How I Self-Published My Book in India?

How much will it cost to publish a book?

Editing: 10,000 INR 

Cover Design: 3000 INR

Book Formatting: 2400 INR

Book Sampling: 500 INR

Printing 100 copies: 7000 INR

Total: 22,900 INR

self-published

What is a Self-Published Book?

In general, a self-published book is the result of efforts made by an author without the involvement of an established publisher. In a self-publish project, the author goes out seeking contact of designer, editor, printer, and marketer, which is unconventional in nature for the publishing industry. Self-published books are mostly sold on online bookstores like Amazon, Flipkart, and Pustak Mandi, and hardly reach popular bookstores.

In the contemporary Indian publishing industry, Vanity Publishers also refer to themselves as a self-publishing house, which is a great way of making money. A Self-publishing house generally publishes every manuscript they receive, the only condition is Author pays up a handsome amount of money. These self-publishing packages India starts as low as 5000 INR and goes up to 2,00,000INR. Notion Press, Half Baked Beans, Authors’ Ink and Blue Rose are some of the most popular self-publishing houses.

self-published india

Notion Press, Author’s Ink, Blue Rose, Half Baked Beans

How do you get a Book Published for free?

Getting publishing is not that big a deal in the modern times, you can pay and get published within 2 weeks but marketing the book and making money out of it is certainly a big deal. In self-publishing projects, the author needs to pay handsomely for getting the book published and then pay an equally handsome amount for book marketing. Well, marketing has always been expensive and demands a lot of funds but paying for publishing is where the budget goes haywire. If you can land a free book publishing deal, then you can always use the saved money for marketing your book and garner incomparable results.

A lot of these self-publishing houses also publish books traditionally (which is perhaps the best way to publish a book) if the author has a very impressive Author Profile and social media outreach.

How to land a free publishing deal from a self-publishing house?

  1. Improve your social media game.
  2. Start with a blog and gain followers.
  3. Build your email list and broadcast your best work for free.
  4. Participate in open mics and go viral
  5. Make use of Facebook Ads and increase your followers.
  6. Look for speaking opportunities and make the most of it.
  7. Write a detailed submission letter and submit it.
  8. Wait for a week or two.

My self-published pocketbook “Pocket Culture: The Craft of Getting Rich” was launched online on 1st April 2017. Priced at 99INR, the book was doing a decent business until the official launch, which was held on 6th May 2017. With numerous media coverages, we saw a spike in the sales figure which suffered once Goods and Service Tax came into existence on 1st July.

self-published

Generally, books are exempted in GST but every other service and product that makes up a book got expensive. Amazon started charging 18% service tax(GST), and also the delivery charges increased, since ours was a pocketbook, we couldn’t increase the price more than 99INR hence we decided to go only Ebook from October, but we sold around 1600 copies during the 4-5 months tenure.

My self-published book taught me a lot about the publishing industry; I learned what happens between once a book is completed and before it hit the shelves. The whole self-publish experience was quite rich and worthy in the end. Today, we at Word Pinnacle are assisting a lot of first-timers and already published authors with their books. I am going to break each and every step of self-publishing a book and help you decide whether to publish it on your own or go for a Vanity Publisher.

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Self-published books are generally not edited properly:

Pocket Culture was a pocketbook with 50 pages and 4500 words. It was easier to edit the book because of the lesser number of words. I personally proofread the work twice and ran it through Grammarly Premium once. Grammarly Premium is one of the finest tools to edit a book and remove innocuous grammatical mistakes. The pocketbook was also edited by a very dear of mine, who happens to be really good with words. Her insightful suggestions and editing helped me remove some inconspicuous grammatical mistakes.

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Well, it is always important and suggested to get your book edited; two to three rounds of editing can make sure that your book is error free and serves a great reading experience. The standard editing cost is 0.20 paise per word. There are editors who promise to remove maximum error in the very first editing but it is always better to be on the safe side.

Editing Cost: 0.20 paise per word.

Word Count: 50,000 words

Total cost for first round of editing: 50,000 X 0.20= 10,000INR.

A good cover can do wonders for a self-published book:

One look at some of the best selling books of the recent time and you will agree that a good cover helps you sell another hundred copies. Be it “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” where they literally gave no fucks for a great design and sold a million copies or books by Amish Tripathi, which are designed under the extreme guidance of the author. Amish Tripathi is a smart author and he evolves with the changing time, he ensures that Title of the book is visible irrespective of the devices the reader is viewing it. When viewing a book list on Mobile devices, it gets difficult for readers to spot the title hence applying such analytics to cover design can have a profound impact.

