My Dear Indian ‘Authors?’

Recently, I happened to attend the book launch of Author Ravi Subramanian, and during the Q&A session when we asked about self-publishing and vanity publishing, he said “According to the recent research and statistics only 72 copies get sold on an average of a newbie Indian author among which 60 are bought by their own friends,” which is absolutely true in most of the cases.
Let’s take a sneak at the vanity publishing industry for instance:
I recently saw a video where a lady ties her cows near a temple, and sells fodder for those who visit the temple to buy and feed the cow. She owns the cows, she gets the fodder from her own garden, and though it is her duty to feed her cows she makes it her business model to make money, to feed her cows and also makes money selling the cow’s milk.
In vanity publishing,
  • Cow – your manuscript
  • Fodder – your money
  • Those who buy fodder to feed the cow – your friends who buys the book for you
  • Cow’s milk – Publisher’s profit
If you want me to be brutally honest, I would also say that you get the cow dung – Royalty.
Do you know? The vanity publishers feel damn shy to shout out loud that they are vanity publishers, they hide their identity with a term “self-publishing book platform”
What prompted me to write this post? – well the picture below
image1(1)
I had a few bad experiences during my transition from a novice writer to the person I am who knows the sad truth about the publishing industry.
If I were the one who talks without giving it a second thought, soon after reading that message, I would have replied:
  • How on Earth you call your book a best seller?
  • Who the F*** gave you the liberty to give it a tag like that?
  • Who published your sick book?
  • How much did you pay for those fake reviews?
I would actually go on and on. Most of these fall under the filthy rich, the sick who sucked in love and failed miserably, the I want to become famous greed bitten imbeciles. I would be more than happy to meet someone who doesn’t fall under this category, but unfortunately almost 60% of those sick newbies who Facebook search the word “Author”, join all the writers-authors related groups and add the authors available fall in this category.
The most disgusting part is the fake reviews and fake ratings! Worst? – Yes buying 100 copies of their own book on amazon to get a better rating. A few newbie authors want to be the “best seller” but none focuses on building a readership. A few wants the word “Author” before their name but are really not. A few just wants pictures by their friends holding the book on their timeline but don’t care a damn whether they read. And the best of all, a few claim that it is absolutely okay to publish a book with grammatical mistakes – do you have an answer for a person who would pick a book to enhance their grammatical skills? What if you teach the worst to them? – Why are you not ready to spend on a good editor than on marketing? All you want is a search result with 10 different links talking about you but are you really worth it, who on Earth would actually Google your name? Grow up!
rating
Have you seen such ratings ever before?
There are a few who stick reading to authors outside India pointing out the miserably failed so called best-sellers. I don’t have an answer, being an author is painful, the tag is burdening.
I am not trying to pull down anyone here, am not offended by what you do but please aren’t we responsible to take Indian literature to the next level?
Please stop publishing your college love stories, your school encounters, making out with your friend’s girlfriend, etc.. Oh yeah, I hear you, who am I to say that? right! But please what are you actually giving back to the world? Your novel will have your name inscribed even after you. Do you really want to write a book that has a bit of sex, a sucking love story, a super stupid conversation over a coffee, an unnecessary accident, an uncalled for betrayal et al. All these stories are taken, these are said – please stop! Stop writing your teenage stories.
I would like to thank the Indian authors who don’t fall under any of the or most of the or many of these categories.
I repeat that this post is not to hurt anyone or even about anyone in particular. Am just another author but not a best seller, and my book is not one of the bestselling. At least, forget that am an author – as the one who reads and reviews books day in and out, I very well know the standards of the Indian books that are getting published. I respect the authors who have written good stories, and my reviews are honest indeed.
Please write a good story, take the traditional publishing route or self-publish by yourself. Please don’t spend your or your parent’s hard earned money to vanity publish. (I did vanity publish, as I had no leads to follow, I was ignorant about the traditional and self-publishing route) Please ask for mentoring from a proper author rather than blindly spending on vanity publishing.
I just wanted to plead the others not to run behind the tag or fame.
God save the industry, please!
About me and my debut: I self-published my debut novella via a vanity-publishing firm as I was ignorant enough to understand how waste of a money it was and that I missed my chance of using other publishing ways, I thought I should write this post.
My debut is not a best-seller, but a good book. I don’t throw my book’s cover time and again asking my friends to buy – I keep writing and I am building my readership. I don’t have good grammatical skills and diction – but I employ a good editor as I feel responsible.
I organized a meet for aspiring writers in Chennai to help them understand the pitfalls in the publishing industry as well.
If this post by chance hurts you or your ideology – please pardon me!
I hereby end my rant.
Regards,
Kavipriya Moorthy
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68 thoughts on “My Dear Indian ‘Authors?’”

