Pune’s APK Publishers woos first-time writers

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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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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