I am an author with five books and three video books to my credit. One of my books has been a best-seller. My titles are available on Amazon.  This journey as an author has been a roller coaster ride. In these six years have learned about publishing the hard way. I have spent over $10000 in the process. I have hired the top book experts, editors, marketers on the planet.

In this series of articles, I am sharing not just my journey but also tips on publishing. , I hope the story will be useful to fellow authors.

I decided to become a full-time author six years ago. I had been a business consultant manager for fourteen years, had traveled across the globe meeting clients,  working deals, advising companies. The work was no longer exciting. I was 66 years old. I was not willing to hang my boots. I wanted to get back on the learning curve. I made a considered switch to writing. It took me a year to complete my first book –Holy Herbs: Modern Connections to Ancient Plants.

I thought I had achieved a benchmark. With my book ready, I assumed my work was done. I just need a publisher who will publish the book. I had written a great book. I had researched it well. It deserved a topnotch publisher. The hunt to find a topnotch publisher began.

Soon it became clear to me that publishers are not interested in non-fiction books from first-time authors. You need to go through a literary agent. Most literary agents are based out of the US, UK, and Europe. There are few in India, Singapore, and Hongkong. Literary agents represent authors, they review a book, take it to publishers, negotiate a publishing contract, and handhold the author through the complex publishing and post-publishing process.

I soon realized that this first step in the publishing process of finding a literary agent is not easy. I started writing to agents sending them a summary of my book and requesting them to represent my book. Agents too were not interested in first-time authors. If you are not a Hillary Clinton or someone really well-known literary agents are not interested in you. They are business people. They earn a commission from book sales and it is natural that they will like to not back someone who is new and unknown. I wrote to probably all the listed agents in the US and UK. Some of them did reply. They were quite polite but they all said no.

I thought, maybe foreign agents find my Indian credentials unexciting and I needed to check on India based agents. There are not too many of them in India though. After a few tries, I struck gold. An agent agreed to take my book. She sent me a contract which stated that in the event of her finding a publisher for my book, I will need to make her an upfront fee of Rs30000 (approximately US$400). I was desperate at that time. I was so thrilled with myself that I had succeeded to find an agent. I signed on the dotted line.

The gamble paid off, the agent secured a publisher for my book. She sent me a publisher contract. It stated that I will receive an upfront payment of around $500 and half year royalty payments against sales of my book.

Luckily for me, my research had told me that books are sold to publishers by agents and each geographical territory has a price tag to it. I advised my agent that she can only sell India rights to the publisher.

I was on top of the world. Fast forward – six years till today. The publisher duly paid the advance royalty to the agent and has been regularly paying me half-yearly royalty cheques. The agent has not paid the amount received by her from the publisher.

My next article will be on editing.

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Sudhirahluwalia, Inc