Mukund Sanghi is a book lover, thinker and strategist. After graduating from IIT Delhi, Mukund did his Masters from Columbia University in the city of New York. He has had experience of working in companies like Tata Motors and ITC Ltd. He belongs to one of Rajasthan’s popular business families, and is currently running cinema halls, amongst other things. He recently produced an international indie film.
In an exclusive interview with Nitish Raj of The Policy Times, Mr. Mukund Sanghi, Founder Of Pirates Publication talks about various facades of publishing industries along with the journey of a story to a bestseller.
Q1. The Pirates believe in the philosophy of Story First which seems unique considering it your business USP. How exactly it fits into publishing industry where the art of writing is more important than just the story?
Ans. It is absolutely incorrect to say that in the world of publishing, writing takes precedence over the story. Our reader needs a strong plot, relatable characters and a narrative that can keep her hooked throughout.
As a content company, which leverages the power of a good story in all forms of media, including books and films, we are focused on looking at manuscripts that are solidly plot driven, without forgetting the importance of building characters.
Let us, for once, think like our readers. Have you ever grown impatient with the book you are reading; or flipped ahead wishing that something will happen? It is this feeling of frustration and boredom we aspire to remedy.
Look at Anything for You, Ma’am by Tushar Raheja. It is a plot-based story, or a character based? Hard to say. While the plot drives us forward, the characters continue to be a part of our life long after the book ends.
While, we respect writings which deal with the human condition, thoughts, ideas, people; that doesn’t define us. We want to focus on the content, we truly believe in.
Q2. How much is it tough to maintain both the traditional and self-publish mode in the same publishing house?
Ans. I have a huge problem with these categorizations. We operate as a publishing house. Yes, we have imprints, and those imprints are primarily to cover a wide range of audiences.
A publishing house plays many roles. Let me try and list them here:
- a) Content Acquisition and list building
- b) Financial Investment and risk-taking
- c) Content Development
- d) Quality Control
- e) Management and Coordination
- f) Sales and Marketing
While we continue to do all of this, purely from a commercial point of view, we can’t afford to get into the financial investment and risk-taking aspect of each and every manuscript we like. Hence, we seek outside funding. We realize that if someone were to show their belief in
a work, who can be better than the author herself. And, hence Quignog was born. We call it our discovery imprint. It helps us work with authors with a broader canvas of writing, a more diverse pool of talent and those who have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
Q3. How much your experience of just being from a business background helps you in understanding the market of publishing where the understanding of art is more important than the business sense?
Ans. There is a joke in our industry. Publishers are those, who once dreamt of being authors but couldn’t manage to write a page.
Though I won’t call myself an artist, I love reading books. I understand my market well. I work very closely with my colleague, Tushar Raheja, who heads our content division. That makes my life easy.
Q4. You have put the condition of 10K Sales of the books through Quignog to switch into the traditional Pirates. Is it a reflection of the distressed sales of the self-published books?
Ans. I don’t think 10,000 copies is miserable by any parameter. Traditionally, the Indian publishing industry used to label a book sold over 5000 copies as a bestseller.
How long can we publishers sit on a throne of our conceit and determine the fate of a manuscript, merely driven by our whim and fancy? I am regularly amazed when authors tell me how coldly publishers act. We needed to change that. The only way to financially structure an audacious vision like this was through Quignog. Quignog intends to act as a channel through which we can bring in talent and develop that into a strong team of writers. I can assure you, in a matter of few years, you will see quignoggers making a very significant mark in our industry.
Related Articles :
- Litterateurs Organizes Bloggers Meet on Exploring Modern Literature
- 8 Indian Female Authors whom we can’t ignore In 2018
- “A Suitable Girl”- Finally finding itself Suitable
- Love & Equality Redefined
Q5. How do you see “Two Sides of a Coin“?
Ans. This is a compelling story. It has transformative powers. We are flooded with non-fiction writing about Kashmir, that either takes an essayistic macro-view of the whole situation or on the other side a very close look at some specific incident. For once, we have a story, beautifully fictionalized, that brings out the layers of the world that we proudly call our own, and yet hardly understand an iota of it.
It is a must-read for all people, living on both sides of the border. While I know, the amount of pride and commitment Captain Jay has for our nation, and it is refreshing to see that his narrative reflects his sensitivity towards human values.
Q6. What is the story and how unique this book is from other books on Kashmir?
Ans. I think my above answer deals with it. The publishers are often criticized for focussing on their celebrity authors.
Q7 What are the strategies of Pirates to make the newbie authors popular?
Ans. Yes, celebrities catch attention, and that helps. But raw talent is worth exploring. Authors are now learning to market themselves. And the better they get at it, the easier our job becomes. Your paper surely is worth praising for giving a platform to ‘newbie’ authors.
Q8. What are your upcoming books which readers should eagerly await?
Ans. We have grown rapidly since the past few years, and I believe 2018-19 shall be a landmark year for our company. We recently launched our new imprint, Inglenook at the London Book Fair 2018. We acquired a very vibrant children’s book Imprint called Larks and Fables, which already has five released titles in India, and around 30 more shall hit the stands in the next few months.
We shall release Ferryman by Claire Mcfall in August. This is already a phenomenon in China, with over 3 million copies sold. Legendary Entertainment (the producers of films like Inception, 300, Batman Begins, etc.) have acquired the film rights for this.
We shall release in September, a book on parenting, which is written by the nanny to the Hollywood Stars like George Clooney, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, etc.
Soon after shall come, The Daughters of Char Chinar – a harrowing yet endearing, survival story of twin sisters, set around the infamous south Asian Jirga courts, where rape is a punishment, not crime.
On the non-fiction and classics front, we are releasing a pocket series of classic books. After the tremendous success of our book, The Bhagavad Gita according to Gandhi, we are working on some other spiritual books that will resonate well with our young readers.