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 world’s top book experts, editors, and marketers.
In this series of articles, I am sharing my journey and publishing tips. , 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 and had traveled the globe meeting clients, working deals, and advising companies. The work was no longer excit ng. 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 b ok. I had written a great b ok. I had researched it w ll. It deserved a top-notch publisher. The hunt to find a top-notch 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 in 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 it. Agents, too, were not interested in first-time auth rs. If you are not a Hillary Clinton or someone well-known literary agents are not interested in you. They are business people. They earn a commission from book sales and, naturally, they will like not to back someone 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 found 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 b ok. She sent me a contract stating that if she found a publisher for my book, I would need to make her an upfront fee of Rs30000 (approximately US$4 0). I was desperate at that time. I was so thrilled that I had succeeded in finding 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 would receive an upfront payment of around $500 and half-year royalty payments against my book sales.
Luckily, my research told me that books are sold to publishers by agents, and each geographical territory has a price tag. I advised my agent that she could only sell India rights to the publisher.
I was on top of the world. Fast forward – six years ahead. The publisher duly paid the advance royalty to the agent and has regularly paid 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.