Today’s author comes all the way from India! I’m excited about Jeena’s post for a variety of reasons, one being that she took “the reins” and dressed up her baby… I hope you’ll read, be encouraged and take from this article everything you can!
A little about Jeena:
Jeena is an Electronics engineer who did not know that the scribbling she secretly did in college was what they called ‘Writing’. In 2009, she self-published a collection of Bangalore-based short stories titled “Tales from the Garden City”. One of her stories was recently selected to be among the six to feature in the Indian edition of the anthology, “Wisdom of Our Mothers”. She lives in Bangalore, India with her husband and son.
The Indie Route:
Going Indie was not my first choice. But then, being a writer wasn’t, either. I thought I was born to be an engineer. I am not quite certain when the writer came in and the engineer faded into the background, but I am sure the latter continues to inspire at every step of the way.
New writers (like me) are lucky to be blessed with a lot of optimism, faith in our work and absolute indifference to advices by successful authors. If we didn’t believe our raw and unedited stories are going to halt the planet in mid-spin, we wouldn’t start out on this journey.
nd therefore, when I set out to publish my book of short stories, I had only a list of ‘Top Publishers of English Books in India’ to start with. I read about the importance of finding an agent, and located a couple of highly recommended ones. In India, most of the publishers (if not all) accept unsolicited manuscripts as well as those recommended by agents. I was disappointed that I found less than ten good publishers. I couldn’t even boast of being rejected seventy times! I wonder if the smaller publishing houses that encourage Indian writers in English sprouted after my book was published, or did many of them exist somewhere out of my sight? I believe it was the former.
I received responses from most of these publishers within a few months – and in one case after a year – that they were unable to find a place for my book. One agent replied immediately that short stories did not have a very good market here.
I waited till all the rejection letters came through. It was the moment of truth. I could forget my dream or I could go ahead and explore self-publishing. It took me one full year to come to the decision. I chose the second.
The best part about going Indie was that I owned the book. Having never published the traditional way, I do not know how it works, but here I felt I held the reins. I chose the book cover. I formatted the book, for the most part. I decided how a lot of things happened, and when. It was like dressing up my baby with so much love.
The most difficult part also arose from my ‘owning’ the book – I had to market the book. Here again, the optimism that comes from inexperience played a huge part. Today I might hesitate to go Indie because I am a poor marketer. I can shout from the rooftops for someone else’ book, but not for my own. Looking back, I am surprised that I did manage to sell my book! I did not even have the network – real or virtual – that I have today. But nothing would deter me. I would walk into bookshops, asking, “I have a book to sell. Who should I contact?” I hadn’t even heard of the existence of vendors and distributors.
To future Indie authors I would say this: Get your network up and running before you publish. If there is a certain amount of effort involved in getting a book noticed and accepted by a traditional publisher, there is an equal effort for an Indie author in marketing his/her book. The network can be built step by step after the book is published, like I did, but it is always better to have a crowd waiting for it before it appears onstage.
More than once, I was discouraged by the absence of valuable suggestions and pointers from experienced people. Of course, everyone who had no knowledge of publishing had countless advices to give, but I much preferred them delivered first-hand. I did a lot of fumbling in the dark, debating with myself, spending sleepless nights over a choice I had to make before finally closing my eyes and choosing one. I have not regretted any of those decisions.
Going Indie has indeed been a delightful journey with its share of ups and downs, something I would look back on with a touch of pride: I did it!
Thanks, Eisley, for giving me the opportunity to write about my Indie experiences.