The Write Stuff
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Self-publishing books is a growing trend
Way back in 1966, Nagmani, pioneered by Amrita Pritam and her partner Imroz, was one of the only publishing houses that gave space to Punjabi literature. However, today with technological advancement and a growing market for new authors and readers, self-publishing is gaining ground. Added factors to this boom are the long waiting lists of authors, royalty issues with publishing houses, and the fact that some authors want complete control on their work.
Poet and journalist Nirupama Dutt, who translated Pritam's works into English, says that initially authors were hesitant. "They feared that they would not be taken seriously if their book was self-published. Besides, it wasn't technically easy in those days. Now with many publishers demanding too much money the trend of self-publishing has grown," says Dutt.
While Pritam emerged as a mentor to young Punjabi poets and short story writers hailing from small villages, now there are many new authors opting for self-publishing. This includes Vijai Vardhan, whose book of 55 haikus poems, Beyond The Great Beyond, recently released at Capital Book
Depot; Samartha Vashishtha, who has brought out three self-published books and Kathryn Myra Spencer, who has self-published Paldi, set in Punjab.
This is Vardhan's first book on poetry and he's earlier authored a coffee-table book on Lord Krishna titled The Enlightened One. "I realised that there is very little interest in a first-time poet, in English. The genre of poetry is not something that's financially viable for publishers and there's not much market for it, except if you're Gulzar. Frankly, I didn't want to wait and be at the mercy of publishers," smiles the bureaucrat.
Vardhan's book on Kurukshetra is still being finalised, though his publisher felt it should come out first. "He felt I should be known as a serious art historian rather than a romantic poet," laughs Vardhan. The book is eye-catching and appealing in its choice of photographs, layout and design. To get the book rolling, the author spent long hours at the printing press of his friend Kapil Khanna. "Unlike many poetry books, it's not dull and drab," says Vardhan who spent a substantial sum of his money on it. He's happy that no compromises were made. "It was a calculated risk, but there is no money for authors. Even if you break-even it's great," says the poet who even distributed free copies of the book.