The time it takes to publish a book

Most writers know the difference between paying to get your book published and getting a publisher to invest in your work. The publishers who do the latter are called traditional publishers. But people don’t always know the difference.

This didn’t matter to me until I got into the game. You see, I have been telling people about my novel for over a year…two years? It’s still not published (although it will be at the end of the year.)

Every time I meet someone who knows I have written a book, I get asked the same question again and again, in different ways.


What? Your book is still not published?

Why is your book taking so long?

Where is this book you’ve been talking about? 

When will your book be published?

All they know is that their old aunt, the neighbour’s son or first cousin has just published a book…and they did it so quickly! How come I was finding it difficult to get a publisher? They look at me sympathetically. I know the unasked questions running through their mind. Has she really written a book? If yes, isn’t it good enough?

I try to explain the difference between publishing the traditional way and doing it yourself. I tell them it can take a year or more to get a traditional publisher’s attention. If a publisher accepts your book, they could take another year to publish it. Because obviously, traditional publishers don’t just publish at any random time…they have their seasons, their lists, and they have deals with distributors. There is a method and there is a schedule. Naturally.

A person who wants to self-publish can do it the very next day, as soon as the book is ready. All that is needed is a printing press. These presses are more than eager for business. You don’t have to try to get them to publish your book. They try to get you to publish with them. Try making just one call, and they will hound you.

So why bother with traditional publishers who treat you like a speck of dirt most of the time (unless you are a celebrity or they think you are a genius). Well, it’s not because you need their stamp of approval but because you need their marketing and distribution muscle. Bookshops rarely stock self-published books. And self-published books are banned from many reputed competitions.

I have nothing against self-publishing or some type of hybrid publishing where authors pay for publishing their book. But it should be the author’s last, desperate choice.

Sure, there are some very good self-published books. But I have seen plenty with bad covers and grammatical mistakes. Poor sentence construction is also common.

boredom-1977519_1280One self-published author had the temerity to tell me: What does it matter if there are grammatical mistakes…as long as the book is interesting! 

That’s one argument I cannot quite digest.


Becoming an author

NitapcI always thought of myself as a writer and of course an author too…an author of countless articles and a few short stories. Becoming an author of a book is different though and that is happening soon.

I signed a contract with Vishwakarma Publications for the publication of my first novel after winning a contest at PILF (Pune International Literary Festival) in September 2018.

The novel is a thriller set in Mumbai. A murder mystery. It will be out in September 2019.

Vishwakarma Publications, a Pune based publisher, was founded in 2013. Vishwakarma is also the official title sponsor of the Pune International Literary Festival which is held every year in Pune. It is a part of the Vishwakarma group which is into education.

I am happy that I have been accepted by a traditional publisher and that too a reputed one. And of course the fact that they are Pune based is a matter of great joy!

A writer’s angst

When I heard that British writer Preti Taneja (she won the Desmond Elliott Prize for her first novel, We That Are Young) was turned down by all the big names in the publishing industry, I realised that my angst over finding a traditional publisher for my book was misplaced.

Preti’s novel was published by a small publisher in 2016, and the publisher could not understand why there “hadn’t been a bidding war for the rights.”

Preti’s prose, according to the judges, contained “prose as sensual, perfumed and parti-coloured as a wedding basket of ladoo, inset with gems of pure poetry”.

I do not consider myself in Preti’s league, not by a long shot. Then why in the world was I resentful of publishers who did not bother to respond to my book proposal?

I did wonder whether my book proposal was good enough, although I did all the right things by reading HowTo articles. No one asked for the manuscript (in India traditional publishers accept book proposals directly from authors). A friend, who was published by Harper Collins, told me that my book proposal was probably lying in a slush pile somewhere. Harper Collins hasn’t responded even though it has been over 8 months.

I completed my first novel in December 2017. I had written the first draft some years earlier, but the manuscript had been lying around gathering dust. I finally took it up in the summer of 2017 and finished it in six months. Once the 300-page novel was done, I knew I wanted to write 5 more books, two of them non-fiction. God willing, I will do it. It could take years, maybe ten. That doesn’t matter because all that matters is that I love what I am doing.
Nita reading

(This post was originally written for a writing group but as I am not a part of that group now, references to it have been removed)