Many authors these days believe that writing a book is probably the easiest step of being a published author. Correction, easiest step of being a successful author. Your work doesn’t stop after you have written your book. In fact, the ‘work’ begins now. Assuming that you are either a debut author or you are trying to make your name in the world of Indian literature, this article is just for you. Let’s be honest, your book(s) need marketing. And if you look around, while few authors have already made their name and have a strong PR game, most others don’t get heard about a lot.
What do you suggest you should do? Of course, if you can and wish to shell out big bucks to hire PR, go ahead and do that pronto. The idea is to make a lot of noise about your book and you, and who better than a good PR person? However, if you are not willling to or in the position to shell out big bucks, does it mean your book will remain unheard of? Not at all! Contribute to promoting your book, because who can do it better than you. The other option is to team up with a book marketer, and let them promote your book in consultation with you! How? Here is how –
Firstly, you need an internet presence. And when I say ‘presence’, I don’t mean just create accounts in all possible websites. By presence, I mean active online presence. Facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat, etc are good mediums to be active on. People should know who you are, that you are writing a book and it is due for release. The power of social media is great and should be exercised.
You’ll need a website. Now, sit back and decide how elaborate your website will be. If it is just about the book, then maybe a simple one page website which talks about your book & you, and provides links to buy the book from. However, it is always advisable to have your blog linked to your website as should links to other websites you have written for. Yes, unless you are already a blogger/writer, this will mean hard work for you. Start writing for websites and your own blog, from the time you start writing your manuscript. Readers would enjoy reading you outside of your book too. Sharing your articles/stories/poems across your social media would not only create a buzz about you as a writer, but all familiarize readers with your name and your style of writing. Your website can and should include your biography, interviews, excerpts, additional information, details about your book, launch photographs, endorsements, etc.
Blog, blog, blog. Don’t be lazy. Keep generating interesting content so that your blogposts get shareed over social network regularly. Don’t take this step lightly, it is more crucial than you might gauge in the beginning.
Be regular on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Share your own thoughts and links to your own writings. Interact with other authors and readers. Share interesting and important articles related to your interest. Befriend/follow people who share similar interests in literature as you do.
Secondly, get in touch with reliable book reviewers and request them to review your book. By following the first step mentioned above, you can find reliable book reviewers yourself and won’t have to rely on someone else’s reference. These reviewers would review your book in their blogs and share the links to their own network. Alongside, request them to share the links on e-commerce sites, social networking sites and GoodReads.
Thirdly, offer these reviewers and/or newspapers/publications, interviews. Nothing brings publicity like an interview does. You not only get to talk about your book in your own words, the message about your book would reach a wider audience than word of mouth would.
So, does that sound difficult? It doesn’t, right! You can easily promote your own book sitting at home, without having to learn something new. If you think you require some handholding or help with the above mentioned steps, don’t hesitate to contact me through the contact form.
It’s been a while that I’ve been editing manuscripts and a lot of debutant authors have come to me with one common woe. Their (unedited) manuscripts are getting rejected. While I am not a literary agent, I do have the experience of handling manuscripts and making them what publishers desire. While talking to some friends who are voracious readers, we came to the topic – how do publishers decide which manuscripts have potential and which ones don’t. To be honest, only a publisher can tell you what will work but I have come up with a list of ten things which just won’t work, after a lot of research. There might be more reasons and the reason your manuscript was rejected might not be one of these, nevertheless, this post is an attempt to throw some light on what might be the reasons.
Your manuscript was unedited
Imagine this. The first draft of your manuscript is complete and you shoot mails to publishers with a cover letter and the first three chapters. And then, you wait. Chances are, you either don’t hear back from anyone, or if you do, it is a rejection. Does this mean you are a bad writer? While there is a tiny probablity of that being true, I’ll take a random guess and say – no. What went wrong was that you sent a rough draft, without waiting to first polish it. How can you avoid this? Firstly, by being patient. Walk away from the first draft. After a couple of days, come back to it. Read it and make changes as you progress. Do the first round of edit yourself. Hiring an editor is a good idea.
