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Aspiring author? Ten tips to get published

Last updated on: October 19, 2011 06:57 IST

Image: Ten tips to remember to get published

We invited this first-time author Jvalant Nalin Sampat to share with us the ten tips aspiring authors to get published.

Jvalant Nalin Sampat's debut novel The Tenth Unknown is a fictional tale set around the World War-II ear in Pre-Independence India, Asia and Europe.

When he isn't writing, Sampat is a dealer in high-end auto and home leather products and also runs a CSR consulting firm in Mumbai. And even though he's earned a degree in IT, Jvalant Sampat is at heart a World War-II history buff.

We invited this first-time author to share with us the ten tips aspiring authors to get published.

Sampat will host a chat on Thursday, October 20 to take in questions about his books and talk to you about what it takes to get a book published.

Be original

Image: Learn to be original. Plagiarising will not get you anywhere

Every aspiring author tends to a voracious reader. It is important for an aspiring author that he or she does not replicate the works of their favourite author and place it in a different geographical context. That will not get you anywhere.

Be grammatically correct

Image: Being grammatically correct is not optional. It is a given

Nothing annoys an editor who handles manuscripts more than finding basic grammatical errors. In a full novel, certain grammatical errors are inevitable and thus unavoidable.

But keep these to a minimum -- constantly run spell checks and grammar checks on your word processor.

Be accurate

Image: Research heavily and ensure you don't get dates etc wrong

If your novel, like mine involves a lot of research then the onus to be accurate is on you. You can't afford to mess up historical dates, geographical locations or technological breakthroughs.

You can't have a digital clock in 1925 for example.

Stay the course

Image: Overcoming a writer's block may be difficult sometimes but it certainly isn't impossible

There are times when most writers face writer's block. It is not that they don't want to write – there is no paucity of drive, just a paucity of ideas.

This does not mean you are a bad author or incapable of finishing your novel. It just means that the next step in your novel is just an idea away.

Open your word processor and start reading your work so far and then the ideas will begin to reflow sooner rather than later.

Get a literary agent

Image: For a charge, a literary agent will tell you if your book has a spark

Literary agents are a newer phenomenon in India; although they have existed in the developed markets for eons. They will charge you a reading fee and if they see literary merit, they will sign you on board for a percentage fee.

They will help you polish your work before it is pitched to the publishers.

Don't lose heart

Image: Don't lose heart if your manuscript has been rejected

Even the best of authors today have had their manuscripts rejected -- both by literary agents as well as by publishing houses. It takes a while to snare a publisher who is willing to back your work.

Don't lose heart and keep following up with your agent and with publishers -- you will be rewarded.

Don't cross the line between persistence and stalking

Image: Don't stalk

Publishers take their own sweet time to respond -- after all, they have a ton of manuscripts to read. While it is ok to follow up with a publisher once a fortnight or so to show them how keen you are; you mustn't pester them will calls or bombard them with e-mails everyday. Even if your manuscript is good, it might be rejected because you have managed to piss off the publisher.

Attend literary festivals

Image: Snapshot from Jaipur Literature Festival

It is always good to network and the number of literary festivals across the country are mushrooming with the Jaipur Literature Festival leading the way.

You will garner new ideas and meet publishers, fellow authors and personalities in other creative fields which might give an impetus to your writing desires.

Use unique marketing tools

Image: Use the social media to promote your book

Being an author is a serious business and it takes time to build a reputation and see book sales soar.

Unless you have lots of money to sink in, you need to utilise your marketing skills in the best possible way. Use online social mediums like Twitter and Facebook to market your book.

Try typing up with bookstores and coffee shops to organise reading. If you have to give away a few free copies of your book, don't balk. If your book is good -- one free book could lead to the sale of 10 more.

KISS: Keep it simple, stupid

Image: Like in school you won't get beaten up for not writing archaic English

Indian authors generally try to write in English which is by and large colonial and Victorian and thus inaccessible to the majority of English speakers and readers in the country.

Such a book may probably win you literary awards but will not result in serious sales. Keep your language simple and write in short, crisp sentences. This gives you a larger demographic to sell your book to.