A day on top and looking back at past decisions.

“Find something that you really are passionate about, Sai.”

Sateesh’s words ring in my ears. My (former) boss had figured out before I could, that m job wasn’t making me happy. I used to work in a Venture Capital firm and the job did have all elements to motivate a professional. So his words came as a surprise to me. I did have a passion. Passion for the stories of ancient Indian past, those from the Vedas, Puranas and the itihasas. I thought that had no chances of becoming a commercial success. I was already struggling with an earlier draft of Abhaya which, at that point of time, was headed nowhere with the traditional publishers (Little did I know that I would be thanking my stars for the same!). I never spoke much about this passion of mine with my boss, but his words implied that the commercials have a way of working out when we take the plunge. Four years years down the line, I realised how true it is!

About a year after that conversation, destiny took me to London and it was not possible for me, as a short term immigrant, to find a similar job. I decided to take the plunge. I decided to believe in myself. I decided to believe more, in the story that chose me as its bard. A voice within told me not to subject my final draft to an indefinite wait loop of the traditional publishing. The voice won. I am glad it did! I Self Published my first novel, learning every bit of the process on the fly, from engaging an editor and a cover designer to learning marketing hands on.

Abhaya, my first novel, not only gave me the feeling of self fulfilment of telling the story closest to my heart, but also paved the way for a journey of learning, of resilience and of pursuing this dream of a full fledged writing career. After an intense year of learning about various aspects of the business of book, publishing and writing, I managed to complete the first draft of my second novel Avishi.

Avishi gave me a different experience. It saw me transit from an author to an authorpreneur. From planning a full fledged book launch to liaising with  bloggers, reviewers and social media influencers, from diversifying my network presences to giving talks, online and offline, pursuing my passion as a profession taught me to be a true professional. To Write. To Publish. To Sell. And To Repeat.

Perhaps the universe wanted to show me that it is behind me, Avishi topped the charts in the formidable Myths, Legends and Sagas category for a day!

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Discount promotions by Amazon had happened in the past but never did I witness this kind of a peak. Avishi also got to touch an over all rank of #19 in the Kindle Paid store. Quoting Steven Pressfield, I felt that my journey from being an amateur to a Pro had turned a corner.

That’s what staying true to one’s heart can do. Do you have stories of experiencing that bloom within when you followed your heart? Do share in the comments.

 

 

 

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Spotlight – “From Everest, with Love” by Mountaineer Neillima Pudota

Delighted to Spotlight my friend Neillima’s book titled “From Everest, With Love”. The book contains heartfelt letters that the author wrote to her mother while she was scaling the highest mountain peak in the world!. Wishing the ace mountaineer’s book too scales the ranking peaks! 

Below is the excerpt-

While there are many physical challenges you overcome as you climb a mountain, the most important ones are almost always to do with the mind. It was the same with me. In my initial mountaineering days, which started with trekking, there were many instances when I wanted to give up and return home. But I constantly had conversations with myself, reminding myself that I have to make it. It is then I realized that my own words were inspiring me and I started to write.

Among the many beautiful things about the mountains, one of them is whatever you write when out there comes straight from the heart. Because at an altitude of nearly 17,000 feet, chances are you listen to your heart and then talk to your mind, asking it to stop sending signals of physical exertion until you reach the destiny. That is one of the ways you make your mind strong. What else makes you strong?

Talking to your loved ones. Yes, a constant conversation with yourself and the people who love you so much that all they want is for you to live your dreams, can bring out the best in you.

It was a promise I made to my Amma that I will write to her every day from the Everest, sharing with her all the details of the climb; my fear, my excitement and all the deep feelings I experienced during my climb.

While Sagarmatha gave me a reason to keep climbing up, this journal of letters addressed to my mom gave me a reason to come back each day and write to Amma. You will find, in this book, a reflection of yourself.

If you dream of climbing the Everest, this book gives you the details of the Everest. If you search for hope, you will find lots in here. If you wonder about disappointment, you will find that here too. If you just yearn for a gripping story, this book has that as well. And if you are struggling to face the mountains of your life, I hope this book gives you strength.

Everest

Hope you read the book and draw inspiration from the adventures of the author. Here is the buy link of the book 

About the Author

Neelima, or Neil as she is fondly called is a professional Mountaineer and has just authored her first book titled ‘From Everest, With Love’. Academically qualified as an Engineer, she has a total of 8 years corporate work experience before she started to pursue Mountaineering full time. An avid reader, a compulsive traveller and a fitness enthusiast, She is based out of Hyderabad and works as a director for Third Pole Adventures Pvt Ltd., her outdoor startup company.

#AuthorpreneurSpeak- Guestpost by Mayur Didolkar #MondayMotivation

Today’s guest post is by Mayur Didolkar, author of two novels and a number of short stories. His recent anthology Nagin has won accolades from book lovers all over the country. 