  1. I actually agree with your rant there because every writer is not an author. It takes a lot of work and effort and a damn good plot for a book to be respected by the readership and enjoyed.

    one of my cherished dreams is to be an author and I am working on a manuscript which I know is not perfect and that is the reason me and a few other people are the only ones who have seen it where I work on it again and again.

    And in the meanwhile, I write short stories to hone my skills and hope I’m achieving something out of it. Many a times it is just my friends who comment and say how good the stories are but the most useful comments have been left by strangers who critiqued my work and pointed out how it could be improved. Though I have not taken every suggestion into account but I am grateful for those.

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  2. Dear Kavipriya,

    I appreciate your views. Though I would like to tell you that many of the top leading authors in our country were self published authors once. It’s not only about spending money. But also understanding well how and where your money is going.

    Best Regards,

    Vishal Anand

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  3. I’ve been criticized ( many times) by ‘writers’ who claim that good grammar is not necessary. They have published books and I haven’t, because I don’t trust my writing skills just yet. I took to blogging only to practise the craft of writing.

    On the other hand, many people ( especially in India ) don’t care about style. It seems only the plot is needed. They supply the rest of the style themselves in some strange way.

    As a middle-aged man, who married the girl he dated for 6 years, I am not impressed or titillated by stories about boyfriends / girlfriends. I guess I don’t really understand the market in India. Not surprising, since I left India in 1997….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Please stop publishing your college love stories, your school encounters, making out with your friend’s girlfriend, etc.”

    While I agree with most of the things you have said (especially about vanity publishing), I do not agree with this particular sentence.
    Nicholas Sparks, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, Colleen Hoover, Stephen Chbosky, Erich Segal and I can keep going on with the list of authors who do write what you have mentioned and have not stopped and probably won’t till they write; and yet, they are largely and globally loved.

    IMHO, you don’t have to go all Dan Brown or Mario Puzo to be considered as an author. Love Stories do work. You can’t simply discard a genre based on the newbie Indian authors you have read.

    About buying books, all the bestsellers are doing that and not just in India, but in other countries as well. It’s a part of marketing. You pay for marketing, the PR team uses your money and buys the stock, making you a bestseller over the night and then people actually start buying your books because they are intrigued. However, if your book is bad, you won’t be able to use the same trick again and people will refrain themselves from buying your books.

    “I don’t throw my book’s cover time and again asking my friends to buy.” Well, that’s your personal choice, but that’s also a part of marketing. If you don’t have the money to pay the marketing guys, you’ll have to do the promotions yourself.

    “Do you really want to write a book that has a bit of sex”
    50 Shades of Grey! The Crossfire series! What purpose did you serve in my life!
    I’m not saying that I loved these books, but they were sold and are still being sold like hot cupcakes.

    The reason I have mentioned this is because different genres have a different reader base. If language was important for being a famous author, these would have been a complete failure.

    One day, I was reading a book by Sudeep Nagarkar, his latest one. I hated it completely and it is a bestseller and I have read some shockingly positive reviews; probably because I have now passed the phase where you like such books. I did not even like the books by Ravinder Singh. The first one was alright, but then everything went down the hill. I can tell you numerous names who hate what Amish writes and he’s my favorite Indian author.

    Lastly, I agree completely with taking the traditional way to publish and sending manuscripts to publishers rather than paying to the greedy vanity publishers. And I also don’t like how most of the young authors are writing trash in the name of love stories, which is why I have even stopped reviewing books. I pick up what I want to read.

    Like you said, this is just my opinion and I don’t mean to hurt any sentiments. 🙂 And no, I don’t think anybody should take offense to your post. You have just kept your views.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I respect and take your points. I have read good romantic novels written by Indian authors too but the ration of good romance : crap made me write this post. I loved your comment and I would be more than happy if Indian authors slap me with good romantic novels 🙂

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    2. And, not against those who market their books but am against those who don’t employ an editor because it is costly and roll out a book with grammatical mistakes and bad writing on the whole. I would myself promote a well written book 🙂

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      1. I can understand. :/ I remember reading this one book which was sent to me by the author himself. I tried hard but could not even go past 25 pages. It was so bad, so useless and I could not go past a dozen lines before finding a grammatically incorrect sentence; and they were not small issues, but complete blunders.

