With more and more aspiring authors being rejected, what must one do to get noticed? One of the reasons for rejection is that writers fail to see the considerable change in reading habits over the last decade and that mergers and acquisitions have compelled bigger companies to demand more from authors. Also, the progress of communication technology and the entertainment industry has brought more competition to the publishing industry. Notwithstanding what the cultural pundits say, the typical book-buyer today no longer looks for great insights into the human condition; it is entertainment that pushes up sales.
So what should be the starting point for an author in the making? There are four key points: Study the market; read what has made other authors successful; what do they offer that you may be missing out? Will buyers pay about Rs 150 to read what you have to say? In other words, if the book has marketing potential, which is the crucial word. Literary excellence may still matter to some publishers, but the first line that a publisher looks at is the bottom line.
So how do you go about it? First, find the publisher who focuses on your areas of interest. Not every publisher handles every subject now. Aspiring authors would be wasting time and money submitting proposals that don’t suit a publisher’s list. Second, resist the urge to go only for leading publishers. They don’t give much attention to unsolicited material. And, in India at least, celebrity status takes an author a long way: writers with easily recognizable profiles are preferred because publishers don’t have to invest in order to tell readers who the authors are.
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