Your manuscript doesn’t seem honest.
Go back to your manuscript and ask yourself honestly – was this a sincere effort to pen down a story you had, or did you write something because it is in trend? Did you ape someone – in style of writing or in the plot of the story? Remember, publishers will invest in you only if they are convinced your book will bring them revenue. Is your manuscript original and honest enough to deliver that?
Your cover letter spoke more about you than about your story.
Well! Unless who you are and what you do can send the book on re-print just during pre-orders, your credentials are not important. Of course, you have to write about yourself, like about your previous books (if any) and other accomplishments solely related to previously published books. Apart from that, let your story do the talking. Talk about the product you want the publisher to sell, let that be the only focus in your cover letter.
Your cover letter had errors.
Like your manuscript, your cover letter should be error free too! Take help if needed, but do ensure that the language in your query or cover letter is impeccable.
Your manuscript had unprofessional typesetting.
Do not send your proposal/query letter/manuscript in fancy fonts. These are professional documents and need to look like it. To stay safe use one of these permissible fonts – Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana, Georgia, Palatino, Franklin Gothic, Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, keep the size to 12, double space the lines and use black letters on white background.
You’ve praised your manuscript too much.
While you do need to present your manuscript as a sellable proposition, it is not a good idea to boast about it. Do not include in your query letter how everyone who has read it so far has loved it and how you are sure the book will be the biggest hit of the decade. Don’t sound over-confident and/or cocky.
Your manuscript reads like documentary.
Fiction or non-fiction, your manuscript has to have a structure. If the actual story/point of focus comes after hundred pages, the book becomes automatically unsellable. Your reader will not keep patience till the tenth chapter or till after a hundred pages. Make sure you have spun the plot well and carefully.
Your manuscript is not suitable for the publisher’s reader base.
If you have sent a chiclit to a publisher who deals mainly with mystery/thriller genre, the manuscript is bound to be rejected. Do know that this need not be counted as a rejection, your manuscript and the context of the story was sent to the wrong address! Do your research well and shortlist publishers who publish books similar to the kind of story you have written. It is advisable to send the manuscript to those who would be at least remotely interested in the topic of the manuscript.
Your manuscript has too many characters.
In short, one glance at the manuscript and the publisher is confused about the story and how it will progress. And that means, the reader would be confused too. At times, authors, specially debutant authors are so absorbed in the ambition to write a best-seller, that they stretch the plot too much. Avoid doing this.
The language in your manuscript is pretentious.
I have said this to almost all my clients – the key to writing a good story is to write in the words most people would understand. Whichever the language you are writing in, use simple and clear language. Do not sit with the dictionary if your aim is to find the toughest synonym. Remember, that even if there are ten synonyms to a word, all their usage would not be the same.
For assitance with manuscript editing or promoting your book online, get in touch via the contact form.
Your manuscript is complete. You have been through it with a fine comb, made a dozen changes and only when you are happy with what you have produced, have you decided to hunt for a good editor. Rightly, so. In my years of experience as an editor, I have noticed that the role of an editor is not very clear to people who are not editors. Fair enough, we don’t need to know everything. Here is a checklist of things you need to remember before and during the editing process –
Check your editor’s experience and portfolio. Don’t hire just about anyone who can write grammatically correct sentences. Check experiences, work done and preferably, some samples if the editor is a stranger to you. Hire someone who knows how a manuscript should be edited, in particular – this is important.
Your editor is not your ghostwriter. Unless the terms of the editing procedure includes re-writing, don’t expect the same from your editor. You are the author. If changes need to be made in the manuscript, your editor will only suggest them and edit after you have incorporated them.
Your editor will edit your manuscript. If other services like preparing the concept note, summary, etc are not in the package, it is rude to try to get them done right before you pay the last instalment.
If you want your editor to follow a certain pace, make sure you do that when you are reviewing or have an email from your editor to answer. Keep each other in loop and respect each others’ times.
You are hiring your editor’s services for your manuscript. Their time is still theirs. Please respect that.
