Twitterati start an independent publishing house to promote emerging Malayali writers
To say that the publishing industry ‘is tough to break into’, would be a massive understatement. Thousands of fresh, meritorious manuscripts get turned down every day for frivolous reasons. But there’s a brand new player in this ink-riddled game who’s hoping to lend a hand to nascent Malayali scribes. Timeline Publishers—started by three friends Akhil Ramesh, Hisham Mubarak and Midlaj Makunath—intends to eventually promote self-publishing, while keeping costs to a minimum. Their first book titled Neelachumaru, an anthology of 11 short stories crafted by new writers, releases tomorrow.
Beyond 140 characters
These Twitteratti explain that they all remained anonymous to each other until they planned a trip to explore North India. “During our travels, the idea of starting our own publishing firm took shape while we discussed Midlaj’s old short stories and how his book rights were acquired by a well-known publishing house,” says 21-year-old Akhil. This train of thought eventually prompted the trio to look at their own Twitter timelines—which has previously spawned immensely talented writers like Deepu Pradeep, who penned the 2015 hit comedy movie Kunjiramayanam. Hisham adds, “The core idea is simple. It takes a lot of talent to weave a good story with just 140 keystrokes. But sadly, such storytellers only manage to reach their social media followers, which is why we wanted to offer them a much larger and hassle-free platform.”
Neelachumaru stands out as its writers were given the freedom to circumvent the restrictions of ‘print language’ by arming themselves with quirky regional language references. “It’s hard to pick favourites, but personally I enjoyed Midlaj’s Veluthapatti and @_ganga_’s Theeminungukal. Stories like Gadikarangal Pinnot Chalikendathinte Avashyakatha by @kannuraan and @chiefthiefwind’s Hajiyali Masjidile Maghrib will also make readers think,” states Hisham.
As newcomers to the world of publishing, the biggest challenge they faced was finalising the manuscripts for their debut title. “It was really tough for the three of us to pick 50 stories, out of the 200 we received for Neelachumaru from Twitter. So we roped in an expert panel of three well-known authors to finalise 11 unique tales. We are certain that each fresh story will entertain readers while instilling within them thoughts to ponder on,” claims 27-year-old Midlaj. Besides planning to open a book café in 2018 and creating a new imprint to make self-publishing much easier via technology, the youngsters hope to publish five new books by the end of 2017. “Our next book will be a distinct, illustrative comic adaptation of evergreen content from International Chalu Union (ICU), a mainstay of modern day political education through memes,” concludes Akhil.
Neelachumaru is priced at `120.