A note to amateur writers


Note: I write this neither as a full time Editor of an international press nor as a co-owner of Nivasini nor as an amateur published poet. I write as an observer and a participant in many conversations/events of publishing in today’s world.

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Amateur (def.): a person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a job. FYI: Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendal, and many others who made significant contributions to the sciences did so as Amateurs.

Writing. The moment you hear this word, your knees go weak. Like falling in love, writing is an avocation in which you go numb with bliss in this new-found joy of expression. And today, when the doors of publishing are been open for all, from hobbyists to readers, everyone wishes to write.

Like being in love, you need to take the process slow: from writing to publishing. And like being in love, you have no definite path. However, this post, like I said, is written after observation, certain an amount of practice of what’s written below.

writers-block With increasing racy reads, good writing sometimes gets to the back seat, and poetry limps to festivals. I say limps here because poetry still doesn’t have a section in bookstores but that doesn’t deter enthusiasts to take charge and organize meets and festivals for like-minded people–there are always online bookstores and also social media tools where you can market or post your writes.

For most amateur and “yet-to-be-published” writers today, publishing, I fear, has become more important than writing. It is good to be published but even better to be published when your writing goes through the grill of competitions, gets read by people other than loved ones.

Imagine the thrill when someone writes to you telling you how much your work touched their heart!

Imagine the thrill of not having to pursue too hard for your work to be liked!

Imagine the satisfaction of the much deserved praise for your well written piece!

I am terribly scared of impatient writers because I feel it is an oxymoron, writing is about being patient, going through the process of understanding yourself, your characters and then writing.

I understand the impatience as we sometimes feel everyone is an author, why not me?   But let me tell you, wearing the jacket of an industry person that the publishing industry is here to stay.

It will go through a renaissance like Bollywood where we had seen good cinema then commercial and now slowly we are progressing (at least partly) to meaningful cinema. a607153544356310194523290587449 So after reading the above, if you persist to publish, a word of caution, dear amateur writers, please hold. Please do not succumb at once to “paid contests” or “publishing houses that ask you to pay for your own writing.”

First ask these questions to yourself

1) Is the contest legitimate?

2) Search about previous contests, it’s winners. Are they authentic?

3) Do research about the contest?

4) Is the fee you are paying more than the benefits you will receive?

5) Will you be paying for your own book?

6) Do you know about other people participating in the contest?

Most importantly, remember: Participate in contests that respect your writing.

Other routes on this highway of writing:

If you think you are writing is ready to face the world,

a)      Traditional Publishing: If you fear sending your work to publishing houses like Penguin or Random House, you can get your manuscript published by either approaching encouraging publishing houses like Lead Start (a friend recently got published there) or by sending your work to online magazines like Cold Noon. However, there are many articles which will tell you about the respective publishing houses but if you want to test the waters first, then try self publishing. Self publishing is no longer a taboo. If your writing is good (Let your benchmark be acceptance of critics in your line of work or contests which understand your kind of work have accepted your work), then go ahead.

b)      Self publishing: There are a few enthusiasts who have gone ahead and printed their manuscripts and later been accepted by publishing houses. If you wish to take that route then go for print on demand technology where you can get 30-40 books printed and distribute it to critics. In Hyderabad, 10000 copies cost around 37000 INR. Why 10K copies? That’s what the distributors tell you. But if you ask me, printing 40 copies should be fine. It costs between 40 INR to 70 INR per copy for 200-pages book depending on your location (eg: bhavish graphics is a good print on demand house at Chennai). You can also get your design work for your book by hiring young freelance designers who do not charge a lot as they are looking for experience.

I hope this post  helped you.

To understand publishing from a writer’s perspective check this too: Writer’s Carnival: My path to get published

Disclaimer:  This is not a promotional post for any service or product. The pictures are taken from my older posts and from web sites on writing.

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