Booknomics

Publishing, Print on Demand, Self-publishing in India from Pothi.com Team

September 16, 2019
by pothi
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5 Success Tips for Non-fiction Authors

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Non-fiction is a genre that, despite its wildly successful nature, rarely gets the props it deserves in popular culture. Non-fiction is often seen as being dry and boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. And the sales speak for themselves – well-written educational books, textbooks and self-help books fly off the shelves. Unlike in fiction, where an author has to work extra hard to narrate a story that hasn’t already been told in some form, the topics and subtopics that can be covered under non-fiction are practically limitless. 

But having something important and informational to convey about a topic is only the first step. Here are five things you can do to increase the chances of success for your book:

 

  1. Tell a Story to Spread an Idea

    Remember, just because you’re not writing fiction doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story. Readers are always drawn to an interesting narrative, and you can use it to break down a complex topic and make it more accessible to readers.Ensure that the writing style is engaging and concise. Set out information in a way that is easy to read and remember. The use of visual aids such as tables, side bars, and bullet points will come in handy.
  2. Cite and Refer Generously 

    Be sure to include plenty of references to other works on the same subject. This way the reader gets to benefit not only from your expertise, but also from the work of other authors in the same field. Citations and references also boost the author’s credibility, increasing the reader’s confidence in the author’s knowledge.
  3. Nurture the Community

    An active presence in the community, both online as well as offline, is the most important asset for promoting your book. One of the ways you can get started is to read and review other books in the same genre you write in. Make sure to tag authors when you post the reviews publicly.You can also conduct discussions on the subject. Organize Ask Me Anything sessions on sites like Quora. This will reinforce your credibility with regards to your subject and boost the visibility of your work among your audience. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats!
  4. Present it Well

    Unlike a fiction book, bad presentation can kill a non-fiction title. Typeset the book professionally to ensure that your visual elements and textual information are placed together neatly. Well-spaced books with a moderate amount of white space are easier to read. Ensure that standard fonts that promote readability are used. 
  5. Take your Book Out for a Test-Drive!

    Feedback from the intended audience is critical, and wouldn’t it be great if you could get it before your book is published?! 

    Find a small circle of people who fit the demographic you are writing for – students, professionals, hobbyists, etc. and release the early drafts of the chapters of your book to them, for free. Your beta-readers benefit from information about a topic they’re interested in, and you get valuable information on how to optimize your book’s potential! You can find interested readers among bloggers, and on social sites like Twitter and Instagram.Above all, your book is a labor of love. And with non-fiction books, the reward tends to be proportional to the effort, so spare no effort, and pour your soul into your work.

September 16, 2019
by Neelima
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Interview: Surjit Singh

We spoke to Surjit Singh, author of Edwina: An Unsung Bollywood Dancer of the Golden Era, The Illustrated History of Punjabi Cinema (1935-1985) and Indurani: An Unsung But Unforgettable Heroine Of The Early Talkies.

My photo

Professor Surjit Singh is a retired Theoretical Physicist. He has been watching movies since 1952,  collecting Hindi songs, movies and magazines since 1969, and has been writing about these topics since 1996. Check out his website for more.

Tell us about your writing journey.

Even though I chose Physics-Mathematics-Chemistry in the ninth grade, I always enjoyed reading and writing essays. I learnt how great essays were organized into paragraphs and how the ideas flowed naturally and logically. I used what I leaned when I was publishing Physics papers (I have almost 90). While I was at the Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, I jumped at the chance to be co-author of two Physics books. I always planned to write lots of books. I am glad that I am able to publish them using Pothi (India) and Amazon (USA).

You are a theoretical physicist. Why did you choose to write about Bollywood’s forgotten faces?

I started watching films when I was in the seventh grade, bunking school. Liked stunt films and was fascinated by the details of film production. Just as in Physics, one looks at stuff happening behind the scenes (at atomic/molecular level) to understand laboratory phenomena, I was inclined to look into details and I did not fail to notice the same minor and character artists appearing in Hindi films again and again. I started to collect music, films, books, magazines, articles and other film-related stuff about these people in the late sixties. Naturally, I started writing about them.

How did you compile Punjabi cinema’s history? While writing about movies, you must spend a lot of time watching them. Do you take notes for every movie you watch?

