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.
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.
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.
Am so glad that urban dictionary defines blurb as “The short summary of a book, usually on the inside cover or back, that most people read so they can say they read the book” and the other meaning listed also are synonymous to the same definition. Feels really good that this word has no other meaning tagged along.
Blurb – The second thing that one would notice, first being the cover image and title. An interesting blurb is the pitch which will make the person who spent a minute reading it to pay 200-300 INR to spend more than 2 hours to read your book. How vital is that?
Bad books with a good blurb sells more than good books with bad blurb – (jaws dropping nah?)
Things you might already know:
A blurb is a short bio of your novel in about 100 words or so, which will pitch your novel to the person who crossed your book. If one feels hooked to the blurb or feels connected or gets the vein of the story – tada! You see a copy!
A blurb is NOT a summary of your novel – never, never, never do this!
One proven method is to use a catchy paragraph that defines the settings of the book and end the blurb with a few questions for your readers to find the answers in the novel – read the book to get the answers’ type
A blurb should talk about the genre, should talk about the key takeaway, should focus on the theme
Ensure that the blurb is nitpicked from spoilers
Using the protagonist names are not necessary
Start something out of the blue and hook your readers
Don’t write the blurb yourself, because you as an author will be involved in the story whereas a blurb takes a non-microscopic cloudy outline – The best person is the editor or beta-reader who read the story once
A blurb for a fiction is totally different from the blurb of a non-fiction, so first take the right examples
Refer books that fall under the same genre
Don’t use sophisticated words or vocabulary rich content, but, never give diction a toss. Strike a balance!
Shamelessly! Using the blurb of my own first novel – I don’t wear sunscreen here, as a sample! It did gain the necessary highlight and it was written by my editor Harika Bantupalli after reading the manuscript.
Blurb of IDWS:
For Laksha, life is a gift wrapped in red ribbon. But that’s all shattered when she falls for the misogamist. His ambivalence and vacillation always keeps her at bay, turning her into a neurotic. She gets betrayed by the most credible, loses her job, feels devastated and dejected as incidents crowd upon her corrupting her naiveté.
Enigmas unfold revealing every glitch. Who will clear her blurred skies? What invigorates her career and life? Will she ever forgive her beloved? And how will Laksha survive?
The story also revolves around her rapport with Pallavi, a childhood friend and the relationship she has with her silver-tongued mom. Focusing on how experiences change perception of little things, this contemporary tale gives a better meaning to friendships, relationships, solitude, pain, compassion and success.
More often than not, Life drags you down to the adversities and thrusts outward to shine. It is your grit that truly matters when you reach rock bottom, and left with no choice other than to pick yourself up and leap forward, however arduous it may be!
Been two weeks that I quit my full time job, been two weeks that I turned a full time writer, been two weeks that I received 400 odd likes for that “Left my job” post on Facebook. But, it’s been a while that I took this decision and I wanted to give this a shot. A leap that was unexpected and a step that is supposed to feed my soul.
I am a complete weirdo – I don’t know what I want. It takes me a slip to understand it, be it the unwanted B.E degree or the choice of choosing the only choice I had – IT field that fed my wants, a relationship where I didn’t have an expectation, but ended up being treated wrong which apparently led to a list of expectations that I should have probably had up front. So I am a mess! I don’t know when I thought or started believing that “Writing is my calling” – nevertheless, that’s my solace. The white blank MS word with which I am “me”
I would now miss the smile when my bank account gets credited, I can no longer scroll the online shopping apps and order clothes of my choice, I can no longer go out with friends and spend for myself, I can no longer buy my own books but look for eBooks and Torrents to download, I can no longer get back to the lavishing me again. I can no longer walk with heads held high, calling myself a career oriented woman. I have lost it all, in one decision of mine.
