In India, many leading publishers directly accept submissions from authors. They might work with literary agencies too, but that pipeline of manuscripts is hardly sufficient to keep their wheels turning throughout the year. So they open up the doors to first time authors even if it means investing more resources to evaluate the avalanche of query letters and submitted proposals, in the hope that the best books and bestsellers are hiding in there somewhere.
Though there are hundreds (thousands?) of traditional publishing houses in India, a few prominent ones regularly come up in discussions and these are generally the ones that new writers target. Here’s a short list of some international publishers who have a presence in India.
The standard disclaimers about accuracy and relevance apply if you decide to use this compiled list for reference. It is not a comprehensive list. And as always, do check websites of the relevant publishing companies for the latest status and guidelines on submissions.
Macmillan Publishers India
The Big Mac! It’s a leading name that you might hear on various forums and websites. They are dominant in the education space. So if you’ve got a masala fiction novel to shop around, these may not be your best bet. But if you’ve got some academic material aimed at higher education, schools, reference books (Atlas, dictionary) to publish you could reach out to them through this link: http://www.macmillanindia.com/publishwithus.asp
They’ve got their own printing press in Chennai and a solid distribution network across the country that includes 15,000 schools. As their website says, Macmillan Publishers India is always on the lookout for new authors and new ideas for publishing in school publishing, higher education as well as in the general list.
Penguin Books India
Though it’s a big name internationally, they entered India quite late (1985) and has been growing aggressively. Which means plenty of scope for new authors who have something worthwhile to offer them. Penguin has got a whole lot of award winners on its author list – including Nobel Prize, Man Booker Prize, Magsaysay Award. They have a business imprint called Portfolio. If you are looking for credibility and prestige on your resume, try to gain their interest in your book.
They are accepting manuscript submissions for fiction (novels, novellas, short stories), non-fiction, literary, commercial and almost anything else you can think of (yes, even poetry). They insist on hard copy proposals which is quite old-school, considering most of the leading publishers have already started embracing the internet for their submission process. You’ll find more details here:
HarperCollins Publishers India
Globally HarperCollins is one of the top 3 publishers in the world. A very highly regarded name in the publishing industry with many stalwarts of the writing world on its list – Paulo Coelho, Sidney Sheldon, Amitav Ghosh, Michael Crichton, the Dalai Lama, Tarun Tejpal. They are quite strong in the Indian subcontinent too and focussing on new writers. Also, home sweet home for my little MBA book.
Like Penguin they ask for hard copy submissions on their website. But in my case, everything happened over email. If my literary agency gave them a hardcopy, I’m not aware of it. But if you don’t have a literary agent representing you, I’d suggest sticking to their manuscript submission guidelines. You’ll find them here:
Calling your readers Dummies and expecting them to buy your book may not be the most intuitive strategy, right? But it’s worked wonders for Wiley globally and the Dummies series has sold millions of copies to some really intelligent people. Like its parent, the main focus for Wiley India is on education, training and how-to books on technical, scientific, medical and academic topics. The Publishing program in India seems to be rather vague, as far as the description on their website is concerned.
Check out their catalog and you’ll mainly find international authors. Probably there’s more data out there (that I couldn’t locate) about homegrown desi authors.
Random House India
Another big global player that you could add to your database. They have a good list of Indian authors (like Jhumpa Lahiri, Rujuta Diwekar, Namita Devidayal, Anita Desai, Mohammed Hanif) along with their international list (Salman Rushdie, Vikas Swarup, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Deepak Chopra, Edward de Bono) that they distribute in India.
The submission process isn’t explained in detailed. Just a short message requesting for a synopsis, sample chapters and resume along with an email ID to submit manuscripts (email@example.com). Check out their contacts page: http://www.randomhouse.co.in/ContactUs.aspx
Hachette India Publishers
Another company that’s very big outside India, but trying to grow here as well. Their international list is very strong in many genres, including children’s books (remember Enid Blyton?). Their submission page was the best I’ve seen so far – short, precise and very clear about what they expect from authors (preferably soft copy submissions covering – 1 page book proposal, 3 sample chapters, 200 word author bio – sent to firstname.lastname@example.org) and what authors can expect from them (acknowledgement of the submission in 2 days and a super quic decision in 6 weeks). Let me know if you agree:
Allow the publishers around 4 – 6 months to evaluate and respond back. Some like Hachette might get back earlier, but don’t hold your breath for that to happen with everyone. If you don’t hear from them, send them a follow-up note. The last thing to do is start pestering them a week after you’ve posted a copy of your beloved manuscript, hoping it’ll speed up matters. It won’t. They may just get p*ssed off with you and your work and that’ll be the end of the road with that publisher.
These are just some of the big international publishing companies that have set shop in India. Then there are also our own homegrown publishers that are doing some good work and giving the international guys a run for their money – Rupa Publishers, Roli Books, Pustak Mahal (Cedar Books). Let us save them for a separate post.