Revision takes time. Be patient.
Do the first edit yourself. This will point out developmental flaws if any, and you can mend them. Hand over the manuscript when you are satisfied with the plot.
Listen to what your editor is saying. If you have a counter-reasoning, point it out. But do understand that the editor’s keen eye notices what yours might skip.
The editor will make what you have written, look the best that it can. The story will still remain yours; as will be the onus of making it a best seller. Editing is a tool used in the process of creating a book, it is not a lever.
You would require your manuscript ready in time, right? Yes. And your editor would expect the installments to come in time, without having to remind repeatedly.
That’s all for now. All the best with your book!
From the time you had dreamt of writing a book, to finally writing it and getting it published, you have treated your book only with love. And of course, you’ve wanted that everyone does so.
But, when you are sending your baby out in the world, for readers to devour and enjoy it, be prepared that it will be dissected and torn apart as well. Figuratively, of course.
Dealing with authors and manuscripts day in and out, I wanted to understand how an author perceives book reviews. I spoke to Shuchi Singh Kalra, author of Done With Men and I am Big. So What!?, and she has a very clear take on this. “If someone offers genuine and constructive criticism, I definitely make a note of it but I don’t pay much heed to brickbats. Everyone has different tastes in reading and you really can’t please all, no matter how amazing a writer you are.”
Exactly, everyone has different tastes. Every one doesn’t need to like your book; in fact it is humanly impossible. There are people who don’t like Rowling’s works, you know? No kidding! While you cannot do much about the reviews which come from readers who have bought your books, you can try to use a little method while sending your own books out for reviews. Now this can be a little tricky, but if you are short listing reviewers to send your books to, do the following:
- Make a list of possible reviewers.
- Go through their blogs. This is important because there is no point in sending a chic-lit to someone who reads mythologies or thrillers only. Or, vice versa.
- Once you have shortlisted reviewers who read books of the genre your book belongs to, rate their blogs based on hits and digital media exposure. Don’t send your book to every reviewer. 10 well-written and genuine reviews are worth fifty casual reviews.
What happens when you select your reviewers wisely is that your book is going specifically to those who read the genre. In the market also, that is how books will be bought, mostly. Rarely would a historical fiction lover go buy a sci-fi unless there are rave reviews about it, right?
Remember that such reviewers will only be a handful. Most of the reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Flipkart, as well as on blogs, are by readers who have bought your books. Appreciate their feedbacks; they pay for your words.
“I haven’t received too many stinkers for DWM but going by reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, there have been a few readers who didn’t dig it too much. And that doesn’t affect me one bit. As long as most people who read my book like it, I’ll continue to write the way I do,” added Kalra. This is yet another point an author must remember. There are bound to be people who don’t like what you write. You need to focus on their ratio to the readers who like your books. As long as most readers have loved what you have written, relax. Read the criticism and find out more about them. If someone has written a negative review out of spite or just for the sake of it, it will show anyway.
So, calm down. Take a deep breath. Your book is going to do great. Get ready to write an even better story!
“आज क्या लिख रही हो?”
“कुछ नहीं कैसे? कुछ लिख तो रही हो। मुझे आवाज़ आ रही है, क़लम की नोख़ का पन्ने पे घिसने का…”
“अरे पढ़ के बताओ तो।”
“हमारी कहानी का अंत लिख रही हूँ, बाद में सुन लेना।”
“अंत अभी हुआ नही, तुम लिख कैसे रही हो?”
“अंत लिखूँगी, तभी ना होगा,” उसने कहा, अपनी आख़री ख़त लिखते हुए। ख़त में उसने लिखा की वो अपनी मर्ज़ी से अपनी जान ले रही है और उसके मरने पर उसकी आँखें भाई को ही दी जाएँ।
Little Kay was sad. After returning from school, she quietly changed her clothes, grabbed a glass of milk and some cookies, and went to sit on the windowsill in her parents’ room. She loved to sit here. It gave her peace. She sat there drinking milk and munching on her favourite cookies, while she waited for her mother to come home.
