Audiobooks: The Shining Prospect in the Publishing Industry

More and more readers are beginning to feel that they are doing justice to a book by listening to it. After all, in India, story has always been more of an oral tradition than a written one.

Even at our BYOB Parties, we had several readers speak about the audiobooks they had listened to including Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; Let Your Mind Run: Thinking Your Way to Victory by Deena Kastor, Olympian runner;  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; and poetry books as poetry is best listened to.

On that note, we attended the extremely informative workshop ‘Creating an AudioBook Future’ hosted by BEAT Technology in partnership with All About Book Publishing.

The event that was held on Aug 3 included Q&A with experts about creating an audiobook strategy, including curating a list, selecting narrators, studio recordings and marketing.

Some Takeaways From the Session:
  • Audiobooks are gaining popularity and many publishers are warming up to this model of infusing fiction and non-fiction with radio drama and digital technology. One indication that the audiobook trend is here to stay is that some books are being released exclusively in this format.
  • While the world over, it is fiction that makes the cut, in India, audiobooks seem to thrive the most in the self-help, financial and wellness segments.
  • In India, commute time to work is the highest in the world and so this is the perfect time to plug into a device and listen to a book. This is a huge opportunity for audiobook publishers.
  • Audiobook production is nothing like the making of a paperback or an eBook. The yardsticks are very different- audiobooks are very expensive to create, requiring high-quality narration plus no scope for automation. Yet publishers are diving in and trying to zero in on more optimal publishing and distribution models

What audiobooks have you been listening to recently?

Webinar on Author Branding: Masterclass with Sangram Surve

The German Book Office featured a webinar on author branding with Sangram Surve last week. Surve kickstarted his informative session with a famous quote by Jack Welch:

“Control your destiny or someone else will.”

Some Author Branding Lessons from the session

  • Understand that whether you have a traditional publisher or you are the publisher, books do not get the kind of production budget that movies and music get, so the onus of investment is on the publisher or you.
  • You can be writing a genre or for a particular target audience, but the author brand is key.
  • Make your digital presence felt.
  • Find unconventional ways to promote the book. Always look for the next big idea and it is always in the book you have written.
  • See if your marketing idea is shareable and if collaboration can further your brand.
  • Plan to market the book at least two months in advance.
  • Create a detailed content plan. If your book is a fiction, you can decide to introduce your main characters, feature illustrations if any and feature your book trailer.
  • Once the marketing is done and preorders come rolling in, decide on an impressive launch. In times like these, a digital launch is also a good idea.

So if you’ve written a book, the journey has just begun!

Some Indian Magazines/Portals Where you can Submit Fiction and Non-fiction

There are a few places in India where you could consider submitting your fiction and non-fiction pieces. In this post, we explore a few of them; so get submitting!

hilarious kermit the frog GIF

eFiction India

eFiction India focuses on content that is linked to the Indian subcontinent in some way and publishes international writers as well. It is available online and in print.

Terms: Simultaneous submissions are acceptable but each submission should be sent separately through the submission manager.

Rights: One-month exclusivity for your story as well as first publishing rights for unpublished stories.

Payment: None.

Pros: You can submit not just short stories and poetry but also book reviews, interviews, flash fiction and non-fiction. Full-length plays and screenplays, complete with camera/stage directions, are also accepted.


Out of Print Magazine

The Out of Print Magazine is exclusively devoted to short stories and is published online every quarter (March, June, September, December).

Terms: Submitted work must not be published elsewhere. Stories should be between 1000 and 4000 words. Check these guidelines before submitting.

Rights: Copyright remains with the author.

Payment: None.

Pros: A good editorial team featuring many prominent names in the publishing industry.

Submission: Cut and paste the story into the body of an email and send to The subject line should contain the word ‘submission’ only.


Mithila Review is an international quarterly journal on the lookout for literary speculative fiction and poetry with emphasis on the marginal.

Terms: Use New Roman with Font Size 12. doc. And docx formats are accepted.

Rights: First world electronic rights (text), and non-exclusive audio and anthology rights for the planned annual anthology.

Payment: They pay for fiction in their upcoming anthology. If/when Patreon funds permit, $10 for original poetry, essays, flash stories (under 2.5K words), and reprints; $50 for original stories between 4-8K words or longer.

Pros: A good opportunity for speculative fiction writers.

