Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My Experience at Publishers Training Programme Organized by The German Book Office



On 2nd and 3rd December 2016, The German Book Office conducted a Young Professionals Programme for mid layer of the professionals in the publishing industry. This year YPP primarily focused on new product development strategies for publishing and content industry and saw participation from 30 publishing professionals from the Editorial, Design, Operations and Sales & Marketing streams. It was a two day, hands on workshop where the participants from the publishing houses plugged in their entrepreneurial streak and worked on a business idea generated as part of the new product development process at the programme. The objective was to train them in skills relevant to the changes in the publishing industry and to fill the huge gap of training and development in the publishing world. 


Another purpose of the programme was to bring Indian and German publishing industry together by way of mentorship and idea exchange. Ms. Katja Splichal, an expert of product development was invited from Germany to co-facilitate the programme with Mr. R. Sriram, who is one of the pioneers in setting up the Crossword retail bookstores in India and is currently the trustee of Pratham Books.


                                                               The Participants

The Day 1 was action packed and challenging for both the mentors and the participants. While the participants were grilled and drilled and challenged to come out of their mundane routine and think of problems that exist in the publishing industry.  The mentors on the other hand had a more challenging job with making everyone come together on the same platform, break the ice between participating contestants and let them think about problems that exist in the publishing industry today and find solutions to them which in turn are also profitable businesses.

                                                                   The Mentors 

On Day 2, the teams were given a task to make a business plan around the problems they had identified on day one. The philosophy was to look each lacunae as an opportunity for business. As the teams began working the mentors constantly went to interact with each to help them get over roadblocks if any and to guide them to a right direction as for many this was a first time experience of a full-fledged boot camp. The teams were constantly kept at work by the mentors who would keep rotating between them to check their progress, to ensure they deliver a perfect pitch at 4:00 pm before the shark tank of the publishing industry.

After rushing through lunch and consuming sumptuous amounts of coffee the participants used each minute wisely to improvise their presentations before the first pitch round. The second was the grand finale to be held before their CEO’s. On each presentation the audience and the mentors asked questions and gave feedback to enable polishing of what was the first rough draft. The mentors were constantly engaged in positive critique and suggestions. The session was interactive with participants from other teams bombarding the presenting teams with questions. A lot of alternative thinking, strategizing of business model happened in this session as each team was forced to think closer to real life situations. Each team had a different idea of solving problems of reach, distribution, book reviews and marketing, encourage children and blind people to read via various interesting concepts.
                                                         Pitch till you are perfect!!!

At sharp 4:00 the CEO’s Vivek Mehra and Neeraj Gupta put on the judging caps and heard each team. This session was a true Business Pitch event where the CEO’s heard each team out and were critical to the core. While some got great improvement feedbacks on their plans, a few were discarded outright. An experience that enabled every participant to evaluate their thought process and improvise. This was a session even the organizers agreed was fiery grilling and the best.
 
Interacting with the mentors I realized that they were as excited and enthusiastic about bringing forth innovation in the publishing industry via such boot camps. While R. Sriram cited the example of Meru cabs going old school with the same service while Ola and Uber coming up with out of the box thought process to manage logistics for the same service differently and providing better solutions believed that it provided a line of thought for participants even in the publishing industry. An entrepreneur looks at the situation through the eye of the problem. Today we have readers more than ever, if you look at the broad spectrum called "reading". With the literacy, consumer power and quality of life going higher, the market is lively more than ever. Moreover there are writers coming up with a spectrum of writing that is available to the reader. Therefore the problem lies not in content but visibility to the reader. The seed of a successful enterprise is a product that people need, a solution. At this workshop we have focused on professionals understanding the problem itself. For every problem again should be looked as an opportunity to cater to. This is the best time ever for a publishing industry, they shod just grab it with new ideas. We don't expect the participants to come up with complete business models in a two day time frame but it's igniting the spark to keep thinking and evolving.

Katja Splichal acknowledged that it was a mammoth task to bring each one on the same page within a single day to making the teams do business plans around them. She acknowledged the participants hard work over the two day period with her words, “you failed miserably yesterday, you succeeded today.”

While most of the participants were delighted at the certificates each one received for the 48 hours work, majority of them were of the opinion that the workshop made them think harder and better and grow their inhibitions to present ideas that they were delighted to understand could be businesses. They further aimed to improve upon them based on the suggestions from mentors and look at future circumstances with the eyes of a problem solver and that precisely meant-mission accomplished! 

Pictures courtesy: The German Book Office


Friday, December 9, 2016

Dont Just Be an Author, Be an Authorpreneur

A lot many people read today. More than ever before. If you see we are all constantly reading something or the other as we spend more time on our gadgets. Right from news to jokes, whatever it is that pleases us, the content is readily available to the reader, thanks to digitization. The literacy rate has increased and so has consumer power. Everybody today wishes to be wiser and smarter. Books are a great way to heal and improve the quality of our personality and lives. If you have a flair for writing, and you wish to be a published writer, now is the time better than ever to realize it! You don't have to even knock a publisher's doors and get approval or convince somebody to publish your work. It is a time, when all these variables are in your  very hands.


In such a world there is also more to be done than just writing or publishing it. As thousands of books come out, it is critical for a writer to also ensure its reach to right kind of audience the one for whom he /she wrote it. Therefore keeping all this in mind and the fact that we live an extremely competitive world, Notion Press - a brain child of Naveen Valasakumar Bhargava A and Jana Pillay, a name well known in the publishing industry since its foundation in 2012, now encourages its writers not to be just writers but also add an entrepreneurial zing to their exercise of writing and publishing a book. They want the entire experience for a writer to be entrepreneurial and successful thereby making one not just an author but an "Author-preneur".


