Notion Press on the self-publishing business model

Freedom to publish

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Sushant Satish, business and marketing head, Notion Press
Sushant Satish, business and marketing head, Notion Press

If authors like Amish Tripathi had not chosen to self publish their books, they would not have been as successful as they are today. The idea of publishing a book without it being dissected by a team of editors or professional gatekeepers is becoming popular since it comes with the freedom of expression. 

Digital publishing technology and eCommerce have seemingly deconstructed the hallowed mystique of publishers who love to turn down and send pink slips to budding authors. Not only is everyone an author nowadays, but increasingly, many are willing to pay to be published authors and entrepreneurs of their own content.

Sushant Satish, business and marketing head, Notion Press, a self-publishing platform, said at the Delhi Book Fair held last week at Pragati Maidan, “The concept of few people judging a book or content didn’t sit well with us. Most bestselling authors like JK Rowling and Chetan Bhagat might not write content that you agree with but there is a huge market for them, and it is not up to us to deny that opportunity to first-time authors.”

Notion Press publishes more than 500 books in a month and is looking to publish a 1 lakh books in the next 5 years. “Our publishing model allows authors to publish their work without criticism. We don’t scrutinize the content too much but we do check it for plagiarism and language. The author can upload their work and design their book within 30 minutes. We make sure that the best version of a book goes out despite the content and the money invested in it,” Satish said. 

Traditional publishers publish a few books in a year and rely heavily on the sales of those titles. But that is slowly phasing out, according to Satish. Notion Press works with the authors to ensure that their content reaches the readers and the readers decide whether it is good. “If a product is good and is marketed well, it will sell well. But no matter how much you market a bad product, it will not be successful. If the market responds well to a certain book, we go a step higher and promote it more. We try to bridge the gap between self-publishing and traditional publishing,” Satish said. 

Printed books are still mainstream

When eBooks first saw the light of day in the market, it seemed as if they would be picked up faster given their low cost and ease of availability. “However, the demand for eBooks is not increasing and readers still prefer the physical experience of holding a book in their hands while reading. Printed books are still mainstream. We bring out both eBooks and printed books. There are many costs involved when it comes to producing printed copies but on the other hand, an eBook might not be as profitable as a printed one. Distribution platforms like Kindle cost 65% of profits and the authors have to be paid royalty out of the remaining 35%,” Satish explained. 

Qualities of a good publisher

“As a good publisher, you need to have quality in terms of editing, production, distribution network, and marketing. To provide each book with a good platform, we make sure that it goes through the process and we put considerable work into this. It is a little easier to do this in this age where the digital platform makes promotion much easier. Many first time authors are starting to sell, says Satish, by which we assume he means that it may be possible to earn a living by publishing your books if you are good enough and if readers agree. 

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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– Naresh Khanna

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