5 things that can make your debut book a bestseller!

Welcome, dear first-time authors!

In this post, you’ll find the ingredients that make your soup the most sought after at the annual readers’ dinner party (ARDP); rather than land you in a soup through the dismal sales records.

Photo credits : Teleread.com

What are my credentials, you ask? Well, I am one of your targeted Indian readers, who has been starved for a good Indian soup since some decades.

If you go to any best-selling author (I’ve been to discussion panel sessions featuring the stars of Indian fiction – Amish, Ravi Subramanian), they’ll tell you that the topmost ‘thing’ that can make your book a bestseller is – marketing. Author Ashwin Sanghi swears that he has stormed ahead of many a better writers than him because of his clever marketing tactics.

While I agree with this to a certain extent, I also feel that the soup will not ‘sell’ unless it has some underlying unique OR popular taste that the feasters at the ARDP like. Sooner or later, the readers will discover that the promise of quality is a hoax, and most of them will not finish the soup. If they’ve already finished it, they won’t take the soup offered by you at the next ARDP.

So, hurry up and pick these ingredients off the proverbial book writing shelf:

  1. Story : Make the book about your story, not about your linguistic skills.See, the fact that you have undertaken the herculean task of setting out to write a book screams from the rooftops that you have a flair for expressing yourself through your writing. It also establishes that you are relatively well-versed with the rules of grammar and have a vast vocabulary.

    Because, other people who don’t have these qualities would get cold feet at the prospect of writing down what they envision in a story, biography, or auto-biography. They’d get someone else to do the ‘dirty work’ of putting thoughts on paper.

    So, you don’t have to prove your linguistic proficiency to anyone. It is a given, since you’re writing the book yourself. Desist from dragging the narrative just to show off how well you can play with words.

    The language in your book should be according to :

    1.  The time frame and the location in which it the story is set.
    2. The social status and the educational level of your characters.

      This will help you in establishing authenticity – the second ingredient.

  2. Authenticity : Believe in your story. Only then will your readers buy it.

    Let your story be as outlandish as possible. Do everything in your capacity to narrate it in a matter of fact tone.

    If you have read any of Asimov’s books, you’ll see how unassumingly he goes on setting up the Universe that is statistically heading towards annihilation. The reader has no choice but to accept what the author states to be the ‘norm’ in his world.Even if the story is based in the real world, there can be some character traits, some scenes that won’t be easily digested by the ARDP, unless the author writes them with conviction that stems from – 1) Extensive Research and 2) Huge Self-confidence.

    Picture :

    “Masakali landed swiftly on the porch. His hind legs hit the ground first.

    Mohan retrieved the letter that was carefully wedged between Masakali’s front paws, which were folded in a classic Namaste position all through his arduous flight from Mumbai to Pune.

    Masakali gave a grunt of relief and dutifully licked his Master’s cheek. In return, Mohan affectionately booped his nose, which signalled that he is dismissed.

    He was dying to see his wife, Deena. He sprinted towards the mud pool on the far side of the garden. There she was, lying contentedly in the soft gooey mud. And nuzzling against her, were four pink babies! So they had hatched!

    Masakali was overwhelmed with joy. He lost no time in hurtling his rotund self in the mud pool and embracing his family in a strong pig-hug. This was a moment of celebration. After all, these piglets would grow up into fine flyers and help him realise his dream of keeping the ‘Fastest Messenger’ title in the family.”

    Now tell me, are you in the mood to ‘tell me that pigs don’t fly’ or ‘read more about the Fastest Messenger competition’?

  3. Visualisation : Live in the world in which your story takes place.

    Continuing from above, to create an authentic narrative, you have to be able to see the setting and the characters as if you’re living with them as one of their own or as an observer.What makes Harry Potter a success? Is it only J K Rowling’s lucid writing, or the depth of her characters, or the intriguing plot? It is mainly because in her writing, the reader is shown a world that is replete with details about its physical appearance – be it the sorting hat,the Hogwarts hall, the magic wands, or anything – alive or inanimate.

    Ironically, writing fantasy with a believable setting is relatively easier than writing fiction in the real world – where you have to describe the character’s house (say set near The Louvre, Paris). Apart from their abode, the characters have to have physical attributes and dresses that can be visualized by the reader. All this information should be conveyed subtly, rather than pointing it out in an obvious sentence.

    Picture :

    “Rani was a tall girl. All her cousins were shorter than her. So they made her get the cookies, which her mother hid on the top shelf in the kitchen.”

