Does Publishing Change Anything?

Well, publishing does change few things. Couldn’t help but pick up this photo from the Author’s Facebook profile to validate the same…

Author of 3 published books : Sharath Komarraju reached out to writersmelon sometime last month with a review request. With our usual promptness we accepted and decided to feature his book. Our  instinct was..”must be another mythological book” and “some engineer/banker turned (aspiring) author”.

But reading his book The Wind’s of Hastinapur convinced us that “Quality writing” surpasses all show sha ,  publicity, online offline promotions and all that support we proudly provide without any discretion of being seasoned , new or a self published writer. Here are some Words of Wisdom straight from the author’s “desk”. The “desk” that we often forget in the glitters of signed copies , book launches, blogger reviews. … READ ON …

For many of us publishing is a big black box into which stuff only goes in. Before we publish, we think that it is just an old boys’ club where you had to ‘know people’ to get anywhere. Of all the things I heard said off record by people about publishing, the most repeated is: “You don’t have a chance if you don’t have contacts.”

I will tell you right now. Contacts won’t help. If you think getting hold of a big author’s name will get you into his publisher’s office, you’re most likely wasting your time. At most your contact, if chosen well, will get your manuscript to an editor’s desk and make sure it doesn’t go into the slush-pile. Once an editor starts reading your work, though, the only question she’s asking herself is whether that book will be able to – first – recover the investment made on it – and second – make a profit.

That’s the long and short of it. Wherever money’s involved, things get business-like. Writers don’t like it; of course we don’t. But that’s how things are. If you wish someone else to give you money for something you’ve written, your stuff better be either marketable or good, if not both. (As a general rule, almost everything that’s good is marketable, but not everything that’s marketable is good.)

Now to the other side of the see-saw: for every beginning writer, publishing is the holy grail wrapped up in golden fleece. There is nothing that is more beautiful, the writer thinks, than a book with his name printed on it. All he wants is to get one book published, and then all will be well with the world.

The question that we generally don’t ask ourselves during this fantasizing is this: What next? Say you’ve sold your book and signed a contract. Your advance check doesn’t bounce, so you’re richer by a certain (often insignificant) amount. What now? What do you expect will happen? Not to rain on your parade, but shall I cut to the chase and tell you?

That’s right. Nothing happens. Your book is the center of your world, not your publisher’s. He has ninety other books just like yours to worry about, just for that year. And he has a business to run. He does not have time to fawn over the beauty of your prose. He just wants to slap a cover on your manuscript and send it out so that it begins earning back the money he spent on it.

What about after it goes out? Does anything change? The answer is still no. Let’s face it. If you’re a first-timer, the chances are monumentally low that you make anything more than a quiet ‘plop’ when you hit the publishing waters. So if you’re thinking five-star launches and fan mail and celebrity status, forget it. Please do. It will save you a lot of heartache.

But say you do beat the odds and make it big with your first book, what changes then? Still nothing. You still have to go back to the writing desk everyday and write. Whether your name is Stephen King or Agatha Christie or Chetan Bhagat or John Doe, you have to begin with the blank page. The blank page doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how big or small you are.

One of the most valuable lessons that you will pay to understand now, while you’re still struggling to break through, is that publishing will not be what you expect it to be. Remember that there are two parts to this industry, two very distinct parts. One is the writing. The second is the show-business. Publishing is the latter. Everything to do with publishing – the book contract, the advance, the cover, the way your name appears on it, the launches, the questions that readers ask, the praise, the criticism – this big edifice that people on the outside see and recognize – this is all show-business.

If you want to be a writer and not a show-businessman, understand that no matter what happens on the outside to the f
açade that is being built all around you and your books, your writing desk doesn’t care. When you sit by her and write, she doesn’t care how many (if any) copies you’ve sold. She doesn’t ask you whether you’re published, whether you’re famous, whether you’re rich. The trade between your writing desk and you is simple. The longer you sit bent over her, the better she will make you. She cannot promise you riches or fame, but every hour you spend with her, every minute, she will smoothen your edges, little by little, and carve you into shape.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to get sucked into the world of show-business. It’s hard not to fret over publication or advances or sales or awards or interviews or reviews, but every time you think of any of those, remember that they’re just the ephemera. The only contract that really matters is the one between you and your writing desk, and she doesn’t give a rat’s posterior about whether or not you’re published. She just wants you to visit her everyday. She wants you to hunch over her, sweat a little, mumble to yourself in search of the right word, and look inward.

Isn’t that a liberating thought? What that means is that to be a writer, all you need to do is to sit down and write, each day, every day. Somewhere down the line, if your writing is good enough and marketable enough, you will publish. But whether or not you do, whether or not movies are made on your stories, whether or not you get awards for your work, the bit that makes you a writer doesn’t change. You sit down. You write.

It’s that simple. It’s that hard.
Tell us what is your opinion on the “Show business in publishing”. The celebrity launches, book tours,full blown social media campaigns… bla bla bla. Where is all this heading to ? 
Stand a chance to win a copy of this book with your comments below. 

— By Sharath Kommaraju
Author of our featured book “The Winds of Hastinapur”.
Do find time to browse through his personal website. It has amazing resource on writing  & publishing.

You can also connect with the author : On Facebook & On Goodreads.

His published books are available in all leading stores. Flipkart , Amazon  & Homeshop

  A mentorship series on writing effectively and beautifully. You can find previous posts here.


4 thoughts on “Does Publishing Change Anything?

  1. 'Show business in publishing' –

    From a reader's perspective – I have been a victim of it, it being the 'Show business in publishing’. The flashiness of the book launches, the several contests, the excerpts thrown with beautiful pictures have pushed me to go and buy a copy. And of the three times that I have done so, I have been a fooled twice. I have been once lucky… So yes I am not falling for it again… Thus for a reader, 'Show business in publishing' initially raises the expectations which mostly falls flat once when the book is in hand.

    From a writer's perspective – Am I a writer? I don't know. I write a blog anonymously and nothing spectacular in that. But I love to imagine myself in different situations. And as I went through the above account, I am really overwhelmed to read the honest feedback from a debut author. No, I haven’t read his book or the review of his book. But whatever he tells seems to me, an honest account of his experience. The truth with which he sums up the post makes me cringe at my comment as a reader. I realize how much effort goes into shutting out the chaos of show business in publishing and continue filling up the blank pages. I realize how hard it is to continue writing and also in such a way so that you have the luxury to come back and do it every time you wish. So for a writer 'Show business in publishing' wraps the tears, sweat, frustrations and immense hard work which goes into making a book in shiny wrappers making the outsiders belief that wrapping with bright flashy wrappers is the only work to be done.

  2. Thanks a lot Sharath. I think it is a must read by all aspiring as well as successful writers. It will go down as one of the biggest lesson that i could have got. Really eye opening revelation from someone who holds authority for the same.

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