Ernest Hemingway supposed to have said once “there is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed”, and while there is no point in lesser (much lesser) authors like us talking about the truism of the statement by the great man, I think most of 21st century writer will agree that while there might be nothing to writing more than bleeding, career in fiction writing today takes more than just writing.  In my case, selling my novel The Dark Road to Juggernaut publishing and then going through the paces of pre-production with their ace editing and marketing team has been a big learning curve. This experience was further fine-tuned when I published my second novel Tears for Strangers and my first paperback short story collection Nagin through them this year and here are some things these 2 years taught me.

  1. Keep your day job- The simple truth is publishing (whether self-published or trad) is a tough industry to make a living out of, especially if you are the primary (or only) income earner of the family. As William Darlymple recently noted the advances paid to authors are going down (but speaking fees are increasing!), so this career has a longer gestation period. The good news is it is possible to write while you keep a day job. I run an investment consulting business in Pune since June 2015, and in the last 3 years I have written first drafts of 3 novels, 14 short stories and over 100 articles as well as the re-write/editing work on all of the above. You need to be  smart about your time management, have a positive attitude to the work in general and understand and appreciate how delayed gratification works. Having your livelihood independent of your writing takes a lot of pressure off the entire creative process. It also means you can afford to take smart decisions for long term rather than saying yes to the first available offer. In my case, as my day job involves interacting with people from diverse walks of life, it also gives me great opportunity to observe various types of people in different everyday situations, which is a great learning in itself.
  2. Editors look for professionalism over flash of genius- Unless you are a John Grisham or a Stephen King debuting at the top of the bestseller lists, your first work is a statement of possibilities for the editor at a publishing house. He/she is trying to judge if you are someone who shows promise for future along with the appeal of the current submission. Try and submit as finished a product as possible (I had hired an editor to work on The Dark Road before submitting the full MS and I consider that among the best investments I made so far), stick to your deadlines as closely as possible and remember Woody Allen when he says “ 80% of the success is showing up”.
  3. Once your MS is accepted and you start working on the edits, be open-minded about the changes recommended by the editor/s. In some writing forums, writers write about their battles with editors with a pride in their own stubbornness that completely baffles me. Understanding that as a writer you are too close to be your own editor is the first key to becoming a professional writer. I feel self-published writers need to be even more open minded as in their case they are also the client of the editor who is telling them what doesn’t work. Remember the old adage about a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client is equally true about editing.
  4. A professional writer will always have projects going on in different stages of production. While we were editing The Dark Road, I had already written five short stories and pitched them to Juggernaut. Once The Dark Road got ready for release, we were working on the editing of these stories while I had started writing the first draft of Tears for Strangers and while that was going through its paces post first draft, I had started writing the short stories that became part of Nagin. After the advent of digital publishing and explosion in the self-publishing market, the bandwidth on offer to each new writer is getting squeezed. If you want to hold onto that bandwidth, you need to have projects ready for publishing with a fair bit of continuity. Adam Croft, a successful self-published writer from England says the best thing he did after he finished writing his first book, is he wrote another. I endorse this whole-heartedly.
  5. Whether self-published or trad, do it for the right reasons. If you want to self-publish because you don’t have the patience for the process or the stomach to reject large swathes of rejections or criticisms, you are doing it wrong. If you want to go trad because you think self-publishing is somehow demeaning or if you think traditionally published authors don’t have to sell their own books, then you are doing it wrong. Both options come with their own pros and cons and it is very important to first understand both and then decide which one plays best to your strengths.

Stephen King has described writing as a form of telepathy, extending the same analogy, I would say published writing is a form of a magic show that you as a magician produce with the help of many professionals. A wise magician knows his strengths and surrounds himself with teams that compliments his strengths.

Be  that wise magician.

Mayur Didolkar is an entrepreneur cum author with an undying passion for literature, politics and marathons. Check out his whole published collection here.

 

 

#AuthorpreneurSpeak – How to Be a Guerrilla Authorpreneur by Adite Banerjie #MondayMotivation #Guestpost

For the third installment of #AuthorpreneurSpeak, I am delighted to publish the guest post by the very knowledgeable Adite Banerjie. Having seen the traditional publishing side of the ecosystem from close quarters, Adite recently turned to Indie publishing. Read on to learn from her experiences. 

There has been a tectonic shift in the publishing world in the last ten years. Getting a book contract from a traditional publisher is no longer the only way to see your name on the cover of your novel. The role of the publisher and/or agent who stand guard as gatekeepers to the publishing world has diminished. Suddenly, it is possible for writers to go directly to readers as long as there is a digital platform on which they can make their work available.

