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

May 9, 2018
by Neelima

Interview: Gurbir Singh

We spoke to non-fiction writer Gurbir Singh.

Gurbir Singh is a UK-based space writer. He works full time in the IT sector as Senior Cyber Security Consultant for a large IT company. He studied science and computing and holds a science and an arts degree. Once keen on aviation, he has a private pilot’s licence for the UK, USA and Australia. He was one of 13,000 unsuccessful applicants responding to the 1989 advert for the first British astronaut in the UK– “Astronaut wanted. No experience necessary”. Helen Sharman was eventually selected and flew on the Soviet space station MIR in 1991.

He is also the publisher of, a not-for-profit astronomy and space podcast established in 2008. In 2011, he published his first book, Yuri Gagarin in London and Manchester. The book traces the visit of the world’s first spaceman’s visit to England with first-hand accounts from the people who saw and met him. His second book, The Indian Space Programme, published in October 2017, is an account of the origin of India’s space programme, its current capabilities, and achievements and future ambitions. Born in India, he has been living in the UK since 1966, with the exception of one year in Australia.


Your bio is interesting….you explain that you were one of 13,000 unsuccessful applicants to a 1989 advert for an inexperienced astronaut. What is it about outer space that interests you?

Genuine interest in space and astronomy is nothing unique to me. I think a very large majority, if not all of us, have such an interest during childhood. I just never lost it. I was too young to understand the Apollo missions that took men to the moon but perhaps just the right age to be inspired by them. Later as a teenager, I spent many nights observing planets and deep sky objects through my telescope. My curiosity was never fully satisfied. The advert arrived just after I had graduated. In addition to a computing degree, I had some experience in aviation and foreign languages. I seemed to tick all the boxes for a potential applicant. There was a long list and a shortlist. I made neither!

The Indian Space Programme is a heavily researched book. Could you tell us about your writing process? It would help aspiring non-fiction writers when they write their books. Tell us how much time you spend on researching before you write, how you source pictures and conduct interviews (if any) and where you source your research material from.

I live in the UK, so much of my research was conducted via telephone, Skype and email. India’s early space programme relied heavily on international collaboration. I made contact with key individuals in US, France as well as India. I made three research trips to India, each about two weeks in duration. I visited Sikkim, Srirangapatna, Kolkata, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Coonoor, Chennai, Sriharikota and, of course, Bangalore. For my research, I used the archives at the IISc in Bangalore, the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, Sikkim State Archives in Gangtok. In addition to material from archives, I was able to secure photos and notes from the personal collections of my interviewees for the book. I interviewed Rakesh Sharma (India’s first astronaut), directors of several ISRO centers and a former ISRO chairman. The face to face meetings I had with the individuals who had first-hand experience of working on the projects I was researching were the most rewarding. Many of these interviews are available online via my blog and my YouTube channel.


Why is so little known about the Indian Space Programme? Did you decide to write the book when you realized this?

Yes. In fact, it was the absence of such information that motivated me to write this book. If a similar book had existed, I would not have embarked on this project. The reason so little is written about the Indian Space Programme is not clear. One is that ISRO themselves do not have a large, effective, fully funded outreach programme. NASA, ESA and other agencies understand the importance and power of modern social media and have developed a sophisticated public engagement programme. ISRO established its Facebook and Twitter account in 2013 after the launch of the Mars mission but the online activity is minimal.

Why did you opt for self-publishing through Tell us how your experience has been.

I had an offer of a contract from a publisher but two issues prevented progress. One was that the publisher (US-based) would not agree to keep the price of the book low in India. Also, I felt embarrassed because I kept failing to meet deadlines for completion, so I never signed the contract. To get the end product as I wanted it took six years. In retrospect, had I signed a contract, I would have probably published earlier but it would not have been the book I intended it to be. Self-publishing offered me the editorial freedom to produce the final product as I wanted it. is an integral part of the story behind this book. With a reliable POD service in India, I was able to meet another key objective, through, to allow readers in India a cost-effective access to this book.

Tell us about your website

It is a website I set up in 2008, initially for blogging and then podcasting. I have just relaunched the podcast after a pause. Podcasting is a fabulous way to make contact and have a shared learning experience. I have been fortunate to meet several astronauts who have been to the moon and engineers and scientists who have designed built and operated spacecrafts. Many of the interviews I recorded during my visits to the ISRO center in India are available online. There are 73 episodes now with another two scheduled.

Cloud computing and astronomy how do these worlds collide?