I really cannot take much credit for that. This was Bhim Raj Garg’s baby for almost 30 years, during which time he had been collecting data. I kept pestering him to publish it and, finally, I helped him to do so on Amazon and Pothi. For my work on Hindi films, of course, I take detailed notes. I write down the names of actors not mentioned in the credits, the ones on whom the songs are picturized, any interesting connections with other Hindi/Panjabi/Hollywood films, interesting bit of dialog, something special about the setting, scenery, historical place, about Sandhu Transport trucks, cars, just about anything I may need for my books.

How do you do research to write a book with a Bollywood theme?

As I said I have been collecting source material for almost 50 years now. This includes books and magazines published on Hindi cinema since the 30s! I have a huge collection of songs and films, again going back to the early talkies. Also, in many cases I have been lucky to be able to interview the actual people (Edwina Voilette for the book on her) or their relatives (Salim Shah for the book on his mother Indurani).

Tell us about your experience with self-publishing.

It has been wonderful! My other two books on Physics were published in the traditional manner. The publishers did publicize and lots of copies were sold, but I was not happy that the royalty was such a small percentage. For my current books, I was thinking of having copies printed and then selling them from home, as many of my friends had been doing. Then I saw one of my Facebook friends (Aditya Pant) publish his poetry book on Pothi. I asked around if you guys were any good, my friend Pavan Jha (of Jaipur) said that Pothi guys are good. So, here we are 🙂

Your favorite movie? Are you fond of contemporary movies as well?

I am a huge fan of 30s-40s films, in particular I like any film starring Saigal or Noor Jehan. Saigal’s Tansen (1943) and Noor Jehan’s Jugnu (1947) I have watched many times. I also like Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. I do watch current films, may be one or two a year. Story-wise and musically they are so much influenced by Hollywood that, in my thinking, one might as well watch the original Hollywood films on which they are mostly based.

Your favorite Bollywood book (if any) or book in general?

My favorite Bollywood book is the world-famous compilation of detailed information on Hindi Films and their songs, the six-volume Hindi Film Geet Kosh by Har Mandir Singh ‘Hamraaz’. I am an avid reader and have many hundreds of books, some of which I bought in the seventies. List of my favorite authors and their books would be very long, for now let me just name Shakespeare, Kalidas, Wodehouse, Wilde, Christie, Ghalib, Nanak Singh, Devaki Nandan Khatri, Acharya Chatursen, Ibne Safi, Manto, Asimov, Gardner, Koestler. For most of them, I have most of what they have published. As you may guess, if I like something, I would rather read it again than reading something new 🙂

Any advice you wish to give potential authors who wish to market their books?

Announce it on social media, tell friends and relatives, prepare a press release and email to relevant newspapers and websites.

What are you working on right now?

I am usually working on 2-3 books at the same time. I will soon be publishing a book on Hindi film extras or junior artistes. More books on character artists and background dancers are in the planning stage. Another big project I am working on is to put all the information in the Hindi Film Geet Kosh in the form of a searchable database on the internet.

September 11, 2019
by Neelima
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That’s the Word For It: Skeuomorph

A skeuomorph is a derivative object that retains nonfunctional design attributes from the original.  This means that the design features of a contemporary product is modeled on objects that the user is already familiar with. Take for instance a software calendar that looks like a desk calendar or a calculator app modeled on a real calculator.This simplifies things for the user but now designers are moving away from this trend.

I was hoping to find this word in some sci-fi literature but came across more definitions:

“Skeuomorphic is the technical term for incorporating old, familiar ideas into new technologies, even though they no longer play a functional role. Skeuomorphic designs are often comfortable for traditionalists, and indeed the history of technology shows that new technologies and materials often slavishly imitate the old for no apparent reason except that is what people know how to do. Early”
― Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

“A multitude of design trends has come and passed over the years, often conditioned by external technology innovations, such as the birth of social media or the first iPhone. From the 90’s guest counters and solitary guestbooks to skeuomorphism, from flat design to parallax scrolling, the core of any good website has always been and will always be the user experience.”
― Simone Puorto

September 4, 2019
by Neelima
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That’s the Word For It: Fugacious

The word fugacious deals with emotions and interestingly also to the idea of withering leaves in botany.  Fugacious derives from the Latin verb fugere or flee.  Some derivative words include fugitive, refuge, and subterfuge.

