Startup eSeries: "Write Well, Market Well" - The Many Rules for an Author-Entrepreneur - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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Startup eSeries: "Write Well, Market Well" - The Many Rules for an Author-Entrepreneur

Feb 14, 2015


"The easiest and most lucrative way to publish a book today is to do it yourself. And the cheapest way to do that is to deliver your book electronically - as an e-book." - Mark Ford

Echoing Mark's words is CEO of Leadstart Publishing and Wordit CDE, Swarup Nanda. Swarup also believes that "e-books will play a significant part in the publishing industry in the times to come" - a trend which is already reflected in the "5 percent revenue from e-books" at Leadstart Publishing.

More about Swarup - he is a book lover and a startup business enthusiast by passion, and a mechanical engineer and MBA by qualification. He has over a decade's experience in multiple business domains and heads three privately-held firms in the space of book publishing and content creation.

Swarup Nanda
Swarup set out to explore his journey as an entrepreneur by focusing on the publishing space. With a keen eye on creative and progressive publishing, Leadstart Publishing has aided authors from across the globe. It currently has 10 brands and publishes over 200 titles a year in all major book categories.

Leadstart Publishing prides itself on winning the title of 'the fastest-growing book publishing company in India today,' by The Week magazine.

In this feature, Swarup talks about the evolving publishing business and how you too can launch yourself as an "author-entrepreneur". Read on for his views.

The role of the author: E-books make it rather easy for authors to publish; yet selling is where the books lose out. Once the e-books get published, promoting them is a huge task. The e-book retailers, who are initially pushy to publish e-books, provide little support to self-published books. If you check the website of any e-books' seller, you will find only traditionally-published books on prominent display, not self-published ones. Being discovered behind a search bar with millions of other books is an uphill task. Self-publishing works best for niche subjects or works of self-expression, as authors have difficulty finding traditional publishers for the same.

The current reader profile: The reader has a lot of variety to choose from and getting the reader's attention for a book is becoming more and more difficult by the day.

The publisher's role: At Leadstart, we have an author relationship management system, which unlike most traditional publishing firms, does not limit the author's interaction to the commissioning editors. We have four key differentiators:
  1. The project runs on a project management system that enables authors to interact with various departments like the editorial, design, production, sales, marketing and accounts.

  2. Once the publishing process is over, a ticket-led query solving mechanism is used, which helps authors get information from the team within a fixed period of time.

  3. Additionally, authors get direct access to the HODs over numbers and e-mail.

  4. We also help authors with a best-in-class advisory that covers all aspects of the book's promotion and helps build the author as a brand.

The advantages of self-publishing: We found that the self-publishing space had large gaps in the services available for authors. That's when we started (owned by Wordit CDE, a sister concern of Leadstart Publishing). It comprises a self-publishing program similar to traditional publishing, but specially designed for authors who are looking at publishing as a source of revenue. At Becomeshakespeare, we provide distribution services to leading brick-and-mortar bookstores, leading chain stores, airport retailers, etc. The format is simple - we rent the space and create a 'SIS' (Shop-in-Shop) model, that becomes a shelf space for our books. Similarly, we provide best practices of traditional publishing firms, i.e. professional editing, proofreading, cover designs, pagination, printing in bulk, aggressive book pricing, availability at bookstores, media mentions, book events, book reviews, author interviews, etc.

The investments and profits: This completely differs from project to project. There are hundreds of self-published books which have crossed the million-dollar mark, while there are several which have struggled to cross a two-digit number.

The role of marketing: The onus of marketing is both on the publisher and author. But having said that, both have unique responsibilities which they need to fulfill. A clear understanding of these goes a long way in the success of a book. An author needs to be present on social media and other promotional channels, it's extremely important these days.

The myth behind "popular" genres: It's difficult to predict the next big genre. If you take the last decade or so, genres which never existed before, came up and completely changed the landscape of publishing. So the best way is to be open to good work and not base your calls on the popularity of the genre. For example, all the publishing gurus said, never make thick books for children... Then came Harry Potter. Did we know of a genre called alternate mythology before Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi? When was the last time a genre like erotica sold as much as the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? The list is endless.

The qualities of a best-seller: At Leadstart Publishing we follow a matrix, the same is listed on the website.

The Author-Entrepreneur: When an author becomes a self-published author he dons the role of an "author-entrepreneur". The only mantra, like in business, is to keep trying till you succeed. If you look for good examples in the Indian publishing scenario, a few of the top-selling traditional authors all began as self-published authors. Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi, both best-selling authors put in financial resources for their literary efforts.

The revenue channels: Beyond the primary rights (physical book and e-book), secondary rights and content syndication could become great channels. In secondary rights, one can explore audio books, rights for TV / movies, and translation rights. Beyond the book rights, speaking engagements are a common revenue stream.

The role of e-commerce: The role of commerce in the sale of paperbacks has already plateaued. The next big jump in revenue will be from e-books. From internal sources, it seems that all e-commerce firms will not be investing in the paperback books category any more. This category has already given them the customer acquisition they needed and they are now focusing on other categories. If the fulfillment cost is more than 7-10% of the selling price, the category is a bleeding category for e-commerce, they don't want to keep burning their investments.

The benefits of technology: When we started, all other publishers were incumbents with decades of experience, and old systems and methods of operations. It gave us a headstart on several opportunities and we built business assets quickly with new methodology and technology.

The new Indian entrepreneur: Entrepreneurs, the newer ones, are far better equipped to handle an enterprise than we were. The government is extremely supportive and the customers are willing to try out new options.

The future is exciting: Leadstart has some wonderful work in its kitty. This year we will definitely add several jewels to the world of literature. Wordit CDE will launch four more brands with different kinds of content solutions for various categories of customers from corporates to individuals. It is going to be an exciting year ahead.

Some Advice
  1. To new writers: Write well. Market well
  2. To author-entrepreneurs: Keep trying till you succeed.
  3. To entrepreneurs: When the dirt of obstacles tries to bury you, remember you are seeds!


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1 Responses to "Startup eSeries: "Write Well, Market Well" - The Many Rules for an Author-Entrepreneur"

A Jha

15 Feb, 2015

I am an author with book for sale on ecommerce sites(flipkart/amazon) for last two years with decent sales . The biggest hurdle is marketing costs of the book. A decent email campaign costs 5k and royalities resulting out of sale due to campaign is 2K. How a ebook will solve it. You will have to market it too. Regards A Jha, author

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