My day job is associated with information security. I write part-time (another reason it takes so long). Today the security concerns around cloud computing have largely been replaced by a more generic term Cybersecurity – which is now part of my job title. Most of us use cloud-based services without even knowing about it. Online threats to our personal data, online systems used by government institutions, industry and personal devices (phones, tablets, Alexa, even the smart systems built-in to cars) are at risk of attack by someone we have never met who most likely lives in another country. Cybersecurity and astronomy collide only in my diary.

Any future projects you would like to tell your readers about?

I have an idea for another book but it is a much smaller project. beyond that – no plans as yet. I have relaunched my podcast, after the publication of this book. I have received several invitations to speak and write. I have been surprised and delighted by the reviews.


February 6, 2018
by Neelima

Interview: SWMRT (creators of Trashonomics)

We talked to the creators of Trashonomics, a best-selling book at

Tell us about Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT).

Solid Waste Management Round Table, Bengaluru (SWMRT) is a voluntary group of individuals, who bring their expertise as SWM practitioners, waste management solution and service providers, representatives of waste-pickers and waste workers, and individual activists, who are collectively working towards the cause of sustainable decentralized waste management in Bangalore since 2009.

How did the idea of Trashonomics come about?

Children are the best changemakers and the Trashnomics school programme aims to empower them to lead the change. It will transform the way they look at trash and help create a new paradigm.

We had initially done a recce of all books related to waste management, including those in the school curriculum. We realized that none of them gave the true picture of the situation we are in vis a vis waste management, beyond brushing over the basics at a macro level.

Tell us a little about the mascot crow in the book?

The crow is a bird that is well known in the Indian context. Being a scavenger bird it is known to keep the surroundings clean.
It supposedly has demonstrated some intelligent characteristics which we saw through some viral videos 🙂 Hence, ‘Kaagey’ the crow!

Are you optimistic that waste management will become more effective in the future? Or to rephrase that do you think children in India can lead the way forward when it comes to caring for the environment?

Yes, we do have high hopes for the new generation as we aim to not only teach waste management but change the mindset. Unfortunately, our generation never thought about garbage as a problem until our landfills started overflowing. We hope that the future generation is more sensitive to the environment and good practices of SWM is inculcated as a habit. Also, we hope that these core topics of waste management addressed in Trashonomics, become part of the state and national curriculum.

You also run workshops. Tell us about the activities there.

The Trashonomics workshop is conducted in three sessions for groups of not more than 50 students in a classroom setting. We chose to conduct it for a smaller audience at the time since we wanted the sessions to be interactive. Also, the students perform practical hands-on activities to help assimilate the subject better. Through these students, we hope to spread the message of responsible waste management.

The book has been translated into multiple languages as well. This is great as the book has more reach across states in India. You could talk about the translation process.

The book is currently available in English, Kannada and Hindi. For Kannada, we hired a professional translator and Hindi was translated by a volunteer. Once translation was complete, we had several volunteers check the content and finally we had the book re-illustrated.

Your experience with self-publishing?

We are very happy with self-publishing since a lot of logistics are under our control. Also, we were able to keep the cost of the book low which was our primary concern and we are pleased that was able to help us with this.

A quick waste management tip?

What is not generated doesn’t need to be managed so our #1 tip is to reduce waste as much as possible. Also, look at your waste as a valuable resource that should reach the correct destination for processing.

The next project you are working on.

Specifically for Trashonomics, we are looking to translate it into many more languages, train more volunteers to conduct sessions and start a student program that can recognize their contribution to sustainability. Our ultimate aim is to include sustainable solid waste management as part of the school syllabus for middle school.

January 24, 2018
by Neelima

India Public Domain 2018: 17 Indian authors whose works entered public domain in 2018

We have a tradition at Over the years  (2012,20132014, 20152016, 2017), we have compiled a list of Indian authors whose work has entered public domain at the beginning of this year. The criteria for this year’s names is that the author died in the calendar year 1957 and the work was published before his death. In case the work was published after the author’s death, it will only come out of copyright after 60 years from the date of publication.

We have collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia and other online sources, some which we will be linking here. The information provided is not foolproof, so if you notice any errors or are aware of other writers who died in 1957 and whose names have not been mentioned here, please let us know.

When an author enters public domain, it means that most of his works are now free to be republished, translated, and converted to different formats. This way the long-gone author breathes life again and gains new readership. Help us in our quest to conserve our rich literary culture.

Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957)

This distinguished Punjabi poet is considered as the orchestrator of the Sikh literary Renaissance. He dabbled with lyrics when he was young and went on to invest his energies in pamphleteering. His work is a treatise on renunciation, piety and sacrifice. Rana Surat Singh is a famous poem he composed. Vir Singh played an important part in the renewal of Punjabi literary tradition by merging it with ideas he picked up from English. Some of his major creative works such as Sri Guru Nanak Chamatkar and Sri Guru Kalgidhar Chamatkar were originally serialized. He was an exponent of the romance and philosophy; some of his books are SundariBijay SinghSatwant KaurSubhagji da Sudhar Hathin Baba Naudh Singh. He also dabbled in shorter poems and lyrics. He was honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1955 and the Padma Bhushan Award in 1956. More about this prolific writer and creator of The Punjab & Sind Bank here.

Aleixo Clemente Messias Gomes (1873-1957)

Better known as Prof. Messias Gomes, this secondary school teacher, writer and Goan journalist was the author of several works on historical themes and co-founder of the daily O Heraldo, the first daily to be published in Portuguese India. More here.

Brajendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury  (1874-1957)

This Zamindar was a patron of the Indian national education movement and was also a renowned classical music maestro who hailed from Gouripur, Bengal. Marxism and the Indian Ideal and Indian Music & Mian Tansen are two books by him.

Jagadish Gupta (1886-1957)

An Indian poet, novelist and short story writer, Jagadish Gupta was one of the major exponents of modern Bengali literature. His style was original and he dealt with realistic and psychological themes. His stories and poems had been published in periodicals like BharatiBijoliUttaraKali-Kalam, Prabasi, Bharatbarsha, Sonar Bangla and Kallol. Some of his other notable works include Asadhu SiddharthaKashyap o Surabhi, BinodiniUdaylekhaMeghabrito AshaniDulaler DolaNishedher PatabhumikayLoghu Guru, etc. In 1954, the Government of India granted him a ‘Distinguished Man of Letters Allowance’. Read this.

S Shripad Mahadev Mate (1886-1957)

Mate was was a Marathi writer, educator and a social reformer from Maharashtra, India. The Dalits dubbed him Mahaar Mate as he worked against caste discrimination. Some of his works include Rasvanthichi Janm KathaSanth-Panth-ThanthUpekshithanche AntarangParasuram Charitra, etc. More details here.

Karmegha Konar (1889-1957)

Also known as Chennaa Pulavar, Konar was a popular Tamil poet and educator. He was the Chairman of the Tamil department at The American College in Madurai.

Narahari Dvarkadas Parikh (1891-1957)

Parikh was a writer, Indian independence activist and social reformer from Gujarat, India. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he was associated with Gandhian institutes throughout his life. He wrote biographies like Mahadevbhainu Purvacharit on Mahadev Desai, Sardar Vallabhbhai Part 1-2 on Vallabhbhai Patel and Shreyarthini Sadhana on Kishorelal Mashruwal. He also edited works of his associates and translated some works. Manav Arthshastra is his work on human economics. His writings on economics education, politics and Gandhian thought include Manav Arthshastra, Samyavad and SarvodayVardha Kelvanino PrayogYantrani and Maryada, etc. Read more about him here.

Venkata Krishna Rao, Bhavaraju (1895- 1957)

He studied law, was the founder-secretary of the Andhra Historical Research Society and edited its journal. He organized the 900th celebration of the coronation of the King Raja Raja Narendra, patron of Telugu’s best adikavi. His publications include History of the Early Dynasties of the Andhradeshas (200-625 AD) and a sequel of this work called History of the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, which was posthumously published by the Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi. He wrote numerous historical monographs in Telugu including Rajaraja NarendraduPrachina Andhranauka JivanamuAndhradeshamuvidesha Yatrikulu. Some of his historically themed stories have been published in the Telugu journals of the time. Read an encyclopedic entry on him here.

Nanduri Venkata Subba Rao (1895–1957)

This famous Telugu poet who practised law was the author of the famous work Yenki Patalu (an anthology of songs on a woman called Yenki) that ended up influencing eminent writers and thinkers like Adavi Bapiraju, Sri Sri, Chalam, Devulapalli and Krishna Sastry. More here.

Ram Babu Saxena (1897-1957)

This polyglot civil servant from Uttar Pradesh was learned in English, Persian and Urdu literature. He wrote a book in English called Modern Urdu Poetry. Only the Urdu translation of his work History of Literature by Muhammad Askari is available.