    And…

    “Rani could reach the top shelf of the kitchen cupboards, without as much as standing on her toes. Her cousins had often tried to jump on the kitchen platform to get to them, but they were always discovered and given the scolding of their lifetime as they hit their heads or disturbed the electronic appliances with their feet while trying to stand up from their crouched positions. The decision was unanimous – Rani would get the cookies. After all, her mother had hid them.”

  4. Rendering : Find your own chapter presentation style.Dan Brown alternates between two narratives – one, the protagonist’s and one, the antagonist’s. I have read some authors who make each characters narrate a chapter, to make the readers see their point of view. There are some who prefer the traditional third person narrative.

    Again the flow depends from author to author, book to book – flashbacks, cliffhangers, etc. are the chapter styles that I am accustomed to. Now, what works for a crime thriller won’t necessarily work or not work for a romance. Eh, all I am trying to say is – instead of aping a chapter style that has become popular of recent – here I go back to Dan Brown’s alternating narratives – try picturing a movie that is based on your book.

    How would the screenplay pan out? Try to base the chapters in that sequence, and that style.Is your chapter descriptive? Does it have more dialogues? Does it end abruptly? Do not think about all this. Avoid cliches like – leave a hook and make the reader feel incomplete after one chapter. Do it, but don’t do it consciously. When you’re writing the chapters as if they’re happening on reel, you’ll end up writing the most enticing book ever.

    It’s another matter that very few writers are happy with their book’s movie adaptations. The movie reference here is in context with point 3 where the reader should be able to visualise what’s happening – and that is only possible if the chapter style and flow are complementing the author’s narration.

  5. Revise : Fine tune your work for the finale.

    It is a known fact that most writers are big time procrastinators and don’t like revisions.It’s not because they’re lazy. It’s because they lack the motivation of going about a task that is less creatively fulfilling than creating the story and the characters in the first place.

    You can make the revision interesting by reading alternately as a diner of the ARDP and the chef who made the soup. Do you like the primary flavor of the soup? Can you find subtle underlying flavors? Yes, pat yourself on the back, and finish the garnishing. No, do the required changes/additions and then garnish it.

    Even I’ll revise this blog, and then post it. 🙂

 

Insecure Writers Support Group : December Question

 

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. My awesome co-hosts today are Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford,Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

December Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I am writing since I was in school. I have written a full 30-50,000 word children’s novel in the 8th grade. When I used to talk about becoming a writer, my Dad used to get very apprehensive. He appreciates my writing skills, but has two arguments – 1) I don’t write exceptionally well (read – I drag my narration OR I am too artsy – whatever it means) 2) He thought me turning a writer would mean I would not care about my finances and become the typical jhola-khadi stereotype most Indians thought (10 years ago) writers were.

For some reason, I have not bloomed as a full-fledged writer yet. I have set out to write a novel since 2010 and never completed any of the 3 plots I had in mind.

This question gives me a chance to structure my goals and the efforts towards reaching them.

In the next 5 years,

  1. I see myself as a regular short story, flash fiction and poetry writer.
  2. I would have written 1 non-fiction book.
  3. I would have written 1 80000 word fiction book, published by a reputed publishing house.
  4. Writing would fetch me a decent income, despite the popular opinion that writing doesn’t fetch significant money.
  5. I would have reached an efficiency level where writing daily at a fixed time would be an inseparable part of my routine.

Humble, achievable goals; in tandem with my overall goals for 2017.

How would you answer this question? Would love to hear!

Liebster Award and a few interesting Qs & As

Thank you Aseem Rastogi of Transition of Thoughts for conferring this Award on me. Sorry for being so late, but better late than never, eh? 🙂

No, it’s not a lobster given to me because I lie! 😐

Liebster is German for dearest,sweetest, pleasantest, etc. *beams*

liebster-blog-award-300x165

The rules are very similar to the Elevenses tag that I have done earlier on my blog :

1. Thank the people who have nominated you for this one and post a link to their blog

2. Display the award in your blog by including it as an image in the post or a widget

3. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the one who nominated you

4. Nominate 11 deserving bloggers (those who have less than 1000 followers)

5. Create a new list of questions for the bloggers to answer

6. Once they have been tagged, keep them informed about the same and also provide a link to the post

I do not have any fresh blogger to nominate. It reminds me I have not kept up with the recent flock of budding bloggers for quite a few years.

Please do not hesitate to pick up this Award from me, for yourself, if you land here and fit the criteria above. The questions that I want you to answer, are here. Do leave a link in the comments, so that we can hop over to read your interesting take on them.

