My friends’ list on Facebook is a real crazy mix, listing out a few:
Friends who love what I write and personally comment
A few who genuinely appreciate
A group of Grammar Nazis ( A few who care to correct, and many who would love to grammar shame the other/ who think it gives them a crown)
A few readers who don’t read but love to buy/borrow/take books and post pictures of the book online calling it bookstagram
A few who claim that reading is like breathing, they can’t live without books, etc..
One category that pisses me off — the wannabe writers/authors!
According to me, a writer should first give REASONS to buy their book, not JUST gift cards or money.
I read because I seek information, it takes me off from the real-life troubles; I like to improve my skills and vocabulary, it improves my imagination/creativity, etc..
I don’t buy a book because it is free of cost, or because I know the author (sometimes, yes, if I am aware that he/she is a good writer)
I don’t want to read or rather, I don’t want anyone to read a bad book or a poorly written book. I don’t want a book that would drag my knowledge down. A few wannabe writers only want fame, they write some bad college-hookup story, a boy meet girl – girl meet boy story with poor words and bad grammar.
I focus on being a trusted writer. I write micro-tales, short stories, thoughts, blog posts, etc.. eventually, even if people don’t read my book per se, they at least get to know and trust me as an author.
Let me give a sample messenger ping from an author I know — “Grab a copy of my book that’s on Amazon, the book is only 225 INR, and you know what? Am giving you a gift voucher worth 200 INR, you’re spending only 25 INR. Buy Now!” — I find this crazy, how can I buy a book just because it is just 25 INR? I’d be spending at least 3-4 hours reading it, is my time worth just 25 INR? No!
How about writing a good book, interacting with the writers/authors/readers with the genre, plot line, a few quotes from the book and asking them to politely choose the book if they are interested? Why don’t you hook me as a reader with what the book has in store for me?
I find it funny when the authors post their Amazon link and say “Grab a copy,” “Irresistible offer,” “Just buy now!” etc.. It sounds like a person who wants to get married yelling “Am good at sex, marry me!” , “Am an excellent lover, fix the marriage date,” — Insane, I tell you!
No offense my wannabe authors – but, please, focus on becoming a good writer than a famous author. Focus on genuine reviews and interacting with readers than paying 500 INR for each fake review, the minute you say 400+ 5 star reviews on Goodreads – we know it all! Be an author who has a story to tell and not someone who has 20,000 INR to get fake reviews. Be genuine, you’re not fooling the readers, you’re fooling yourself. Give gift vouchers, market your book as much as you can, bring the word out, etc.. but be genuine. Give your readers a reason to read, then provide them with a gift card, will you?
Writers/Authors — Work on your skills, improve your grammar, read more books, learn new words and how to use them, interact with readers, write a good story — the book will sell well. It will take time, years together. But, as I always say, the view from the summit is damn worth it!
P.S – Sorry that I used this title and image. I would like this post to be read by many wannabe writers, authors, readers, book reviewers, etc.. to change their notion a bit.
I’d better write three novels than a synopsis, because, it is THAT difficult. For my next flick Dirty Martini – My editors and I re-wrote the synopsis for almost 50 times though we are convinced now, we also know how challenging and painstaking it is. Agents ask for synopsis along with your query letter most of the times.
I thought this post would be of some use to the newbies and also, for the authors to use this as a checklist.
Quintessential a synopsis:
1-2 pages in length
All the essential details of your novel should be summarized
It must be interesting enough to be picked
Yes, Challenging indeed.
Protagonist, the conflict, and setting
As I usually say, all the stories are about pushing the protagonist in a situation and helping him/her to come out of it. Make sure it is fresh, new and exciting. Ensure that your elements in your story don’t reflect or imitate any other.
