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A Beginner’s Guide to Self Publishing in India

For a first-time author, the publishing process can seem very intimidating.

If you are still undecided about what type of publishing you wish to opt for, we recommend you to read Traditional or Self Publishing which is better for the first-time author?

Truth be told, the publishing industry has massively evolved in the past decade. With amazing opportunities available at your disposal as we democratize creativity, it is safe to say that self publishing in India  is now a sought-after route.

According to the India Book Market Report (2016), India is the 6th largest publisher in the world and the 2nd largest for English Language Books. As the world comes to a standstill with the on-going global pandemic, some patterns have been particularly promising for writers and publishers. 

For starters, people are increasingly turning to books to find solace in these troubling times. This has witnessed a spike in the purchase of eBooks and audiobooks. With more and more people spending time on their phones, tablets, and laptops, this is a great time to build your audience and engage with your community. 

Now, let’s explore self publishing at length in this post.

What is self publishing?

While we will be sharing a beginner’s guide to self publishing in this post, it is important to understand what is self publishing first.

[su_quote]Self publishing is the publication of media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher. (Source: Wikipedia)[/su_quote]

Why is self publishing your book a great option?

There are several advantages that attract writers to self publishing. Our personal favourite is the removal of the publishing world’s conventional gatekeepers. In addition to this, you will find: 

Creative freedom

You have total control over the text, the title, the volume, and the design of the book cover. You have the luxury of partnering with editors and artists, but in the end, your permission is the only one you will need.

Guaranteed Publishing

If you need to release your book by a certain deadline, publishing it yourself is about the only way to guarantee it. You don’t have to be immune to the schedule of publishers.

Higher royalty and earnings

As opposed to the 7-15% royalty on net receipts that most of the publishing deals get you, self publishing usually offers 50-70% of your net receipts for royalty.

100% possession of rights

Traditional publishers often press for exclusive rights to reprint, film adaptation, and merchandising as part of their book agreements. At the very least, self publishing means that you stay in absolute control.

Types of Self Publishing

Supported Self Publishing 

In this Supported Self Publishing, you play the role of an artist-entrepreneur, with complete control over the publishing process. In this type of publishing, you pay for whatever services you require, and you think deem fit. 

 Royalty: 50-70% of the net receipts.

  • Copyrights: The copyrights remain with the author.
  • Timeline: The publishing process is immediate. 
  • Suitable for: Supported self-publishing is suitable for authors who do not have financial restrictions, want complete control and maximum returns. 

DIY Publishing – Limited

In this type of self publishing, you publish your own work using the publication platforms offered by the publisher. Here, you do the entire work of the publishing process from the editing, proofing, pagination, cover design to marketing the book. 

With the DIY limited option, the book is available only on the retailing services of that platform. Some DIY Limited Publishing Platforms are Amazon KDP, Wattpad, Notion Press, Barnes & Noble Press. 

  • Royalty: 50-70% of the net receipts.
  • Copyrights: The copyrights remain with the author.
  • Timeline: It only takes 1-2 days for your book to get published! 
  • Suitable for: Limited DIY Publishing is most suited for Authors unable to invest but would like to keep the rights of their work. 

DIY Publishing – Expanded or Accelerated Publishing

Unlike the previous type, in this type of self publishing, you can publish your book on all major retailers using the Omni-distribution feature provided by these platforms. 

Such platforms include Pencil and Smashwords. Pencil Publishing Platform helps you publish your book for free in eBook and paperback format globally on 400+ platforms.

  •  Royalty: 50 – 70% of the net receipts.
  • Copyrights: Remains with the author 
  • Timeline: It only takes 1-2 days for your book to get published. 
  • Suitable for: This is best suited for authors looking to publish at zero cost, and want their book to have maximum exposure. 

Steps to Self publishing your book

Are you wondering how to go about writing a book on any of these platforms? Well, no need to worry because we are here to help! While the process of publishing may differ a little on different platforms, but the overall process of self publishing your book somewhat remains the same. Here are the steps you need to follow while self publishing: 

Write your book

You first need a manuscript or an idea for a manuscript. Most publishing platforms have the option of uploading your ready manuscript directly onto the platform itself. If not, you can write your manuscript from scratch on these platforms themselves. 

Edit your manuscript

Editing is an exceptionally large term. It can range from the author’s revision of their first draft to final proofreading before the book is published. Platforms like Pencil provide you the option to request additional paid Professional Editing Services as well. 

In case you wish to hire an independent professional editor for your manuscript, you can check this list of 36 Manuscript Editors in India- Fiction & Non -fiction.

Book Information

At this stage, you will need to provide details like your book title, subtitle, genre, subgenre, back blurb, and keywords for the book. The book blurb and keywords should be given the utmost attention and should be written from the point of view of the reader. Understand that this stage decides how you package your book. So, ensure that you do your research before finalizing the book information.

Design your cover

Upon completion of the writing process, you will be given the option of either uploading or creating your cover. You can either upload your already existing cover or use some of the readily available templates that most platforms offer to create your cover.

Reach your market

At this stage, you will need to select the format you would like to distribute your book in. Most platforms like Amazon KDP only allow distribution on their own platforms for free, however, for distribution across multiple platforms, there are others like Pencil and Smashwords which make your book available on other major retailers as well. Check the price recommendation tools offered by these platforms to check your royalty before you set the price.


After setting the price of your book and confirming your details, you are now ready to publish your book. Congratulations! You are now officially a globally published author.

What Next? Selling your book.

To know how, read: How to Sell Your Book in India | 3 Easy Ways to promote your book on Social Media

Benefits of Self Publishing in the Post-Covid Era

Since holding inventory is a huge investment for publishing houses, the latest innovation in the industry comes in the form of Print on Demand, which has gained tremendous momentum in the past decade. Print on Demand (POD) is a system where the retailer only prints books once the order for the books has been placed, and only prints the exact quantity ordered. 

It’s important to note that with the ongoing pandemic, traditional publishers have experienced a lack of marketing and execution funds for their new projects due to a sudden slowdown in revenues. With the kind of challenges the traditional publishing industry has been facing, the good news is you can take matters into your own hands, in this age of information. With self publishing, the entire process, from writing the manuscript, to selecting the format and the price of the book is in your hands. It is a process that puts the author first. 


If the investment amount is the main fear holding you back, then you need not worry! With publishing platforms like Pencil and Amazon KDP, you can now publish your novel on your own for free. 

However, if you are looking to publish your book in eBook and paperback format for worldwide distribution, you should opt for the Pencil Publishing Platform since it is the first and the only platform that offers this service. If you are looking to publish on Amazon, you can choose to publish using Amazon KDP. The bottom line is that with so many advantages, now is a great time to self publish your book. 

Sounds great, doesn’t it? The road to writing a book can be treacherous, but it can also be one of the most rewarding moments of your life if you believe in yourself. All it takes for millions of readers to read your book is that one leap of faith, start today.

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