Ever since, slowly the pain has started catching more fire. From the one who decided to quit my job for writing – I turned the one who is not writing at all except for a few micro tales and yes, I chose to freelance. Freelancing for money – spend hours writing on stuffs that are totally unrelated and out of the blue – bingo games, sex toys, drug trends in Philadelphia. I do write, but goddamn, it makes no sense to me.
What will I do? I have to pay for my editor who will clean my pathetic grammatical errors and let my manuscript shine, I would never let my book reviews to have “Pathetic editing” as a frown factor. How will I pay them? I have to pay my cover designer who spent hours illustrating what’s in my mind and how I will I ever pay? And oh, the marketing guys who tweet and Facebook about my book – how on Earth will I pay the big fat money? Oh! But for all this, my book should get published.
How will I turn off my friends who would ask for free books. “I need an autographed copy,” how sweet of a way is it to ask for a free book? Well, am a budding author, I can’t shamelessly ask them for money, they are going to spend time with my books out of the million books available on Amazon.
How will I pay the courier? How will I pay for the PR guys? – Everything about publishing my book is about money except for returns. I laughed out loud when a website that self-publishes book read “Usually the author gets 20 INR for each copy that gets sold, but since we distribute it across, it is better if the author bids lesser for their royalty” Isn’t it funny? I would spend my whole freaking time, writing – deleting – writing again – deleting again – writing. And then shape it better – shape it much better – shape it to the best of my capabilities. And send it to my editor – fight with the editor like crazy and get the best freaking manuscript, but then make 20 INR for every copy sold. Am not Chetan Bhagat to sell a million copies, I am not sure if any traditional publisher would ever accept to publish my book, am not sure how many know me as an author, maybe! Tomorrow even if I cross my own book at a bookstore and wait for hours, I would still not met anyone who picks my book. Oh my God! Am I a failure? Did I turn down a job that paid half a lakh per month for this?
In want of money – will I ever write only about online frigging games for life? In want of readership – will I stick to publishing books churning my own money? In want of friendship – will I stick penning leave letters and love letters to all my friends. Will I only be a freaking showoff material of my friends who say that they know an author?
Am afraid – what if my posts offend someone? Am afraid – what if someone points a grammatical error in this post, it would affect my reputation. Am a freaking writer – I can’t make mistakes, can I? What if I offend every other person?
Am torturing myself with these questions. This isolates me! I spoke out, I told my friends – “Get married,” they say! Marry a rich fat guy who will feed not just me, but even my publishing dreams? Oh yes! What if he loves me enough to start a publishing company himself? Oh wait, how about dating a publisher itself? Or an editor? Or a cover designer? – Oh, these freaking thoughts! How can I just get married to stay fed. Dad feeds me, yes! What if he falls sick? What if I had to take a stand? What did ‘writing’ do to me? Pain, pathetic pain!
Why did I write this post though? Did I take the wrong decision? Why is ‘writing’ not paying my house rent? Why are authors in movies and books turn bestsellers’ and millionaires? Wont I ever make it big? Will my next generation know me as an author! Oh my family tree, if you ever feel that you have a flair for writing – kill that thought instantly. Don’t be a frigging failure!
Phew! Writing this made me feel better – off to writing about some online bingo games, yo!
PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the demon that ruled my life for about 2 full years. Back in 2012 when all was well, life was at its best and I just had all that I need and want in one go. A lucrative job, a sound bank balance, NRI life, a beautiful family approved relationship, and what not? A wardrobe filled with branded clothes, perfumes, food as per my choice – a queen sized life. What would you do if all this were offered and taken away in one day? That just happened! Things turned upside down and I was standing with my trolley in the road scrolling my contacts to connect with someone who could help at that moment. Thanks to Dubai – the place where a woman can really walk down the street like a tiger would.
I had no guts to tell my family back in India, but I had to, and I had to connect with my dad when he got to know all that he should (Should Not). “I am sorry dad, I wish I could die,” I said. Crying pathetically, not that I didn’t try to kill myself, I was a coward and I was afraid of pain. “If you kill yourself, I will die the next moment.” Said my dad having my mom and sister next on the Skype call. “Come back to me,” he pleaded and I landed the next morning.