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A good book cover will cost something in between 2000 INR to 6000 INR. I was personally lucky to have a designer friend, who not only did a great job with the cover design but also didn’t charge for it. The cover of our book was appreciated by Honourable Education Secretary of Bihar and also received great compliments in Amazon Reviews.

Book Formatting, Paperback, and E-Book:

As soon as you are done with book writing, editing and cover designing send it for formatting. Formatting facilities are often provided by the book printers, given they understand the nuances better and can do a really good job. Formatting is certainly one of the most important parts of book publishing; you can get it done by amateurs and expect the paperback look great.

Be it traditional publishing, self-publishing, paperback or e-book, book formatting is important and almost no sane publisher or printer will suggest you ignore it.

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Cost of Book Formatting: In 2017, I paid 12INR per page for my pocketbook, Pocket Culture. The prices vary from printer to printer but the standard rate is always around 10-15INR per page.

In case your book is of 200 pages then the cost of book formatting will be 15 X 200 = 3,000 INR. This is an indispensable cost, try to get some discount but do not rely on an amateur or inexperienced guy for book formatting. A well-formatted book will also help you sell a good number of e-books.

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The same formatting can be used for Kindle Direct Publishing:

Kindle Direct Publishing, popularly known as KDP is one of platforms for self-published books in India and across the world. This one platform allows the author to reach out to millions of potential readers without spending a dime. Yes! You can list your book on Kindle Direct Publishing for free and see it being read by a lot of people from around the world.

The paperback formatting can be used for KDP as well, all you need to upload the file on this platform and put up a few digital signatures and your e-book is published on Amazon.in, Amazon.com and Amazon.eu.

Why should you always publish your e-book through KDP?

Kindle Direct Publishing is an exclusive book publishing deal when you publish your e-book through KDP, you cannot publish the e-book version on any other site. While the exclusivity clause may seem a bit lopsided but the benefits are enormous:

  1. 70% royalty. Yes, KDP allows you to earn 70% royalty on the MRP you decide.
  2. Book gets available to millions of readers from around the world with just one click.
  3. Gets enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, which allows you to earn for every page that is read.
  4. KDP allows you to use promotional tools. You can put your book for free for 5 days and attract more readers.
  5. KDP manages, maintains and makes your book available to readers from India, USA, EU, and the UK.

Novoneel Chakraborty, Savi Sharma, Durjoy Datta, Amish Tripathi, Preeti Shenoy and Ravinder Singh all of them have their books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited Program.

Importance of Book Sampling for Self-published books:

Well, even after a few rounds of editing and book-formatting, the errors are going to show up. The best way to get rid of the persisting errors is to get sample books printed. When I self-published my book Pocket Culture, I paid extra for getting samples of my book printed, only to remove the most redundant errors.

Sampling can help you improve the overall experience of reading your self-published book for your readers in the following ways:

  1. You will be able to see how your book looks in print before it gets printed in bulk.
  2. It is your opportunity to see that each and every chapter are laid out perfectly.
  3. Use this chance to see that spoilers are not given away on the penultimate page instead of the last page.
  4. Give it to avid readers for beta-reading; avid readers can spot mistakes and formatting errors very easily. Ask them to mark the errors in the sample copy and send it to you.
  5. Match the ebook and the paperback only to see if the errors are coming in print or they are also there in the e-book.
    self-published

Finally, Let your Self-Published book go through Printing

Sampling and beta reading will help you remove some of the most redundant errors and make your book an exception. Book printing is a very meticulous task hence it will require your unwaved attention, you will have to be constantly in touch with your Printer and Illustrator. The printer will keep reporting to you updates regarding your book, there are going to be errors, which will require your illustrator to step in and remove them.

Finding a cost-effective printer: A lot of Indian vanity publishers have mastered the art of getting books printed for self-published authors. Most of them see this particular step as the opportunity to make money. One cannot compromise at this step because low-quality pages will serve a not so high reading experience.

My book Pocket Culture was printed by a Delhi based printer, DeUnique Printers. They are the epitome printers and a lot of Delhi based self-publishing houses get their books printed through them. DeUnqiue Printers promises to print high-quality books and deliver it to your doorsteps.

I visited them twice while my book was in print. The first meeting was to finalize rates, extra charges for formatting, taxes and other important things. In the second meeting, I was greeted with sample copies of my book, which were really impressive. We worked together on the sample copies and got all the persistent errors removed. The book was finally printed in a week’s time and delivered to three locations in India.