Major plot turns/twists
Explain the motivation of your protagonist, emotions of the characters involved during these plot turns should be recorded
How the major plot is resolved
The ending, the surprise factors, etc.. should be listed
Points to remember/ Checklist:
Give a clear picture – the roadmap of your novel (the complete skeleton) the reader/agent should not feel confused. Focus on clarity
Don’t cram too many characters – just your protagonist, antagonist, and one or two major supporting characters
No descriptions – No unnecessary details
No to jargons
Don’t refer other novels
No adverbs and No cliches
A good opening line is a good brownie point
Use active voice
Avoid the character’s backstory in the synopsis
Don’t split your synopsis into sections/don’t use labels as you do while brainstorming
If you have more points to add, please feel free to comment
Back with another Indian-Publishing-Scene post, if you’ve not read my Indian authors and book marketing post, please do!
Why this post? Because I hear a lot of issues between the publisher-author duo these days. To mention a few complaints:
The publisher won’t give the author royalty for the first 1000 copies.
The publisher asked to sign an agreement to buy 200 copies of your book.
The publisher has increased the MRP and is not ready to reduce which affects the book sales.
My book is out of stock, and my publisher refused to reprint.
My publisher is not sending my books to any bookstore.
I spent XXXXX on publishing my book, you know it’s my baby, but, I didn’t get any returns.
Having published a book already, and having gone through the ups and downs of the publishing industry in a short span. I thought this had to be said.
Dear Author, you’re facing these issues because of YOU. It was you who wanted to publish the book right away. It was your choice to go with a publisher whose vision is to make money than to produce quality literature.
Gone are the days when writers had to send hard copies of their novel to a publisher, wait for their reply for a year and then send to another post rejection. There were authors who took years to get published, who worked hard on knitting their stories, editing it thoroughly and wanted to publish it for the love of literature. But, are we the same? We want fame. We want a book release every year, no matter what the story is, no matter how poor the paper quality is, no matter how bad the language is, no matter who reads it and what reviews we receive because money does it all. All it takes is 10,000 INR to get ten 5-star reviews right? You know reviewers who don’t read but post reviews. All it takes is just 25,000 INR to market your book on all Facebook groups, right?
Vanity Publishing /Self-publishing platforms (Not all) have dragged and pulled the Indian literature down, but, why care? All we need is the author tag? Throw a few thousands and get published. No, am not blaming all, but at least 3/10 do this, as I acquainted almost 500+ authors and am a part of groups with 10,000+ writers all over India.
Ask yourself. Do you see authors who published via the publishing houses that fall under the creamy categories complain? including those who self-publish/kindle publish as per their choice. Do you see them struggling hard to establish/market their books? As far as I know, not really, at least when compared to us – those who paid to get published.
I can’t stop you from doing what you want my dear author, but, if I can give you a small advice – research about the quality of Indian literature and the books that are available. Understand where you are, work on your story, plot, language, grammar, diction, sentence structure, etc.. Hire a good editor and give the best possible manuscript to the right publishers who are passionate about publishing good books. Wait, even if it takes years. Choose your book reviewers right. Don’t send it to every tom, dick, and Harry, please! The best type of marketing is the word of mouth. And, that would eventually happen. If not now, sooner or later.
I indeed published via a self-publishing platform; I learned a few lessons and now, am working hard to correct the mistakes and do well with my next release. I don’t deny the fact that there are good vanity published books and there are traditionally published bad books as well. But, the equation and weightage when thought through makes a difference.
If this post helps to change even any one of the readers’ mindset – I’d be more than happy, else, I’d still be happy because I feel better when I blog.
P.S — This post is not for anyone in particular, because, I have the habit of dealing it in person. This is a very common post addressing the most common issues of authors-publishers duo.
The fault in our stars, looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Mocking Jay, The Maze Runner, Perks of being a wallflower and the list goes on and on and on! This era is the Young Adult Era where the all the more rare genre became the pepping hot genre of the global literature which includes Indian literature as well.
There are writers and authors I know who are gifted with the capability of jumping across genres and succeeding in every trial. There are a few who would choose to write a novel in the genre of the year. If you’re that, here is what you need to write a Young Adult Fiction.
