Suggestions for the Future of the Indian Publishing Industry- IWSG July 2020

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The Future of the Indian Publishing Industry_ Some Hopes and Suggestions
Suggestions for the Future of the Indian Publishing Industry

It’s the first Wednesday of July, which means it’s time for a new IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) post. In this blog hop, the participants share their insecurities or accomplishments related to writing. You can check out the other writers here and sign up if you’re interested!

Every month, a prompt or question is provided and though we are not restricted to that prompt, it’s useful for collecting one’s thoughts and encouraging discussion on a particular topic.

The question for July is:

There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

I don’t have much insider knowledge or experience of the traditional publication industry in India, and I’m completely unfamiliar with American standard practices. However, in today’s post, I’ll outline some hopes and suggestions for the Indian industry going forward. If you feel that I’ve got something wrong, or something from my list is already in practice, please correct me in the comments below!

Here are my hopes and suggestions for the future of the Indian publishing industry:

  1. EASIER ACCESS TO TRADITIONAL PUBLISHERS

The recent Black Lives Matter movement, has shone light on the systemic racism affecting the publishing industry in the west. Personally, I don’t believe that to be the case in India, but our industry is certainly affected by in-bred nepotism. In order to get published through a reputed label, you must ‘know’ someone, who will willingly push your work through the queue. Hence, true talent at the grassroots level is often overlooked.

There are a few indigenous publishers that support marginalised communities and groups but there need to be more, in my opinion.

  1. WRITING TALENT OVER SENSATIONAL YET BADLY-WRITTEN STORIES

This is a huge problem in modern Indian writing. Ever since Chetan Bhagat and similar writers have become overnight sensations, every person aspiring to be a writer has crawled out of the woodwork, without possessing any writing talent. Unfortunately, this increases the competition pool for good writers, making it difficult for them to shine, and also dumbs down the standard of selection.

A story that sounds sensational at first glance is picked over a slow-moving yet beautifully written work. The same goes for marketing, as the sensational pieces are pushed harder by the publishers. Unfortunately, this has resulted in general lowering of standards, across the board for Indian writing. It has put me off reading Indian books, where previously they were my first picks.

  1. BETTER CLASS OF EDITORS

This is perhaps tied to the second point. If Indian publishers employed a better class of editor, perhaps the multitudes of sub-standard literature wouldn’t pass through their scrutiny. The recent Indian books I’ve reviewed, mostly suffered from a lack of editing. In the hands of a good editor, each book would’ve been chopped and tweaked to produce better results. Perhaps the issue is that an editor’s job isn’t lucrative enough, and that needs to be changed. The industry shouldn’t lose talented people to money-making jobs like writing copy or creating content!

  1. TECH-SAVVY READERS

Even if the traditional publishing industry is difficult to tap into, self-publishing online has emerged as a viable and popular option for many writers. Unfortunately, it is difficult for these writers to tap into a widespread Indian audience that has yet to become technology-friendly. So, I may have willing readers of my books in various aunts and uncles, but I lose out to their unwillingness to download and read a book on their devices!

This is, of course, solely my opinion. What do you feel? Do you think some industry standards need to be changed in the coming decade? If so, what are the most important changes according to you?

Don’t forget to visit the other talented participants of IWSG.

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16 comments

  1. Interesting. Lots of folks think good writing rises to the top. It doesn’t always happen though, does it. Some best sellers I read, I understand immediately why they are so popular. Others…not so much.
    Wishing you a month filled with good books and productive writing.

  2. Agree to all of the above Noor. In fact I would also like to add that publishers need to be more open and welcoming. Like a well known publishing house for children only accepts solicited scripts. That’s not so fair. It would also be nice if they could write back a simple line which mentions script not accepted. Because you wait for ages without knowing the result. I agree on the editing part. We could do with better editors.

  3. I think we have similar problems in the US. I think the celebrity publishing is similar to the publishing the sensational you are talking about. While there may be some celebrity books that are written with quality, most of those books are getting published just because of the person’s name and marketability.
    I also think the standards for editing have gone down–but perhaps that’s a world-wide problem.
    Very interesting post!

  4. Your observations are spot on, and certainly apply internationally. Especially #2. Sensationalism always seems to find a publisher, no matter how poorly it is written.

  5. Good writing or well-told stories rarely rise to the top. Why I put that quote from 1927 in my post! But you hit on what I pulled out of my post for fear of ranting or running on. A better class of editors. No sh*t. Whew. Even the ones with “track records” are pretty poor. They all want to erase your voice and make you as homogenous as possible, more like teaching academic writing by retired English teachers. I could go on with examples for days. And the charlatan “send me $20 and I’ll edit your short story” people? Anyway, great post, well organized, multiple topics and you don’t ramble on like I often do!

  6. Feedback was mentioned on another blog I visited. I feel like those aspiring writers should have access to the feedback that would tell them if they have the talent or not. But it sounds like they aren’t necessarily interested in real talent, like you said, only a quick sale.

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