FAQ

I have written a book, what now?
Writing a book was half the journey and the other half begins now. It will produce enduring results if you have it published through a reputed publishing house. A good publisher is simply the one who can take your work across the globe and transparently pay you your deserving royalties.

What kind of a Publisher would suite me?
Well the answer depends on what you wish to may out of your writing and your ambitions in the literary world. Broadly there are three kind of publishing arrangements and two kinds of Publishers

Traditional publishers: The books which you see at major bookstores are all by traditional book publishers. They carefully scrutinize the manuscripts which come to them, filter and publish only the ones they can do justice to. The single most differentiating factor between traditional and other publishers, is the fact that the others do not have any retail book distribution network (ie. ability to sell through bookstores). Also, since the publishers have a qualified editorial and creative staff, their products are excellent in quality.

Self publishers: Self-publishing is a new fad with authors. These publishers offer to publish everything that comes their way. The authors pay them and use their services for editing, cover designing and printing. Once the book is ready, it can be sold through book-selling websites. These services are also called Print-on-Demand services.
Many self-publishers have argued against traditional publishing, creating an aura of negativity which in turn has benefitted their businesses. It is certainly an alluring shortcut for authors, who are save the time and effort of effort of pitching their manuscript to traditional book publishers.
In the chart below are the differences you can expect to see and experience between traditional and self publishers. This will help authors make well-informed decisions regarding the publisher they choose.

Factor Self-Publishers Traditional Publishers
Ease of approach Excellent Rather rigid
Waiting period for evaluation of manuscript Minimum time  2-6 weeks or more
Quality of product Books are edited & produced at poor  standards – all elements (from quality of content, to the cover, to production quality ), suffer due to this High standards of editorial & production maintained
Marketing for authors /books None /or as per the author bearing costs The publisher spends on promotions
Eligibility to contest in literary awards Not eligible. Read more Eligible
Monetary returns Minimum Fair
Retail book distribution Nil Excellent
Possibility of using the creative content for other mediums (eg. films, TV, etc) Low / Nil Good
Possibility of getting published 100% Depends on evaluation of the manuscript
Most important: cost of the book INR 2-3 per page (ie. a 100-page self-published book will be priced at INR 200- 300.These books are sold mostly on the self publisher’s own portal and are bought generally by the author’s own friends or the author himself/herself. Regular buyers would not generally pick up  a poorly produced book at those prices. All the top end, international and Indian book publishers are now producing at INR 0.5/page to INR 1/page (ie. a 100-page book will not cost more than INR 100 to buy. It is meant to be sold to book buyers.

What are the kinds of Publishing Arrangements :

A.Traditional Publishing :

Flat Royalty: The publisher pays the author a particular royalty from all book sales. Some authors get an ‘advance’ and then royalty too.

Copyright buying: the publisher pays a one-time fee for the copyrights and owns them from there on . The writer gets due credit but no royalty thereafter.
Partner-publishing / Co-Publishing : Historically offered to corporate clients, where the corporate sponsors the book with advertisement(s) or buys a pre-decided number of copies. Since it becomes a win-win, where the book benefits the author / company and also it reduces the Publisher’s risk on the project , Publishers are open to paying better royalties than regular.

Tip: If you have written a book which you are sure will strike a chord with readers, you need the help of an able team of professionals to make your book even better. Traditional book publishers produce better products due to the professional teams they have. Should you have literary pursuits to chase and you plan to take your book to the readers, you must go with traditional publishers only.

B. Self Publishing :
These are services offered to Authors, where the author pays for the services and has his/ her book produced.

Tip: Self publishing is a great platform which you may use when you wish to create a book for yourself and/or close ones.Examples, publishing your project/ thesis in a better way than your local printer would or publishing your personal diary (should you be maintaining one on your computer) or a book of peoms written for some one special or creating a book in memory of a dear one, where all close ones write their feelings, etc. Use self publishing as a platform when the audience of the book is limited. It is never meant for audience beyond your own circle of people.