Bose Sunirmal (1902-1957)

He was a pioneer of Bengali juvenile literature, his output consisting of poetry, rhymes, stories, drama, and travelogues. He wrote prolifically in journals of the time like PrabasiSandeshRamdhanuAlpanaKishorAsia, etc.  Some of his books are ChhanabadaBade MajaHai ChaiMarener DakSahure, etc.

J. Friend-Pereira  (1907-1957)

He was an Anglo-Indian academic and author.  Some of his poetry publications include Mind’s Mirror. He contributed to journals in India like the Modern Review and the New Review, besides translating works on the Islamic philosopher Avicenna as well as poetry from French and Latin.

Bhuvaneshwar (1910-1957)

He was a pioneer of the western style one-act play in Hindi and was heavily influenced by Ibsen, Shaw, Lawrence, Freud.  His first piece Shyama (Ek Vaivahik Vidambana) was published in 1933. Some of his works includShaitan,  Ek SamyahinSamyavadiPratibha ka vivaahRahsya romanch. He also wrote plays that dealt with other dimensions besides relationships such as MrityuHum Akele Nahin HeySava Ath BajeStrikeUsar, Roshni aur AagKathputlian, Photographer ke SaamneTambe ke KireItihaas ke kenchul, etc. His plays including Azadi ki NinuJerusalemSikandarAkbar, and Chengiz Khan have also dealt with historical themes.

Mahadevan or Devan (1913-1957)

Devan is a popular Tamil writer, a veteran Charles Dickens of the south, known for his witty and humorous stories. He worked as a teacher and also as a sub-editor at Ananda Vikatan That way Devan resembled Charles Dickens. He explored various genres of writing including the short story, novel, travelogue, drama and reporting. One of his novels, Justice Jagannathan has been translated into English. Some of his novels are MythiliMalathiCID Chandru, etc. Unlike other authors, there are various commentaries on this author. Check out the wiki entry.

Bakulesh (1919-1957)

Bakulesh is the pen name of Ramji Arjun Gajkandh. Born in a Gujarati Kutchhi family, this journalist and writer composed stories about the common man. His style has been described as poetic and down to earth. Recently a collection of his short stories called Bakuleshni Vartso was published.  Other works include Kharan Pani and Kadavnan Kanku.

Krishan Nair (?-1957)

He was a Malayalam scholar and critic and author of Kavya Jivitha Vrtti(vols 1& 2), a treatise on Indian poetics and commentaries of attakathas.

Lala Laxman (?- 1957)

This satirist was inspired by the writer and satirist Habibullah. His compositions have the element of Shahrashob (which is an Urdu genre of writing that deals with unrest for socio-political reasons and is a kind of lamentation for urbanity).


January 5, 2018
by Neelima

Interview: Richa Jha

We got to talk to picture book publisher Richa Jha!

Richa Jha is an Indian children’s author and picture book enthusiast. Her books have been shortlisted for prestigious national literary and industry awards, won a popular award, and entered the Limca Book of Records. She hosts the country’s first online critique platform and runs the only website dedicated to reviewing Indian picture books (Snuggle with Picture Books). She is a former editor for children’s books at the New Delhi based Wisdom Tree, and the Kids section editor at Time Out Delhi. She’s an active member of the kidlit community, SCBWI and IBBY, and regularly attends conferences, webinars and book fairs, including Bologna and Frankfurt. She now runs her independent publishing house, Pickle Yolk Books. She is a keen solo traveler having backpacked across 31 countries, and counting. She lives in the NCR with her husband and two children in a house filled with picture books, photographs and plush toys.

Writing children’s books is picking up in India. How did you start?

The picture book landscape in India seems to be gradually coming of age and there cannot be a happier soul in this country than I! It is heartening to see the kind of interesting, exciting books that are beginning to get written and published now. I feel we are all set to welcome a glorious phase of picture books in India!

I have been writing for over 20 years now, but my children’s book writing journey began only about seven years ago. This was a natural, organic extension to my passion for picture books. The love began in earnest once my first child was born in 2002 and I began buying books for him by the dozen when he was less than four months old. I didn’t look at age appropriateness. It was the sheer act of snuggling together and reading aloud to him that kept us both engrossed and took our bonding to another level. That’s when I began to appreciate the power of picture books. It has been (and continues to be) an amazing journey of discovering some of the greatest stories from around the world ever told in a format most engaging and complete. So when I began writing my own stories, it was like my mind had been prepping itself up for it all these years.

You’ve started a publishing house called Pickle Yolk Books and you also have a website called Snuggle with Picture Books. What has your publishing journey been like so far?

