Struggles of a Self-published author
- JWB Post
- January 27, 2015
The session at JLF 2015 was named “The Trials and Triumphs of the Self Published Author”. Bhakti Mahur, based in Hong Kong, has written many kids story books narrating the famous Indian mythology in the most interesting way. She has published all of them herself and that’s what she spoke about in her session – about her journey full of lessons, ups and downs and finally the victory.
Her books are a series of ‘Amma Tell Me’ where the kid asks the mother to narrate him the popular stories from history.
So was handling everything – writing, creation, production, distribution, marketing, publishing – really tough?
Of course, it was. I would say it was a foolish choice I made which I don’t regret. This mistake empowered me.
When my 3 and 1 yr old kids asked me the whole story behind the significance of Holi festival, I was blank. I never questioned the meaning of coloring each other on Holi. When they asked, I explored and thought to make it easy for every mother round the globe. Hence evolved ‘Amma Tell Me about Holi’ and so on.
Why she decided to become a Writer alongside her successful banking career?
Because of these 3 reasons:
- Writing made me explore things about my country I was unaware about.
- My poetic side emerged after all these years of writing.
- When E.L James can publish on her own, why can’t I?
Her DIY tricks.
- I asked a Graphic Designer friend to design the colorful illustrations for the story books.
- Amazon is one of the best ways to market your book. New readers must straightaway contact them. They love new authors and writers.
- When I put my book for online shopping, I started to get few orders from international readers. Since international shipping is expensive, I decided to save some money by sending books with my friends who would travel to those countries.
- When I came to India, I asked a local book store to stock my books. Deal was – when the books get sold, I will get my profit. Fair deal to begin your work in a different country.
- When my book started to become a favorite in India, I was quick to hire a Chartered Accountant to manage my funds so that I don’t have to travel from HK every time.
- For my 1st book, I asked my bank manager to give the book as a corporate gift to employees so that it at least gets noticed.
Stereotypes she faced.
I heard things like – ‘Your book is very NRI’, ‘Boring, there are already many books on mythology’, ‘It’s expensive’. But then, one has to be sure about his/her work. Being an NRI, I might have thought that I won’t be able to do justice with mythological history of my maiden country. But I didn’t think that way. I was my own critic and motivator.
Inspiration that keeps her going.
It is when I get letters from parents saying my story has helped their kids understand Indian ideologies. I also get letters from small kids. They have written to me things like – ‘I want to be like Sita’, ‘I slept with bindi on my forehead all night long’. I think my work is empowering some of them already. This is the biggest reward.
Tips for a Self-published Author.
- Some extra capital is needed when you write a book with lots of illustrations. The designing and colorful printing costs a little too much. To begin with, go for a non-illustrative book.
- Think like a business person since you have to do everything from the beginning till the end. Save wherever you can.
- Unlike me who wasted 3 yrs to get a distributor, start your search while you write the book. Do things simultaneously.
Buy Bhakti’s story books here and read them to your child. Let the children grow up knowing all about our culture in the most fun way possible.