Can motherhood be a milestone that marks the beginning of a new career? For Ambika Tiku Hathiari, the experience of searching for a book for her daughter, led to the creation of a novel concept. Not only that, but it sparked off the idea of a dedicated self-publishing platform for writers of children’s books. Anyone who has looked for a self-publishing platform in India, knows that finding one tailor-made to cater to the unique genre of children’s books, would have earlier proved difficult. Not anymore!
MomSays is an online platform committed to help create beautiful and content rich books for children.
BookedForLife chats with Ambika Tiku Hathiari, Founder and CEO of MomSays to know more about the journey of the platform and how it is geared to help those who want to write for children.
And yes, we also take a glimpse into some of the books published by MomSays.
MomSays was born out of your personal experience of looking for a book for your daughter. What exactly sparked off the idea?
That’s true. My own personal desire to put something down for my daughter led to this. But, that was just one trigger. Today if I have to reflect back on that personal journey that culminated into what MomSays is today, it is not just about a book. It was about encapsulating and putting together your values and your time spent with your child. The experience was more to do with the fact that I was creating something that my child would look back at and cherish…something that I would cherish. It is more than a book. It is a passage of values, of great times, of recording a memory in a sense. Lot of parents want to tell stories- their own stories to their children. This is a physical way of expressing it.
Why the name MomSays?
I’ve discovered on the way that fathers are equally involved in writing…in fact, are probably more involved in writing! I’ve actually got a trademark for DadSays as well! MomSays is actually not so much of a “mother says” kind of platform. When I was thinking about the venture, I realized it was more about my ideas that I wanted to communicate to my daughter through the book. I realized that I often say, “my mother said this”. It is something we carry with us. It is not just about a book. When I got down to thinking, the name MomSays was a representation of that feeling of carrying forward something, remembering what was told to you. The name also has a play in terms of being a little authoritative. But if you look at the brand and the logo, we have tried to keep the colours a little more fun and very reflective of what a parent is.
How do you ensure that the quality of the books you publish is at par with set standards?
It begins with the fact that I am a consumer. I am one of the many mothers who would buy books. I hold my brand to the same standards. Quality means a lot to us. It means the simple things like the paper quality, the binding, the printing and so on. But it also means that we give a lot of emphasis to the creative design of a book. That is where it begins for the child. We have engaged with artists who especially work with children and they are the best in the field. Whenever we engage with a designer and illustrator we share our guidelines with them. We ensure that the quality is good. How we put the whole book together also illustrates our quality. We have retailed at popular stores like Kitaab Khana, Granth, Kahani Tree and so on, and the bookstores have always told us that our books have really good quality. I think it is all about holding yourself to the same standards and not accepting anything that you would not buy.
MomSays is essentially a self-publishing platform in India. What kinds of services do you offer?
Besides writers of children’s books, our audience is parents and teachers who wish to write for children. The services we offer begin from design, illustrating, printing, editing and so on. We give feedback to the writer. There is an option to apply for an ISBN. We offer everything that needs to be done to get a book that can be at par with other books in the market. We also do many interactive sessions in schools with particular books. This is quite author driven. For example, we had a book on the theme of yoga, and we had the author actually do a yoga session with children…with all the animal poses! They loved being exposed to yoga through storytelling. Once we had a book on caterpillars and the author actually got a caterpillar for the session.
What platforms do you retail on?
The most important platform is our website, http://www.momsays.co.in. We also have some books on www.amazon.in. We retail through some independent book stores. We participate in varied book fairs as well.
Does a parent-writer have any specific advantage over any other writer?
It begins with a good thought and a good thought can come to anybody. An established author has a bit of an advantage over somebody who is exploring writing for the first time. But, if you have it in you it is just a matter of taking that first step. But it is the love for children is the common factor. If that is amiss, you can’t write a good book for children!
What kind of books do children today like to read?
We work up to the 9-10 age group. Each child is different. Children like fun. The minute there is something that is fun, or something funny, they are hooked! They are also very interested in characters. It means a lot to them, to see a character do something. That’s why they get attracted to series! They associate a lot as well. A child takes in things visually. Their world is very simple. They also like new facts and they are intrigued by it. If they hear something new they get awed by it. They like to know more. Either they like a book or they don’t. If they don’t, well, they don’t! No matter how much fun you try and make it, they will not like it.
With the plethora of book options available in the market, and with increasing number of wirters wanting to publish their stories, it often becomes a challenge to identify books that will really appeal to children. But, this self-publishing platform in India has gladly taken up the task by giving a platform to those closely connected with children, to express stories that have a deeper meaning and personal connect.