Unplanned, straight from the heart and deeply satisfying. I enjoy creating books but am yet to feel comfortable with the ‘publisher’ tag resting on my head, mostly because I am unable to get myself to ‘think’ like a publisher or see my Pickle Yolk Books like a business. In a way, it acts both as my biggest strength and my weakest link. By seeing myself only as a creator, I make sure I don’t allow the market/ selling dynamics to influence my choice of subjects. But brave books don’t sell; brave picture books, even less so.

Then there are the additional ‘age-appropriate book’ perceptions of the parents to battle with. Parents in India are loath to seeing even their 5-6-year-olds with a picture book in their hands. In a mad rush to get them to read ‘real’ books the weaning off happens early. So by definition, picture books in India get slotted as books for under 5-year-olds. Given the kind of books I publish, therefore, it’s like creating books for a non-existent reader! My biggest challenge as a publisher is to get parents, teachers, children to warm up to the idea that picture books can (and should) be read by older children too, alongside anything else that they are reading.

The themes of your books are unique and brave. Be it bereavement, gender, friendship or embarrassment, you talk about tough issues to little people. How do you zero in on these ideas? 

I have always believed that our children lead difficult lives that we adults often gloss over. We tend to sugarcoat it as an innocent idyllic life-stage. But in reality, they are faced with constant rejections and varying forms and degrees of loss. They struggle with finding acceptance in an adult world, they fight hard for their thoughts to be heard, they are negotiating a rude, mean dynamics among the peers and are battling all kinds of fears that are new to them, in additions to getting weighted down by academics and parental expectations. All this, without the hindsight of experience. It’s not easy for them. And that is what my books are all about. About tough personal challenges in some form that the children themselves figure a way of navigating around and triumphing over. So it’s not about issues but about the real demons they face within and without.

How long does it take for you to write a 400-word picture book?

Sometimes, as many as five years! But for most books, it is about a year. I go through several (about 50, on an average) rounds of revision, spread over months/ years. Because I also publish most of what I write, I have the luxury of keeping them in a constant state of revision until the final printed copies are out. Actually, in that sense, they never quite end up not being works in progress.

You’ve collaborated with artists Gautam Benegal and Ruchi Mhasane. What’s the most important thing to remember when you are collaborating?

Trusting and respecting the illustrators’ artistic process and their creative space. Which also means that unless I am struggling to meet a critical deadline, I try not to rush them through the artwork. What I love about working with both Gautam and Ruchi is that they act as my creative conscience-keepers; in moments when I am beset with self-doubt about the story of the WIP, they help me get back my clarity. And they never shy away from pointing out the flaws and weaknesses in my story. In many ways, learning to welcome and respect feedback (without taking it personally) is the first step in any healthy collaboration.

What are the tools an author and illustrator need to know about while creating a picture book? 

I am not sure if these would qualify as tools, but here are the essentials.

  1. First and foremost, there is the need to rid oneself of the perception that a picture book is easy to write; it looks deceptively simple. And read hundreds and hundreds of good books in this format before attempting one of your own.
  2. The author needs to think visually. So even though, in most cases, the illustrations are done by another person, by thinking visually, the author is able to get the pacing, page turns and punches right.
  3. A picture book is very different from an illustrated storybook; the latter follows a somewhat similar narrative like the oral stories we are used to hearing from our grandparents. But a picture book is different. The interplay of the text and visuals is what forms its core and soul.
  4. The illustrators need to go way beyond what the text says when planning out their visuals. In a picture book, the illustrations have as much role to play as the text. So a parallel visual narrative or two over and above what the text says is non-negotiable.
  5. Where most picture books fail is getting the ending right. Without a deeply satisfying ending, the reader feels cheated.

Favorite picture book?

That’s impossible to respond to! I have countless favorites. I once compiled a list for my blog (but this too was a couple of years ago; I’ve discovered so many gems since!): A Monster Jamboree of my Favourite Picture Books.

Sneak peek into your next project.

I could fill reams talking about my works in progress! These days I am working on the story of a blind boy negotiating the crowded streets of Calcutta (Maccher Jhol, illustrated by Sumanta Dey) and on a funny story of a dad-daughter duo.

All the best with your future projects, Richa!

December 26, 2017
by Neelima

Interview: Abhik Dutta

We spoke to Abhik Dutta, author of several books in Bengali including Kichukhkhon, Nosto Somoyer Golpo, Chandalika Ebong Onyanyo Golpo, etc.  Born in a Bengali middle-class family, Abhik has been reading books since his childhood. He is a busy Chemical Engineer but after coming back from his office, he loves to read various kinds of literature and edits a web magazine called Adorer Nouka, a web magazine. Abhik gets his inspiration from Tagore. He is also a music lover.


