We got all our book-re­lated ques­tions an­swered by Vaishali Mathur, Se­nior Com­mis­sion­ing Ed­i­tor, Pen­guin In­dia. You writ­ing this down?

Cosmopolitan (India) - - LIFE LESSONS -

Q: “I want to write, but am freaked out by the thought of com­pe­ti­tion. Is there an open­ness to fresh voices in the mar­ket?” Vaishali Mathur: “It’s an ex­cit­ing time in In­dian pub­lish­ing. The in­dus­try is evolv­ing, and pub­lish­ers are much more open to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. With the rise of the as­pi­ra­tional class, there is a lot of mass mar­ket and self pub­lish­ing hap­pen­ing too.”

Q: “What’s the best way to get a publisher to lis­ten up? Do I have a bet­ter chance of wing­ing it through an agent?”

VM: “It all de­pends on the pro­posal and the strength of the writ­ing. That said, agents have di­rect con­nects with com­mis­sion­ing ed­i­tors and know their lists well. They are also quick to as­sess po­ten­tial. So that is very much a vi­able means. How­ever, it might not al­ways be pos­si­ble to get the ap­pro­pri­ate agent. In that case, di­rectly ap­proach­ing the publisher is an op­tion too. It may just take more time.” Q: “What can I do to make sure that my pro­posal stands out in that huge stock pile ev­ery top pub­lish­ing house must have?” VM: “Write a good story. Lan­guage can be brushed up by edit­ing, but the story has to be re­ally, re­ally good. If you have been writ­ing and get­ting pub­lished, it will add to your cred­i­bil­ity. Another thing that helps is a solid online pres­ence. It en­sures that when your book gets out, you have a ready read­er­ship. Pub­lish­ers do con­sider online pro­files while re­view­ing pro­pos­als.” Q: “What works bet­ter with a publisher––a com­plete first draft or a pro­posal pack­age? What should the pack­age in­clude?” VM: “Ei­ther can work. The idea of a pro­posal is to give the publisher a com­plete vi­su­al­i­sa­tion of your book and your­self. In­clude a synop­sis, giv­ing as much de­tail as pos­si­ble, and a cou­ple of sam­ple chap­ters. Send the whole draft in case you feel a pro­posal might not be able to do jus­tice in re­flect­ing your project. And don’t for­get to at­tach an (in­ter­est­ing) bio note about your­self.” Q: “How much money can a first timer like me ex­pect to make?” VM: “The money an au­thor makes is based pri­mar­ily on roy­al­ties and the num­ber of copies of the book sold. New au­thors of­ten get swayed by big ad­vances with­out re­al­is­ing that the ad­vance is a part of your roy­al­ties. So the more im­por­tant thing is to get a com­pe­tent ed­i­tor and a re­li­able publisher. The rest will fall in place.”

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