Here is the good news! Young adult is more of a target audience defined and the marketing strategies are also defined.
You can write a story so flexible where it is more like a thriller in which you can add elements of horror or fantasy or romance as per your choice.
Even adults these days read young adult fiction, as it is more like rewinding what is history!
So the age group of your audience is 9 years to 17 years or more.
If you have a plot in mind, and you want to flesh it out as a young adult fiction, here is what you need to concentrate on:
Generally, the protagonist is a young person falling under 15-18 year old
Use first person narrative
Pepper teen language throughout; don’t use sophisticated words that look bizarre. This also depends on the world building – a story based in the US will have a different language than a story based in a small interior town in India
Usually younger generation is well-known for the drama; they are usually narrow-minded and think of extremes so ensure that you use exaggeration. Even a forgotten record note would make them panic, if they fail in exams they would probably plan to run away from home. Use this properly!
The conversations need not be crispy and straight on face like those in Agatha Christie books. They usually speak with less or no analogies and use long sentences; they plead and fight a lot. Tap conversations, they are confidence in what they are and just do what they feel like doing – you can’t convince them, so tap immature talks and stubbornness.
Understand the hormones, and emphasis their keen nature – teens are very keen about things – right from sex to science. Add meat!
Hope that helps! Ensure that there is a vast different between Adult fiction and young adult fiction, research well, and pen down.
X-rated or Erotica – one genre that is difficult to pen, there are chances that you write excellently well or just go so blunt that you wrote the worst piece ever that would totally shame you.
I am so conscious about this, because, my next flick is a contemporary romance with a bit of erotica playing around. Hence, I started reading good number of books that fall under contemporary, erotica, X-rated, etc… This gave a clear distinction of what a good erotica is from the bad, firstly, Indian writers fail in diction more often than not. They write screw worthy words instead of right kinky stuff. Erotica gives you the liberty to pen explicit content and 18+ details but nevertheless, you are not destined to write something creepy.
Here is what you should know if you are writing Erotica or have it subtly playing its part in the novel.
One best writer who scooped me off with Erotica is Heather M Miles. Extremely well-written erotica which is even better than fifty shades of grey according to me, X-rated is one genre that is seldom picked in Indian Writing Arena, or, rather people would don’t want the tag and stuff the patty to call it a romance burger.
Writing sex scenes are pretty much same alike other scenes, but, you have to write it with extreme caution because sex scenes are going to paint the scene and the reader should rather feel good (Aroused – the best) but never ever screw their face saying ‘Ewwww!’ you get that? Please play around words that would make one feel better. Research enough, or rather write subtle than to use details but please don’t use euphemisms that are laugh worthy.
You need not write every minute detail of the scene, don’t start off with him pushing her on the wall to the final dressing part, your readers are well-sex educated, and you need not teach them stuff. Write enough but don’t flesh out that would make the reader feel bad about reading it. Bear in mind – sex scenes are never skimmed but read word by word, so this is where you have ultimate control over your reader and you can use this time to show how good a writer you are.
Don’t make a normal guy – a super gigolo type or a college girl like a strip tease performer all of a sudden. Give them the right details; sculpt them enough if you’re going to use it as such.
Rather, best is to write down your fantasy. Sex scenes or erotica novels are supposed to turn the reader on; else, you have failed big time.
When writing it down, keep off the thoughts that you’re family is about to read this and feel terribly bad about you, which happens in most cases though! I am lucky, that my parents don’t read my book.
One of the terrible problems when you are working on a novel idea is a writer’s block where you literally find it extremely difficult to continue writing. This is more of a stress or a burden, if you have a deadline either by your publishers or by yourself because most of us are not full time writers given the investment and returns from writing.
Writing needs extreme discipline, it is just like dieting, you can’t just eat all you want and expect to lose weight. You have to surrender yourself and work enough concentrating on losing weight. Likewise, with writing, I know a friend of mine who typically sits like a robot at 11:00 PM and types away till 12 and I am of a type, who can ONLY write in the night when all are asleep. So, if you have a disciplined scheduled for writing – chances are that you seldom fall under this block.