A beautiful word to use in literature:

“Love is a fugacious word. Rounded and comfortable, it lifts the tongue and fills the back of the throat, before slipping beyond reach as the sound is exhaled from the mouth. Yet the word eludes meaning. Love teeters on the edge of the unknown beyond which it becomes almost impossible to speak. It moves us beyond words. We speak about love when we define our longing and desire and yet we fall into silence when we attempt to speak about it in the present.”
― Jonathan Rutherford, I Am No Longer Myself Without You: An Anatomy of Love

 

September 2, 2019
by Neelima
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Interview: Susan Hopkinson

We spoke to the author of Teaching Yoga in an Upside-Down World, Susan Hopkinson.

Susan Hopkinson was born in the US and grew up in Canada before moving to Europe in 1990. She has lived in Belgium since 1991, but India captured her heart on her first of many visits in 1997. Since then, she has been on an endless pilgrimage, regularly visiting teachers and friends across India. Susan loves travelling and meeting new people around the world, with or without her Yorkie, Metta. Her two adult children are probably her greatest accomplishment; they support her teaching and writing by cooking and dog-walking whenever they’re at home.

Susan discovered yoga in Toronto in 1985, began teaching in 1998 and qualified as a yoga therapist with the Yoga Biomedical Trust (London) in 2007. Yoga has been a valuable support through many life challenges, and she shares it with the aim of alleviating the suffering of others. After 20 years of teaching group classes, she now sees students individually and at retreats, guiding and counseling people from around the world through physical, emotional or spiritual issues, online and in person. Susan has been helping transform lives for over two decades using the wisdom of yoga, mindfulness, astrology, and Ayurveda.

You can visit her site and catch her on Instagram. A more detailed bio of hers here.

Tell us briefly about your yogic journey.

I started practicing yoga when I was at the University of Toronto. This was in 1985 and I was feeling very uncomfortable in my body, and sitting to study for long periods of time made my back hurt. I was in poor shape, and I decided to try yoga because I was never very interested in sports and wanted to do something by myself, for myself. I enjoyed it right away and it has stuck with me in some form or another all this time.
I was very lucky to have encountered some wonderful and sincere teachers, Indians and Westerners, in my 30-plus years of yoga practice. I’ve had the blessing of seeing how yoga teachings can change lives and be highly effective thanks to their clarity and simplicity, and not because of some magical siddhis or physical prowess. Yoga has sustained me throughout many challenging periods in my life, like the death of my third baby from a brain hemorrhage. Importantly, the most powerful aspects of yoga have little to do with āsana and much more to do with the mental fortitude and clarity that yoga brings. Changing our perception of what is happening in our lives is an extremely powerful skill to develop, and one that is central to a sincere yoga practice.
Tell us briefly about your book Teaching Yoga in an Upside Down World and what prompted you to write it.
Teaching Yoga in an Upside-Down World
Teaching Yoga in an Upside-Down World is a response to the increasing commercialism and shallowness we can find in the world of yoga, especially over the past ten years. Many yoga teachers I have encountered are insufficiently equipped to teach, and too many rely on brief trainings offering teaching certification with low standards. Among such teachers, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation. When I hear yoga teachers say that Buddhism is for the mind and yoga is for the body it makes my toes curl. Yoga – strongly influenced by Buddhist philosophy, which is a foundation for Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra – is essentially a training of the mind that includes our physical body because they are inseparable.
In the US in particular, there is a certain amount of resistance to the Indian origins of yoga which include mantra and yogic philosophy, which seems to scare some people who don’t understand the true benefit of such practices. This is a major reason the physical aspect of yoga has become overly important these days – there is a rejection of what is unfamiliar by those who aren’t ready to examine and test their own beliefs. It’s worth mentioning here that it is not entirely the fault of Westerners, many of whom are interested in practicing and teaching a holistic and sincere form of yoga. Much of the shallowness we see today is also due to opportunistic South Asian teachers who may or may not be legitimately qualified to teach, and who often teach short (lucrative) courses scratching the surface of yoga to gullible Westerners.
Over many years it occurred to me that there wasn’t one book which provided an overview of what is useful and even vital to know as a contemporary yoga teacher. I started ‘Teaching Yoga in an Upside Down World’ in answer to questions from my own students who were contemplating yoga teacher training, and it grew from there. Teaching as a householder has its own complexities, which those who are single – and especially single and (ostensibly) celibate males – don’t have to contend with. So, I also wanted to share something of how my personal challenges affected my teaching in different ways. Initially, I wanted to include stories from many different yoga teachers but as I only got a very small number of responses, I kept it mainly about my own experiences.
Sitting down and writing is unhealthy as is any desk job. What is your advice to writers who spend long hours cramped on their swivel chairs?
Sitting down to write is indeed a really unhealthy thing to do over so many hours and So. Many. Days. I have never been as sedentary as when I was writing a book on teaching yoga!
My best advice to writers is to get a dog or borrow one. My dog got me out of the house several times every day so I could be active, connect with (urban) nature, and breathe fresh-ish air instead of sitting at my computer all day. I also invested in a modular standing desk: it’s simply an adjustable metal frame to support your laptop, so you can stand or kneel and change position regularly. I find I think differently when I’m standing, so it was also helpful during the reviewing and re-writing stages.

