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April 14, 2017

How authors can use technology to overcome rejection

The conversation centered around how the fact that the former’s book had not been published for over six months now because the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) was not allocated to the book.

How can a book be delayed just because the 13-digit number was not given? In this given age of technology, I found it fascinating and even humorous to think that this could even be a stumbling block. The purpose a book is written is for it to be read by many people and make money in the process. Technology now allows you to do just.

The story of Seth Godin definitely needs to be told here. Seth is a well-known author and has 18 bestselling books to his credit. For his latest books, instead of going the normal route of traditional publishing, he went and crowd-funded his books on Kickstarter. 4242 people backed his book, ‘The Icarus Deception’ on Kickstarter raising an unprecedented US$287342 (that’s roughly Rs 1.86 crore). This is far more money than what he earned as royalty via traditional publishing.

The important thing to note is that technology is disrupting the book publishing medium. During the lunch conversation, I asked the Executive Editor of Harper Collins what percentages of manuscripts get rejected by traditional publishers like Harper Collins, Penguin, Rupa etc. He replied, “Over 99 per cent”. That is an insanely high number. I won’t blame the traditional publishers because they are like Venture Capitalists. They bet on certain books, invest money into the book production, marketing and distribution. As with most businesses, many don’t take off and only a few succeed. And Pareto’s principle kicks in with publishers making 80 per cent of their profits from 20 per cent of the books.

So, given that over 99% of first time authors get rejected, their best option is to take the help of literary agents or publish on Amazon Kindle or go for guided publishing like NotionPress. The main challenge for first-time authors is for them to prove that they can finish a book. Since the demand and supply is heavily stacked against first-time authors, the onus lies on the authors to prove that they have the ability to finish their book and more importantly have the penchant to market their book. A classic case in point is Ashwin Sanghi whose first book, The Rosabal Line, got rejected by 47 publishes and literary agents. He then got his book self-published and was able to demonstrate that he has the business acumen to market his books. Seeing the sales, the traditional publishers took interest and published his books. The rest is history and Ashwin is among India’s largest selling author.

The biggest lesson to learn here is that technology has an answer to overcome stumbling blocks in the traditional business. It is our responsibility to make use of it to achieve success. Good luck.