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Is editing a good career choice?
 
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August 08, 2007 11:27 IST

Have you written a novel but you're not sure how to get it published? Do you want to write a self-help book but don't know where to start?

Or do you want to get into the publishing business but you're unsure of the qualification you need?

Chiki Sarkar, editor-in-chief of Random House India, one of the leading publishing houses in the country chatted with Get Ahead readers on August 1 about the different aspects of the publishing business.

Part I: Aspiring writer? Here's how to get published


Chatuberger asked, Is editing a good career to explore as a youngster fresh out of college? Is print publishing shrinking or growing as an industry?


Chiki Sarkar answers, Publishing will never make you very wealthy or famous or powerful! People end up in this industry because they want to -- so apply if the field interests you but not as a good career option. I think the industry in India will grow.

 


 

gaurav vatsa asked, chikki what do you think of the dwindling population of book readers? Or is the society exposed to too much of text?


Chiki Sarkar answers, Not sure there is a dwindling population -- look at all of you clamouring with your questions!

 


 

prem asked, hi, I am in pre-press (DTP). What are the chances in India


Chiki Sarkar answers, I think very good - there are lots of people here who are doing it.

 


 

ashish asked, Dear Ms. Sarakar, Good Afternoon. My question is, I have passion for writing essays, stories, poems, but I never published them. The reason I am also author of few books in Information Technology. Can a person be so diversified in expertise? Can he publish his books on so diversified topics? Which publisher will allow me to do so? Dr. Ashish Urkude


Chiki Sarkar answers, You shouldn't worry about writing diversely - if they all work on their own terms. Publishers will judge you on the merit of your submission, not on your past writing.

 


 

tilak asked, The very best of Indian authors choose to publish abroad, because the money they can make by publishing India is negligible compared to the fortunes American and British publishers can offer. How do you propose to lure our own good authors?

 

Chiki Sarkar answers, The very best of Indian authors choose to publish BOTH HERE AND ABROAD as every successful person should aim to do so. Increasingly Indian writers will not allow their UK publishers to export their books but submit their manuscripts to India at the same time they submit to USA and UK.

 


 

Naren asked, A good afternoon to you! This is a question related to the business aspects of publishing in India. I was wondering if you have information about how many copies of books get sold in our country? Is it a dismal number, as low as just a few hundreds or maybe 2,000 - 3,000 for the average book? Also, read somewhere that out of 10 books published, only 2 or 3 sell above 5,000 or more, and a bestseller sells about 10,000, maybe? Thanks v. much...


Chiki Sarkar answers, I think an average book, at least for us, would sell between 3000 -5000. I have recently published a brilliant anthology of speeches called GREAT SPEECHES OF MODERN INDIA [Get Quote], which I think, will sell much more. A proper bestseller, to my mind, will sell at least 20,000 upwards. Take our big Indian writers, most of them would sell at least that much.

 


 

ravi asked, Hi Chiki, I am an engineer by profession but believe that I could possibly have a flair for writing. Please let me know how I could get started in a small way - perhaps writing about road travel within India (one of the things that I love!) Regards, Ravi


Chiki Sarkar answers, Ravi, I've been saying this to all of you - JUST START WRITING. That's the only way to start.

 


 

SATYA [Images] asked, Unlike other countries where graphic novels are a big welcome, like Persepolis, Mause, Frank Miller's Sin City, India has had great authors but very few Graphic novelists...since I aspire to be one...do you think the Indian market would entertain Graphic novels?


Chiki Sarkar answers, Yes I do - think of Amar Chitra Katha, to my mind one of the best bits of publishing in India. But graphic novels even abroad is a developing art form and with the right book, I have no doubt it will sell here.

 


 

Bapi Basu asked, Dear Ms Sarkar This is Bapi Basu again. I've also put together a book of Nonsense Verses called Do's and Donuts. I don't know what to do with it. Help.


Chiki Sarkar answers, First look at publishers in India who have done similar books - so humour, children's books etc. Then send some sample poems to them with a covering letter which tells them a bit about you and the book.