Unless I was really on a roll and deeply focused on what I was writing, I took lots of breaks to stretch and make tea (so much tea!). This supports better breathing and stimulates creativity as well. Here’s a good (quick) exercise for correcting writer’s slouch: Stand up (or sit on the edge of the chair if you can’t stand up for any reason), clasp each of your wrists with the opposite hand and raise the clasped arms up to head height. Press the back of the hand (near the wrist) that is closest to your head into your forehead while tucking in the chin and lifting the crown of the head. Gently squeeze the elbows back and the shoulder blades towards one another while lifting the sternum (the heart center), and try not to arch the lower back. Breathe and smile while doing this – don’t struggle with it. After 10-15 seconds you can release the arms and feel how your posture and breathe have improved.

What has been your favorite moment as a yoga teacher?

It’s impossible to identify one single moment, but I always love those times when I can see a student has truly understood something profound about themselves, their bodies and their relationship to both.

You have talked about how difficult it is to teach yoga in times like these when yoga has been severely commercialized. If there is one piece of advice you want to give practitioners and teachers out there, what would it be?

It makes me happy when people who have practiced or taught yoga for years tell me that they have learned something new from the book, or that it made them reflect more deeply on their own approach to yoga. My aim is to sharpen the discernment (viveka) of the reader so – at the very least – they know why they practice or teach what they do. A good student of yoga will keep a beginner’s mind and a healthy skepticism of what they are being taught until they can know it for themselves – take nothing at face value, especially highly mystical notions or anything that takes your individual power away. Yoga is such a powerful tool for transformation, but if we ignore the ultimate purpose – liberation from the bondage of the mind – we can become more deeply embedded in our samskaras, all the while thinking we are doing something quite spiritually elevated when, in reality, we’re doing nothing more than what circus acrobats do!

Tell us about your journey with self-publishing.

What a learning curve! I decided to self-publish because I am basically impatient, and didn’t want to 1) hunt down and wait around for a publisher to decide whether and when they wanted to publish my book and 2) let them keep the rights to my work! A friend of mine wrote a book which she submitted to her publisher in April 2018, and it is scheduled for release in the summer of 2019! Why make readers wait so long?! I really appreciated being on my own publishing schedule and as such, I was also able to choose the best dates for publishing according to the most supportive astrological transits (I am also an astrologer). I can make corrections to mistakes found after publishing as soon as they are discovered, and have so far made three changes in the three or four months since the book was released. This allows me to offer the reader the best possible quality product without having to wait to issue a new edition of the book.
I was on a tight budget so I asked friends and colleagues to read parts of the book instead of finding an editor. As a result, I had to do a lot of work on the various drafts apart from the basic writing. The structure of the book emerged after almost a year of writing it in bits and pieces – there’s a moment when things just seem to come together. I had a clear idea of what I wanted for the cover so I went to Fiverr to find the technical support. After one truly awful version, I found a woman who got it right on the first try and it was reasonable, including re-formatting for the Indian edition.
I also had to find technical support on Fiverr to help me with pagination and getting the headers right. I spent many anxious hours sorting that out after the book was ready to go, but the delay and the need to reformat the book also provided an opportunity to find more mistakes to fix before publishing!
Your favorite asana?
It’s a toss-up between Padmāsana (lotus pose) and Sukhāsana (posture of ease), both of which help me find the grounding and stability I need in my practice. I sit in these āsanas for prānāyāma, meditation, and mantra practice.

