Last week, my printer delivered 250 print copies of NRI:Now, Returned to India to the Amazon fulfillment center near New Delhi. I was excited, but my excitement was short lived. Turns out that one part of their inventory system acknowledges that the copies are available, but the other says that some information is missing. Nearly 5 days of contacting the Seller support folks has yielded no results till now.
Super excited! I will summarize my journey to becoming a self published author in the Indian market in a few future posts..thank you all those who have been witnesses, supporters, participants and fellow travelers in my journey.
Let me begin by saying that I do not buy books from peddlers who sell books on traffic junctions on the streets of Gurgaon near New Delhi, where I live. Nor is the intention of this post to promote this “trade”.
I have been observing these peddlers with great interest over the past several weeks. The books they sell very closely follow the bestseller lists one reads and hears about. This is not rocket science. It is quite likely that someone using these peddlers as another ‘point of sale’. I have touched and felt some of these books and have noticed that the quality of paper used, printing, and binding is at par with the books published by the major trade publishers. Many of these books are wrapped in plastic cover, and are sold at nearly half their list price. Almost none of them have dog ears or any other signs that they are used.
At two different traffic intersections this week, I saw that the following books were being sold. And to me, it is proof that these books are indeed in demand from readers. And the list is an interesting mix of both fiction and nonfiction. In a random order, the list is as follows:
I am left wondering: should the folks at Nielsen Bookscan India include these sales in their rankings? And as an author, would you be excited to see your book being sold at traffic junctions? (i.e. would that be an indicator that your book is indeed selling well, even though you lose out on the royalty payments?)
It has been a little more than a year (53 weeks to be precise) since I wrote my first post on this blog. So as a birthday gift to the blog, I decided to change the theme.
I had started my journey with the intention of sharing my experiences as a first time fiction author who was trying to get his book published in India. On May 13th 2013, precisely one year ago, I had sent off the book proposals to the top three publishers in India. The result did disappoint me a bit, though it did not surprise me. All three of them rejected Now, Returned to India. Well.. two of them sent me the rejection emails, the third one is yet to respond.
As I worked on the draft, I became familiar with new terms like copy editing and cover design. The importance of a writing schedule became more and more evident (trust me, I am still not adhering to it the way I should). And thus continued my journey.
In the days to come, the editor will start their work on the draft. The cover designers will be finalized. And most importantly, my wife and I will start identifying self publishing agencies. And while I keep working on the sequel, she will fine tune the marketing plan. Exciting times lie ahead of us! With an end July/ early August release for the novel, time is really short.
The next few weeks are going to be quiet as the book is getting chiseled and polished. And I am planning to use this period to share what I have learnt about the book publishing industry in India so far. With that goal in mind, I thought of setting up a sister blog: Maze Pustak( Maze, pronounced maa-zay, means mine in Marathi. Pustak is a Marathi word which means book. Pustak has the same meaning in Hindi and several other Indian languages as well. Watch out for http://www.mazepustak.wordpress.com in the days to come.
Since my last few posts dealt with the book publishing industry in India, I thought of creating another blog so as to stay true to the original intent behind this blog: tracing my journey as a first time author.
Don’t get confused by the title. I am simply trying to give in to my urge of writing the sequel for Now, Returned to India. Actually, not one, not two, but three sequels. And thanks to Camp Nanowrimo, work on the first one is under way. Noe you might ask, why a four part series? It so happened that as I was working on the first novel, a few other ideas kept pouring in, and somehow they involved most of the characters I was already working on. The plots are interesting, and I hope to complete atleast two of the sequels by the end of the year. Ambitious, I agree, considering that the first novel took two and a half years.
I am also using this opportunity to give a couple of updates: I will be on vacation next week, so I will not be posting on the blog for nearly 10 days for now. Some may call it a blessing, as they will be spared the torture of reading what I write. For those who think otherwise, I am excited to inform you of a new blog that I am setting up. More on that later. till then, happy reading/ writing/ writing about reading, or reading about writing – as per your preference.
For the past two weeks I have been experiencing a very nasty back ache, which has caused me to stay away from posting on this blog. But I am working on a very exciting assignment right now- will post the findings of my work this Thursday.
Before I add anything further, here are a few updates- March brought two negatives : Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and the DNA/Hachette Hunt for the Next Bestseller. And while I await the final verdict from a publisher on the manuscript, I have also been exploring the self publishing route very seriously. And that’s what my “exciting assignment” is about.
Earlier this week, a writer and fellow blogger asked me how did I approach my reviewers. At the same time, I heard on the most recent show of Simon’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast that probably 20 is a good number of beta readers to have. This got me thinking: How did I actually do it? Over the past several months, I had been so enamored by the novel that it is quite likely that I must have told anybody and everybody who cared to listen. And that probably got a lot of people interested to read Now, Returned to India during the interview.
Coming back to the question: When and where did I approach the reviewers?
In my case, the book reviews took place in two phases. The first phase was from June to September 2013, when I only sent the first one or two chapters to over 30 readers. My starting point was the tried and tested method- largely friends and family. I also approached few readers from my alumni or professional network, but the majority of the reviewers were “cold calls”. It so happened that my wife and I had set up a food stall for nearly a week in September at a fair. While she was getting the orders ready, I pitched the book to the customers or other who were simply curious to know what we had to offer. I had prepared a bunch of leaflets that told the prospective reviewer about the book, and also had a tearaway for people to write their names and contact details. I managed to get more than 30 reviewers this way. It was an interesting experience to say the least!
The second phase began in January, when I had substantially re-written the rest of the draft. I contacted a few of my friends & family again, but largely my alumni network and also members of the Return to India Forum, where it all began for me. I also happened to attend a family wedding in January, and unexpectedly discovered a new potential audience of my novel. They reviewed a few sample chapters and gave really encouraging feedback. (More on my target audience in a later post).
I am also including below the profile of the respondents. As you may note, nearly 1 in every 2 persons who I approached has given some feedback or the other. Many of them have gone line by line and sent back the sample chapters in track change mode (I had sent word docs to most of them), others sent long-ish emails with details on what works in the novel and what doesn’t.
For those who did not respond, I understand and appreciate that they are busy people, and it is perfectly fine!. Or maybe they did not like what they read and are too polite to let me know that.
I would be curious to know what other’s experiences have been with beta readers. Same question again, when and how did they approach them?