 


 

gaurav vatsa asked, There are many movies on Indian weddings, many TV series, but I don't think or recall of a book. My cousin is getting married soon, I think I need to write a book that how life changes once a person gets married (in an arranged marriage scenario)


Chiki Sarkar answers, Sounds like a hit. Write it but make sure you write it properly, with good English!

 


 

arun asked, I simply wanna ask one basic thing: what all it takes to enter this field of publishing? I mean can an ordinary MBA set up a publishing house on his own and run the business?


Chiki Sarkar answers, Well why not? I think it takes a while to break even so you need to do your financial models well.

 


 

sanjay asked, Hi! Chiki, This is Sanjay. I would like to know about opportunities and remuneration in book indexing.


Chiki Sarkar answers, I think we pay about Rs 50/page? Not sure though. As for opportunities, we tend to use established companies like Thomsons to do it, so maybe find work with a company that does pre-press for books.

 


 

Alok asked, I am Alok here. What is the scope in India in Hindi Language publication?


Chiki Sarkar answers, The honest answer is I don't know. There are plenty about and some are doing great stuff, and lots are publishing badly produced books and cheating their authors of royalties.

 


 

arabia asked, Will Indian publishing continue to boom? India publishes very little engaging non-fiction by famous authors. How will you remedy that?


Chiki Sarkar answers, I think everything in India is going to grow, don't you? We'll publish engaging non-fiction when we find them! I am just about to publish a wonderful memoir on Indian classical music called THE MUSIC ROOM by Namita Devidayal that I am thrilled by. Check it out.

 


 

Raguraman asked, I am in the process of writing a book related to Hinduism for a religious head nearby here. It is an account of my experiences with him, his life and times, centred around the philosophies he lives by. Can you suggest suitable methods of getting this published?


Chiki Sarkar answers, Find out who publishes similar books. Send it to them.

 


 

Sheila asked, Hi Chiki, I am a writer and from what I understand, I write good stories. But sometimes, my grammar goes to hell. Have you ever had experience with celebrated authors who had problems with grammar and who cleans this up, is it the editor or the writer himself/ herself?


Chiki Sarkar answers, I think you're in trouble if you cant handle your grammar. Writing is a craft as much as a gift - you need to learn to write properly before you can say you write good stories. I wouldn't publish a writer I thought couldn't write correctly.

 


 

gaurav vatsa asked, if you have to write a book then what would the title be?


Chiki Sarkar answers, I wouldn't write a book. Don't think publishers make writers - usually! They are opposite jobs.

 


 

sanju asked, I have done a diploma in multimedia and doing graphics designing job for the last 10 years. Kindly suggest options for me in this field.


Chiki Sarkar answers, I do books, can't help with design. But you can send in your portfolio to publishing houses if you want them to use you for book jackets.

 


Antara asked, Hi I am Hindi writer and Eng to Hindi translator. How to explore as far as making money?


Chiki Sarkar answers, Send in your CV and some translation samples to publishers that are doing translations. Penguin has opened a Hindi division. Yatra books is another place.

 


 

yogs asked, I feel like writing every time, mostly this would contain philosophical stuff or writing something with flashy language. I think this interest of mine comes under creative writing. So could you please suggest me anything regarding my interest to bring it at professional level or probably the career options in this field. Are there any courses in any universities looking into this side?


Chiki Sarkar answers, No career options. If you have written a book, send it in to a publisher, and maybe they will publish you.

 


 

kalyan asked, How do one get into Publishing?


Chiki Sarkar answers, By sending in their CV to publishers, just as you would to anywhere else!

 


 

Krishna asked, Hi Chikki, I have quite a lot of new ideas and experience in the Sales and Marketing departments of publishing do you think there is enough scope / future in India?


Chiki Sarkar answers, I think so but as I have said publishing isn't well paid.

 


 

Raji asked, I am working on a book Called " Me, Myself and now yourself!" is there anything called angel funding? As we get busy with jobs don't get time to write. Are publication houses out to fund young talent?


Chiki Sarkar answers, You mean being given some money to write the book? Yes lots of people are given an advance on the projected sales of their books by publisher if the pages they send in are strong enough.

 


Part I: Aspiring writer? Here's how to get published

 


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