Indian authors come from different ethnicities and cultures and write and produce their work in different languages worldwide. Indian authors write in different genres like astrology, art, business, fiction, playwrights, horror, humour, feminism, politics, spirituality, etc.
Some of the best-selling novels in India are The Namesake, Midnight’s Children, Jaya, Clear Light of Day, The God of Small Things, A Suitable Boy, and Train to Pakistan.
Some of the best-selling novels in India in 2021 are The Last Queen, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, Languages of Truth, A touch of Eternity, and An Educated Woman in Prostitution.
Usually, the ordinary people’s misconception is that Indian writers earn a lot of money with every book they make. In truth, most of us know very little about how much an Indian writer earns with every book they write. The truth is that irrespective of whether you are a budding writer or an experienced one, if you do not have good marketing of the book, your book doesn’t succeed. It’s a heavy competition to be among the best-selling novels in India. Even if your book is good, there is no guarantee that you will be paid your book’s worth.
An Indian author can get revenue in seven forms, i.e., through royalty & advance, translation rights, overseas rights, film rights, merchandising opportunities, speaking assignments and newspaper columns. But no one can certainly say that you can get revenue through more than two forms.
Debut authors get a royalty from 5 to 7.5%, and few successful ones manage to get it to 15 to 20%. But to be one of the few successful ones, you need to sell more than 75000 copies. In short, your work needs to be or near one of the best-selling novels in India. The royalty you receive is ridiculously low by the publishing houses.
An author puts a lot of time and effort into writing a book. They don’t happen quickly quite often. And depending on the publishing houses, it won’t get you anywhere in earning the most reasonable price for your books worth and your efforts. Only the top 10 best-selling novel authors get heavy royalties, which is also when they keep trending throughout the year or at least until they get the paycheck.
If Indian authors want to promote a book on their own, there are expenses one has to spend through their pocket. These expenses include promotional and marketing costs, book launches and events, social media promotions, etc. These add up to approximately 2lakh Rs. Additional costs include merchandising costs, travel costs for promotions, PR, and Media costs. And if he is self-publishing, the expense goes up higher.
So, say if an author earns approximately 5 lakh rupees, most of the money goes into spending to make the book successful, and that is if and when the book clicks well. Most authors would recommend doing it, knowing that it sounds like a questionable strategy. If not to forget the experience and the fame they would get.
Indian authors have a scope of earning revenue through translation rights, overseas rights, and film rights. At least that’s what they hope. But this is usually not true.
Only bestselling novel authors make revenue from these forms. Even if they start the process and go through it, the rest won’t see the actual money until the translated book or the film hits the shelves. The same goes for newspaper columns and speaking assignments as well. If the author is not among the top 10 Indian authors, there are no chances of getting actual revenue.
The net worth of best-selling novels Indian writers like Ruskin Bond, Aravind Adiga, Khushwant Singh, Arundhati Roy, Devdutt Pattanaik, Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ravi Subramanian, Chetan Bhagat, Vikram Seth, Anita Desai, varies from 1$ million to 30$ million approximately, i.e., 10lakh rupees to 2.3 billion rupees. The less successful ones get less than 1$ million dollars. Considering almost 90000 titles are published per country every year—it is not a massive success for the Indian writers.
95% of Indian writers can’t live off by only writing, i.e., they can’t make good money only by keeping writing as their only or their primary job. It doesn’t necessarily mean one has to quit writing. One successful author who managed to make a lot of money through writing and self-publishing is Savi Sharma. Her method was to publish her book on an e-platform like amazon and promote it, and that’s since she is a Chartered Accountant.
The next big thing for Indian writers and the writing community of India is to join a writing community or create one. Meet community writers, take honest feedback from beta readers, discover marketing teams and keep networking through the writing communities.
With heavy competition among the online Indian writers who use online platforms like Plop Stories, Pratilipi, Writco, and Wattpad, joining a writing community will increase your reach among readers. These writing communities include Indian authors, editors, publishers, community writers, journalists and literary agents. One might get lucky if their work reaches the people in the writing community.
The chances are that you get honest feedback, guidance, and motivation from them.
Not only that but writing communities also discuss various elements of a book like character arcs, fact checks, scene building, description of things or locations in a book, etc. Each community has their code and conduct, which helps find a suitable community for you. Once you join a writing community, you become a community writer.
You can publish your work with the help of your community. Moreover, being a community writer, you can get off expenses related to promotions and marketing and strike good deals to publish and make your book successful. Your work might become one of the best-selling novels in India.
If you are a budding writer, online writing communities are more accessible and reliable to join. It helps you learn, explore, socialize and seek help from the community writers.
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