We are passionate about Indian books and the Indian publishing industry, so frequently get approached by authors looking for ways to promote or publish their books.
This page contains some brief advice for aspiring authors – but we must emphasise that Motilal Books are an import/export company only.
So we can’t help you publish your book, prepare a manuscript for publication or promote a self-published title. Nor can we act as an agent on your behalf with an Indian publishing company.
What we do is purchase already published titles from our publishing partners in India and Southeast Asia, and make them available at trade rates to distributors, independent booksellers and educational organisations in the UK, America, Australia and elsewhere. We also sell to individuals through our Amazon marketplace sites.
If you’ve written a book or have a manuscript you’re working on, congratulations! The good news is that Indian publishing houses are always on the lookout for upcoming talent and are normally open-minded about submissions. Competition is intense but for talented writers the door is still open for potential book contracts even with major publishers – far more so than the publishing industry in the West.
We recommend several things to help you on the way to publication:
Book genres are helpful ways for buyers to find the sort of book they want to read, and also for publishers to promote books to their target markets. Publishers tend to specialise in a few related genres, so decide the genre that best describes your book and start researching the companies that already publish similar material. Some publishers may be actively looking for writers in particular genres and may advertise this fact on their website, so it is worth checking the blogs of your target publishers.
Write a short pitch you can use to promote your book to agents and publishers. This involves comparing your book to other books to give the reader an immediate mental image of what your work is about – “it’s like Game of Thrones meets Mukashi but set in Medieval India”. A pitch will help position your book for readers too. Think about the type of reader who may enjoy your book and the authors and genres they may also be reading – “Great for fans of Vikram Seth and Kiran Desai.”
Take advantage of the free marketing channels available on the Internet to start building a profile as an author. Set up a blog and Facebook page, serialise some of your work for free on an author’s platform such as Wattpad. Keep these updated with interesting content, and not just about your own work. Review other books and make recommendations as well as publish short stories, teasers and anecdotes.
Start by making an approach to the top publishers in your field, businesses like Penguin India and Harper Collins. Many of these big players will have standard submission templates for new authors, while others require a query letter. Provide as much information about the book as you can but keep it engaging and concise. Remember that the email inboxes of the big publishers are continually full of manuscripts from authors such as yourself. Think about what makes your book stand out from all the others.
Another strength of the Indian publishing sector is the huge variety of small specialist publishers. Do some research. For example, if your book is about Buddhism, there may be one or more publishers that specialise in your kind of book, and have a ready-made market of people keen to read your work.
Literary agents are PR and marketing specialists whose contacts in the industry can help get your manuscript in front of the right people, at the right time. Shop around for a literary agent with the right level of experience, the best contacts and fees to suit your budget.
Believe in yourself and be persistent. If you don’t get responses immediately, don’t be disheartened. There are hundreds of publishers out there, and it’s always worth following up leads rather than being satisfied with a lack of response.
On behalf of the Motilal team we wish you the very best of luck getting your book published. We hope one day to have the opportunity to export your books and make them available to a wider market!