Pune’s APK Publishers woos first-time writers

Pune’s APK Publishers woos first-time writers
Prashant Karhade and Anagha Karhade

APK Publishers, the only ‘truly English’ publishing house based in Pune, in their eight-year-long journey has always encouraged young and fresh talent to write and have their books published. The very essence of their journey is a mission to help first-time writers to get their work published. The husband-wife duo had no conscious plans to build a publishing house which has emerged somewhat accidentally.

Talking about the inception of their company, Anagha Karhade, chief operating officer and co-founder of APK Publishers, reveals that starting a publishing house was not a conscious plan but an accident. Prashant Karhade, chief executive officer and co founder, is a writer himself and started getting several creative ideas on the birth of his daughter, Arohi. Converting the ideas into something tangible, he wrote his debut novel Memory Remains, based on the journey of an Indian to the U.S. and back.

Anagha says, “While trying to get the novel published, he went through all the harrowing experiences that almost all first-time writers go through. He finally found a publisher but he did such a horrible job with the book that both of us felt that we could do a lot better. So we started APK Publishers and self-published it.”

Soon writers who wanted to get their first book published started approaching them. Today, eight years later, the company has published more than 65 books. Anagha shares that somewhere along the journey, they came up with the tagline ‘By Writers. For Writers.’

APK b2

A book launch by APK Publishers

The selection process of the writers is based on the self-publishing model. The writers pay for the cost of production of the first print-run. However, the company doesn’t publish just about any book that comes to it. Sharing her experience, Anagha says, “Sometimes the books are very bad. With first-time writers, mostly language is an issue but sometimes there’s nothing in the story either. We give the writers our honest feedback in such cases and politely refuse to publish their books.”

She further observes, “Many a times, the books contain excessive (and needless) sex and violence. We reject such books. Essentially, we take on projects where either the idea or the language stands out.”

The decision to take on a project is taken according to the criteria outlined. Once the company starts working on a book, the in-house team shares its feedback with the writers, including how to market and sell the book. Writers find it very helpful, busting some of the myths that they have.

For example, most first-time writers believe that people will first buy their book and then they will like them but it is exactly the other way around; people first need to like what one writes and then they buy the book. This is a classic Catch-22 situation! Hence, they suggest to writers that they talk more about their book with energy and passion.

“As far as on-demand printing is concerned, we sometimes go for that option if we don’t want to stock copies of the book. And we are doing that increasingly these days,” says Prashant. The company has published books in the traditional models as well. Writer Megha Rao, for instance, has had a series of five books published and subsequently bagged a two-book deal from Penguin. As far as bringing literature to the readers is concerned, the company has always published ‘good’ books that stand a chance to succeed commercially. Anagha says, “Short stories have worked well for us and we have quite a few short story collections and anthologies.”

The company also helps writers to distribute books to a bunch of distributors with whom it has established relations over the years. Speaking on the promotion of the books, Anagha says, “Traditional methods of promoting books are very expensive, so we rely more on other methods like social media to spread the word about the books. We send emails to our mailing list, which is essentially the list of people who we have built relations with over the years. It is quite big! And we keep trying to add new channels of distribution for our books.”

Online mediums have seen a credible surge in the sales of APK Publishers. As online is a fast and easy medium, and books are delivered to one’s doorstep which is a big plus, this method is here to stay. Anagha points out, “We have also started seeing sales of the Amazon Kindle copies of our books. Over the years, these sales used to happen outside India, but now we can see sales in India as well!”

The company has its book store on its website: http://apkpublishers.com and distributes books on all leading online websites for sale. APK Publishers has also attended some leading book fairs where the response it received was highly appreciative.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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