Moving on to the absolutely stunning questions, which made me stop and take ‘jayza’ of my current self :

1. What product (eg: a book, pen, paper etc.) would you associate your personality to and why?

I associate myself with a box of crayons. My soul takes on the colours of one of the crayons according to my moods and mindset, on a day. And mind you, ‘blue’ for me is more a colour of tranquility than of melancholy.

2. What’s the craziest thing you have done at school? Or were you a very nice and sweet little child? 😉

I used to feed goats with leaves of Eucalyptus trees in PT periods and lunch intervals. I broke the spokes of the bicycle of a boy from our class in front of him, because he was supposedly bullying my friend and not letting her take out her cycle from the stands. Turns out, it was the other guy who was the actual bully, of the two guys there. 😐 I apologized later.

Lastly, I wrote an entire children’s novel in 8th standard. And the whole school, including the teachers, followed my work! That is perhaps the craziest thing…the list is endless though…

3. Describe the feeling of blogging in one word?

Cathartic.

4. If you were packed off to Tristan Da Cunha (famous as the loneliest island in the world), who would you prefer to be with? Or would you be alone? And why?

Well, I suppose I’ll have to go with Abhijeet. I’d like to take a pet cat with me.

5. What is the best and the worst thing you have heard about your blog?

Best thing :

Here’s a true incident. I stumbled on a foreign writer’s blog. I wrote to her in reply to her poem, in the comments section : a poem based on hers. I also posted a link of one of my tags for her to look at. Next day, I found that it was deleted! I wrote to her again. She said to me that she doesn’t accept Awards and wouldn’t have me spamming her blog. I had indeed overlooked her policy, and hence, I apologised. Later, I posted the version that I remembered on my own blog. She said it was nice. I migrated my blog a few months later. She must have seen it in her trackbacks, came there, and posted the most amazing comment. Ofcourse, she did not recognise that the poem was posted previously on my other blog also. Have a look. Do visit her poem too, it has the conversation about the comments. I still love her writing 🙂

Worst thing :

I don’t remember a single bad thing…though at home, if I am writing a blog, they do shout at me to get up and do ‘something actually worthwhile’. But that’s not about my blog, that’s about me being lazy 🙂

6. Life as a bed of roses or life full of obstacles, you prefer? (The middle ground is not an option ;))

Bed of roses, of course. *dreams of being a Disney princess in a castle*

7. Any specific book / movie which has shaped the journey of your life?

‘Towards the silver crests of Himalayas’ and ‘Why am I an atheist’. I read the latter first(in 10th) and was flabbergasted that if there is really no God, how would I survive on my own? I read the former in 1st year of Engineering, and it cleared a lot of doubts in my head. It made a rational believer out of me.

8. If you have just been announced as the winner of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’, what would you do with the money?

Keep a fair amount aside for shopping/travelling immediately, and entrust the rest to husband’s care. He would know how to invest it.

9. What’s that one dream which if fulfilled will give a new meaning to your life?

If I get published by a noted publishing house, it would give me the confidence to write my life away. Because that is what I want to do with my life.

10. What is the most exciting thing you have ever done (or you want to do)?

I want to build a tree-house by myself (since I was a kid). As a kid,I have spent days on end devising a strategy to use neem tree twigs to build a hut. If I get to build it with children of my own, that’d be the most exciting thing.

11. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

I am a perennial optimist. Though I can be cynical at times…

Man! I feel like an Author!

I was feeling uncomfortable since a few days. You know that weird feeling when a character keeps bugging you to write it? That!

So I wrote.

I felt exactly like Shania Twain in

(okay I notice the Shania connection with my story now, but she had absolutely no say in the character – even I noticed her name now :P)

It started with a fleeting thought that a story should be written where the character transforms herself head to toe for a role, from which she is a far cry in real life. When she gets this chance, she puts her heart and soul into the character she’s playing. Now she had to be this dorky, nerdy writer-director who has never been on stage or in front of the camera. Nobody knows her potential as an actor. Someone like Kiran Rao popped in my head.

This idea lay dormant in lined pages of my notebook till one and a half year. Just a para, where the lead actor is surprised by a sultry actress suddenly walking on stage – that actress being none other than the director herself!

I did not know how to make head or tail of it. I always wanted it to be a short story; but what would be the premise, the conflict, the ending? Niet, my brain refused to cooperate. One Saturday in July, I had the time and inclination to write and no topic in sight.

