Book Publishing FAQs

I have written a book, how to get the book published ?

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.

Which publishing option is right for you?

Well, the answer depends on what you wish to map out of your writing and your ambitions in the literary world. Broadly there are three kinds of publishing options:


Traditional publishing: 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 (i.e. ability to sell through bookstores). Also, since the publishers have a qualified editorial and creative staff, their products are excellent in quality.

Self-publishing: Self-publishing is essentially a publishing service where 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 want to save the time and effort of pitching their manuscript to traditional book publishers.

The below chart highlights 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.

FactorSelf-PublishersTraditional Publishers
Ease of approachExcellentRather rigid
Waiting period for evaluation of manuscriptMinimum time 2-6 weeks or more
Quality of productBooks are edited & produced at poor  standards – all elements (from quality of content, to the cover, to production quality ), suffer due to thisHigh standards of editorial & production maintained
Marketing for authors /booksNone /or as per the author bearing costsThe publisher spends on promotions
Eligibility to contest in literary awardsNot eligible. Eligible
Monetary returnsMinimumFair
Retail book distributionNilExcellent
Possibility of using the creative content for other mediums (eg. films, TV, etc)Low / NilGood
Possibility of getting published100%Depends on evaluation of the manuscript
Most important: cost of the bookINR 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.

Accelerated Publishing: 

This is the new age publishing route, which brings together the best of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. It is a platform-based approach which enables the author to carry out the publishing process on their own and the books are made available across the globe in paperback and ebook formats. It allows the author to understand how readers are reading the book, and using the data and analytics, the author can alter the book to improve the commercial success of the book. As the same happens the book is moved to commercial publishing with all the aspects of traditional publishing kicking in this phase. The investment by the company is the technology platform, which is not chargeable to the author. The author and the company earn money from each book sold.

You may look at Pencil (www.thepencilapp.com) for accelerated publishing. (Note, ‘Pencil’is a sister entity of Leadstart).

How do you pitch to a Publisher for publishing a book?

Through a Literary Agent

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 an upfront fee if the publishers offer the same; royalty on all books sold (including audiobooks and e-books), paid excerpts from other forms of media (newspapers, magazines, websites, etc.); in short, everything that the content monetizes.

What services do literary agents deliver for their commission?

Typically, Literary Agents pitch the author’s proposal or manuscript to publishers and helps the author to negotiate the best deal. As the agent makes money from the deal, 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, they do not pay. Literary Agents earn their commissions from what they make for the authors they represent (i.e. 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 or 10-15% of net receipts.

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 its evaluation methodology, this is ours.

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. 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 from 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. Some lawyers 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 for publication?

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

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Debashis Biswas

With more than 15 years of experience in book sales and distribution, Debashis currently oversees Leadstart’s business activities in eastern India and neighbouring countries. He has previously worked with several leading book publishers and distributors.

Walid Jalal

Walid has 7 years experience in online listing & marketing Working in SEO firm & Publishing sector. He worked in a Restaurant as a Manager in Sharjah for two years. He loves cricket & cooking.

Jayati Sarkar

Jayati has been into literature studies and has pursued her Mphil in Australian Aboriginal Poetry from the University of Calcutta. She is an avid reader and her love for books has brought her to the field of Publishing. For years she has explored the other side of the book as a reader and now she works with Leadstart as the Senior Executive in the Editorial Department. Her work profile includes working closely with Authors, managing the projects from end to end and also working with national and international publishers for management of Secondary Rights.

Ashwini Jadhav

Ashwini has about a decade’s experience in design. She is a Master of Commercial Art, who has worked in the publishing and advertising sectors as a visualiser & designer. She was judged as the third best in the state, when she finished her foundation course in applied art. She is a practicing calligrapher in Modi Lipi (a script in the Marathi language) and is a Rangoli artist who has won several accolades in those domains. During the popular Ganesh Chaturthi festival, several idols of Ganesha in varying sizes get made, one the most important finishing touches to the idol is that of painting the eyes, which Ashwini has practiced to perfection and does it for hundreds of idols every year. In addition to the above, she is also a trained classical dancer, a national level Kabaddi player and loves cooking.

Ananya Subramanian

Graduation in journalism and love for books, led Ananya to take up a career in publishing. With her experience in the field, she has come to believe more and more in the power of stories and the people who tell them. She is a vegan and an animal-lover; and loves to dance, tend to her pet plants and often find solace in solo travelling.