Cost of printing in 2017 was 0.35 paise per page. Since my book had pages less than 100, so I had to pay 7 INR extra per book to get the binding done. The delivery charges were extra, I had to pay 70 INR per kg.
Cost per page: 0.35 INR

Number of pages: 50

Cost of book printing: 0.35 X 50 = 17.5

Cost of Binding: 7 INR.

The total cost of book printing + binding: 17.5+7= 24.5 INR

We printed 600 books initially so the total amount was 24.5 X 600 = 14,700 INR.

Savi Sharma sold 1,00,000 copies of her self-published book in 100 days

Pricing Your self-published Book:

It is not necessary to price your book before printing it; a lot of self-published books have a price pasted instead of printed on them. One such move will allow you to revise the price of your book once the services get expensive in future.

Book pricing is an important procedure because you will have a count in a lot of factors, you will have to see how much goes in printing, editing, cover designing, formatting, and sampling and then add to it the amount Amazon will charge you. Sometimes pricing your book on the basis of how other popular books are priced will cost you. Such bad business decisions should never be made.

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If you are planning to sell your book on Amazon, you will have to look at their fee structure, incorporate the cost of shipping, taxes, TDS, and returns before finalizing a price.

Here are the varied charges, a self-published book needs to pay when bought from Amazon:

Let’s consider a book priced at 200 is to be sold on Amazon:

  1. Referal fee for the product in Books Category is 13%, which means a book priced at 200 will have to pay 26 INR to Amazon on every copy it sells.
  2. Closing Fee: This is a fixed amount Amazon charges on every particular category, it doesn’t change with MRP. For Books, the closing fee is fixed at 2 INR per copy.
  3. For a book shipped Amazon charges differently
    Locally: 30 INR
    Regional: 45 INR
    Nationally: 65 INR

4. There’s no tax on selling books but there are taxes on Closing Fee, Referal Fee, and Shipping Fee and taxes are fixed at 18%.

If you ship a book nationally, you will pay 16.74 INR as taxes; the total amount you will pay to Amazon comes down to:

Referral Fee: 26 INR
Closing Fee: 3 INR
Shipping Fee: 65 INR
Taxes: 16.74 INR

In Total: 109.74 INR. Which means, if a book priced at 200 INR is sold at Amazon, you will have to shell out 109.74 INR to Amazon and take remaining 90 INR home. Do not forget, this 90 INR will have to bear the cost of book printing @0.35 paise, Cover Designing, Formatting and a lot of other things.

Plan Launch for Self-published Book Effectively:

Our book was scheduled to release on my Birthday, 14th March, but due to delays in printing and delivery of the book, we had to re-schedule. We then launched the book online on 1st April, which was the birthday of my co-author Satmeet Singh.

Launching our book on Satmeet’s birthday helped us sold another 100 copies effectively. The mere announcement of our book release combined with Facebook ads helped all of friends and acquaintances know about our book. A lot of them not only order our book instantly but also suggested their friends and family members to read our book.

A lot of friends who were not really into books also ordered our book because it was Satmeet’s birthday and listed it as a birthday gift to my co-author.

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Official Launch by Eminent Personalities:

The official launch of my book held a month later on 6th May 2017. I had to wait for a month before the official launch because of the non-availability of chief guest. Honorable Education Secretary of Bihar, District Magistrate of Vaishali and other eminent personalities were the chief guest of my book launch event. Local, Regional and National media also made the event a success by registering their presence. A brief discussion on book reading and then a monologue by me on Pocket Culture were the highlights of the event.

The coming week, we say the local and regional newspaper and digital media outlet carrying the news of my launch enthusiastically. The mention in news made the book a top searched book on the Internet and we sold few more hundred copies.

Can you make money self-publishing a book?

Savi Sharma, Amish Tripathi, and EL James are the few authors who started with a self-published book and made it big. Making money with a self-published book is a tricky thing, one needs to put a lot of effort into book marketing to make sales happen. Book reviews, book giveaway, PR, book launch and social media influencers can help you spread the word.

Well, in self-publishing projects, Authors receive a much-better royalty percentage than in traditional publishing projects, which means if you decide to invest in book marketing, the chances of recovering the investment is higher. Making sales happen is now a proven thing, by putting efforts in the right direction, authors can actually sale some good amount of book and make money. So the answer to can you make money self-publishing a book is Yes!

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Pranav Shree Self-Published his pocketbook in 2017. Pranav decided to self-publish his book and learn the nuances of self-publishing to help newbies and aspiring authors. The Publishing Industry is littered with scams and cheap earning gimmicks. With Blogs and eBooks, Pranav aims to help authors and aspiring writers understand the Self-Publishing intricately.

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