With more queries popping up about submissions to publishers, it’s easy to see that many first-time authors have certain fears regarding their manuscripts and publishers – that are quite unfounded. It is true that landing up with a wrong publisher may be injurious to the health of your manuscript. At the same time, it would be unfair to judge the entire publishing industry on the basis of such exceptions. Most publishers are friendly and more than willing to answer any queries their authors might have. Some questions are standard, and can be easily answered here. Let’s have a look at those in the FAQ format.
Q. I am a first-time writer. Should I approach big publishers with my manuscript? Would they consider it at all?
A. Of course! Why shouldn’t they? As long as it’s a good script, any publisher will consider it regardless of whether you are an established writer or a new one. It is a myth that big publishers only publish big writers.
Q. Do I need to register copyright before sending my script to the publisher?
A. No, you don’t. It’s your intellectual property. Even after the book is published, you are the copyright holder (especially if it’s fiction). You could put a copyright symbol and your name and year – and your manuscript is safe enough. Please remember – editors and publishers deal with hundreds of manuscripts every day. It’s a routine affair for them. Nobody will misuse your manuscript. It would be against their own interests, for they would lose credibility completely. No writer would ever go to them in the future. Now, which publisher would want that to happen?
Q. Should I submit my manuscript to one publisher at a time?
A. Ideally, yes. However, in case you have submitted it to another publisher at the same time, it is best to be honest and mention it to them. In case someone has already expressed an interest in it, please tell the other one.
Q. Can I get my script back if the publisher doesn’t accept it?
A. It is practically impossible for publishers to return hundreds on manuscripts in hard copy that come to them all the time. It makes sense to keep the original with you and send them a copy.
Q. Is it the same process for children’s books and non-fiction?
A. Yes, it’s more or less the same. If you have illustrations, send copies and in low resolution. Keep your mail down to less than 1 MB.
Q. If the publisher asks for the complete manuscript or certain changes in a chapter/plan, does it mean they’ll publish it?
A. Not really. It’s simply an expression of interest, not a commitment. That is communicated to you clearly. The publisher will publish the book only when he/she is completely satisfied with the final script.
Q. If my manuscript is accepted by a publisher, would I have to bear the production costs?
A. No, not at all – unless it’s vanity publishing. No mainstream publisher makes the author bear production costs; it’s the publisher’s responsibility.
Q. How do I know if the contract is a standard contract, and the publisher is not trying to rob me?
A. Always read your contract carefully. If you are not sure about something, or do not understand a point, discuss it with your publisher. Most contracts have standard clauses. It is very important that you should understand everything properly.
Rather than treating publishers as villains trying to squeeze maximum ‘profits’ out of their authors, it is better to look upon them as friends and work together as a team. Then a good rapport can be established and, of course, the final outcome is much better.
Finally, here is a list of a few Indian publishers (big MNCs as well as small independents) where you can submit your script (fiction) for consideration:
This is a guest column by publishing entrepreneur Divya Dubey, founder of Gyaana Books. Turtle Dove: Six Simple Tales is her first collection of short stories. Her other short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Out–of-Print, Muse India, Kindle Magazine, Urban Voice 4, and New Fiction Journal (forthcoming). She has also written for The Hindu Literary Review, Hindustan Times, Indo-Asian News Service, Pravasi Bharatiya, All About Book Publishing, Book Link, The Publisher’s Post, Chicken Soup for the Indian Couple’s Soul, etc. She occasionally conducts lectures on publishing and creative writing. She was one of the finalists at the British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur Award for Publishing in 2010. Find out more about her journey as a publishing entrepreneur here. You can also read her blog on publishing here.
Through this column, Divya Dubey will be sharing insights into the publishing industry with the readers of YourStory.in