What challenges have you faced as a writer in Bengali? What successes have you achieved?

Presently, the number of readers is decreasing in the field of Bengali Literature and the market is getting limited day by day. I started writing on my facebook pages and got satisfactory responses. Facebook provides a liberal platform to the writers who want to publish their writings independently. But I still feel the conversion rate between reading and enjoying stories on facebook and buying the physical book from the market needs to be improved.

Tell us about the themes of your short fiction.

I write both short fictions and novels. I love writing thrillers and love stories.

What advice do you give to authors out there who wish to market their books?

I have a popular facebook page named Srichoroneshoe. It is quite popular in the Bengali Fb circuit. I write my stories there. People read these stories that I post and make queries about buying my books. It is quite effective if anyone wants to market their books.

You are a chemical engineer. How did you take the plunge into writing?

I write after I come back from work. Writing is a passion. My readers also inspire me to write. Even if I am tired after work, I don’t see that as an obstacle to my writing.

What is your next project?

In the upcoming Kolkata book fair, two of my books are getting published.

All the best with your writing in the future, Abhik!

December 7, 2017
by Neelima
1 Comment

Interview: Nihar Sharma

Nihar Sharma is an engineer turned freelance writer and poet. She regularly shares poetry on social media under her alias ‘The Dreamer’, read by followers across the globe. She is a native of Jammu, India, and currently resides in Kansas, US. Her self-published poetry book ‘Wanderings’ was third on the hot new releases for poetry by women in December 2016 on Amazon and the digital version was #1 bestseller in Asian American poetry in April 2017. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely reading, daydreaming or shooing off the squirrel from her bird feeder.

I think
I was meant
to be around people
and yet not be around them
to observe them from
a distance
wonder what

Why does an engineer decide to write poetry or why does a poet become an engineer?

My grandfather had an old typewriter, and as a kid, I loved the tap-tap of the keys. That’s when I wrote my first poems. But then school happened, and I forgot about writing. A part of me was interested in science and hence engineering ensued. But after college and working for a while in a software company, I felt unfulfilled and somehow could not feel passionate about my work. I got anxious and depressed, and just to let my emotions out, I began to write. It felt as though the words had been waiting to be penned all along. One day I was feeling really low and decided to find a place online to give way to my emotions. I found a website created for writing anonymous thoughts, but before I could type anything, I began reading what other people had written and my problems seemed very small in comparison. I started replying to the posts, asking those in pain to hold on, and that there was more to life if they tried. The next day I got a reply from someone telling me I had saved his life! That was a high I will never forget. And I realized that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to write and help people, share my emotions and tell them that they are not alone. I wanted to give them something positive to look forward to and I decided to do so in the form of short prose and poems. That’s how The Dreamer started. And to my surprise, the response was phenomenal. Technically, I never had any issues because writing came naturally to me. It helped sort out my emotions and gave me relief. It became my anchor. I am addicted to writing now. And I hope that those who read it are addicted to it too.

Your favorite poet/poets.

 Tyler Knott Gregson, Nayyirah Waheed, Khalil Gibran

Your FB page has a large number of followers. Any tips about marketing for wannabe writers?

Consistency is the key. Write well and write often. If you get a chance, share your writing on FB pages that are looking for such content. If you touch the right chord with the audience, people will automatically come looking to your page for more. And if you write often, they will stay. Be open to criticism.

Instapoetry is taking the poetry scene by storm- tell us about the effort you put in to make the digital experience of your poetry more interesting.

Apart from rare occasions when the poem is long, I try to keep it short and clear. On social media, especially Instagram, you have a very short time to peak a person’s interest. So clarity is important. Also, be consistent. People read your work because they like the way you put it. If you keep changing the way it looks experimenting with a lot of fonts, I doubt they will recognize it as yours anymore.

Explain your writing process- is it spontaneous or do you spend time rewriting work?

When a thought comes to me I write it down in whatever rough form I can. Then later I try to make sense of it and rewrite if necessary.

 What are you working on now?

A second book of poetry.

 Any tips for writers seeking inspiration?

Some days it is easy to write, but it is not easy to write every day. Only ever make a career out of it if you cannot survive without writing. On the days Inspiration decides to look the other way, watch movies, read books, think about the people you have met. You will definitely find something to pen down.

 If not poetry, then?

