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Saturday July 2, 2022

Mutual Dependence

publishing publishers

Writing books and self publishing has suddenly become a fashionable hobby. And thanks to the lockdown following the Covid pandemic, more and more people started staying indoors. If reading’s a hobby, then this was the best time for that. We read books, sitting in balconies, under the reading lamp staying up in bed, way into the midnight hours. Instead of buying new books, I spent most of my days during the pandemic, reading old favourites. The novels of D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway and Jeffrey Archer held pride of place. About the latter, the least that can be said is that he is the most prolific writer living in our times.

Rejection the pillar of success

Any kind of creative pursuit – be it writing, painting, music or dance – needs a great amount of hours spent with the self. Writing needs a practice of thinking aloud. Most writers, of contemporary or classical vintage, had had to face rejections first. The Grande Dame of crime fiction and the most admired writer of all time, Agatha Christie, had her very first novel – The Mysterious Affair at Styles – rejected by many publishers before it hit a resounding chord with the readers worldwide. Rejection, it is firmly believed, is the pillar upon which the story of future success is built. But for that the writer needs to be determined, strong-willed and intensely dedicated. But I also am aware that it is easier said than done.

Publishing industry has witnessed sea changes in recent years. Gone are the days when writers depended solely on the nod of approval from the desks of traditional publishers. The latter, despite all odds, are also a part of this forever growing business of book publication. Today self publishing platforms offer a viable option for the publication of a writer’s dream project. Also, today if one chooses to trek away from the beaten track, he or she can publish an entire book on Amazon Kindle as an ebook, free of cost. Not all writers make bestsellers. But the passion to write, to give vent to the inward flames of expression, does find a way out, by hook or by crook.

The world of online publishing

The publishing industry, like all others, is suffering because of this pandemic. Traditional publishing houses are wary and are treading grounds cautiously before signing in new authors. Established writers are a safe bet. But one has to remember that the established writers of today were newcomers once. Because we are cautious of physical visits to bookshops now, online publishing is experiencing a boost like never before. Like all things else in living during the pandemic, purchase of books has gone online. This time of the year is eagerly awaited by booklovers all around the country. The Kolkata International Book Fair and the World Book Fair at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan are the two events that are marked in red letters in the publishing calendars. The first has been postponed and the second is going the virtual way, since reports last came in.

These two book fairs provide a wide platform for up and coming publishing houses. Readers with discerning eyes and ears are always on the lookout for new books from promising authors. Small time publishers displaying books by relatively ‘new’ authors witness footfalls as well. But so far as the big names in traditional publishing are concerned, the competition is tough and stiff. Today we, as readers, know that good writing and good books are not published solely by the big names in the publishing world, but by smaller and newer publishing houses as well. 

Scouting for new authors

We all know how publishing houses launch new authors. The latter have often gone onwards to win literary laurels – (read awards) which were as much the recognition of their own skills of writing as they were for the publishers ability to spot new talent. Unless they are really, really good, there are very few readers for poetry. Short stories and novels are, of course, all time favourites among readers of all ages. Children’s literature is posing a huge stumbling block in the publishing world of late. Good children’s literature is hard to find as are authors catering to children’s writing alone. 

Publishers are into their business for profits. Hence the authors are under a great amount of pressure because they have to understand and cater to mass readership. The authors who’ve stood against this tide are rare and hard to find. The perennial dichotomy, as to whether to adhere to one’s own uncompromising path or whether to abide by readers’ pulses, often proves a tough hurdle for authors. Yet the bond between authors and publishers is dependent on each other for sustenance and perennial growth. One just cannot survive without the other. One fulfils the other by their hard work, which is reciprocated by providing due recognition in due time. 

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