All you wanted to know about Now, Returned to India

With one more week before the release of the print version of Now, Returned to India, I thought of writing this post to gather my thoughts about my whole writing experience. But first, let us begin what what the book is all about. 

Moving back to India was the last thing on Amol Dixit’s mind when he was leading a carefree life in Chicago. Then one day, he found himself sleeping on the streets of Mumbai.

Now, Returned to India is a Back-to-Rags story of a Non Resident Indian (NRI), and is a humorous account of the experiences of Amol Dixit, who relocates to India in haste. It all begins when he interviews for a job that he doesn’t really need, and then plans to spend a year with his family in India before heading back to North America. In a series of missteps which affect his social and work life, and cost him the woman of his life, Amol learns the hard way that living in India is no cakewalk. Inspite of these challenges, he decides to stay back in India. And just when his life has hit rock bottom, GB enters his life.

Now, Returned to India was shortlisted by DNA- Hachette in India for their “Hunt for the Next Bestseller” competition in 2014. This is the first book in the four part series by author Amar Vyas, and is inspired from Amar’s own blog which received over 100,000 views on the Return to India Forum (www.r2iclub.com).

Why did I write this book?
My book is based on a blog which use to maintain at the Return to India (www.r2iclubforms.com) site. My posts received over 100,000 views. Many members on this forum read my diary and encouraged me to write a book based on my story. And one fine day, my wife asked me to do the same. Between November 2011 and March 2014, I wrote, re-wrote and fine tuned the draft, and finally the book is ready for release.
In the process, I realized that I had many more stories to share, and plan to write a few other books that deal with the life of the protagonist Amol Dixit, a fictional character whose life is loosely based on incidents in my own life.

Why should you read this book?
Now, Returned to India is a story of how Amol fails and how he ultimately overcomes his failures and realises what being an NRI means. Most important message from the story is, as they say, “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.”
Amol was a failure for the first year and a half of his R2I (return to India) because he did not plan the move well.
I am not the first author to write a book on the dilemma, issues and experiences related to R2I journey. My novel may not be able to answer several of the questions faced by those who are considering, are in the process of, or have R2I’d. I have used humor to narrate the story, and hope that you will be able to relate to it.
My novel has been reviewed by nearly 40 beta readers and the feedback so far has been very positive.

Where can you find more information about my Now, Returned to India?
You can reach out to me at:
Web:www.amarvyas.in

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Three Years Ago…

Three years ago this day, I finally gave in to the encouragement that my wife had been providing (which I sometimes equated to nagging) and I decided that I was going to write a book. The topic was in a way set – I was going to use my life’s story as the theme: a young man from India, who has been living in the United States for nearly a decade, returns to India for one year and never goes back. I had narrated some of my experiences in my diary on the Return to India Forum. The title was also ready: I was going to call my book Now, Returned to India (a play on words on NRI- Nonresident Indians or the Indian Diaspora).

Even before I had written the first word, I promptly wrote in my email signature “Author of the soon to be published book: Now, Returned to India.” When friends and family learnt about my bookwriting (ad)venture, they were curious, excited, and supportive at the same time.

I learnt the hard way that ‘soon to be published’ can very quickly become ‘to be published after three years’. But it has been a long, exciting journey, and it has been a journey in which I learnt a lot.

The first print run of Now, Returned to India should be ready by the time this blog goes live. Hopefully in ten days’ time, readers in India will be able to order the print version of my book through Amazon.

This will conclude one chapter in my journey as a first time author. The new chapter would soon begin, and I will ponder till then: As a published author, what next?

No, I am not drawing the curtains on this blog. In fact, I plan to keep writing, because my journey as an author has just begun. Just wanted to share my feelings with the readers of this blog, many have been with me in my journey since the beginning. I wanted to thank them for their support and encouragement…

Meeting other authors is always inspirational

For the past few weeks I have met and interacted with other writers, most of them are first time authors. Incidentally, all of these writers who love to write while managing their professional careers. I have met the authors at alumni meets. and have taken the efforts to go through the pangs of getting their books published the traditional publishing way. They have told me stories of rejections, tales of long and agonizing wait to hear from publishers, the multiple edits to the manuscript, etc… But these seem like rest stops along a long journey, and the end result – the destination- seems to be worth it. I would like to mention a about a few of these authors in my post.