Submission:  As part of a fundraising campaign, MITHILA REVIEW is seeking short stories and comics for ‘India 2049: Utopias and Dystopias’ from around the world. Read the guidelines.

MITHILA REVIEW is also open to poetry, fiction, and film and book reviews. Send one story, essay, film or book review or up to three poems in a single document at a time to submissions[@]

Response time is 2-8 weeks.

Open Road Review

Open Road Review publishes short fiction, including translations, creative nonfiction, poetry, interviews and artwork. Stories with an element of horror, science fiction or stories for children are not encouraged.

Terms:  Different genres are to be sent to separate emails provided in the guidelines. Any inflammatory content will be rejected.

Rights: Rights revert to the author upon publication. Open Road Review holds the right to include the works published on its website in future anthologies.

Payment: Rs 1000 for selected stories.

Pros: Multiple genres are considered.

Submission: Make sure that you go through the guidelines as depending on the kind of writing you are submitting (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art), you will need to send the attachment and in the body of the email to the respective editor.

Are there any Indian magazines that you would like to recommend here?


Disclaimer:  The above-mentioned information should not be treated as recommendations, but only information. The reader should go through the guidelines carefully before submitting.

5 Types of Books you can Self-Publish Apart from Fiction and Poetry

Despite the stereotypical image, a writer of books is not always a recluse or an eccentric person. Books give expression to many different kinds of talents and purposes.

Here are five types of books beyond fiction and poetry that people have been writing and self-publishing on


Exam Preparation Books

‘Competitive exams’ is a phrase Indians of all ages and regions are familiar with. If you are a teacher or a professional in the relevant field, you can write a book to help people with these competitive exams. We have seen books related to engineering, medicine or design entrance exams, CA/CS preparations, civil services exams and everything else you can think of. Solved question papers of previous years and interview preparation books are some attractive sub-genres.



Professional Books

Whether you are a software engineer working on a niche technology, a manufacturing executive with a lifetime of learning in mechanical products, or a teacher who has figured out how to spark student interest in difficult subjects, you may have a book in you. Write that book to help others in your profession succeed!

Also common are short introductory books to fields that are in the news, but an average person has little information about.



Family Cookbooks

People are more mobile these days and families are often spread not only all around the country but also across the globe. Nothing connects Indian families more than food. So how about creating a family cookbook with your own crazy, unique family’s special recipes that will help youngsters moving out recreate the food magic from back home? You can keep this book private to share only with family members, or let the world have a peek too by making it available for sale.




Translations of Public Domain Books

Are you bilingual? Then you can make a great contribution to your mother tongue if you translated out of copyright books into or from that language. With out of copyright or public domain books you do not have to worry about rights and legal issues. Check out the yearly posts on blog about authors who entered public domain in last few years.




Brand-building Books

Are you a consultant, a freelancer or a corporate trainer? Add a book on your subject of expertise to your professional armory. You can give it out to potential clients and it will help your business and brand.

Of course, all these suggestions don’t mean that fiction and poetry should stop rolling in. The human race has always loved stories and our hearts have always leapt with great poetry.


Bring out the book in you!



Five Mistakes an Indian Self-Publisher/Author Often Makes

15401031_084808915a_z1. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author sometimes picks up images from the internet

Although everyone has access to thousands of images online, most of these images can not be used in your self-published book.  There are two major reasons for this:

  1. Legal Issues: There is a general feeling that any image on the internet is free. This perception is incorrect. Most images are protected by copyright and users could face legal consequences if they use images that are copyrighted and thereby do not have permission to use. Unless specifically mentioned in public domain or under suitable creative commons license, you should assume that the image is copyrighted. Also when you search for images at google you can search using the usage rights option.Read this:


  2. Technical Issues: Most of the images on the net are low-resolution and don’t print well. You need a minimum resolution of 300 DPI for the image to print well, otherwise the resulting image will be pixelated. More about understanding image size and resolution here

    So think twice before you use an image from the internet.


2. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author doesn’t often write in the language s/he is comfortable with

Many writers opt to write in English not because they are well-versed in the language but because it is far more convenient to get copy typed and not worry about font issues. Plus the English language has a wider reach.

Unfortunately, without  fluency in the language you publish the book in, having a wider target audience is pointless. Writing in a language you are not comfortable with means you don’t put your best foot forward. Nowadays books published in regional languages are making a mark, so why hesitate to write in the language that you love?

3. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author doesn’t always think about marketing

Whether it is traditional publishing or self-publishing, marketing is key and this is something the author is responsible for. Just because the book is written, readers won’t come. The writer has to think about building a platform even before the book is written.

4. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author is prone to scams

Instead of focusing on platform building authors end up being taken for a ride and  fall prey to expensive promises.  If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Publishing is the easy part. Getting readers and becoming an author readers are looking to read is difficult. If someone promises to do that for a lot of money, they are probably lying.

5. The Indian Self-Publisher/Author is usually paranoid about manuscript protection

“One setback many writers bring in their own path is their obsession with protecting their manuscript,” says Jaya Jha, co-founder of “If you are just starting out, your problem is obscurity, not theft or piracy. Focus on writing the best book and bringing it to as many people as you can, instead of being paranoid about someone stealing your work. Selling a book is a difficult task. People, in general, aren’t on the lookout for a manuscript to steal.”

Technical Books, Self Publishing and Print-on-Demand

TechnologyJuly 2012 is the Tech Publishing Festival at You might be wondering why this special attention to tech publishing? There is a reason – actually multiple reasons. One of them we will explore in this blog post.

Increasing pace of technology change

As technologists, we live in an exciting world. The rate of evolution of software technologies is breathtaking. There was a time when it would take a new technology, a new programming language years to mature and become usable. Today that time period has come down to months. Consider how long it took Python and Ruby before they became mainstream and came into large-scale usage. Then consider CoffeeScript and Node.js that are already becoming part of many job descriptions. iPhone and Android appeared on the scene 3-4 years ago and the demand for expertise in those platforms is exploding through the roof.

Another aspect of the current technological scenario is the increasingly shortening iteration periods. Most modern browsers are now on monthly release cycles. Ubuntu, a popular Linux variant is on a six month release cycle. What this means is that a significant chunk of technical knowledge and information gets stale very fast. Even blog posts have a hard time keeping up with this. Traditionally published paper books with a publishing cycle of a year or longer don’t stand a chance here.

These two trends are fundamentally changing the tech publishing as well. It is no longer feasible to produce large tomes containing thousands of pages, covering something comprehensively, and expect it to be useful for several years to come. The short cycle of technology change is forcing a short cycle on the publishing as well. This means a move towards eBooks and print-on-demand which reduce the risk of stale inventory and offer much faster time to market.

That’s where the’s model comes into picture. Pick up on a technology on which information and education is needed today and now. Write a book and let us help you bring it to market quickly and professionally. If you haven’t already done so, you should check out the details of the Tech Publishing Festival now.

Happy Writing!


