Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The publishing industry and the dark truth


Ravinder singh , Novoneel chakraborty , Durjoy Dutta , Sudeep Nagarkar are the names which have dominated the Indian book market in the recent time. They started with Srishti, (which was also called the KING of the publishing world) once upon a time.

I remember how I and many other aspiring authors dreamt of getting published with Srishti. But dear friends, it’s ALL ABOUT TIME.




The big names have finally terminated  the contracts and have moved out..Its reputation is hitting an all time low. And the once awesome distribution of Srishti is better if not talked about.
I talked to some authors and I came to know that Srishti gives no Royalty figure (which is Rs 5 / book.) and no sales figure. Published authors don’t even get reply to their mails inquiring about their sales figure. Disappointing. The only option they are left with is to move out and publish with some good publishing house.


Now the question arises where will the new authors go?

Harper Collins, grey oak, penguin are distant dream for new authors. The funniest thing, I have come across while reading the “Publish with us” section of some xyz big publishing house. Who writes like this? If you are already published with Rupa, Penguin or you are famous journalist, then submit your script otherwise we won’t look at your script. I remember very well that when they opened their publishing house, they had the vision to give voice to new talented authors but with the passage of time, they have lost their vision. Writing such condition before submitting is a clear indicator of that. Even Harper and Penguin don’t put their criteria like this. Funnily enough. Obviously they want classy writing style, which most of the new authors don’t have. Therefore they are left with no choice but to fall prey to the Indian publishing houses that have a bad monopoly. They don’t spend a penny on promotion. Author has to do everything. I heard that too if an author’s doesn’t promote book well, then Srishti doesn’t give importance to that mail, deliberately avoids his/her mails and never replies to his/her query. Moreover they don’t have editors.


If you have read Srishti's books then you must’ve noticed the conspicuous grammatical errors. Sometimes its irritating to spot a mistake in every second sentence a novice writes.

Another factor which contributes massively towards the increasing monopoly of this house is the Indian mentality. Readers are ready to spend 200 bucks for ridiculous movies like houseful 2. Or else they always look for friend’s copies or ask authors to give him/her a free copy, if he/she is a friend of the author, but they will purchase only that book which cost 100 or 125 maximum.

Obviously the authors are "once common people" who did have the same mentality. They know if the cost exceeds Rs 100 , their book won’t become a best seller anytime soon. So they contact cheap publishing houses. Now this is where the exploitation starts.

Which includes forcing writers to write intimate scenes. (They know this sells well...), not replying to their mails once they get published, not giving the actual sales figure and much more. No doubt some of the biggest publishing houses are on the brink of collapse (if you know which PH I mean) The Indian book industry somehow runs on how many intimate scene a book has to offer. Most of the books are a replica of the dirty picture. Modernization is good, but to the point where love is not confused with lust. Funnily enough we have modernized so much that lets say if the name of the book is "Love story" we buy it keeping in mind it is a "Lust story". Frankly speaking I guess somewhere this is what most of the aspiring authors have to offer. Or let’s say they are FORCED to offer...A lil bit of decency please? Let’s say our new honchos try to copy Jackie Collins somehow or the other, missing out on the decency part. Most of the books are lost amidst the huge cabinets of books with identical names, mushy lines from Hindi movies, little or No classic literature and Romantic and poignant scenes stolen from English movies, which somehow fail to weave the same magic ...Because if it sells, it is ought to be a bestseller..Again...Did I miss, we live in a country where a best seller is determined by the number of copies it sells and not the number of lived it effects?

With all the famous authors moving out , who made it what it is today ,  Srishti is left with the memories of being the once king of the publishing world. Their monopoly had increased too much so that they sent books only on order by stores. Their once famous promotion and distribution is now what no author dreams of at least for his first book.

But with Srishti on the brink of collapse I am sure there are so many dreams at stake as well. Most of the big publishing houses don’t give a chance to the newbee's. You can kill yourself waiting for a reply from penguin or Rupa or Harper Collins but I can assure you about the very fact that there isn’t a chance they will introduce a new debutant author in the market like they introduce a Chetan Bhagat book. No I am not being biased, but the simple point which I want to throw light upon is "Why give so much of importance to someone who is already at his careers best? Why not give a chance to the struggling authors who despite of having ample talent, potential and determination have to face disappointment only because they are NEWBEE's ?

Is this what we preach in a country where "Equality" is considered to be an important component of the constitution?

Even if you get selected I can assure you they won’t give you the much needed exposure. They will promote only those books which come from the kitty of best selling authors. End result = like in India rich are becoming richer and poor are becoming poorer, in the book industry, the already famous are becoming more famous and richer (with 8% and 10% royalty and 50k advance: if what I heard is true). The publishers like Srishti,  of royalty with no advance. While the struggling writers keep on struggling and hoping that someday they will be recognized worldwide for their talent.