A fiction novel. I love creating stories in my head. I have always been a dreamer.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas, Nihar! We wish you all the best for your second book!

You can follow her on FB and Instagram to read more of her work.


November 27, 2017
by Jaya

5 Common Mistakes Authors and Self-publishers Make While Assigning ISBNs to their Books

It’s not enough getting the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This numeric identifier that contains thirteen digits needs to be properly understood before you add it to your book. In this article, we look at five common misconceptions that people have about these much-coveted ISBNs.

                                                     Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Using the same ISBN across different titles
An ISBN doesn’t represent an author, so you can’t use the same ISBN across all your titles. It is even more specific than a single title.

2. Using the same ISBN across eBook and print book
ISBN not only represents a title but also a specific format and edition of the book. It cannot be shared between eBook and print versions of even the same title.

3. Using the same ISBN in paperback and hard cover
Even using the same ISBN for different formats of print books is incorrect. Paperback and hard cover must have different ISBNs.

4. Using the same ISBN across different editions
An ISBN has to be unique to a specific format of a specific title. It also has to be unique to a specific edition. If a new edition of a book is being brought out, it can’t reuse the previous edition’s ISBN. Reprinting with the same ISBN is fine. This concept, however, runs into some trouble with print on demand since you can keep making small changes in the books all the time.

At what point does a book deserve to be called a new edition? When you make significant changes,  calling it a new edition and assigning a new ISBN will be good from a marketing perspective. Another recommendation we have is if your changes are significant enough that they change the physical specifications of the book like the number of pages or page size, then you should treat this as a different edition and assign a new ISBN.

5. Using the same ISBN across different country editions
Even if the content is the same, if you are creating different editions to sell at different prices in different countries, you should use different ISBNs for them. ‘Price change’, as such, does not require changing the ISBN. But having two differently priced editions at different places at the same time is not exactly a price change. It is really two different editions. Keeping the ISBN the same across differently priced editions can also create confusion in the listing of your book on online stores. So, use two different ISBNs in such cases.


Let us know if you have any ISBN related queries that haven’t been answered.


November 23, 2017
by Neelima
1 Comment

Interview: Chetana from

We spoke to Chetana,  founder of IKnowItMOM Pvt. Ltd. She started the company with her husband Ishwar Bhat.

Chetana is an engineer, animator, storyteller, entrepreneur and a mother. She has a keen interest in psychology and she loves children. Her experience of working as a program analyst in Infosys has helped her map professional problems with childhood issues. She has had great success in combining development psychology with storytelling. She is a certified storyteller from Kathalaya. Her stories are popular as she talks about difficult topics without sounding preachy.  Ishwar, the co-author,  is also an engineer. He has 20+ years of experience in training and blogs at Mid Manager.
Tell us a little about your venture

The IKnowItMOM company was born with a vision to create a better childhood. Children who develop the right attitude early on become more successful in life. To help with all-round growth, we cover all aspects of childhood like bullying, safety, money, health, food, memory techniques, leadership, relationships, etc. We bring the best of technology into education through physical books, interactive eBooks, animation and mobile games.

The books on bullying are a prominent part of your series. Why did you choose to write about this theme?

When my son was 5 years old he said he wanted to learn Kung Fu. He joined Kung Fu class and was good at it. Within a year, he got his first belt. Then he started making excuses and skipping classes. I knew he still liked Kung Fu, since he enjoyed practicing it at home. After talking to him, I came to know that the other boys in the class call him ‘Baby’ and teased him. As a caring mother I tried to help by saying “Just ignore them”. Of course, it didn’t work. He was emotionally hurt.  That’s when I realized how bad the effect of bullying could be. I wondered how many children out there missed opportunities because of bullying. I couldn’t find books that taught practical tools to handle it, so I decided to write about bullying. These books cover all types of bullying: verbal, physical and cyber. They make children self-sufficient and confident.  My son is 9 now and has already reached Red belt in Kung Fu.

Some tips to prevent cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying can be very well managed with awareness. We need to tell children about the risks of being online. Most children don’t know that downloading a game can be dangerous. We need to install Anti-Virus software and use kid-safe browsers. Children should never reveal their identity to strangers and parents should monitor any emotional stress in the children after using the Internet. Most important, keep communication open with the children. They need trusted adults to share their problems.

How to be safe online, what to do when we receive hateful messages, trolling, mobile addiction, social media addiction, hacking, dangerous selfies, and many more topics are covered in  Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety. It is one of a kind book with unique illustrations.


How do you advise parents and teachers to use the books in your series?

