, and sleeping with his mind on what to do next on social media.

Self-publishing has a lot of potential, but many people don’t have that kind of patience.

Be aware of your target market.

However, simply writing for a certain audience is no longer sufficient. For example, there was this one book about Indian parents who were obsessed with their children becoming engineers. The author says they travelled to the places where they resided since their book would appeal to new and aspiring engineers.

He sent his books to engineering colleges, where they were well received. He also went to Bengaluru, which he claims is overrun by engineers. He decided to make some door-to-door sales while staying at a friend's residence in Whitefield and knocked on the doors of 26 units in the building. He was able to sell 25 books.

Self-publishing is a long and winding road.

It's your book at the end of the day, and seeing it grow from a one-liner to the top of the bestsellers list is a journey worth travelling.

We hope that this blog has helped you learn how to self-publish in India.

And if you're looking to get traditionally published, or are confused which to choose, here's an all-in-one guide for you!


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