In order for writers to be able to independently publish their books and e-books, they require high quality tools. These need to be easy to use and empower writers to publish their work, get it out for the world to see and make money from their creativity.
Luckily, Jaya Jha is a businesswoman who is committed to developing and offering such services for writers. In this interview we learn about the Pothi.com platform, Jaya’s first venture in this area and about her latest one called InstaScribe, and what it offers. Read on to learn more.
1. Can you please tell us a bit about your background and how you got into the business of publishing?
I am a Computer Science graduate from IIT Kanpur and an MBA from IIM Lucknow. My last job before becoming an entrepreneur was in product management at Google. Although a techie at heart, I have always been passionate about books and reading. I also write as a hobby. I had wanted to be an entrepreneur since my days at IITK itself. But I needed the right idea. When the idea of publishing my book of poetry struck me, and I found that publishing options at that time were very difficult to access and served only specific needs, the concept of Pothi.com took shape. This was a place where my passion for books and background in technology could meet and create something useful. So, that’s how I ended up starting a tech business in the publishing space.
2. You co-founded Pothi.com in 2008. Please tell us a little about this business and what you’ve learnt from your experiences of running the company?
Pothi.com is an open publishing platform, which can be used by individuals and organizations to publish their own books at little to no cost. The idea here has not been to displace traditional publishing, rather to provide an alternative to people for whom traditional publishing does not work. And we have been successful in doing that.
Our biggest learning from Pothi.com has been that persistence matters in the Indian market. And despite being considered a slow-moving, old-fashioned business, publishing actually provides a lot of opportunity for innovation. These include technical as well as content related.
3. Your new start-up business is called InstaScribe. What is InstaScribe and how does it help writers?
InstaScribe has a focused mandate of helping people create professional e-books. It can be used by authors, publishers as well as service providers. It is an online app, in which you can import your content, directly edit and format it, auto-create TOC, easily fill up metadata and upload a cover, and then export to various formats in one-click.
There are two common ways of creating e-books currently. One is automated conversion from an existing format such as Word or Indesign. The other is creating e-books from scratch dealing with HTML, CSS and XML.
The first option is not perfect, and can never be perfect. The converted document will always have unintended elements of formatting.
The second one is too technical and there is no reason why authors or publishers should have to deal with HTML, CSS or XML.
InstaScribe provides a WYSIWIG editor and intuitive ways of directly editing the e-book, hence having control over the format and semantics, without having to worry about the technical details.
Once you have the e-book file, you can take it to any publishing platform including Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBookstore etc.
4. What is different about InstaScribe compared to other eBook publishing services?
InstaScribe is a focused e-book creation app. Before you publish your book anywhere, you need to create an e-book file which looks good and which is compatible with various reading devices. That is what InstaScribe lets you do. And we let you do it with a tool that is intuitive for non-techies and still powerful.
5. How can writers find out about InstaScribe and get involved with what this business offers?
The app is free to use in beta and anybody who signs up in beta will get at least 3 months of usage, free of charge. So, we invite people to try it out and give us feedback on what changes and improvements they would like to see.
For those who do not have time to do it themselves, they can use our “Hire-A-Scribe” package, where we will do the formatting and cover design for their e-book.