I remembered the idea and decided to explore it. I took a Word page and typed away till I had finished Part I. And lo behold! The character Leena told me so much about herself! I thought of writers, who say that their characters reveal themselves to them, as crazy. Completely cuckoo! What do I find? I am one of the species!

Great. Written at one go – the shorty story seemed lengthy and boring. So I cleverly made Parts and decided on a 3 post blog series. But then the inner desire for publicity led me to explore publishing options. I searched for short story submission sites and decided against them – ‘cos I noticed many a good story gets lost for the want of good feedback and word of mouth publicity.

I had heard of ePubs and Kindle thing and decided to explore it. To my immense joy, I found that KDP allows me to self-publish for free. How nice of them! Alrighty, then. It was decided. Some more research and I was convinced by some veteran short story writers that this is the genre to write for and publish on Amazon.

Lots of tinkering later, I have the following things for you to visit :

1. My eBook (Short Story) – about 4000 Words – FREE on Amazon till tomorrow (18 July 2014) and $0.99 (RS 59) after that. (Click on picture to download on Amazon.)

Not my type.

You can read it on your Kindle App or on web (for web you need click on BUY and select Kindle Cloud Reader.) If you have any problem downloading, feel free to write to me at wordcoiner[at]gmail.com or tweet to me @thewordcoiner.

Review on Amazon.com is a must!

2. And a very own Author page on Amazon!

Right now, I am on cloud nine and nothing is as perfect as my eBook. So if you do find any typos or formatting errors therein, please bring them to my notice and ground me 😀

Author Interview : J K Sachin of The PM’s Wishlist

16th May, a day when the destiny of the largest democracy will be sealed for the next 5 years. A major change in power is expected. What better a time to post the author interview of Mr J K Sachin! The man who dreamed of writing a political story of a dynamic PM and his wishlist and wrote it so wonderfully.

His latest offering, the PM’s wishlist is available on Kindle at Amazon.
I was interested in the book for 2 reasons :

1) I heard about it from Anita Menon, who I know has a penchant for dishing out (literally) and fishing out the most peculiar of stories.

2) I have a political plot of mine 😉 and I envy, admire and research all political fiction books I can find.

The book was a great read, albeit lengthy – but then it does get lengthy when one is trying to fit 5 years of a drastic image shift of a nation the size and stature of India.

Without much ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Mr J K Sachin.

You have desisted from describing the Prime Minister’s appearance, background (religious/educational/financial) and rise from the grassroot level. How did you picture him while writing? Did you see yourself in him?

I was sensitive to the fact that people had very fixed perceptions about who they would like to see as their PM. I did not want to take the uphill route of trying to replace the persona in people’s mind with a character from my imagination. I deliberately chose to avoid describing the PM. Fans of Mr. Modi, Mr Gandhi and Mr. Kejriwal or other leaders are free to imagine their leader as the PM in the book. Besides improving acceptability of the character, it makes people’s perceptions stronger. However I did not imagine myself at all. It would be too preposterous though I did have a fancy of becoming a PM in my schooling days.

Was the novel strategically released during the election frenzy? What was the total time you worked on the draft? How important is it to promote the book, after its release, according to you?

I had been working over weekends for almost two years but decided to pack the research into a book to coincide with elections. Promotion is important. A book is a product and like any product has to be marketed and promoted.

What is your take on the current Indian fiction scenario? Do you admire any of the current Indian authors? Can you please share their names and the reason for which you admire them?

I find the scene too fractured and no specific authors have the kind of brand recall in my mind unfortunately. I did like Ravi Subramaniam’s The Incredible Banker though.

Can you please give us a sneak-peek into the books that are in queue from your pen?

I am working on a book on Start-ups in India and on the Customer experience scene in India. I am not sure of the completion date since a lot of research is being compiled currently.

For whom should an author write – audience or himself? Today, everyone wants to be an author. I am not being judgmental, however one spots a truck-load of mushy campus stories and books that surround a one-line story when browsing book stores. What would you advise a first time author such that he is encouraged to write and still does not churn out a similar run-of-the-mill work?

An author should write a book if he sincerely and passionately believes that the book will inform, entertain or educate the reader and add value. It’s a responsibility when a reader picks your book because he or she expects you to make it worthwhile. If the book does not contribute to the thoughts, inform, make people pause and think or provoke an argument the author should not waste his or her time and that of his readers. I am not suggesting that every book needs to start a movement but if the author is not passionate about the need to share his or her thoughts with the audience for their benefit, not his, a book should not be attempted.

Thank you Mr Sachin for your valuable time, we are pleased to host you at Wordcoiner!