20 (18+2) Writers of Indian interest entering Public Domain this New Year

Every year on 1st of January, works of many authors enter the public domain world over. Public domain consists of works for which copyright has expired and anyone is free to republish, translate, extend and use them in other creative endeavors. Since the copyright laws vary all over the world, this lists varies from country to country.
In India, the copyright extends for 60 years from the date of author’s death. After that all the books published by the author during his lifetime enter the public domain. However it is difficult task to determine precisely which books are now out of copyright since there is no central place to get the required information.
Starting this year, we are making an effort to bridge this gap. Below is a list of 20 Indian authors who died in 1951 and thus their copyrights have expired as of today. We have consulted various sources for compiling this list and have provided links to available books wherever we have found them. If some information reported here is incorrect, please do let us know.
  1. Abanindranath Tagore was the principal artist of the Bengal school and the first major exponent of swadeshi values in Indian art. He was also a noted writer, particularly for children. Popularly known as ‘Aban Thakur’, his books Rajkahini, Budo Angla, Nalak, and Ksheerer Putul are landmarks in Bengali children’s literature.
  2. S. Wajed Ali was a Bengali story writer and nationalist. He wrote novels, short-stories, travelogues and essays. His books include Guldasta, Mashuker Darbar, Bhanga Banshi, Darbesher Doya, Jiboner Shilpo, Bhabishyater Bangalee, Badshahi Galpo and Galper Majlish.
  3. Nirupama Devi  was a Bengali novelist and short story writer. She wrote about a dozen novels including Annapurnar Mandir, Bidhilipi, Shyamali and Didi.
  4. Kalikrishna Bose (Swami Virajananda) was an activist in the Hindu reform movement. Born as the son of Trailokyanath Bose and Nishadkalidevi on 10 June 1873, Virajananda was the first person to join the Ramakrishna Order after the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. In 1897, he was initiated into Sanyasa by Swami Vivekananda. He is the writer of Towards the Goal Supreme, Strive to attain God and The Story of an Epoch. He was the publisher of Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda and The Life of the Swami Vivekananda, by His Eastern and Western Disciples.
  5. Jyoti Prasad Agarwala was a great Assamese playwright, songwriter, poet, writer and film maker from Assam. Jyoti Prasad Agarwala had written around 300 songs, many of which he had set to music himself. His plays include Sonit Kunwori, Karengar Ligiri, Rupalim, Nimati Konya or Rupkonwar, Sonpakhilee, Khanikar, Kanaklata, Sundarknowar and Lobhita. Jyoti Raamaayon and Luitor Paaror Agnixur are his poetry collections.
  6. Kamalananda Bhattacharya was an Assamese actor and playwright. He wrote 4 plays: Nagakowar, Avasan, Chitrangada and Savitri. He was born in Nowgong and was closely associated with Nowgong Dramatics Club.
  7. Homvati Devi was a Hindi short story writer working in Meerut. She has four story collections to her credit. They are titled Dharohar, Swapanbhang, Apna Ghar and Gote Ki Topi. She also wrote two poetry collections, Udgaar and Ardhi.
  8. Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy OM, also popularly known as Sir C.R. Reddy, was an educationist and political thinker, essayist and economist, and poet and literary critic. He wrote his works in Telugu and English, which reveal his deep love and learning of classics as well as modernity of his outlook. Reddy was the foremost educationalist who played a major role in shaping the educational policy in India. He was also the recipient of Knighthood by the British crown in honour of his service to the country. He was the founder of Andhra University and also served as its Vice-Chancellor from 1926 to 1931 and in a further second term from 1936 to 1949. His noted works are Arthashastra and Vijnana Chandrika series.
  9. Varyar Eruvayil Chakrapani was a noted Malayalam scholar. He is famous for writing musicals which were popular at that time. His major works are Ganasamghatitamaya Harishchandra Charitam (Harishchandra’s Story), Sangitasakuntalam (Shakuntala – A Musical Play) , Sangitsamghatitamaya Rugmangadacharitam Bhashanatkam (Rugmangada’s Story) and Madhvisekharam Bhashabhanam (Madhvisekharam – A Bhan in Malayalam)
  10. Sikkim Mahinda, commonly known as S. Mahinda, was a Buddhist monk from the state of Sikkim. He was a poet and author, and participated in the Sri Lankan independence movement. Although he was from Sikkim, he identified himself as a Tibetan, presumably because it was more well known in Ceylon. S. Mahinda arrived in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) at a young age and was ordained as a Buddhist monk. Having learned the Sinhala language, he became a poet, creating several literary works inspiring patriotism among the Ceylonese and urging them to fight for their freedom. He is now considered a national hero of Sri Lanka. He has written over 40 books, most of them poems inspiring patriotism. He also wrote a lot for children. His first book was Ova Muthu Dama. His final book is believed to be Sri Pada. His most famous works include Nidahase Dehena, Nidahase Manthraya, Lanka Matha, Jathika Thotilla, Ada Lak Mawage Puttu, Nidahasa, Videshikayakugen Lak Mawata Namaskarayak and Sinhala Jathiya.
  11. Maulana Hasrat Mohani was a romantic poet of Urdu language, journalist, politician, parliamentarian and a fearless freedom fighter of Indian Sub-continent . His real name was Syed Fazl ul Hasan. He was born in 1875 at Mohan in Unnao district of U.P. India. A few of his books are Kulliyat-e-Hasrat Mohani (Collection of Hasrat Mohani’s poetry), Sharh-e-Kalam-e-Ghalib (Explanation of Ghalib’s poetry), Nukaat-e-Sukhan (Important aspects of poetry), Mushahidaat-e-Zindaan (Observations in Prison), etc. He is the writer of the Ghazal “Chupke Chupke raat din” made popular by Ghulam Ali’s rendition of it. Also, the famous slogan of Indian freedom fighters Inquilab Zindabad was coined by him.
  12. Seemab Akbarabadi, born Aashiq Hussain Siddiqui, was a renowned Urdu poet belonging to the Daagh School. He hailed from Agra where his family had lived for nearly three hundred years. His important works include Naistan, Ilhaam-e-manzoom, Kaar-e-imroz, Kaleem-e-ajam, Dastur-ul-islah, Saaz-o-aahang, Krishna Gita, Aalam Aashool, Sadrah almantaha, Sher-e-inqlaab, Loh-e-mahfooz and Wahi -e – manzoom.
  13. Arzu Lakhnavi Sayyed Anwar Hussain was a poet, dramatist and film writer. He was primarily famous for his ghazals. Some noted collections are Fughan-e-Arzu, Jahan-e-Arzu, Nishan-e-Arzu, Surili Bansri and Mizan-ul-Huruf. He also wrote a highly esteemed grammar of Urdu language called Nizam-i-Urdu. (Taken from The Encyclopedia of Indian Literature by Amresh Dutta)
  14. Abu Said Bazmi
  15. Mian Abdul Aziz
  16. Maulavi Mahesh Prasad
  17. Mirza Mohammad Askari
  18. Tajvar Najibabadi