T. Vijay Kumar

Vijay has over a decade’s experience in supply chain management working in India and the Middle East. He heads the production, supply chain and receivables management for Leadstart. Prior to his current role at Leadstart, Vijay worked in inventory management for five years, in Abu Dhabi.

Iftikar Shaikh

Iftikar has a decade & half years of experience across publishing and the banking sectors in the finance domain. He enjoys working on numbers and loves uncovering stories that the numbers tell. A fitness enthusiast, he loves trekking and travelling.

Maneesha Arun

Maneesha has an experience of over two decades in the content industry spanning over publishing, media and secondary rights business domains. She has a deep interest in psychology.

Mahendra Rawat

With more than a decade’s experience in book sales and distribution, Mahendra comes from a family immersed in the book trade. He worked with several book distributors and publishers before his current assignment with Leadstart.


With more than 15 years of experience in book sales and distribution, Debashis currently oversees Leadstart’s business activities in eastern India and neighbouring countries. He has previously worked with several leading book publishers and distributors.

Rajesh Krishnan

Rajesh comes with over 3 decades of experience spread over various business domains. He oversees Leadstart’s business development & sales across southern & western India, Sri Lanka and Middle-East. His hobbies include dancing, trekking and travelling

Pooja Dutt

Pooja has over a decade’s experience in operations, sales and people management in various business domains. She loves to interact with authors and helps them meet their publishing goals. She is fond of travelling & cooking.

Bhavika Bharambe

After completing her MBA in marketing, Bhavika has focused on roles that helped her to become an experienced marketing professional today. She has worked for brands from various industries; Educational, Tourism, Retail, Entertainment, Airlines, Banking and more. She loves to spend her time by reading books and listening to music.

Naina Solanki

Naina leads the project management and author support functions at Leadstart Publishing. She is fond of being abreast of the latest developments in technology and is a keen learner of the six sigma methodology. She loves reading and travelling.

Preeti Chib

Preeti has a decade’s experience in brand and communication management with most influential and innovative media companies. She is passionate about building brands by translating consumer insights into product innovations and campaigns. She is a compulsive reader and considers a day gone without some bit of reading a day wasted. She loves reading stories to her children every night. A lover of visual art, to delve a bit deeper into the same, she took up formal training for design as well.

Malini Nair

Malini is passionate about Literature and Business Management. After her MBA (Marketing) from St. Xavier’s, she took up roles that involved sales, marketing, costing, MIS etc. in multiple sectors like Banking, Insurance, E-broking, and even the Steel industry. Eventually, her passion for languages and books compelled her to re-route her career to literature. This led to a career break and a Masters Degree in English Literature; post which she took up a role at Wordit CDE & Leadstart, enabling her to work towards both her passions.

Chandralekha Maitra

With two decades of experience as a book publishing professional, Chandralekha began her career as a features writer and columnist, working with publications across India, before moving into book publishing full time, with India Book House. She received her training in editorial title management from Book House, London. Over the years she has worked with some of the finest publishing houses in India and overseas, and across genres and markets. She has also worked with Osian’s-Connoisseurs of Art, India’s first auction house, gaining in-depth exposure to research and publishing in the fine arts-antiquities-cultural heritage genres. Additionally she has had a parallel, specialist career in Human Resources, working at Group HR, Tata Group, among others. She continues to write, train and mentor in this domain as her publishing commitments allow.

Raj Supe

Aka Kinkar Vishwashreyananda, Raj Supe is a poet, storyteller and novelist, as well as a seeker and devotee of Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath. An MBA by education, his career spanned advertising, research and creative consulting, before devoting his time to literature and spirituality. His works include Three No Trumps (novel), Sagarika Anusagarika [Echoes of Nine Rivers] (poetry), Pilgrim of the Sky (spiritual memoir), and translations of religious texts such as Cloudburst of A Thousand Suns and Jai Jai Ram Krishna Hari. He has also worked on film scripts with Ram Gopal Verma and Ashutosh Gowariker, and on plays with Makarand Deshpande.

Dr. Rabindra Kumar Nanda

An alumnus of IIT Kanpur, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Stanford University, Dr Nanda is also a National Science Talent Search Scholar. He holds five Patents and is a published author of 50 national and 52 international research papers.

Swarup Nanda

Swarup has over a decade and half’s experience in multiple business domains related to content. Prior to his entrepreneurial ventures, he has worked with a couple of MNCs in the media space. His passion for literature and books is his motivation for building Leadstart.