If you thought it is the quality of writing that makes or breaks a book, then you are living in a different era. In today’s world, authors create animated video trailers to accompany book launches like Amish Tripathi did with his new book, 'Scion of Ikshvaku'.
Authors need to think of their book as a product and plan marketing, sales and figure out RoI. It sounds a lot like starting up, doesn’t it?
Just like there are accelerators for early-stage startups, there is now one for authors. Chennai-based Notion Press, a startup that helps writers self-publish, has launched what it calls the world’s first accelerator for books.
Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi are author-preneurs. Authors need to think like entrepreneurs. That is why an accelerator programme works for them,
says Naveen Valsakumar, who founded Notion Press in 2012 as an online platform for authors to write, and designs books for free. Authors can also get professional help for editing, designing the layout and book cover and even for marketing through paid packages of about Rs 25,000 to Rs 90,000.
Naveen realised there was a need for an accelerator programme as he saw authors making wrong decisions. “In self-publishing, the author has complete control. Sometimes the author might make the wrong decision,” says Naveen. He gives the example of an author Notion Press has just picked for the accelerator programme. “He had positioned his book on Goods and Services Tax as an academic book, but we are re-positioning it as a ‘how to’ for businesses. These are the type of inputs we can provide through the accelerator,” says Naveen.
The company has set aside Rs 50 lakh for 50 selected books for the three-month-programme. The authors can use the Rs 1 lakh each for marketing their books. However, it is not just monetary support that Notion Press provides. The selected author, whose book should have sold at least 300 copies and got at least 30 positive reviews through the author’s efforts, will get mentorship. The mentors, who are drawn from the publishing industry, will help set up an author platform and increase the visibility of the book. Notion Press takes 30% of net profit in return for the support. Apart from this, Notion Press will consider offering a traditional publishing contract or pitch the book to other.
Notion Press is among over half-a-dozen of self-publishing platforms like Cinnamon Teal, Pothi, and Zorba Books that are now offering their services to Indian authors. It is not just in self-publishing that we are seeing the emergence of new startups. The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective is aimed at reviving poetry while startups like PaperTrell are disrupting digital reading experience through technology.
There are definitely more options for authors today. However, it is a sad fact that publishing is under stress in general and marketing has become as important as ‘the writing’. For every Amish and Chetan, there are thousands of failed authors. It will be interesting to see how these new formats can help authors be self-reliant.