The work of following two writers would have gone out of copyright if they were published during their life time. But since they were published post-posthumously, we have to wait for 60 years from the date of publication for them to go out of copyright.

  1. Advaita Mallabarmana was a Bengali writer born near the Titas River in the Brahmanbaria District of Bengal. He is famous for his novel Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (English: A River Called Titash) which was published five years after his death.
  2. Bahinabai Chaudhari was a noted Marathi poetess. Though Bahinabai was totally illiterate, she was an accomplished poetess. She verbally composed her poems in ovi (ओवी) metre, and her son Sopandev Chaudhari wrote them down on paper. Her poems in Leva Ganboli language reflected her minute observations of nature and human life around her. They displayed her sense of subtle humor and much wisdom. The poems were published by G. P. Parchure Prakashan Mandir, Mumbai under the title Bahinaichi Gani in 1952.

Here are an assorted set of links we discovered for the books of these authors. Some are available for purchase, some for free download.

  1. Abanindranath Tagore
    1. Bengali Children’s Books at Flipkart
    2. English Translations of Books (Not out of copyright)
  2. Kalikrishna Bose (Swami Virajananda)
    1. Books on Flipkart
    2. Books on Vedanta Press
    3. Downloads on
  3. Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy OM
    1. Downloads on
  4. Maulana Hasrat Mohani
    1. Kulliyat-e-Hasrat Mohani, Selected Poems in English with Translation (himself), Mushahidat-e-Zindaan for download on Hasrat Mohani Trust Website. More information available on the website.
    2. Books on Abebooks
    3. The famous Ghazal, Chupke Chupke Raat Din Aansoon Bahana Yaad Hai
  5. Tajvar Najibabadi
    1. Downloads on

If you have links to any other work of theirs for download or for purchase, please leave a comment. And yes – you are now free to digitize their out of copyright works in India! 🙂

Copyright O’ Copyright! (Part II)

You may want to read the first part on this topic before reading this one: Copyright O’ Copyright (Part I)

In the previous post, we have seen what copyright and copyright law mean to an author. Now let us look at some of the common queries people have in mind.

Should I register a copyright?

As mentioned in the previous post

  • Copyright registration is optional. Copyright comes into existence as soon as the work is penned down. Whether or not copyright has been registered, the protection under copyright law in available.
  • Registration is a prima facie evidence in case of a dispute, but it does not guarantee that the dispute will always be in your favour.

Give the above, there isn’t a strong case for registering copyright. However, if you have either the time for paperwork or the money for an Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer to do the work on your behalf and you absolutely want to do everything in your power to protect your copyright, you can go for registration. If you are doing in yourself, the details are available on Copyright Office’s website. Otherwise you may want to contact a local IP lawyer. Typically you may have to spend upwards of Rs. 10,000 for a lawyer’s services.

Is it necessary to register a copyright before publishing a book?

No. The copyright protection comes into affect as soon as you have penned down the work. Hence, it is not necessary to register a copyright.

Is it necessary to register a copyright before publishing a book on


But wouldn’t it be a proof that the book is indeed mine?

Not really. Copyright office does not go around scouting for whether the work has been written/published by anyone else originally. They only give around 30 days for someone to raise objection and then go ahead with registration process. That is hardly a guarantee that only original work passes the process. In fact, it is probably for the same reason that in a court case, a copyright registration is not a conclusive proof and other proofs can actually take the decision of the court against the registration.

Would the name of my book be protected under copyright?

No, title, sub-title, short phrases would not generally be covered under copyright.