Yesterday night I was talking to a friend of mine who is a bestselling author, told me that he always gets one-third less royalty than what he expects. Yes. Another reason why Srishti is on the brink of collapse is their unprofessional behaviour.They say "Its all about fame..And not the MONEY" . What’s the problem in paying right amount? They should remember that they make money by selling these author’s copies.

While writers outside India are earning millions, Indian authors hardly get the royalty due. Who is to be blamed? It is for you to decide. Another need of the hour is certainly good editors.


Some books instead of having grammatical mistakes ,so conspicuous, make up to the best sellers list. I am yet to figure out how. With all due respect.

I will leave you here and let you decide where the Indian book industry is treading. If you find out the answer you are most welcome to share your views.

Again I am just another Indian who is using her Freedom of expression under article 19 20 21 and 22.Happy reading..Happy thinking..

40 comments:

  1. Awesome. I am happy that u came up with the issue. These publishing industry should know that the authors are meant to be respect and not to be exploited. These publishing houses should start giving preferences to their authors first.. This will help them grow better.. As we can see they are declining.. I hope this post will be read by them and they will think on these issues.

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  2. Unfortunately, the writer is the lowest creature in the publishing industry's order of things. And there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Brave post, Ayushee.

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  3. A well informed article taking us to the darker picture of the publishing industry.. Great work, Ayushee :)

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  4. true!! every word of this article is an eye-opener.

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  5. @Abhishal - Thank you so much.I hope the writers come forward and comment as well :)

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  6. @Ben - Thanks.I dont know if it is brave or not , but i hope it does leave a mark :)

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  7. Nicely written, each point worth a note

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  8. what you have written is unfortunately true.. i appreciate your research about the topic.. well done.. cheers!!

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    1. UNFORTUNATELY it is.
      Thank you so much Saurav :)

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  9. I came across this worthy article through the post of 'Ben' on F'book. Just before you ended you did pen down the following lines: "I will leave you here and let you decide where the Indian book industry is treading. If you find out the answer you are most welcome to share your views."

    We, the readers, are not the decision-makers. At the same time a sensible reader can gauge the quality of a book, be it written by an acclaimed author or a debutant writer.Each and every sentence of your article portrays the ordeal and predicament of a new aspirant in the literary field.

    You did write about a notable publishing house "Shristi". A beautiful name to attract every writer. That it has become Ana-shristi by its present activities is also evident in your writing. Alas, we don't have any platform in this country which can set right the bad practices of these PHs. Sheer groupism is the reason of undoing of many potential aspirants. You've to go through someone, promote your own creation and bear the costs of production etc. etc. These are some of the vices which nip a 'newbee' in the bud. To get a book published by a new author is as tough as getting a job in a concern which wants 'experience'. How can a new writer acquire 'exposure' without any scope to publish his work?

    At best we can vent out the discontent stored in our heart through our posts, writings in blogs etc. etc. Disorientation has become the rule of the day and dejection creeps in. The sound financial status of big PHs is also another prime factor which desists us to fight for our cause.

    Sincere thanks once again for writing such an uninhibited post.

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    1. Frankly speaking srishti used to be my fab house.but not any more.I hope after reading this post they improve their standard.
      Big publishing houses dont give much needed exposure.I hope we get a saviour...

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  10. Maybe authors should consider submitting to Fingerprint. 10% royalty, transparent practices and ethical + excellent team of editors. Talk to authors Girish Kohli and Dipen Ambalia. They'll have good things to say. :)

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    1. @ Fingerprint Done that. Waiting for the verdict.
      :-(

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    2. Finger prints i am more than happy to have your comment on my blog :) We have heard a lot about your publishing house.Do you give chance to new authors as well :)

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  11. Hi . . . I have published my first book "I Love You Too" with Leadstart Publishing House, Mumbai. My experience with them is good till date. They give me two figure percentage royalty and I get reply from them about sales quickly.

    You can try this publication house, in case you want to publish a book.

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  13. If you go through the agreement/contracts most publishers offer to fresh/ inexperienced writers usually have the following clauses that are blatantly unfair/ skewed in favour of the publisher.
    - a very poor royalty ( 4-5% ) offered against an industry standard of 8-10%
    - there is a clause that says that the sales figures given by the publisher are final.
    - some publishers put in a buy-back clause that states that the author has to buy back a certain number of books at a prefixed price which usually covers the printing costs for the publisher.

    The young / fresh writer who is already reeling under the pressure of umpteen rejections accepts and signs on the dotted lines. Later of course, realization dawns but generally it is too late. Many times neither the sales figures are disclosed nor the royalty paid on the sales of eBooks. Often, the publisher stops talking to/ communicating with the writer.

    The only suggestion I can give is that it is far better to go through a reputed Literary Agent. ( Unfortunately, coming up with a manuscript which meets their approval is not easy)

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    1. Sir literaty agents charge too much of money.
      Like the brokers eat up half the money whch causes an increase in the price of food grains , hiring a literary agent can exert too much of pressure on debutant authors.

