Born and brought up in a middle class family in a small village in Punjab, Navsangeet Kaur pursued her schooling from an English medium school around 35 km from the village. Coming from a small village, it indeed was a big deal to study in an English medium school.
That was not all. Her quest to learn more led her parents to shift base to Chandigarh for her senior secondary education and further. She didn’t disappoint her parents. She was a topper throughout and was awarded a Gold medal both at her Graduation and Post Graduation at Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Navsangeet’s parents were avid readers and maintained a good collection of books at home. “It was they who encouraged me to read outside the curriculum,” says Navsangeet. That passion of reading books remained with her and she thought beyond. “I always dreamt of starting my own venture where I could make the best use of my education, skills and interests,” she says.
So in 2013, she quit her job at Reliance and with ample support from her husband, got down to explore the area of self-publishing. A research scientist at a top US University, Navsangeet’s husband has himself authored some best-selling IT books. “He shared his experiences of getting his books published in the US. Even my in-laws, who are architects in Chandigarh, have many published books to their credit and they shared with me the experience of publishing books in India. That was good enough motivation to get started,” she says.
Navsangeet started with research on various self-publishing models and challenges faced by authors.
An exhaustive market study helped lay the business plan for the self-publishing startup – White Falcon Publishing.
Within months of starting the venture, crucial tie-ups were sought with partners to build a full-fledged IT driven publishing firm that relies both on sound IT processes and an experienced staff to publish high quality books with worldwide availability. “I am happy that I took the plunge to satiate my hunger to start something of my own that not only interests me but also gets the best out of me,” she says.
The self-publishing industry in India
“With an estimated market of Rs 10,000 crore, India ranks third after the US and UK in English language publishing,” says Navsangeet. Self publishing as a trend too is rapidly growing in India as it addresses many of the challenges faced in traditional publishing, both from the perspective of the authors and the publishers. In this model, the author also doubles up as the publisher of the book. Authors can avail various professional services for making their manuscripts print-ready. Once the work is published, the books are listed on online channels for sale worldwide.
“Most self-publishing companies adopt a print-on-demand (POD) model. Books are then printed as and when the orders are placed on the online channels. Hence, neither the author nor the publisher has to take a big risk by making a big investment in bulk printing of books. In India, the books are sold on eCommerce websites such as Amazon.in, Flipkart, Paytm and ShopClues,” explains Navsangeet.
While traditional publishers take anywhere between 6-12 months to bring a book into the market, the self-publishing model helps authors get their books published in a very short span of few days to weeks. Traditional publishers print the books for maximum 2-4 years seeing the sales and then do away with the book. However, in print-on-demand self-publishing, the book never goes out of print. Self publishing offers transparency with respect to sales and royalties for the book. An author can monitor the sales and royalties online. Royalties are provided to the author directly on a regular basis. “Royalty rate in self publishing is higher than in traditional publishing as there are fewer intermediaries involved,” states Navsangeet.
While more and more authors are becoming familiar with the concept of self-publishing where books are sold online, few authors have the preference of making the books available on the shelves in bookstores throughout the country. “However, with print-on-demand self publishing, neither the authors nor the self-publishing companies are willing to make the huge investment of printing books in bulk to make them available in physical book stores,” says Navsangeet.
Though not completely, Navsangeet’s publishing house has been able to partially overcome this problem by making small investments (at times shared with authors) for printing a limited set of books which are made available in select bookstores.
Being a planned city, Chandigarh has great infrastructure and a great quality of life. Being an education hub, the city has availability of both young talent and skilled professionals, something which works to the advantage of startups like White Falcon Publishing.
Also her stint at Reliance’s telecom sector for two and a half years gave her an insight into the working of the system.
“It turned out to be a male dominated sector with certain limitations. Starting my own venture, managing the operations and making key decisions made me feel rejuvenated and satisfied with my inner self. When my authors share their happiness with the delivered results, it is far more fulfilling than working as an employee in a big organization,” says a proud 29-year-old entrepreneur Navsangeet.
Navsangeet loves to travel and of course, read when not investing her time in her venture.