If there is a book already published under a name and I give the same name to my book, would I be violating somebody’s copyright?

In general, the name of the book is not protected by copyright and if you browse through a book store, you will see several books with the same name, especially non-fiction ones. So, just because a book with the same name has been published earlier, does not mean that your book can’t have the name.

But you should keep in mind that the name could be trademarked (especially famous ones) and if that is the case, it should not be used without proper permissions.

Also, you should avoid using the names of famous books. Because it not only about copyrights or trademarks all the time. Other laws also have to be taken in to account. If you use a very famous name or refer to a very famous name somehow, the originator of that name may sue you for trying to mislead people. Copyright may or may not have been violated, but consumer protection laws may come in to play!

So, the safe thing to do is not to bother too much about the name being used earlier, but definitely stand clear off the famous ones.

Somebody told me I should not use content from Internet. It will be a violation of copyright. Why? Aren’t they in public domain?

No. Public availability of content does not mean it is in public domain. Unless some content is clearly declared to be in public domain, you should assume that you can not use it without permission. A lot of content is available on the Internet, where the copyright and licensing information may not be available. In such cases, make it a point to get proper permission from the content owner to reproduce the content or use it in other ways. If you can’t get the permission, do not use it.

I have used images from the Internet in my book. Is that a problem?

Most likely it IS a problem. Like with written content, just because images are available publicly, it does not mean that they can be used freely by anyone. You must check the licensing information or get explicit permission from the owner before using images from Internet.

I have an ISBN for my book? Does it mean my copyright is protected?

This is a surprisingly common confusion people have. So, to clarify, ISBN has nothing to do with copyright. ISBN is only a cataloging system for books and it makes no statement whatsoever about copyright. Your literary work is protected by copyright laws irrespective of whether or not your book has an ISBN. If you want to register a copyright, you can do so, but getting an ISBN is not equivalent to registering a copyright.

Where do I read more about the copyright and related laws in India?

Copyright office has a fairly comprehensive website. While reading through the laws and rules might be infeasible for normal mortals (read non-lawyers), the handbook of copyright law explains things in a language that can be followed even by the novices.

Copyright O’ Copyright! (Part I)

I consider myself fairly good with spotting patterns and categorizing things. But the number of angles from which people can get confused about the copyrights confounds me. In general, it is not possible to give a quick, short, satisfying answer to copyright related queries. Because this is after all a legal issue and “if”s and “but”s are endless before you can make any statement.

So, if you have a query about copyright, I request you to read this blog post (and others to come on this) first, even if it is slightly longish and even if it does not come to the point you have in mind immediately. Because most likely, your point has to come through several “if”s and “but”s!

Since we are touching on a legal topic – a big and important disclaimer. This article is not written by a qualified legal expert. This is just our understanding of the copyright issues and should not be taken as a legal advice. If copyright questions are really worrying you, you should consult an Intellectual Property lawyer. Also, all the circumstances, examples, cases used in the article are completely hypothetical – and work of imagination. They may or may not stand a proper legal scrutiny. They are mentioned just to illustrate the idea and are not supposed to be actual legal cases.

So now, on to the real stuff.

A big nuance of law in general

Before we start on the copyright relates issues, there is something about law in general that we need to understand. There are always two aspects of law. One aspect talks about what should happen. The other governs, how do you go about enforcing that law. For simplicity let’s call them the theoretical and practical aspects of the law.And “theoretical” and “practical” should not be taken in the sense that “theoretical” is just that – the theory and “practical” is the main thing. No! Its just a nomenclature and does not carry any such loaded meaning.

  • Theoretical aspect will talk about what should happen. If X has murdered Y under ABC circumstances, then X should be punished with a life imprisonment. That’s what the theoretical law says.
  • Practical aspect is concerned with ascertaining what actually happened and which part of theoretical law is applicable. Did Y get murdered or did Y commit suicide? If it was indeed a murder, was it X who did it. If so, was X provoked in any way or did X do it for self defense and so on… How will these things be ascertained? Based on evidences. So, the law will say that a postmortem report from a government hospital can be an evidence to ascertain what was the cause of death and whether it is more likely to be a murder or a suicide. The law can say that the weapon of death being found in X’s house is not an evidence enough for claiming that X is the murderer and so on.