The rise of Amazon and its self-publishing platform (KDP Select) has been a game-changer in the slow-paced world of publishing. It has empowered writers by turning them into self-publishers and marketers of their own books. Speed to market which was once a term that was never attributed to book marketing has become the mantra for writers who have donned a new avatar—as entrepreneurs. Or, more accurately, authorpreneurs.

However, the word ‘authorpreneur’ is not mere jargon. It entails a shift in mindset. It   means that as a writer one is willing to dive into the business side of writing. For decades, writers have convinced themselves—and publishers have propagated this myth—that as a creative person one shouldn’t be getting his or her hands dirty in the business side of writing. But by accepting this argument the writer is signing away the right to take decisions on her own work.

Authorpreneurship offers writers the opportunity to make a call on issues that they have never had a say on—including pricing of books, cover design, marketing and more. But to be an effective authorpreneur a writer has to be willing to take the risk, change gears when required and constantly upgrade herself on the business side of writing.

Most importantly, while learning the new skills of authorpreneurship, a writer cannot forget that her book is the centrepiece around which all her strategies will revolve. So, make sure that the book is worthy enough of being professionally published.

As a newly minted authorpreneur myself, I have been keenly observing the traits of successful self-published authors. As a novice in this game I’ve realized that I need to operate more as a guerrilla authorpreneur to survive in this very competitive arena—and developing some of the following traits would be extremely beneficial.

Be creative: That’s the hallmark of a writer. But the authorpreneur needs to extend her creativity beyond writing and into marketing activities as well. Selecting an appealing cover design or communicating with readers and followers on social media platforms in a creative manner will make her efforts as an authorpreneur stand out.

Dedication: An authorpreneur is dedicated to her publishing timeline. She does not have the luxury of writing as and when the muse strikes. Time management needs to be an essential tool in the authorpreneur’s toolkit. Setting aside time for writing, marketing and online communication have to be factored into her daily schedule.

Learning and experimentation: To grow as an authorpreneur upgrading one’s skillsets is essential. One needs to keep learning from fellow self-publishers and the plethora of online resources that are available freely. But just because some tools have worked for one authorpreneur, there is no guarantee that it will work for another. While experimenting, exercising caution is important and instead of spending a bunch of money—say on a Facebook ad—it would be best to spend small amounts and keep a record of the impact. Every investment has a risk attached to it and being prepared for it is the best way forward.

Reining in expectations: It’s best to be conservative when it comes to estimating earnings from self-publishing ventures. As an authorpreneur’s backlist grows and her skills keep pace, her hard work and dedication are bound to pay off.

Self-Publishing is the way to go if a writer wants control over her creative work. Besides being a very empowering process, it can also be a lot of fun.

Happy Authorpreneuring! 🙂

After five years of being traditionally published, Adite Banerjie has chosen to become an authorpreneur. You can find her books on Amazon. Also connect with her via her website and Facebook Page

 

#AuthorpreneurSpeak – “Living the dream” by Devika Fernando #Motivation

After last week’s featuring of Sudesna Ghosh’s “Becoming an authorpreneur, we have Devika Fernando, an entrepreneur, a writer and a wonderful individual, candidly sharing how she got to live her dream. Read on.

For me, words always held magic. I grew up being read to every day, then quickly moved on to reading even before I ‘officially’ learned reading and writing at school. My love with reading led to a love for writing at an early age. I remember writing my first (very) short poems and short stories when I was seven years old. But then life happened. Studies and growing up as well as the realities of moving and taking on responsibilities got in the way of writing, although I never stopped being a voracious reader.

In my late teenage years, I read my first books by Anne Rice and then devoured all the Vampire Chronicles novels. It was then that I truly said for the first time that “I want to be a writer”. But it was a somewhat vague concept, overshadowed by the fact that it all seemed nearly impossible. It remained a dream for many years during which I kept jotting down story ideas, poems and stories, now in English more than in German because I began to read more and more books in English.

Fast forward to 2013, when I finally decided to make my dream reality and turn a hobby into a job. I stumbled upon the concept of self-publishing online and suddenly it seemed as if a new world had opened up, full of possibilities (and challenges). What had always just been a fantasy vaguely associated with rejections and final fame or a lonely existence and failure was now something that could be approached like a freelance job. And I vowed: I wouldn’t “dabble” in writing or take anything for granted. I would try to make the most of the opportunities and become an authorpreneur.

A common definition for authorpreneur is an author who also acts like an entrepreneur. That basically means you don’t simply write a book but also promote it actively, work with certain tools of the trade and create your own brand. The last part is one of the most important aspects and something an authorpreneur should never lose focus of. It’s not merely about the books, it’s what is associated with the writing and the author. Authorpreneurs need to find their USP and build their author platform on it – whether they specialize in short and hot reads, a certain type of paranormal topics, forbidden romances, a certain language style or something similar like my multicultural romances set in different countries. Part of the author brand are covers, website, social media appearances and promotional methods.