Notion press provides a one step platform that prevents you from wasting all the time waiting for a response from publishers. Even if you do get the response sometimes the dates are more than an year away. As a young writer when the idea is fresh out of your mind this can be boring and even disheartening to some extent. A few middle to bottom range publishers, non- creamy if I may, also provide options that enable one to self-publish but while doing so they charge for it and offer minimum market royalty. While with notion press you publish for free while only paying nominally for the basics such as copy editing, printing, book distribution etc. Best of all, you retain the rights to your book and post its performance in the market pitch it better to traditional publishers, if that is what you desire at a later stage. Your royalty is maximum and best of all you can calculate it all for yourself before jumping into it. To understand the complete process watch this video...


Personally the quality of most books that came to me from Notion press were fine. Some of them also received excellent reviews and have been the best books I have read in 2016 grabbing 4-4.5/5 rating from me, who is in general a difficult to please person. Check the review of Sangeeta Mahapatra's book "Wreath & other Stories" http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/2016/08/book-review-wreath-and-other-stories-by.html. The book has been a huge personal favorite and I have recommended it to everyone who loves reading. The book has grabbed more than 4 stars from every critical reviewer and if you disagree with the rating post reading the book let me know.



Books like these are an example that if you believe in your writing, let not the opinion of others stop you. For even J.K.Rowling, one of the greatest fiction writers of our times would have not been known if it was not the child of an editor that read her manuscript, but those were a different time. I am sure if we had a Notion press like platform back then, she wouldn't have been an unknown for a long, and we would have had Harry much before and many such immortal characters who lie in a comatose state on a publishers desk would be breathing and living a healthy  normal lives in the hearts ad minds of readers they were created for.


To be the master of your own writing career, log on to https://notionpress.com/ now!!!



Monday, December 5, 2016

The Crossword Book Awards 2016



On 29th Novemebr 2016 many epic writers waited as it was time for Cross Book Awards 2016. A battle of epic proportions has been underway, over the last month, as authors found themselves part of an electoral process, to  win the coveted trophy of the Raymond Crossword Book Award, India’s oldest and most prestigious award. Over the years, the Award has been equated to the Pulitzer and Booker and is a definitive,veritable platform for Indian Authors. The Raymond Crossword Book Award not only recognizes and rewards Indian literary talent but actively promotes the same to a wider audience.

The awardees have always had, or risen to stature in the world of literature. And it was a star-studded shortlist this year. Kinjal Shah, CEO Crossword Bookstores says, “It’s that time of the year when the whole publishing industry in India comes forward as one family to recognize its own stars. It’s exciting that the voting numbers have been heartwarming this year.”

                                              Kinjal Shah: CEO Crossword Bookstores

A bevy of glittering stars were present at the Award, including Shekhar Gupta, Mynoo Maryel, Anupama Chopra , Twinkle Khanna, Piyush Pandey, Roopa Pai, Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Durjoy Dutta, Radhakrishnan Pillai, Hrishi. K,  Subashree Krishnaswamy, Annie Zaidi, Mohd. Asaduddin, Naresh Fernandes, Kalpana Sharma, Harsh Sethi, Ira Pande, Prof M S Sriram, Prof Sukanta Chaudhuri, Aravinda Anantharaman, Sujata Noronha, Siddhartha Sarma, B S Nagesh and many more authors and guests.

Social media maven Miss Malini was the host of the evening. Major publishers present at the Award included Penguin Random House India, Harper Collins India, Hachette India, Scholastic India, Niyogi Books, and Westland Books. This year, the Award has gone through a makeover, with ten categories and a lifetime achievement award. A total of 11 awards were given away, in the following three categories.

WINNERS: POPULAR AWARD


Fiction

Scion of Ikshvaku by Amish wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award – popular - fiction category 


Non-fiction

Mrs. Funnybones by Twinkle Khanna wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - popular award – nonfiction category


Biography

Playing It My Way by Sachin Tendulkar (co-author Boria Majumdar) wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - popular award for best biography


Business and management

Chanakya in You by Radhakrishnan Pillai wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - popular award in Business and Management category


Health and fitness

Body Goddess by Payal Gidwani wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - popular award in health and wellness category


Children

Gita: For Children by Roopa Pai wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - popular award for Children’s writing

WINNERS: JURY




Fiction

Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - jury award for fiction


Non-fiction

Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India by Akshaya Mukul wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - jury award for best non-fiction


Translation

The Sun That Rose From the Earth by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi is the Raymond Crossword Book Award - jury winner for the best translated book


Children

Our Nana was a Nutcase by Ranjit Lal wins the Raymond Crossword Book Award - jury award for the best book for children’s writing.

     Awardees of The Crossword Book Awards 2016


WINNER: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

India’s finest lyricist and poet, Gulzar Sahab bestowed the Lifetime achievement award to beloved author Ruskin Bond. Speaking on the occasion, Gulzar Sahab said, " Bond sir and I share a deep friendship that goes a long way back. I would like to say, "Cheers" to Bond sir, for winning this award."



About Crossword Bookstores....

With the tagline ‘educate, entertain, enlighten’, Crossword Bookstores is India’s largest retailer of books that endeavors to spread knowledge & inculcate the habit of reading.

Crossword Bookstores stands by the objective to promote 'Reading and Writing' through 95 stores across 33 cities in India. The Book Award is a mega event, organized every year, to award Indian Authors to promote readership and recognize the best of literature.   

Crossword Bookstores also launched a short film, “A Book Never Runs Out of Battery” to mark the 14th anniversary of  the award.

The event was attended by over 100 authors, prestigious guests and customers,all at the Tata Theatre – NCPA.