So, given the practical aspects of the law, whether or not the theoretical aspect gets observed in the end can never be predicted in advance. If in reality X was murdered under ABC circumstances, then he should have gotten life imprisonment. But with all the evidences and other nittigritties related to ascertaining the situation, it is a possibility that X gets away free because the circumstances could not be ascertained definitely. There is also a chance that X was not really guilty, but evidences got framed up in a way that he was punished.

Depressing as it may sound, it is a reality. The law is after all a human system and can not be fool-proof. (However, to practically compensate for that, most modern laws – specially criminal laws – follow the principle of letting the accused go if there is even the slightest doubt about the crime. Let go of a thousand guilty people to save even one innocent person).

The outcome of civil and business related legal conflicts are usually less fatal to individuals (we are normally not talking about murders and violence here). But the theoretical and practical aspects of the law are still there. So, the theoretical law may say that if company X has violated the patent of company Y, then they should compensate for the losses incurred and immediately pull their product out from the market. But the practical law has to go through the exercise of ascertaining a bunch of things here. Did Y have that patent? Has the patent really been violated? If so, how do we calculate the losses incurred (different parties would definitely have different calculations!)? What would pulling the product out mean? Can company X provide support to their existing customers and charge for it? Or would the customer also have to suffer? And so on…

Apart from unpredictability caused by the practical aspect of the law, there might be issues in the theoretical aspect of the law too. There may be laws that contradict with each other (legal systems are vast, complicated human systems, after all). Law may be vague about certain definitions. Certain concepts may just elude strict definitions and law has to depend on its interpreter to take a call on those. So, unpredictability reins all through!

The same nuance for copyright law

Similar situation exists for the copyright law as well. Law says certain things about what is copyright, in what circumstances is it violated, what is the punishment for violating the copyright and so on.

But if there is a practical conflict, the outcome can not predicted because the process of ascertaining the claims is not predictable. Just like in the murder case example taken earlier, someone might actually have violated the copyright and may still get away with it because the court could not ascertain whether or not the copyright belonged to the other person in the first place!

We should look at the remaining discussion, keeping the above in mind.

But let’s not be overly pessimistic. While the outcome is not quite predictable in case of an actual conflict, it does not mean that totally arbitrary things can happen to us. If we understand the important aspects of the law correctly, and follow some good practices, we should be fairly safe on copyright grounds.

The theoretical part of the copyright law

  • Copyright in actually a bundle of rights given to the creator of creative work – normally the works of literature, art, drama, music etc. The bundle of rights include things like right of reproduction, right of adaptation, right of translation etc. Given’s business, we will restrict our discussions to the copyright of literary works (computer code is also treated as literary work for the purpose of copyright, but we’d not include that in our discussions).
  • The copyright law grants certain protection to the owner of copyright. Typically for literary work, it means that all the rights from the bundle can not be exercised by anyone other than the copyright owner, unless there is an explicit permission or a right transfer has happened.
  • There is a provision for registering the copyright. However, it is not necessary to register the copyright to claim protection under it. Copyright and protection under copyright law comes into existence as soon as the work is penned down. Registration is optional. Registration serves as prima facie evidence, if there is a dispute in court. This means that it can be basis to file the case, but it does not mean conclusively that the case will be decided in favour of the person having registration. The other party can present other proofs, which can put the case in their favour.
  • In Indian copyright law, the copyright protection for literary work is available for up to 60-year period counted from the year following the death of the author. If the publication is done anonymously or with a pseudonym, the protection is available for 60 years from the date of publication.
  • Copyright mostly works like any other property you own. You can assign a copyright to someone else in a lifetime, you can assign it to someone starting from a future date (like after your death). If there is no explicit assignment, then like any other property, the copyright passes on to your legal heir after your death.
  • You can assign individual rights from the bundle of rights copyright law protects to other people/organizations while keeping the remaining with you. So for an English work of yours, you can give Spanish translation rights to one company, Hindi translation rights to a relative of yours and movie adaptation rights to a bollywood producer. The remaining rights will still remain with you. None of these assignments will entitle them to print and sell the copies of your original work.

Practical Parts to remember

  • Recall the theoretical and practical aspects of the law and apply it here. The law grants the protection, but that does not mean that someone who wants to, will not be able to violate your copyright. They may violate it and you have to keep track of them and take the legal recourse, if they don’t agree to stop the violation. Once the case starts, you will have to go through the process of proving that the copyright was yours and it was violated. You will have to produce evidence to this effect and so on. The outcome is not completely predictable.
  • The law does not say that any government body will actively monitor copyright violation irrespective of whether or not you have registered the copyright. That is something you will have to do on your own. There is no copyright police anywhere to actively monitor and stop illegal copyright violations!