All this can make it difficult to not forget the actual writing, so what I try is to take this as seriously as possible and allocate time to all aspects. I’ll start in the morning by checking my social media accounts and e-mails as well as my book sales and any promotional campaigns that might be running. Then throughout the day – to make use of different time zones – I keep interacting, posting and promoting. I also make sure I write a certain amount of words per day, preferably a complete scene or even a chapter. I don’t permit myself to seek excuses. To me, there is no “writer’s block” or “my muse has gone silent”. I’m the driving force and this is my responsibility on which my success depends. That is, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges of doing this and also the main aspect that separates an authorpreneur from an author.

I consider myself lucky that I have been able to make a dream come true and that I have the means to be an author, so I make sure I live up to it. A doctor doesn’t refrain from operating because they lack “inspiration”. A teacher doesn’t earn their salary by letting things rest and hoping for a miracle. Likewise, an authorpreneur doesn’t rely on luck and should – in my humble opinion – bring more than creativity to the business.

Do check out the books authored by Devika here.

#AuthorpreneurSpeak Becoming an Authorpreneur – Guestpost by Sudesna Ghosh #MondayMotivation

From today on wards, you shall read a guest post by a successful Author Entrepreneur on my blog, every Monday. I am excited to present the highly talented multi genre writer Sudesna (Sue) Ghosh.

I grew up wanting to be a writer. From writing and sharing my short stories in elementary school to writing short stories for newspapers and magazines in my adulthood, I was always sure about what I wanted to do. The trouble is, the idea of being a writer is a romantic one until you start taking it seriously. Until you start learning about what it entails to be a writer, you dream about writing novels in coffee shops, becoming famous like Rowling and earning millions with your first book. Cut to reality and then you find out how unglamorous and sometimes, non-rewarding the writer’s life can be. In fact, writing is the best reward that you can get as a writer. Writing from your heart and soul – without giving a damn about all those dreams you had before. Instead, the happiest writers are those of us who stay immersed in the satisfaction of writing
what nourishes us. Of course it’s nice to get appreciation but you shouldn’t depend too much on that.

When I was leaving my full-time job at a major newspaper, colleagues warned me about the stupidity of leaving without a full-time job offer in my hands. I told them that I would be writing full time but from home. As a freelancer. “But X and Y left the job saying that they would write a book too and they never did,” one of them said. Well, I told her that I was not X or Y and quite stubborn about doing what I wanted to do. So I spoke with confidence and left with a couple of freelance clients to help me stay afloat.

That was early 2012. In 2013, I did a little networking as freelancers must do at all times and was introduced to the then head of publishing at Harlequin India. Nonfiction writing came easily to me as an ex-journalist and features writer but I had never thought that my first book would be nonfiction. The second book too. But that’s how I got started in the world of publishing, sending sample chapters and proposals and being commissioned to write two books for the publisher.

Two books down the line, I realised many things that drove me toward the path of authorpreneurship. First, that traditional publishing took time – publishers took at least 1 and half years to publish an approved manuscript because there’s just too many books slotted every month. Second, the advance royalty payment was not going to keep my bank balance happy for long. And finally, I wanted to write in various genres and in multiple lengths including short stories which aren’t that easy to get published with a traditional publisher. No, I needed another way to get my writing out there and to get paid for it too.

That’s when I started doing daily research on self publishing and found out the importance of cover design, editing and promotion. Promotion or book marketing, has been an eye opening experience. I have read so many books and articles on the subject and have become addicted to it in a way. Social media marketing is a skill that we indie authors NEED. There is a large audience to tap into and there are ways to make it less time consuming by using scheduling software or even hiring an assistant if you can afford it. In May, I took a Google online course and received a certificate in Online Marketing Fundamentals just because I now know that good online marketing can make or break a book. Or your author brand for that matter.

These days I do live a part of the dream by writing in a coffee shop three days a week. But I also spend a couple of hours a day on social media platforms where I engage with my readers and other writers. Once a week, I make posts using software such as Canva to keep them ready for social media posts. My blog has been online since 2011 but I started taking it seriously only last year after I became an authorpreneur, so I update that twice a week. Keeping my audience interested and attracting more readers is the key to an authorpreneur’s success. Writing the book is just a small part of it.

I identify as an authorpreneur and not just an author because I treat my job as a small business. That involves being disciplined enough to write multiple books during the year, not take breaks from social media promotion, engaging online and offline with readers and other authors all year round, and keeping track of expenses (cover, editing etc) along with monthly income from royalty, freelance articles and speaking engagements/workshops. It’s a lot of work but so worth it as any authorpreneur will tell you!

Hope you loved the post as much as I did! Don’t forget to check out more of Sue’s writings on Amazon and her very insightful and engaging blog.