I will start with the most recent first: Vikrant Pande, who has translated a book on Raja Ravi Varma, one of India’s most celebrated painters. The original biography was written in Marathi language by Ranajit Desai. A review of the book can be found here. Vikrant is planning to translate four more books, each on a completely different topic.

The next interaction was with Ankur Mithal, whose book “What Happens in Office, Stays in Office” is about office politics, and other do’s and dont’s. It has received some good reviews at many sites, including the one at goodreads.

Aditya Mukherjee’s debut novel, Bomtown, is a story of young entrepreneurs who set up a restaurant. It has also received positive reviews across multiple forums, and the book’s facebook page has lots of links to reviews other information. I found it quite interesting.

And finally, there is Vivek Kumar Agarwal’s Love, Me and Bullshit – I suppose the title is self explanatory , but yes, it also has the tales of a young guy aiming to make it into business school.

I have not read any of the above books, nor am I writing about them to promote them. In fact, I am planning to buy them and read them myself once I have completed Now, Returned to India. But I thought of mentioning them here because meeting other authors is always a good feeling.

Going back to the basics

I had mentioned in an earlier post that one also needs to think about some basic questions about one’s book that need some introspection. It’s like applying to grad school, or even a job. These are the questions make you think about the ‘why/who/how/what/where’ aspects of the book.

Here are a few of those q’s and my initial thoughts that I had penned down several months ago as I started writing Now Returned to India:

  1.  Why did I decide to write a book?

The main reason was to share my story with a wider audience. My online diary on the R2iclub forum, which forms the base material for the book, had received a good response, and the feedback was positive. So writing a book seemed like the logical extension of my work.

2. What would be the category or segment of the book?

Based on what I have read, discussed and learnt so far, my book would fall under the fiction/ humor category.

3. Why did I choose this segment?

There was no specific reason for choosing fiction/ humour. My book covers a two year period of my life, so its not quite an autobiography. Moreover, I thought fiction would make it more readable.

4. Fiction is okay, but why a satire?

First and foremost, I thought of humor/satire as a category because my book is based on incidents that are now life’s lessons. Many of them seemed to cause a lot of pain and emotional suffering at that point in time, but these are also incidents that I can sit back and laugh about. And laughter can be contagious. There have been several authors who are masters of tragedy, and I have a great amount of respect for them. But for me, humor would work best.

5. Who is my target reader?

I initially thought that the 30 to 40 year old readers, typically those who have spent a few years outside of India, would be my target readers. They continue to be the main segment I am focusing on. But as I am talking to more and more people, I am discovering new groups of people who might be interested too. For example, parents of NRIs are such a segment. In an age where almost every publisher and most first time authors are focusing on the 15 to 25 year old demographic, I might be considered as an outlier.

A big Hello and welcome aboard

Nearly two years ago, I began to pen down the outline for my first book. It is based on.. well, lets’ talk about it later :-).

The idea of writing a book has been brewing for quite some time now. Quite a few of you might have have read about my plans to write via Facebook, in my email signature, or in person. And I am very fortunate that my friends and family have told me that they would like to read my work. And I should make a special mention of my wife, who has supported me all along as I have started writing.

Unfortunately nothing much happened for the past several months. I was hasty in talking about my work, and was far far away from getting it completed to my satiafaction. After quite a few days of soul searching, and several rounds of re-writing, I am ready to re- send the draft of my first book to publishers. Over the next few weeks, I will post about where I am with my writing, how are the publishers reacting to it, and most importantly I would like to know your views about the book.

I know I have not answered the obvoius questions like what is the book about, what is the genre, etc..Not even the title! More on that to follow.