Things You Didn’t Know About Traditional Publishing

Riley Blue

Expert insights from an author who has seen it all by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

The first big question that comes to an author’s mind after they complete their manuscript is: whether to go the traditional publishing way or self-publish their book?

For the uninitiated, traditional publishing includes contacting a publisher, waiting for their response (some publishing houses take more than six months to accept — even reject — a manuscript), getting the manuscript edited by a professional editor, rounds of cover designing, copy-editing, and pagination, and finally, the publishing.

This process, though free of cost, takes at least one year to complete for most established publishing houses.

Self-publishing, on the other hand, requires the author to submit their manuscript to the portal of the self-publishing forum (Amazon KDP being the most widely used), and, within 24 hours of them hitting the “Submit” button, the book is available online all over the world.

All three of my books were self-published, mainly because I was too impatient to wait for a publisher to reply. Hence, I did all the marketing and promotion myself. It has been a rewarding experience — one that has taught me several lessons and helped me sell 10,000+ copies of my books so far.

However, that doesn’t keep me from wondering how different things would be had my books been published by a traditional publishing house, especially by one as big as Penguin, HarperCollins or Rupa. Goodreads

To quench this curiosity of mine, I reached out to the Indian author Anshul Dupare, whose book Ashok and the Nine Unknown is published by Rupa Publications — one on India’s biggest publication houses that boasts of several bestseller books in the recent years.

Established in 1936 by D. Mehra, authors at this distinguished publishing house consist of Ruskin Bond, APJ Abdul Kalam, Pranab Mukherjee and Chetan Bhagat.

Needless to say, for every new author in India, getting published by Rupa is like a dream come true.

This article is about the joyride that traditional publishing is, as narrated by Anshul Dupare. Full of breath-taking highs and dizzying lows, here is Anshul’s story as an introduction to the world of traditional publishing for established and aspiring writers alike.

Before getting started, here is a brief introduction.

About the author

Anshul Dupare is one of the many engineers who has tried to explore their passion apart from work. He is the author of two books; Ashok and the Nine Unknown and The Education Mafia. He is a winner of the “Author of the Year 2019” in NE8x Online Literature festival. He is a hobbyist poet, and often writes on psychology and AI on Quora. Influenced by the writings of Dan Brown, J.K.Rowling and George R. R. Martin, he decided to explore the rich past of India and combine it with world mythology. He likes to explore novel and unique avenues for his stories. His latest book, Ashok and the Nine Unknown, is a testament to that.

Getting accepted by a major publishing house

Getting published by Rupa is difficult. I know. I have sent them three pitches so far, and, it’s been months, I haven’t even received a rejection email. I asked Anshul how did he manage to get his manuscript across to the editors of such a reputed publishing house. Here is what he said:

Consistency is the key. You must be consistent in whatever you do, and you will eventually get to the place where you deserve to be. I sent my manuscript to multiple publishers only to get a deafening silence from them in response.
But, I kept trying, I was consistent. In my case, what worked was Rupa’s new platform to accept submission by email. Before 2016, Rupa did not have this facility and I think I was one of the first few people to use that feature as I was constantly following their website. Their website was down for a couple of weeks in late 2016 and as soon as it came up, I saw the new feature of email submission and used it. Because a lot of people were not aware of the new email submission feature from Rupa, Rupa’s inbox mustn’t have been flooded by submissions which helped my story get noticed, and I am glad that when they noticed it, they loved it. After all the hard work, I believe that the email submission feature was the little bit of luck that I needed in my journey.

Of course, despite the rejections, one shouldn’t give up.

Since receiving an acceptance email is still an elusive dream for me, I asked Anshul if this made him happy, and he enthusiastically agreed. He even went on to say that this single email made him feel that all those hours of hard work were worth it.

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