“Don’t care about anything. No-one can take you away from me, you need not work or do anything, I am here to feed you until I die. Just live, please, I want to see you everyday,” My dad said when I plonked on the bed.
The days rolled and I saw myself crumpled in the corner. Legs hugged to my chest, crying, wondering why am I living, wondering why this happened to me, I had no answers. I was afraid to step out of the room that I lived in, and I didn’t have the guts to face anyone. All my social media profiles were deleted. I would see my mom thrice a day, whenever she knocks the door to give my meal. I used to watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S series for the whole day and laugh, I still remember the day when my mom peeped through the small window to see me laughing and cried pathetically. “Am nothing, am good for nothing,” the only phrase that kept running in my mind. If I could do one thing in life, it is to thank the one who thought of the very concept of the series, I am alive today and you’re the reason behind.
People around knew what I had to undergo but refrained on my dad’s order. I walked to him and asked him to consult a psychiatrist for me. After a series of tests and counselling, she declared it is PTSD. “Do something you love, that would help you to come out of this,” she said. I laughed because I was good at nothing. Sitting in the corner of my room, I was wondering what am I capable of? What is best for me? How do I prove those who made me this?
A friend walked by and banged my door, “Come out of that fucking room and face the world,” she yelled. I was afraid. I didn’t say “NO” when I had to and kept compromising a lot to sustain a relationship that I thought would work. Life proved me wrong and that pushed me enough to hate “love” ha! The irony! ”Can you please think of what you were good at? What best you did in college? What you were known well for?” she asked from the other side of the door and I kept chanting “Nothing, I did nothing, am good for nothing,”
In the middle of the night, I hope it probably was because I had no track of the day or month or year or time or AM or PM. I slept for more than 12 hours a day, the only solace. Bloating was another side effect, I weighed 14kgs more than what I was. “We hate to see you like this,” conveyed those pathetic eyes of my friends who banged the doors and walked in. “I don’t want to see any of you, leave me alone,” I turned cold as one of my guy friends touched me wrong calling it an act of calming me down for good.
“I used to help people clear the HR round. I penned the “Tell me about yourself” answer to most of my friends at college final year. I will write the content for ‘just a minute’ programs for friends who lack good communication.” I messaged her at God knows what time it was.
“Start blogging,” she replied the next day.
Slowly I started writing, my personal blog www.preethinakshatra.wordpress.com happened. It was not read, liked or shared with any but my friend. Stop writing all your cry stories, she used to knock my head, but what topic am I good to write? “Come back to Facebook,” she forced and I did, a few friends were there by my side, not to forget any, I will never.
I was introduced to content writing via Facebook. It was a new term, and I was surprised when I heard that they would pay me if I write on the topics they gave. That was a ray of sunshine, and I started writing like crazy. Spending 5 minutes for lunch and dinner, I was busy writing on topics that I never knew. One such offer was to write an eBook on a concept which would be published on Kindle by another, typical ghost writing. I was angry to see my words published by another author for a few thousand bucks. “I want to publish my own book,” I called my friend, “Phew! I was waiting to hear this all these months,” she replied.
I had no clue what publishing is, I didn’t know what it takes to become a writer, I just took a book on my shelf and checked where I should put a comma in dialogues – before the quotation mark or after. That’s what I was when I started writing.
The journey was indeed very, very painful with a lot of pitfalls and loopholes. But, it worked. When I had my final chance of meeting my ex who was that big snake that bit me when I stood at 99 on my Ludo, I had a book on my name. “Am I the villain?” he asked, skimming my book and I said you’re not worth it. The one I thought my life is, the one I planned living my life with, the one I spent my whole lot of time to understand and mend accordingly – right from the curtain colors to the names of kids that we planned, every little thing vanished along with him in a day. That fucked up pain of losing the first love, which would turn you totally upside down trashing your beliefs.