        I also feel one should employ good editors.

        I understand your rant. I have felt that myself so many times. I just hope when I come up with my own book, I can be a little different from such crowd :p

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I completely agree with you Anmol. No offence to Kavipriya, this post seems well intentioned, but too much of a rant to bring out points for me to think about.

      Sure, Indian writers need to bring up their quality, but I have read disastrous books being published in the US. Fake reviews are solicited by everyone. And you shouldn’t hold out Indian Authors particularly for that.

      There is a lot of quality fiction that can come up if the envelope is pushed. Some of it might get pushed by authors, while some will continue to disappoint. There is muck in every genre.

      I totally feel for you, for the editing mistakes. I’m a proofreader/editor and the muck that people publish is unbelievable too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have written this post with a sample size of authors who fall under <25 and 99% choose romance, of which all of them write their own stories as a novel. I can't pen a post without having much details about other works published around the world. I would research more on this and come up with a post that doesn't hold out Indian Authors.

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  5. Well, first of all whatever you said is 70% right, 30% wrong. When you take most of the renowned author, you will see they write stories somewhat related to their life events. Numerous examples are there , i don’t think i need to give names. When it comes to writing love stories, school encounters.. and bla bla bla …. See this world consist of numerous people and i think whosoever buys a book is smart enough to google or read a sample from play store. Everyone has a life and i think everyone is free to express his thoughts/emotions. That’s what books are meant for. You are no one to classify people as this and that. At the end of the day your view doesn’t matter but some hard truths about publishing industry matters. I think every story has some message and some inspiration or atleast entertainment, so leave it to people. Don’t get so low on your failure to invoke people’s perception.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rahul. I would love to read books based on real life incidents with good message in it. Being a book reviewer, out of all those books 80% were crap and hence this post. And not I have not gone low on my failure 🙂

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  6. Excellent post! I only want to say one thing which isn’t related to this.. that woman who owns the cow is smart 😛 Because she isn’t asking her friends to feed it. She is using her cow as an attraction to make money and also makes extra money by selling milk again not to friends. While these authors are only getting cow dung..unfortunately!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! That was quite something . Well as a published author ( The Fragrance of Mango Blossoms) is NOT a vanity publication .
    I approached Popular Prakashan and they printed 650 copies as per their policy for Newbie writers. Out of these only 250 are left . The copies sold are NOT bought by friends and family. Nor have I gifted them to anyone.
    There was NO book launch .
    The book is NOT about love or romance – it is a cookery book tracing the culinary traditions of my community .
    I haven’t even received the dung , so this labour of mine has been totally unprofitable for me.
    So please do but my book from Amazon, Popular Prakashan or Infibeam.
    And by the way I’d be happy to do a book review but I couldn’t download the ebook right now.
    And lastly congratulations – you can’t keep a good thing down so if your book is really good, you don’t have to rant and rave😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had a great time reading this post. A post that summarises all my learnings with my first publishing too. Though, I have tasted a much less success with first book than to yours too, my initial intention and what I expected to gain out if the self publishing route has been met.

    It’s the reason why I didn’t publish my novel but a collection of my works as my first book. I wanted to test if I had it in me to make ppl pay for reading what I write and more importantly do they like my thought process in the end. An uncontrolled experiment if you may and it has turned out great. Though not a public success, my book is yet to be given a thumbs down by any new critic / reader friends I have made in the literary circle. And I have also understood the correct combination of spices that readers expect from me and all these are inputs for my next work.

    My thoughts…
    So shelling some amount for a personal market research (if that’s the idea you have behind vanity) is an investment worth for your next project…. If not for the first.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Agree with many of your points Kavipriya. Since I read many books and review, I know how bad I feel when I read some very bad book without good storyline except college crush and sex. I hate books with spelling mistakes and grammar errors. I stop these kinds of books in the middle instead of wasting my time to complete them.

    Appreciate you for writing a very honest post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A lil bit of sex and a sucking love story.. hahah i was really laughing there.. hard truth is best understood either if you get hit directly or when shoved into your face.. 🙂 real nice write up..