Our books are designed to be used as teaching material for parents/teachers and as books meant for children. Parents can also use our books as a Parenting Guide to develop the right conversations with the children. For each story, the introduction page sets the context. The Activities page can be used for introspection and assessment. The books begin with a quiz where children can check their knowledge. Life skills coaches can use these books as part of their curriculum.

Future projects?

Our next book will be on ‘School’. Many children don’t learn because they have issues with the school or the teacher. This book will motivate children to learn. It will also reduce pressure on teachers. We will publish many more books, eBooks and games next year. We also plan to design curriculum around these books. We want to give children all the tools to be emotionally strong, so that they can reach their full potential.

Tell us about self-publishing experience.

When Ishwar and I started our company, we had very little knowledge of book publishing. helped us to understand the publishing industry, especially self-publishing. Our first book was published at We like the simple workflow provided. It is easy to navigate, publish and try different printing options. Thank you very much.

Thank you Chetana for taking the time to answer all our questions!

November 2, 2017
by Neelima

Interview: Sunaina Patnaik

Sunaina Patnaik is a twenty-something writer from Hyderabad. Her writing explores the realms of vulnerability, loss, healing,and self-love. Warm Delinquencies is her debut collection of poetry and writing that deals with the matters of the heart.

We decided to talk to this poet about her journey.



I would come running with
shovels and spades,
torn paperbacks and bottles of ink,
and get my hands dirty all too willingly,
we aren’t meant for calm seas,
blue horizons, and clear skies,
who are we fooling?
we are only destined for
dingy basements, sappy music, and
warm delinquencies.

You have published a poetry book with themes exploring love, separation, and healing. How did you zero in on these themes?

In my experience as a reader, I’ve read a number of books that dealt with subjects like love, separation, and healing individually but not together. When I started writing ‘Warm Delinquencies’, I was certain that I wanted all these subjects together to convey the journey of a lover, the aftermath of a heartbreak and eventually, the healing.

Which poets or writers have influenced you the most?

Growing up, I read Ruskin Bond and Enid Blyton avidly. Inspired by Bond, I started penning personal essays at an early age, sent it to my friends in the form of letters, postcards etc. which made me familiar with tracing inspiration from my life and things happening around me.

The other writers that influence me are Haruki Murakami and Vikram Seth. I keep going back to Seth’s poetry because of its ethereal beauty.

Tell us about how you got started with writing and what motivated you to get published.

I did several pieces and interviews throughout high school and college. I found writing poetry and personal essays quite cathartic and started a blog in 2011, succeeding which I never had to look back. The intent of publishing it originated when I realized I had a readership that resonated with my thoughts.

Do you think that poetry is more popular than people would like to admit?

I like to believe that poetry has always been popular for its power to express a lot in little. Although the rise of poets on Instagram is a new trend, it’s still just an additional medium for writers to share their work. We’ve always sought solace in Plath’s or Bukowski’s poetry; millennials now are drawn towards the poetry of Lang Leav, Michael Faudet etc. because of the writing form which is lucid and deals with modern issues.

But what I think has really changed is the mindset towards poetry. When I was in school, poetry was perceived as something undecipherable; however, the world is now more open to poetry.

Where do you write? Tell us a bit about your writing process.

I can write anywhere. Through chaos and silence. In crowds and isolation. But mostly I tend to write in the comfort of my room, usually late in the night.

Tell us about your latest project.

Right now, I’m working on a collection of short stories. I’ve started this project much before I’ve embarked on writing Warm Delinquencies, but it’s still a work in progress. I’m hoping to finish it towards the end of 2018. Fingers crossed!

What is your favorite pastime besides poetry?

Juggling between reading, writing, and a 9-5 job leaves me with very little time. But when I find time, I binge-watch TV shows, movies, and explore new restaurants in the city.

Thank you, Sunaina!

You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

September 28, 2017
by Neelima

Writing Competitions and Opportunities (Free to Enter) Round-Up: September 2017 Edition

1. Short story competition with Juggernaut and Death of the Author 

You need to enter your contact details on this form, email your story (2000-8000 words on any theme)  to with the subject line: WRITERS’ SALON.  The winner gets a contract with Juggernaut Books. More details on the link. The last date for submission is 15 October 2017.

2.  DWL Short Story Contest 2017 

Email your short story entry(based on any theme with word count of up to 5000 words) to only as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) attachment. The top three entries for the contest will win $100 each and one of the top 3 stories will also receive the Dastaan Award.  The Submissions deadline is 30 September 2017. For further details visit the link.


All the best!