Introduction to Self-publishing houses in India
When you Google – Self-Publishing Houses in India the following are amongst the results that pop up.
- Quora – Where someone has asked which is the best self-publishing house in India.
- Notion Press
- Blue Rose etc.
As we tried to understand the top self-publishing options better, a few things jumped out at us.
Firstly, on the HWR – Nielsen bestseller list that we publish, Notion Press has had not one but two books listed. These titles appeared on the list for more than two weeks in 2021 and 2022.
(Note: HWR Nielsen Bestsellers List is the most comprehensive source list of book sales in India. This data is collected from online as well as offline booksellers by Nielsen, a world leader in such data. Check out the full list by clicking on this link: Bestselling books in India: The Authoritative Weekly Bestseller List )
Secondly, in terms of internet traffic, various tools tell us that Notion Press gets more traffic than the next several self-publishing houses put together. Below we have shared a screenshot from an SEO tool called Ubersuggest where you can see the traffic volumes for Notion Press, White Falcon Publishing, and Pothi. Ubersuggest usually under-reports the numbers and it can be safe to assume that the numbers are much higher than what you can see in the graph.
Thirdly, only they seem to have publicly shared their ‘books published’ data. Other self-publishers haven’t shared this information. It is an assumption, but one imagines that the numbers of their competitors are not as great. (If you are a competitor, and would like to contact us, please write to email@example.com).
All this evidence seems to suggest that Notion Press is India’s most popular and fastest-growing self-publishing house. It seems to be trusted by a lot of writers. Their growth in the last decade is pretty impressive. In 2021 alone, Notion Press published 20000 titles.
The numbers speak for themselves. People have been slowly moving to the self-publishing model and have been opting for bigger names like Notion Press and Pothi for a simple reason – they are tried and tested by many published authors. The reviews and discussions on popular platforms like Quora and Google are an endorsement of their services.
Before Notion Press started: some background on the industry
In 2007, Cinnamon Teal Publishing pioneered self-publishing in India. Till then, authors in India had only traditional publishing houses in India to approach with folded hands. If we look at the era before digitalization, it also involved sending handwritten manuscripts through the post and expecting a reply till infinity. There were no guarantees on the manuscript being stolen or plagiarized on the way. One couldn’t even be sure if they even reached the right desk till they heard back from the editor.
Cut to the late 2000s when the vanity-publishing industry had just entered India. People viewed it with a lot of skepticism as is the way with anything new. As a publishing option, it was looked down upon and authors who had opted for it were not considered worthy enough of being called so.
We are in 2022. The world has changed at a breakneck speed. Everything and anything is available at the click of a button. From food to dating to investment options and planning the future. How can publishing be left behind?
Since 2007, 80 more companies have joined the vanity-publishing space. We have a plethora of self-publishing houses in India today for a writer to choose from. The services vary for each one of them and so do the offerings.
With this wide range, an author today has the choice of becoming an “authorpreneur”. An authorpreneur is a combination of author + entrepreneur. It is a new term coined for the current times where an author holds the reins of all the decisions regarding their book/s and calls the shots.
In the early days, self/vanity publishing was expensive. Digital printing was not cost-effective, big print runs were required, and authors had to spend lakhs of rupees. Today, self-publishing is no longer a costly affair where an author has to think twice before investing their hard-earned money behind their dreams of getting published. Naina Sandhir choose to self-publish her book Roopantaran in early 2021 through BookLeaf Publishing for as low as INR 2000/-. She did not opt for any marketing and distribution services. Her book is available through Amazon and Flipkart in both physical and ebook formats.
Notion Press and some 4-5 other vanity publishers also have an option called DIY publishing through which you can publish your book without any upfront cost at all. Of course, opting for any other service including marketing, distributing, editing or formatting is chargeable separately.
Writers are aware now that there are no barriers to getting their books published. A lot of niche category books that previously may not have been published are out today. We have also noticed a great rise in personal family books, memoirs, and biographies for family heirlooms owing to the self-publishing option now being available easily.