Also, it is important to keep off distractions when writing. Many authors turn off internet, switch off their phone, lock themselves in a room or even travel across with their laptop in a cottage to type away their story.
There are many options like Artist’s way where you write 750 words early morning like a task, which will help you from falling apart.
Once you sense the writer’s block there are common things that you can try, first is to try something else – like painting or photography that are of interest other than writing.
You can use this dreading time to read, if you don’t have other hobbies than writing, eventually, helping you more in honing your skills.
I usually have the habit of traveling – I treat myself with a trip to a place that would keep me off from thinking anything else. I would mostly come back with a refreshed mind to write more, with a story-line or a plot idea, sometimes! So choose travel.
Else, take prompts from your friends or surf online, pick some plot and write a really short story on it. Try to flesh out a short story you read, or try to write a short story on the novel you read. So, basically, you’ll be writing something totally different from what you have ever written!
Take a break – even if you’re not in writer’s block, it helps you to be a better writer.
Vanity publishing – this is something I have discussed a lot about and I detailed reasons as to why one should NOT choose to vanity publish one’s work.
Here are my points that summarizes when one can choose to vanity publish
Vanity publishing is when the author pays upfront money to the publisher that usually ranges from 25,000 INR to 3 Lakhs as per the package the author selects.
Time = Money, once you choose to vanity publish, you need not do anything except to submit your final manuscript and pay the cash. All other things will be taken care by the publisher, all you have to do is to just approve.
You can choose to vanity publish when:
Please note: By now, you would have send your manuscript to many publishers who traditionally publish but failed miserably, yet you trust your script much and you still want the book to be released. Fair enough! So now go ahead!
Royalty – In traditional you would not make more than 20-30 INR per book, with vanity, you get around 50 INR
Transparency – You get to know the count of book sold at ease, they are mostly very transparent. In vanity publishing, the publishers help you with a consultant who will readily hear you and do as per your say, so you need not work on anything at all. Your book sales, your promotions, author copies, etc.. are accessible in just one click
Quality – There are publishers who cost cut and publish books that are of bad quality. Books that are shrunk to fit the page, font size, the font, etc.. make it difficult to read. In Vanity, you get the best quality. Paper quality, cover quality, font size, page nation, etc.. are done properly to fit the market standards
Distribution – Your book will be distributed online fairly well, the book will never go out of stock. There are vanity publishing companies that also do offline distribution if the books do well in the market.
If your manuscript gets rejected by traditional publishers but you still trust your script or if you have money than time or if you want better quality of books than those published by second tier or hybrid publishers or if you want your book to be priced reasonably less (self-published books cost more than traditionally published books) – go for vanity! Take a call!
One important aspect of writing is the use of figure of speech, something we seldom do. Having read enough Indian author books – There are a few who use it extremely well and there are a few who just don’t know what it is. I know pals who write novels that sounds like reading information at Wikipedia. So here is one of the less explored areas – understatement.
You write less but it is deeper enough for the reader to understand a lot from it. There are many micro tales and harsh realities post of mine that gets comments that they are deep. Those stories are pretty much lesser than 40 words, this is the role of understatement.
Overstatement is just the opposite of understatement where everything in detailed manner, a reader would eventually just skim through and not read properly when overstatement is used. Ensure you use overstatement only when it is relevant.
You can try writing a scene using both overstatement and understatement to understand the difference that it makes, the less you write, the more careful you are about using words that are very deep and you move on easily.
Don’t use overstatement unless it is poetic, or beautiful. Use frequently used idioms, or figure of speech to convey. Use terms like “Days rolled” or “After a few years” to change timeline and use the mood you have previously created to subtly say what would have happened in between.
Here is an example of understatement from my own kitty!
