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Want to get your 'Bloody Good Book' published for free? Readers will decide

India's first crowd-curated eBook publishing platform has found a unique solution for promising writers struggling to get published - get readers and they'll do it for free.

, ET Online|
Updated: May 20, 2016, 07.14 PM IST
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India's first crowd-curated eBook publishing platform has found a unique solution for promising writers struggling to get published - get readers and they'll do it for free.
India's first crowd-curated eBook publishing platform has found a unique solution for promising writers struggling to get published - get readers and they'll do it for free.
With the advent of social media, the written word - which up until now, had mostly been reserved as a licensed right exclusive to professional writers - has been laid bare for all to doodle with. While the digital space is fast turning into an expansive canvas for random ramblings, narrow progress has been made in thwarting traditional patterns in the world of publishing. With limited books to leaf through under preferred genres, private judgement is often compromised by the lack of choice available. Yet, you may just find a 'Bloody Good Book' on your shelves soon enough.

Founded in 2014 by author-cum-entrepreneur Rashmi Bansal of 'Stay Hungry Stay Foolish' fame and Niyati Patel, a post-graduate in English Literature from University of London, Bloody Good Book is India's first crowd-sourced and mass-curated eBook publishing platform. Started with the objective of creating an autonomous platform for people who are passionate about writing and wish to get published without going through complicated customary procedures, it has evolved into an ecosystem that is constantly nurtured by aspiring authors and book aficionados.

Novel initiative
"New authors find it difficult to get their manuscripts noticed by the publishing industry, quality notwithstanding," says Niyati Patel, co-founder of Bloody Good Book. "Good books often end up being rejected by publishers because it is not easy to determine whether a book will find readers or not. We wanted to create a platform where promising authors can get the recognition they deserve while leaving the decision whether or not to publish to the readers themselves," she says.

That was two years ago when she along with Bansal wrote the first chapter to a beautiful story, with bigger plots and sub-plots unfolding every day. It follows a simple narrative: would-be authors are invited to submit their manuscripts online, whereby the first three chapters will be made available for everyone to read. These will subsequently be rated by the readers and top reviewed scripts are eventually considered for publication.

"Crowd-curating makes the entire process more transparent and inclusive," says Patel. "Even if a manuscript is not selected for publication, all authors get a fair chance to be read and appreciated. It may even attract other publishers to their work and more importantly, the feedback they receive will be valuable," she feels.

Bookworm's cocoon
Even though there are no limitations to the subjects that can be explored, thrillers and romance are the two most popular categories as testified by Patel. She adds: "We accept manuscripts of all genres including recipe books and short story collections, but poetry has been hard to sell. We are also compelled to exercise some amount of editorial control on the material submitted before uploading it on the website. We wholeheartedly embrace well-written erotica, but there is a fine line between art and obscenity and we try not to pass judgement when drawing that line," she says.

Care is also taken to avoid cases of plagiarism by disabling features on the website that allow visitors to cut, copy and paste material. The eReader also does not allow users to download anything. In fact, it is quite user-friendly. "It allows readers to change font sizes, bookmark pages and use sliders for easy navigation," says Niyati. "It is also completely compatible with mobile phones," she adds.

Penning the next bestseller?
Bloody Good Book already has 147 manuscripts listed on its website with 3966 reviews, rated by its community of over 8500 readers. Authors whose books are selected for eBook publication are offered 30% royalty on the net receipts. But, this comes with a caveat. "The company will retain the eBook publishing rights of the book for 10 years and also get the first right to publish the second book by the author," says Patel.

In addition to eBooks, Bloody Good Book also enjoys a joint publishing partnership with Westland Limited for traditional paperbacks. A venture by Tata Group, Westland is a major player in the Indian publishing landscape and has been credited with publishing some of the most prominent writers in India including Amish Tripathi and Devdutt Patnaik. "Bloody Good Book together with Westland will review the top rated books every month and aim to publish about 5-6 of them every year," says Patel. "Authors will get a minimum royalty of 10% on the price of the published work, with the commission increasing to 12.5% should sales cross 25,000" she adds.

Westland has published two books with Bloody Good Book, debuting with crime fiction, Brutal, written by US-based novelist Uday Satpathy. Published last year in September, it has already reached number 1 in Amazon in the action & adventure category and has received rave reviews for its fast-paced narrative and seamless plotlines. "Being appreciated by well known authors like Ravi Subramanian, Ankush Saikia and Rasna Atreya has been overwhelming," says Satpathy. "I first heard about Bloody Good Book in 2014 when I was hunting for publishers for my manuscript. I found their model to be more efficient than the ones adopted by traditional publishers, especially because of the feedback you receive from readers and other writers," he says.

Scripting a new story
While it started off as an initiative to promote original writing, Bloody Good Book has managed to evolve itself into a model that is both sustainable as well as that which offers a unique channel for new books to be discovered. "One of our divisions takes up select projects for corporates, like biographies of CEOs," says Patel. "This is the main source of our revenue and allows us to take risks," she adds.

However despite these initiatives, publishing in India could be a 'brutal' experience for writers. According to a report released last year by Nielsen on the trends around book market in India, even if the industry has seen a double digit growth in the last 4 years, cumbersome distribution networks, long credit cycles and piracy remain key roadblocks. Yet, with bookstores increasingly reinventing itself as digital communities of like-minded people who are connected at all times and with readers fast taking to online versions of books that are cheaper and more convenient to handle on mobiles, the entire publishing landscape in India may just be opening a new chapter.
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