Less popular genres like memoirs and poetry were not preferred much by the traditional publishers only because sales volumes tend to be low. For years we have been hearing India is not a market for nonfiction and poetry. Indian readers enjoy fiction more than anything else.
It is refreshing to see it all change as we see the market flooded with business titles, self-help books, and poetry collections by Indian authors who are following their dreams of becoming published authors.
We also spoke to Naveen Valsakumar, the co-founder of Notion Press, and asked him his views on the future of self-publishing in India.
“Self-publishing is mainstream now. I’d safely assume that there are more books being self-published today in India than released by a publisher. While it’s an exciting time to be an Indie author, I think the ecosystem is not fully evolved in India yet.
Every author is like an island. So there is no community that supports new Indie authors who are going on this journey that so many have gone before.
There is also a strong need for more rewards and recognition for writers who turn into Authorpreneurs. We are working on something that will put a lot of Indie Creators under the Spotlight.”
Writing today is an independent business on its own. With publishing and marketing also being added to a writer’s toolkit, the possibilities are endless. Some authors have managed to carve a lucrative career out of this by churning out books after books, self-publishing the titles, and marketing the books across the country (at times globally too!).
Apart from Amazon KDP, self-publishing houses like Notion Press, Pothi, White Falcon Publishers, and other such names are responsible for making self-publishing mainstream now. Looking at the success of a few, many self-publishers started entering mainstream marketing in the early 2010s.
But not all could survive the storms of 2008, 2015, and then, of course, the master tragedy of the pandemic in 2020 which hit quite a few publishing houses badly including self-publishers like Moments and Gargi Publishers.
Self-publishing offers multiple options to authors which otherwise are not present in traditional publishing. Let’s take a closer look at it.
It’s a no-brainer. Self-publishing houses like Notion Press and Pothi undoubtedly have more transparency and less turn-around time when it comes to releasing a book. And the author continues to retain their complete control over the whole process. They can decide to either go it all completely or go step by step starting with one and slowly moving on to one till they are confident enough about the whole show. A majority of the self-publishers insist on either a fully-edited manuscript or charge the author separately for it.
Quality and distribution are two areas of major concern for all self-published authors. When we reached out to various authors who had opted to get published through Notion Press, none of them had any complaints about the quality.
We did have some mixed views about distribution. It must be added here that distribution is a major concern irrespective of the publishing house one decides to go ahead with.
Notion Press claims that your book will be available in 150 countries. This is a huge attraction for every author as it can be summed up well online by stating – Now available worldwide. But the point is, how many people know you in those countries to buy your book? That is where online marketing comes into the picture.
Bestselling author Bhagyashree Ranade’s book, Bookshelf Whispers was released by Notion Press in August 2021. Her book was in the HWR Nielsen Bestsellers List in mid-September and stayed there for 2-3 weeks. We reached out to her to understand the story behind becoming a bestselling author.
“I had researched and talked to a number of other publishing houses and found Notion Press to be the most prompt and efficient in addressing all my concerns. They offer many packages for the promotion of a book. However, having a marketing background, I decided to undertake the promotion on social media myself, with the assistance of many young promoters who did a fantastic job.
My book ‘Bookshelf Whispers‘ was promoted through Oxford Book Store, Kharedo Becho, MCMV, and the Delhi Book Fair initially. Thereafter the book had been distributed in approximately 26 bookstores all over India. The book overall has sold roughly 4000+ copies from 16th August 2021 till mid-February 2022. The percentage of sales done through Notion Press would be roughly 60% and the rest would be from Amazon. in, Amazon.com and Kindle.”
Her efforts in marketing her book definitely seem to have paid off.
Prateek Joshi who self-published two of his books also insists on this oft-forgotten aspect of getting published.
“Focus on marketing. That’s where most authors lose. Online presence should be built before getting self-published. It is extremely important. My first book was a poetry collection, which was already a niche market.