How do you pitch to a Publisher?
Through a Literary Agent
Yourself

What are the trade norms between an Author and a Literary Agent?
This varies from project to project. Fifteen percent is the general norm Literary Agents charge as commission, from everything related to the book sales. This broadly includes: upfront fee if the publishers offers the same; royalty on all books sold; paid excerpts from other forms of media (newspapers, magazines, websites etc.); audio books and e-books. In short, everything that the content monetizes.

What services do literary agents deliver for their commission ?
Typically, Literary Agents pitch the author proposal or manuscript to publishers, and help the author negotiate the best deal. It works well as the agent makes money from the deal, hence he tries and gets the best he can. Most agents edit and fine tune the book pitch. They have an idea of which publisher is looking for what genres of books, hence they pitch accordingly, which drastically improves the chances of the book’s success with the publishers. Once the contract is signed, they act as the author’s face to the publisher.

Do publishers pay Literary Agents?
Generally no. Literary Agents earn their commissions from what they make for the Authors they represent (ie. it comes out of the Author’s royalty).

What royalty is a good royalty?
Just like any regular deal, it depends upon who is in greater need. If the manuscript is extraordinary and the author is a proven best-selling author, publishers pitch to get the rights, leading to better deals for the writer. If the manuscript has been rejected by several publishers, the one who picks it up and invests logically negotiates harder. Hence royalties have no fixed rates. An industry average is 5-7 percent of the cover price.

How do I pitch a manuscript myself ?
Do your homework well. The following pointers may be of help to you.

Pitch to the right publisher: most authors make the terrible mistake of assuming all publishers publish everything (eg. spiritual, children, fiction, investment, management, etc.). Trying to sell a non-priority genre to a publisher is like selling snow to an Eskimo – your snow may be fabulous but he does not need it. The genres publishers want to buy are listed on their websites, or can be understood from the books they publish.

What is in it for the Publisher? For a moment assume you are the publisher and think of all the things you would look at before buying the manuscript. Publishing is not a charity business, people do not enter the industry to serve art. They exist to earn returns on their investment. Before you approach any publisher read the Leadstart Manuscript Evaluation Metrics, it will give you a clearer understanding of the publisher’s requirements. Each publisher has their own evaluation methodology, this is our’s.

Stand out from the crowd: Leadstart Publishing is a medium-sized company and still receives about 70-100 manuscripts a day (2000-3000 manuscripts a month), and publishes only 12-15 titles every month. The manuscript evaluation team has only 6 people and we ensure that every author who writes to us gets a reply, even if we reject the work. We require, a concept note, a synopsis, the full contents page, two sample chapters, and your CV. We ask for your CV to know what you have written till date. If you write a blog, mention it. If you have been published elsewhere, mention it. Your synopsis is a key element in your pitch. The synopsis must be so compelling that the evaluator is forced to read the sample. In the sample chapters need not be the first two, only the best two.
Sound professional: being a first-timer is not a problem, but being silly is an issue. Please read through the things written by others on the internet before you start approaching publishers. Many authors feel they present themselves more strongly in person, so ask to meet if possible. if being an author you fail in your written skills, what impression can you possibly create with the publisher? Any legitimate publishing company starts work with you only after they have evaluated and chosen your manuscript to publish.

Is obtaining copyrights to my work compulsory ?
Not really. You get the copyrights of any original content you have created as soon as you create it. It is mentioned on the imprint page of all published books. But you cannot stop someone somewhere in the world creating the same content and publishing it. He will own that copyright. Hence, It is better to publish the content as early as possible. It is a good idea to register the copyrights with the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) authorities to protect your work. There are lawyers who specialize in this work. Also when an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is assigned to your book, it protects the work to some extent.

How do publishers evaluate a manuscript?
The evaluation of a manuscript differs with each publisher and no other publisher that we know of has disclosed their evaluation tool publicly. We decided to be transparent here as well, and the following is the gist of our manuscript evaluation metrics. We have disclosed enough information to allow any writer to approximately evaluate his / her manuscript.
Please read : Leadstart Manuscript Evaluation Metrics