So, I approached my most favourite authors whom I have read, interacted, nudged with doubts, asked opinions, help, and what not?
I would rather happily die as a reader than an author; there are awesome authors I met in my journey who redefined what writing is to me! I myself find a good difference in me, my reading habit, my writing, and here are 10 questions to 10 authors, respectively!nei
Neil – One of the most promising Indian Author, reading his made me a better reader. His books are those that I would give to those friends of mine who say they would not read Indian authors, to prove them wrong. One of the best critics ever!
I asked him about his views on Social media for Marketing books and tips as well.
As a self-published author, I have used social media for marketing majorly. My initial presence as an author began when I started posting stories on Wattpad, Figment, and later on my website. I shared a lot of excerpts on Facebook as well. All these things received a lot of positive feedback and, apart from building for me a significant fan base, it also motivated me to take up writing more seriously. It was apt that I released all three of my books on social media first and then had physical events for them.
Having been using social media for book marketing since two years now, I would say that marketing does not work if you only talk about yourself. There are so many people who just put up posts about their books and such and do not engage in other ways at all. Remember that it is you who need to be visible on social media and not your books. It is equally important to interact with other people when they have something to say. You don’t get listeners here unless you are a listener first.
I don’t know about marketing mistakes as such, but I do have a grouse. And that is, social media marketing takes up a lot of my time, time that I would have otherwise used for writing. At present, I am trying to cut down on my Facebook time so that I can devote more time for my writing, but that could be just a passing phase for I have two books releasing shortly.
An interesting and strong author who self-publishes chucking traditional contracts, someone who is a catalyst of the change to help authors self-publish their books at ease! She is a strong woman and her books also touch base a lot on problems faced by woman in India and the taboo and clichés, she was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. Also, UK’s Glam magazine calls ‘Tell A Thousand Lies’ one of their ‘five favourite tales from India.’
I asked her about the view on women’s fiction these days, the view on woman writers and also, wanted to know her favourite book on the same line.
There is no doubt the same fiction written by men gets way more
There is this attitude that what women do carries less weight. I remember a recent interview with Times of India where I and another male writer were interviewed. The male author was called a full-time writer, and I was called a housewife even though I gave up my IT job (I have an M Tech.) to pursue writing full time AND I make good money from it,
I read so many books that I am trying to recall names. Toby Neal is one underrated writer. She writer crime fiction based in Hawaii. Her books are excellently researched and authentic. She does bring up the private lives of the main characters – which isn’t surprising considering everyone involved is either a cop or an FBI agent. But doing that somehow seems to dilute the impact of her gritty novels in some eyes.
I see Devika’s books just like a minion that sees a banana. I so adore them for the language, diction, vocabulary and the way she writes. Love oozing stories! And enticing books are all in her kitty.
As she self-publishes her books I wanted to know her thoughts on it and the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?
That’s a good question. For me, I love the freedom and flexibility of self-publishing. I have a full say in all aspects and can control whatever I feel the need to. I also think payment is fairer (at least for eBook royalties). It can be a bit difficult to handle all aspects; especially marketing – but even traditionally published authors have to carry a lot of the burden or are never discovered because the publishing house doesn’t really give them a chance. Ultimately, each author should make their own choice.
An approachable and ambitious author whom I follow diligently, her book is always on the best sellers chart competing with the US and UK based authors. An artist herself who loves art, crafts and paintings that look as lovely as her book ‘without you’ is!
I asked her if she believes whether the book cover plays an important part in the buying process.
Yes! I can even tell whether it is literary fiction or commercial fiction by just looking at the cover of a book. Most readers, including me, pick books looking at the cover. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but most do. I made my designer change the cover design three times to arrive at the final cover. Many readers have told me they were attracted towards the book initially due to the beautiful cover.
More of a friend to me, and a person I look up at, one of the most approachable to ask any doubt at any walk. Sometime I talk to, before I take any decision. She was polite enough to answer me, even when she had her book launch scheduled the next day.