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  11. Someone had to say it Kavipriya. Good for you!
    But from my experience, let me tell you, people don’t learn from advice. They want to get burnt first. I also went the vanity publishing route, though I didn’t know how bad it was and got fleeced. This was in 2009. Before that, I had received 25+ rejection letters for three of my manuscripts from traditional publishing houses. After that when 3/4 people contacted me for checking the authenticity of that vanity publishing house, I told them the truth. Were they ready to listen? of course not. But then, would I have listened? I don’t know.
    As you mention, editing is such an important thing. But then again, I have read 4 books from one famous Indian publishing house that has a minimum of 10 proofing errors per page and I could see that there was no editing at all. The way the story flowed depended totally on the author’s skills or lack of them. But people still go gaga over that publishing house.
    I think the responsibility lies with both the author and the publisher. And again, authors should stick to the language they are most comfortable in, instead of murdering the Queen’s tongue.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It was time someone said it like it was, and I’m glad you wrote this post. It is crazy how much attention and money is being given to marketing of books that are shitty, sub standard and just plain un-readable. Even big publishers are picking up authors based NOT on the content, but the name. Pity. My first book was by Westland and though it is not a best seller (which usually means 10k copies sold), it has been received very well and has sold a lot – and I am happy with that! I cannot pimp myself as a celebrity, but I keep writing and trying to get better. Loved, loved this post. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks so much. They did not take book 2, though. But I did not go to any vanity publishers because thanks to brave people like you who tell their stories, I knew I should keep away from them. More power to you! Let’s stay in touch. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hmm! Thank God mine was trad pub, though very few seem to believe it since Fablery is a small, relatively unknown publisher 🙂

    I have always ranted about this ‘do not need to know English to write’ school of thought. Writing and Photography are the only two arts where the so-called artists seem to have disdain for the very tools of the art. 🙂

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  14. Wow! Here’s someone who thinks and feels exactly as I do about the so called ‘Best Sellers’ (read CRAP), doing the rounds. My fellow Indian writers are determined to kill this beautiful language in the garb of Indian English (to hell with the content or the grammar). Why should the publisher bother as long as the money is coming?
    Just look at the negative reviews these luminaries get on Amazon and elsewhere. They are good salesmen/salesgirls, not really good writers who hardly ever step out of their campuses. Many of them are gifted with pretty faces, or connections, which helps a great deal in our part of the publishing world.
    I wrote a damn good (repeat damn good) crime story, (a romantic thriller – “Lovers’ Rock”, published by Rupa Books). It is not just a boy-meets-girl-and-all-the-bloody-shit-that-follows, but a lot more than that to keep a reader engaged till the very end of the book. Now I’m waiting to return the unearned advance of the royalty (a princely 30000, which is half of my monthly pension, by the way).
    According to the latest reports, my books are gathering dust in bookshops, awaiting pulping orders. I intend buying the unsold copies and distributing them to readers for free during the next Litfest at Jaipur. That’s the only way to reach more readers.
    It hurt. So I bought nearly two dozen ‘Best-sellers’ by Indian authors to try and learn what sells. I was totally flabbergasted and ashamed. How on earth do they get published by established names in the first place, beats me? I couldn’t finish most of them.
    I’m no great writer. I learned more abuses in school than English prose. But I can tell a good story in a language one can understand without the use of a dictionary.
    The name of the game, I’m told, is marketing, which is not my cup of tea. However, as advised by a sympathetic fellow writer, I’ve started bragging about my piece-of-shit on social sites, shamelessly, hoping to earn a few ‘likes’ (whatever that means). Even my best friends, uncles and aunties, nephews and nieces, in-laws and out-laws, are finding it difficult to click on that button called – ‘like’. I don’t think I’m going to last long on these sites.
    Having read your wonderful piece with great interest, I’m convinced I should buy your book straightaway. I would very much like you to review my book, if you could give me your address.
    My daughter, a content writer, proofreads my drafts when in the right mood, tells me that I’m too emotional and expecting too much. Of course I am, dammit, for having written a good story, even if there are no takers.
    It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Kavipriya (That’s a beautiful name). Now let me go and find out your books on Amazon.
    Wishing you the very best.

    Ravi Bedi…or shall I say ‘Ravipriya’!

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  15. I concur with your thoughts in this post. The current crop of debut authors and their stories, somehow I feel, lack variety and imagination.