 

Your favorite book on yoga/any other subject?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this question because I have read so many influential books over the years and it was hard to narrow it down. At the risk of pandering to the audience, I have settled on the Bhagavad Gīta. It has such a universal and timeless appeal, plus a real beauty in the rich story behind the message, and – most importantly – life-changing lessons which we can all benefit from contemplating regularly.
What’s your next project/book that we can look forward to?
I am converting my course called ‘Align with Purpose’ into a book format – it’s part theory and part workbook. The course combines everything I have learned over 30 years of self-development, teaching, and helping others. It includes Yogic and Buddhist philosophy, Āyurveda and Astrology to help people discover their own strengths and weaknesses in 12 areas of life and – hopefully – their higher purpose in this lifetime. Many people consider a job or work should be their higher purpose, and although for some it might be, I want to show people that how they are in everything they do is contributing to their purpose. I hope to complete it in late 2020.
Jai Guru Dev!
Thank you Susan for your extremely informative responses! Was a pleasure talking to you. Wish you all luck for future projects!

August 28, 2019
by Neelima
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That’s the Word For it: Garniture

Garniture is a fancy word for accessory and deals with embellishments and decoration. In vogue from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, a garniture is a collection (usually odd-numbered) of matching, unidentical, decorative objects displayed together usually on the mantel shelf of a chimneypiece. Usually, these are made of metal, ormolu, with gilded wood stands, porcelain, etc

It’s where the word garnish comes from as well.

This is an archaic word and seldom found in literature:

“She was made to sparkle, to be bright with outside garniture, — to shine and glitter, and be rich in apparel. The only doubt might be whether paste diamonds might not better suit her character.”
― Anthony Trollope, Complete Works of Anthony Trollope

“Above the fireplace: a scene of a cow jumping over the moon, in an elaborate gilt frame. On the mantle below, we see a clock…, flanked by garniture sturdy enough to be a murder weapon out of Agatha Christie.” — Rumaan Alam, Slate, 23 Aug. 2016

 

August 23, 2019
by Neelima
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Visual Friday: Writers of India – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

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August 21, 2019
by Neelima
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That’s the Word For it: Fecundity

Fecundity has to do with fertility not just literally but in a figurative sense as well. So it could refer to a lush valley and equally so to the rich vocabulary in a story. Biologically speaking, fecundity refers to the potential of having offspring as opposed to fertility which refers to having offspring itself.

Some instances of the word in literature:

“Along with the mystical wonderment and sense of ecological responsibility that comes with the recognition of connectedness, more disturbing images come to mind. When applied to economics, connectedness seems to take the form of chain stores, multinational corporations, and international trade treaties which wipe out local enterprise and indigenous culture. When I think of it in the realm of religion, I envision smug missionaries who have done such a good job of convincing native people everywhere that their World-Maker is the same as God, and by this shoddy sleight of hand have been steadily impoverishing the world of the great fecundity and complex localism of belief systems that capture truths outside the Western canon. And I wonder—if everything’s connected, does that mean that everything can be manipulated and controlled centrally by those who know how to pull strings at strategic places?”
― Malcolm Margolin

“Mrs Ramsay, who had been sitting loosely, folding her son in her arm, braced herself, and, half turning, seemed to raise herself with an effort, and at once to pour erect into the air a rain of energy, a column of spray, looking at the same time animated and alive as if all her energies were being fused into force, burning and illuminating (quietly though she sat, taking up her stocking again), and into this delicious fecundity, this fountain and spray of life, the fatal sterility of the male plunged itself, like a beak of brass, barren and bare. He wanted sympathy. He was a failure, he said. Mrs Ramsay flashed her needles. Mr Ramsay repeated, never taking his eyes from her face, that he was a failure. She blew the words back at him. “Charles Tansley… ” she said. But he must have more than that. It was sympathy he wanted, to be assured of his genius, first of all, and then to be taken within the circle of life, warmed and soothed, to have his senses restored to him, his barrenness made furtile, and all the rooms of the house made full of life—the drawing-room; behind the drawing-room the kitchen; above the kitchen the bedrooms; and beyond them the nurseries; they must be furnished, they must be filled with life.”
― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

August 14, 2019
by Neelima
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That’s the Word For it: Profluent

This word has Middle English and Latin roots and has to do with flow. You could use the word to describe music or a piece of writing. Here’s an example of how the word can be used.

“A few years later, when I learned that Jayne Anne founded the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark, I had to apply. She was the program’s director, and also taught fiction workshops. I loved being in her classes. We read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Fat City by Leonard Gardner, and she showed us the songs of their lines. Lines was the word she used to describe sentences. No matter their construction, sentences were to be linear and profluent. Subject, verb, object.”- Nick Ripatrazone, Is Line Editing a Lost Art?