In the next blog post on copyrights, we’d get into some of the practical things a self publishing author should look for while dealing with copyright issues.

Publishers are not evil!

Pitching with wrong logic can be fatal to a new idea. More dangerous than the possibility of it being ignored. An ignored idea can be rekindled, but an idea that dies due to wrong positioning might be gone for good (or for quite a long time).

Self Publishing faces the same fatal danger when it is pitched as a way of getting back at the “evil” publishers who won’t publish newcomers.

Let’s get this straight. There is nothing inherently evil with traditional publishers. Thinking about the business they are in with some common sense at hand should make it obvious. But, intentionally or unintentionally, many people skip this step before pronouncing their ultimate judgment on the publishers.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that make the publishers evil

  • Because they ignore new writers
  • Because they don’t even bother to tell you whether they are looking at your manuscript or not
  • Because they make writers change their manuscripts heavily before publishing
  • Because they are morons to have rejected the manuscript of XYZ book several times, which later went on to become a best-seller. They just don’t know their job.

And now let’s look at the ground reality under which publishers operate

  • Supply of authors has increased and is constantly accelerating. As the literacy, dissemination of knowledge and the general awareness increases, the number of people who have a book in them is shooting up like crazy. Number of buyers is also increasing, but definitely not in the same proportion. More and more people are educated now. More aware too. Ability to write a book is not limited to a very few. It means that publishers are dealing with an increasingly higher number of manuscripts every day. While a lot of them would be promising, a much greater number of those would be crap. There just does not exist a practical way for them to do justice to all the manuscripts received. If they ignore you or if they don’t respond to you, its not because of some great conspiracy against you. Even with best of the intentions, they just don’t have a way to do it right for all!
  • Unless you are talking about a non-profit running on donations, publishers have to run a business that pays for itself and more. Even if a publisher stands for a certain ideology and promotes certain kinds of content, they have to make money out of it to sustain. What this means is that they have to take steps to ensure that a particular book will sell enough because they are investing a lot in preparing, printing and marketing the book. They can not run with author’s whims and fancies. They may not always be correct, but nobody ever is. All they can do is to do their best, like anyone in business will do. No computer program can reliably predict whether a book will be a success or not. Publishers can only go by their understanding which comes from the experience they have accumulated over time. If this means editorial interference in your work, then it has to be done. There is no point being egoistic about it. If someone is investing money in your work, he gets that much of right on it. And an editor may have to reject your manuscript even if as a serious reader she likes it, if she feels that it won’t be a good investment. This has to be understood. Running a business is not evil, nor is taking the business decisions.
  • Nobody can make perfect decisions. Publishers also fail. Yes – they have rejected manuscripts which have gone on to become the best-sellers of all times. Yes – many legendary writers have suffered in their initial days or even their entire life times due lack of recognition. But you know what! The same thing happens in any other business too. All the established Internet players refused to buy the technology that created the company called Google! Whatever is the industry you are familiar with, it won’t be too hard to find similar examples. Point is that any business tries to take best decisions. But there is no fool-proof way of doing that. They go by their business data, intuition and experience. These things may mislead, but that’s how it is. It does not make them evil. Its not that if a different set of people were running the publishing industry, they would not have had the misses. It may have been a different set of hits and misses with a different set of people. But there would always be both! Nothing evil behind it.

Why, you may wonder, would the blog of a company providing self publishing platform be talking so sympathetically about the traditional publishers? There are no hidden evil motives behind it 🙂 There is a very good reason why we want our users to be aware of the reality of the industry.

Self publishing, in an open way at least, is a new concept. And as mentioned earlier, if pitched wrongly it would die a premature death and be gone for good. Self publishing is not here because traditional publishing is evil. No absolutely not. That’s why we have taken the pains to clarify that there is nothing evil about traditional publishing.

Self Publishing is here because there are publishing needs beyond what traditional publishing in meant to fulfill. In our post ‘What is self publishing‘ we have mentioned some of the circumstances where self publishing works very well and the heavy-weight, investment-intensive traditional publishing won’t work. We will talk more about it in this blog in coming days. With this post, all we wanted to convey was that self-publishing as opposed to “evil” traditional publishers is not the right way to look at things.