Every self-publishing house demands additional charges for marketing and distribution. I found them pricey to explore as I was already in a niche category given my genre,” he says.
Biju Joseph chose to publish his book through Notion Press and is extremely happy with their services as he tells us, “Their staff is very helpful and they are very prompt in responding to your queries. As someone who had absolutely no idea about publishing, I found them to be very professional. I would recommend their services to everyone who wants to kickstart their publishing journey.”
You can read more about how to make this work in your favour as an author in our comparative blog post on Amazon or Self Publishing in India: 3 important options (himalayanwritingretreat.com)
Notion Press offers its self-publishing services through the Print-On-Demand option making it the lowest possible investment strategy to print their books. That is one of the reasons why they are affordable and pocket-friendly for many authors who are just starting out their publishing journey.
However, Anagha Bailur, author of Turning Back Time (Notion Press, 2019) felt this impacted the book sales negatively. “They deliver books when ordered, so they don’t hold spare copies in the warehouse. This delays the book delivery to 7-10 days instead of the normal 2-3 days time taken for delivery of books by other publishing houses. I would still recommend them if you want to do something very basic at a cheap rate. Their price range is affordable and it is a great place to start your publishing journey with.”
With low investment options for self-publishing like Amazon KDP for ebooks, Pothi, and Notion Press for physical books, the author can now finally say, “I believe in my book and it needs to reach the audiences across the globe!” without batting an eye.
It comes as no surprise that a lot of traditionally published authors like Kanchana Banerjee, Arjun Raj Gaind, and Bhaskar Chattopadhaya opted for Amazon KDP publishing during the pandemic when traditional publishing was hit very badly.
The reasons were manifold ranging from, “ I wanted this book to be out without waiting for 2 years!” to a simple “No publisher was interested in this title!”
Read Bhaskar’s story of opting for KDP here: Why I self-published after traditionally publishing a dozen books? Bhaskar Chattopadhyay tells us. (himalayanwritingretreat.com)
Breaking the Myth
If you are wondering why selfpublishing houses like Notion Press have been able to carve a niche for themselves among such cut-throat competition of selfpublishing houses, you are not alone. We wondered about it too and this is what we found out:
- They offer self-publishing in English, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, and Bengali.
- They also serve international authors from Singapore and Malaysia.
- Authors as young as 5 and 6 can now get published.
- Their publishing strategy is not decided by the sales trends, genres-in-demand, or the expected sales that title/genre can garner. Their sales are purely driven by what the author foresees. However, the number of copies printed for a title does not change the treatment given to an author by Notion Press.
- Inbuilt marketing features to use and other services are available on hire.
What’s in store?
We analyzed the trends in the bestselling lists vis-a-vis the popular/ bestselling titles through Notion Press and other self-publishing platforms. The results were strikingly different. In a way, this also re-endorses the claim that Notion Press and other self-publishers believe in the author’s conviction about their book and publish it.
Some of the 2021 trends include:
- Indian Business Books
- Personal Finance and Investment
- Rise of Poetry
- Child authors
- Adult colouring books
- Workbooks for kids and adults.
However, the lure for a traditional publishing house tag to your author brand always stays. One could blame the way self-published authors are looked down upon or excluded from literary festivals or awards. Or it could be the pride of having someone else believe in your work enough to have published it without charging you a penny. Few authors have moved onto traditional publishing after having a handful of titles published by Notion Press only for this reason.
But the ultimate fact remains that it is not easy to get published traditionally. It is a journey that takes its own time, has its share of heartbreaks and also incidences of wanting to give up.
If you are a writer, struggling to get your book published these days, you can even opt for Amazon KDP which is extremely pocket-friendly for aspiring writers. However, it is only so in case you want an ebook version of your book to be released worldwide. If you want a paperback version without spending a fortune, self-publishing houses like Notion Press and Pothi are your best bet.