I was still fighting PTSD with pills and a few counselling sessions which I wanted to get rid of. I abruptly stopped them, not sure if I was right.
In want of fresh air, randomly I planned an unplanned trip to Goa with my crazy friend. A kick-ass trip where I flew in the air, midnight rides, the booze street, casino and what not. I was ME after a real long time. I have been missing this, I thought. To break my chains – I cut all those friends who knew my past, wrong but works. I made new friends – online and offline.
Indulged myself in random groups that were crazy, be it the trekking group – blogging group – foodies group – social service group. When life demands to break down, I did talk to one or two among them sharing my past and that really takes a lot for me to do. Hardly 3 of those whom I talk to in these random social groups know me inside and out, for others, I don’t know what they call me, I let go. I cross hear all the opinions and judgements yet I secure the lock. A friend of mine pinged me saying “I will treat you if you sustain our friendship for more than a year,” because I can’t resist anything odd. In the past year, I have cut down more than 10 friends for reasons that might look silly, but, to restrict oneself from shooing away the other person who is not worth it is like controlling to pee. No matter how hard you try, finally you got to let go rather than any other trials of holding your bladder.
Writing turned my solace, I started improving. I was celebrated for being the writer and it was a sheer pleasure to be one. I will never forget those who were there for me when I was desperate to cling on to a shoulder, but mostly, I kept off from people calling me a rebel and stating “Am my soulmate”
Writing is not a lucrative job, it indeed needs investment of the writer. It is purely passion and love to be heard of, to use words to convey what you want which would resonate with someone out there.
Today, I have taken a step ahead to go with writing for maybe until am forced to work for financial crisis or whatever.
I kind of felt PTSD walking in again with my binge eating and my disturbed sleeping pattern. Maybe a blog post pouring my heart and washing away my tears which I hope to be my final call to kick out the trauma of the same room would help.
Writing can do wonders, it is capable of a lot things that you would understand during the process. I have lost hope in everything but writing, It brought out the happy minion that I am now. During my process of developing thick skin – I have dropped many a friends who are still there, watching me grow, feeling proud of what I am, quoting me as an example to others. Am sorry that I did that to you guys, thanks for all that you all were. Irreplaceable! I know it takes a dial to get back to you, I just don’t want the past to come back at me.
I know that am sobbing and writing crap, but hey, I will be back with a good post soon!
Lengthiest and worst rant ever! Good bye PTSD – you can never get me.
Recently, I happened to attend the book launch of Author Ravi Subramanian, and during the Q&A session when we asked about self-publishing and vanity publishing, he said “According to the recent research and statistics only 72 copies get sold on an average of a newbie Indian author among which 60 are bought by their own friends,” which is absolutely true in most of the cases.
Let’s take a sneak at the vanity publishing industry for instance:
I recently saw a video where a lady ties her cows near a temple, and sells fodder for those who visit the temple to buy and feed the cow. She owns the cows, she gets the fodder from her own garden, and though it is her duty to feed her cows she makes it her business model to make money, to feed her cows and also makes money selling the cow’s milk.
In vanity publishing,
Cow – your manuscript
Fodder – your money
Those who buy fodder to feed the cow – your friends who buys the book for you
Cow’s milk – Publisher’s profit
If you want me to be brutally honest, I would also say that you get the cow dung – Royalty.
Do you know? The vanity publishers feel damn shy to shout out loud that they are vanity publishers, they hide their identity with a term “self-publishing book platform”
What prompted me to write this post? – well the picture below
I had a few bad experiences during my transition from a novice writer to the person I am who knows the sad truth about the publishing industry.
If I were the one who talks without giving it a second thought, soon after reading that message, I would have replied:
How on Earth you call your book a best seller?
Who the F*** gave you the liberty to give it a tag like that?
Who published your sick book?
How much did you pay for those fake reviews?