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  14. I must say a well written article, exposing the dark sides of publishing Industry.Thanks Ayushee. While reading this article I felt you have given vent to my feelings too.And I am sure most of the authors from Cedar books will feel the same.

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    1. Thanks a bunch Chitra :)
      Actually i guess it is giving vent to most of the authors out there :)
      Cedar is a good publishing house bdw i guess ?

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  15. Ayushee, you have a clear view of Indian Publishing industry and I must congratulate you for this brave blogpost. At some point, someone has to bring this dark side of publishing industry in pulic. However, as we are seeing only authors are suffering, readers, ofcourse, has different options to move on. And I, solemnly, believe that we have very little to offer to our readers. If we want we can widen our vision and variety but proper support is needed from publishers as well.
    Indian literary industry don't have quality, as the authors are not paid fairly and hence they are forced to take another job which will provide them monthly salary. So, writing becomes part time or secondary choice.

    Hope more genuine publishers will take lead in the market, giving authors a reliable platform and required support.

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    1. Yes , we cant expect the best from the writers if the phs are not ready to pay well.most of the people take it as a part time job..So the money matter is generally kept aside..
      I dont have too much of knowledge about the publishing industry sneha :) i am 17 and i am trying to find out more about it now :)
      I hope this post acts as an eye opener for the publishing house'

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  17. Ayushee, total true, have faced it during my first book too, i am still waiting for the replies of some ph, while my book is ready to go to the market, i wont say only srishti but many other houses have the same work field and mentality, hope we authors get some feedback for our work.

    HATS OFF TO U, AFTER ALL SOMEONE DARED TO POST THIS

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  18. Yep.It would be awesome if publishers start treating authors with some respect.All the best for your book :)

    Thank you so much :) Glad to have your comment here :)

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  19. The biggest scam in the Indian Publishing Industry called "Cedar Books aka Pustak Mahal...Debutants beware falling in their trap...The publishing process with them is simple - send mail, receive reply in 2-5 hours, they will say your script is awesome, buy back 300 copies at 30% discount (i.e. pay 300*(70% of 125/150) = 30,000 - 40,000), get published in 2-3 months, then forget about royalty, or sales figure of your book. In fact forget about your book only. They will not even bother to reply your mails or pick up your calls. After all, they have done a noble deed by publishing your book, and should be worshiped in the Author's houses. Just see your book everywhere and be happy!!! What?? Royalty?? Are you joking????

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  20. Can't say about others, but absolutely agree on the Cedar books./ Pustak Mahal thing. THey hardly reply to your mails and treat you like dirt. Absolutely agree with Akshita.

    Also, Srishti publishers 9though I thought it had a good distribution network)is even worse in my opinion as the only thing it looks for is - pornography! (At least that was what i was told to include in my book, which i refused!)

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  21. every word of yours is absolutely true and has hit the spot where it hurts the most.........the hearts of writers who have just stepped into this surreal world........thnx ayu........a beautiful piece of the ugly truth......respect

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  22. Hi Ayushee. This is Ravinder Singh(yes the one whose name you have put in the blog). I liked your blog. Based on your research I wanted to talk to you. Can you please drop a message on my Facebook message box? You can find me with the profile name: AuthorRavinderSingh

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  23. Well written, I faced a similar situation.Last year my first book was published. Thereafter, predictably, silence. No follow up, no marketing, NOTHING despite ample assurances when signing on the dotted line. Even when I had a small book launch, which my friends arranged, they did not care! its unfortunate but I have been made to feel like I am supposed to be eternally grateful merely because they have graciously published the book. I am not entitled to anything else, not even a reply to an email! I wish I read this a year earlier, I may have been more wary. Thanks for the post. I at least feel better that I am not the only one on this particular boat!!!!

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  24. So true Ayushee...I am one of the budding writers in search of a good publishing houses who can actually accept a story which does not include romance as the main theme...You've a touched a chord with the thousands of authors who have faced so much of problems..The ph who give a chance to debut won't accept your book as it is not a romantic fiction while the good publication houses won't give you a chance because we are the underdogs according to them..I wish there was a better support for people like us..I wonder when the publishing houses would understand that it is the authors that make them BIG
    So glad you wrote on this dark reality of the publishing houses :)
    Keep coming with such brave posts
    God bless
    :)

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  25. BRAVO!! \m/
    A Well Written Arguments And Points..
    Though I Don't Know Much About This Industry But I'm Glad That I'm Reading It Through Your Writing :)
    Keep Blessing Your Pen And Thoughts With Such An Awesome Words..
    God Bless!! :)

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  26. Great article...an eyeopener to many...keep it going..,some day, if writers bring all these malpractices of 'great' publishing houses (and having no qualms about naming them)out into the open, things may change. And if not anything else, new writers will stop going to these publishing houses.
    Kudos.

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  27. Hi Ayushee. Sudeep Nagarkar here. Wonderful blog. Hope it will help all the new authors to decide their future.

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