Fictional Earnings: English Fiction Authors in India

Indian authors struggle to make a living from English fiction books in India. ePublishing may be an easier route to getting your work published but does not guarantee sales. eBooks are slowly gaining ground in India and this will allow more budding authors to try their hand at writing and getting their stories published online as eBooks in India.

Economic Times reports that at last month's Jaipur Literature Festival, Ashwin Sanghi, who ranks among India's bestselling English fiction writers, was in conversation with Bollywood actor Kajol. No surprise really that the session was a huge crowd-puller, especially for young starry-eyed fans of both the writer and the Bollywood diva. But despite his large number of fans and autograph seekers Sanghi, whose first book, a thriller The Rozabal Line, was published in 2006, is sceptical about the possibility of Indian fiction writers being able to make a living out of their stories. 

"Overall, India produces 84,000 titles every year whereas an average bookstore has shelf space of only 2,000 to 3,000. Also English fiction is a niche category and new writers have to overcome many hurdles to achieve commercial success," says Sanghi who prefers to hedge his risks between writing and running his family business. Commercial success for an author writing English fiction in India, reckons Sanghi, involves crossing a print run of 50,000 with the first edition. "With small print runs, first novels tend to fizzle out with publishers not keen on a second run," he adds. That, he feels, explains why a majority of India's wannabe storytellers have day jobs as editors, journalists and speech writers. 

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