When Antara came home, she found her precious daughter Kay, sitting on her favourite window sill, looking outside while tears rolled down her cheeks. Alarmed, Antara rushed to her daughter to check if she was hurt. Seeing her mother, Kay started crying loudly.
“What happened, sweetie? Are you hurt? Is it paining somewhere?” she asked. Shaking her head, Kay kept crying. “Darling, you need to stop crying and tell me what happened!”
“I…I..tried for the e-extempore c-club b-but everyone l-aughed at m-m-me!” wailed Kay. Antara’s heart broke into a million pieces hearing her daughter talk of failure. She knew this was just the beginning. Life will bring more failures and her daughter needed to be strong in handling them. Kay was almost seven but couldn’t speak properly yet. She was on speech therapy where she was showing marvelous progress. But she still stammered when excited or upset. In her excitement for the tryouts, she must have stammered in front of the other children and what resulted was in front of her.
Taking her daughter into her lap, she rocked the child while she spoke to her softly. “And what happened to your football match?” she asked.
“We w-won that, m-mamma!” she smiled as she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.
“What! And you didn’t even tell me about it! I had to ask you about it, Kay! This calls for a celebration! I’ll call papa and tell him, we are going to eat Chinese tonight. Your faaavourite!” she hugged her daughter as she said.
“But, m-amma. I didn’t m-make it t-to the e-extempore club,” she whimpered.
Ignoring her daughter’s words, Antara asked, “Tell me, what else happened in school today? Did you get your Math test marks?” she asked as she continued to rock her child, holding her tight in her arms.
“F-full marks, m-mamma! R-ritesh l-lost one m-mark in a s-silly mistake!” the child replied looking up at her mother’s face joyfully.
“Look at you! A football champion AND a math whiz! Good lord, Kay, you make me so proud to be your mother!” said Antara, her eyes twinkling.
“Look Kay, you succeeded in two things today while you failed in one. Do you see how you are sad about what you couldn’t do? Who will celebrate what you could achieve, then? Will all the hard work you put in for football and math go to waste?”
Kay had stopped crying and was staring intently at her mother’s face.
“Try for the extempore club again, next year. Work harder on your speech; you are already so much better! You think today’s failure is permanent? No darling, you can win it the next time! But in the meanwhile, be happy about the good that happened to you. As you grow older, what I am saying now will make more sense to you. Remember honey, always focus on the present and the positive. As for the extempore tryouts next year, work harder and you shall get what you want!”
Antara noticed that Kay had started smiling now, the prospect of a new challenge intriguing the tiny mind.
She picked Kay up and sat on the sofa. Dialing her husband’s number, she handed the phone to Kay saying, “Tell papa about school today…”
“I’ll race you to the pool,” Rohan said, as he threw his towel on the chair in front of him and raced towards the diving board. Nimble on his feet, he climbed the lower diving board and walked to the edge. He looked at her for approval, his eyes glowing with anticipation. Seeing a slight nod from her, he positioned himself and dived neatly into the pool.
Lying on the chaise, Amrita clapped for her son. Her little boy was swimming independently. Just a month ago, he was petrified of getting into the pool. He had begged her not to send him into the water. His swimming teacher in school was a obviously not doing his job right, Amrita thought with a frown forming between her brows. The man couldn’t even make a little boy learn to swim. All he did was, give excuses for his own inability to teach. The man had the guts to tell her, that her Bubbles had a psychological fear of water. Said he should see a specialist first and then learn to swim. Nonsense! She made a mental note of bringing the teacher over to see Bubbles swim. Her Bubbles. Her pride. Her handsome boy.
By now, Rohan had come out of the pool. “I’ll dive again, maa!” he waved at her and ran. The next moment he was at the edge, making a dive for the chlorine water of the swimming pool.
With a smile she looked at his direction, waiting for him to start swimming. But all that she could see was blood spreading rapidly into the water, right where Bubbles had dived. Her eyes darted around the region and it took her a moment to register that he had jumped into the shallow side of the pool.