    I participated in a book review network last year – i.e. signed to be a reviewer, got a book, and wrote an honest review. I havent heard back from the network again for any book – perhaps because my review was honest, and the book was ok content wise, but needed tightening grammar and language wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Firstly, let me say, I love the analogy. It made me smile. Now coming to the points in your post…

    ~ If I were the one who talks without giving it a second thought, soon after reading that message, I would have replied: “How much did you pay for those fake reviews?”
    I had an author approach me for a review recently. The title alone was enough to turn me off from accepting it, but I went to Goodreads/Amazon, and saw reviews that tempted me to reply with this question too. I agree that most of the time, any publicity is good publicity, but I feel fake reviews aid only toward boosting sales. If that is the ultimate goal, to sell the book as a product, then I guess this sort of publicity isn’t bad. But honest reviews work much better, I feel.

    ~ A few claim that it is absolutely okay to publish a book with grammatical mistakes…
    For me, if the mistakes are few and not prominent because the narration is engaging, it is okay. It means the story is quite good, and in the end, that’s every author’s intention, isn’t it? To write a good story. But quite a few ‘bestsellers’ I have read have little to no editing, and every few lines, a mistake is noticeable; some to the extent that I cringe. That is not acceptable. It overshadows the story, even if it is the best and a possible bestseller of the future.

    ~ There are a few who stick reading to authors outside India pointing out the miserably failed so called best-sellers.
    There is no dearth of good writing or good authors in Indian Writing in English, but when such ‘bestsellers’ come up more often than the good writing, it feels like IWE has no good writers. Hence the tendency to stick to authors from outside India. You say later that God save the IWE industry. in the end, it is up to the authors to do that. If better writing comes up, even these few will accept that IWE has successful bestsellers.

    ~ Please stop publishing your college love stories, your school encounters, making out with your friend’s girlfriend etc.
    I mostly agree on this, but I think even a college love story, or a school encounter that blossomed into something more, that is written well and not cliched, it can make a mark on the industry. It shouldn’t be about the common route taken (like a bit of sex, a super stupid conversation over coffee etc.) because those have been read and it wouldn’t feel any different from those failed best-sellers.

    ~ Please don’t spend your or your parent’s hard earned money to vanity publish.
    Makes sense. I remember reading something similar that was told by Anand Neelakantan recently. It is tempting, and I nearly did. But I’ve decided not to take that route, even with my hard earned money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with all your points Vinay. My target of this post were those who are between 15-23, desperate to gain fame, and took this route. My sample size is narrowed down here. I have read good breezy romance by Indian authors too. These teenagers write only their college love stories and hence I wrote that particular paragraph.

      Your comment on this post not only summarises, but also adds value on the whole. Thanks a lot 🙂

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  17. Hi, loved your brutally honest opinion. I second it. Being a blogger, I’ve read and reviewed several books but I never wrote a fake review. The thing is, I love reading, and hence, I stick to books strictlty not of Indian Authors when not reviewing. That says a lot, doesn’t it? I know several people who make a face when asked about reading Indian Authors. I am an author in making and these incidences just make me sad.

    Indian literature has degraded so much that even Ravi Subramanian came out with the worstseller he wrote.

    Every other person comes up with a sick love story every now and then. All the covers speak of a love story with the same story woven in different words.

    I once reviewed a book that didn’t just have the most basic love story, but ample of grammatical and spelling errors. I was compelled to contact the author and ask him if his editor was blind.

    Good to know that you stood up for the actual ‘Authors’. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Powerful post, Kavipriya! And, it can be an eye-opener for newbies (Like me). This post makes me nervous, though. But of course, it’s too late for that.

    I also do reviews on my blog, and I can’t help writing honest reviews. It is surprising to find editing glitches in traditionally published books. But, you would find such books with 4-5 star ratings. Misleading reviews irk me. Honest reviews/negative feedback work positively for the growth of a writer, which is more important than sales.

    Have you heard about Savi Sharma? She is a first-time author. She self-published (I mean actually) her book. It got nice (authentic) reviews and sales. Now, Westland Books have republished her book and the book has found a decent place in HT-Neilson top 10. Impressive, no?

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      1. I have just finished reading this book. Got a review copy from the publisher. It’s Okay, nice attempt by a first-time author. But, I had some issues regarding plot and execution, especially when it is republished by Westland.

        But, it’s good to see her rising from a self-published author to a bestselling one! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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