I asked her about her biggest learning experience with respect to publishing, as all her books are traditionally published.
The contract is the first thing that strikes my mind when you asked this question. Not all publishing companies are the same and not all companies would have the same set of procedure. So, one has to properly go through the contract before signing them. One should discuss with the publishing consultant about the terms and conditions, In India, traditional publishing is the way which will cost less and also, gets the books to the book store, so any author would find any traditional publisher as the best bet but still there are many glitches.
There are copy rights issues, royalty issues, transparency in selling, and many more to quote that author would indeed suffer if they choose to traditionally publish. It is important to choose the right publisher
Ganga’s third novel A sip of coffee and a sip of love has been launched recently! Wishing her good luck to hit the best sellers charts and here is the link to follow her!
An author who writes on romance, she is well-known for her lively and not just happily-ever-after but slice-of-life writing! She is one author who proved her capability with her blog posts before her debut which made publishing and the aftermath a privileged entry! If you want to learn the right route to blogging to author, one would point her as the best person to follow.
I asked her about the notion in general that whether romance is easy to write when compared to thriller or mystery. I wanted to know if romance is a difficult genre as well. Because, there are millions love stories with minuscule differences. How difficult it is to make a romance novel to stand out?
Romance is definitely not easy to write than any other genre. In my opinion any comparison is waste of time. The thriller or mystery tales are plot driven, whereas romance is character driven. Unlike a mystery or thriller, the characters in a romance novel need both internal and external conflicts. While external conflict is tangible and could be easily expressed; internal conflict needs to be developed and has to be taken to a successful closure. It is extremely difficult to articulate internal conflict which connects with the readers.
Since it is a popular genre everything has been done, every plot has been explored. So the setting and presentation has to be unique for a romance story to stand out.
Read her published works and check her books on goodreads
I was introduced to Paromita through a book marketing community created by her to ease the marketing burden of authors.
After reading her works, I understood it was edited very well and so, my question to her was on editing!
Thank you so much Kavipriya for this opportunity. This is my personal views and in no way should be taken personally. Being good in English does not make you a good editor always as in the publishing field. You can correct the grammatical mistakes perfectly fine but when we are talking about books we are also taking about sales and above all readers. An editor should be able to gasp the nerves of the readers or rather the market. If you have a good editor, you will not only have corrections done but also have your manuscript edited as according to the market. Chop off the areas that are not necessary. Trim down scenes and make it more presentable. It’s like dressing your dish before serving. That’s what the editors are for. Hence according to me choosing editor for your work is very important part of publishing your book.
Check her words here!
We crossed paths at for writers, by authors group. His book ‘1000 kilograms of Goa’ is a huge hit, and the best part of his book was the world building.
So I asked him about his views on world building, how important it is and if it is possible to write a story based on a place that an author has never been.
Kavipriya, Of course you’ve heard of James Hadley Chase. He lived in Britain all life. But almost all his novels were based in the US. Frankly, I find it difficult to set my story in a place where I’ve not been. Even though I live in Goa, I visited many of my locations, some of them even thrice.
It all depends on how much the place has a relevance to a particular location. If it’s just a regular story, I could do a Google search and find info on certain places and look into their maps. But if the location is highly relevant (like in my case ) it’s near to impossible to do it
Even when James Hadley Chase wrote his stories on the backdrop of US, all the specifics he needed was the law in that country and functioning of other law enforcement bodies, In order to keep it real.
I’d just share with you something very embarrassing
For the second novel, i wanted to insert a scene in a red light area. So on my regular trip to Mumbai, I visited Grant Road and had a chat with a couple of ladies. I was finding it difficult to visualise what a real red-light -area looks like. Also, for the first novel, I visited a casino and was asked by the bouncers to leave, because they didn’t like me interviewing their staff, they thought I was a journalist or something.
Things that an author does to write a book and get information are indeed a great journey itself! Follow Rohan Govenkar for more updates on how his second novel is shaping up!