I wrote my first sentence to start my story telling journey in 2005. By 2007, my first book was complete after many, many iterations. The next thing to do was to publish it. I had no clue how to do that. So I went about researching on how to get my book out there to my readers.
I did not know of any other authors. Nor did I know agents. In fact, to my limited knowledge, I could not find a single literary agent in India. At least, not on google. There were any number of websites asking for a manuscripts, blurbs, short synopsis, long synopsis, medium sized, extra large, blah, blah, blah!
I sent them my work in every permutation and combination that they asked for and to every publishing house website there was for Indian writing.
At that time, I did not know about the slush pile – the flood of submissions that writers upload into the publishing websites and send as physical copies to publishing houses. I even went to a few publishers who asked for me to deliver the manuscript to them. They did not find value in it. Or did not have time to read it. This or that.
The thing about the slush pile is that no one wants to read it. No one wants to look at it. Every publisher with a website will announce that they are open for submissions. But…no one wants to review the submissions. No one even wants to look at them. No one. Not interested. It’s more of an ego trip to keep a count of the submissions in the slush pile. And the writers, (especially the first time guys) wait with hope in their heart and a sparkle in their eye. For weeks, months, years.
The best part is, the sites very clearly tell you to follow up if you don’t hear from them. So sweet, right? No one cares if you follow up. They just like to keep the writer hooked. Sadistic but true. Thus I traveled on, not knowing what to do until in the year 2015 one publisher agreed to publish my work. They said, they would be happy to publish the first part provided I buy back some books at a certain price.
In other words, they were asking me to self-publish. I did. I admit. I should not have. And today, I make it a point to tell every other writer I meet who wants to get published not to self-publish. The publisher has no buy-in. They don’t care. They have no stake in it.
From the time I started writing my book to the time I published it, ten years had gone by. A whole ten years. Wasted? Or lesson learnt? If so, to what end? But I had bought a ticket. I had boarded the train. Looking back, I am amazed.
To be continued…