Spotlight : Crazy Cat Lady Finds Love by Sudesna Ghosh

Happy to present an excerpt from this hilarious novella, “Crazy Cat Lady Finds Love” by the Journalist turned author and friend, Sudesna (Sue) Ghosh! Having read Sue’s previous books, I am expecting another very lively read. 

Guess the below excerpt proves it!

Would Navin think I was pretty? Would he hold my hand? Maybe he would kiss me if we got some privacy?

“Too many questions, Sue,” I told myself, as the cab rolled on.

Navin sent me a text saying he would be at the café in 15 minutes. He added another text saying he couldn’t wait to meet me finally. Aww. Genuine excitement or was he being polite? I wasn’t the insecure kind but this online dating thing just filled relationships with so much mystery. Never tried it in my 20s.

The Crazy Cat Ladies Club group had three messages; one from each of the ladies, telling me to relax and give them details after he left. I wrote back asking Sunita to let us know about Vivek’s visit that night too. She replied: I will. Sigh.

Turning off my mobile data, I felt my stomach churn as we pulled up at my destination. There stood my date, dressed immaculately in a polo neck tee and dark jeans, feeding a street dog biscuits. The dog wagged his tail and Navin’s eyes said it all – he had the same look in them that I’d seen in my friends’ eyes when we were with animals. Love. It was pure, beautiful love.

CrazyCatLadyNovella

What Amazon readers are saying:

“The author has a wry observational voice that makes me chuckle every time I read her. The cats are cute too and the dude is extra cute! Five full stars.”

“Along with men trouble, dating issues, canine problems, and Cat man, Navin, this book makes the perfect satisfying read for pet lovers and others, alike. if you haven’t considered keeping a pet, you may be tempted to after reading this. very refreshing and a fun great read!”

Author bio

Sudesna or Sue, is a multi-genre author based in Kolkata, India. She has penned My Singapore Fling, A Perfect New York Christmas, Can a Fat Girl Get a First Kiss? and many other books. Her short stories have been published in magazines across India. When she isn’t reading or writing, you can find her trying to keep her rescue cats happy.

IMG_2555

Do grab your copy from Amazon

Advertisements

#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.

2 years as an Indie Author – 8 lessons I learnt. A #PoweredbyIndie post

November of 2017 will mark the second anniversary of me pushing the very exciting ‘Publish’ button on this wonderful Amazon KDP portal and introducing my first baby Abhaya to this world! Exciting would be an understatement to describe the journey that followed! Here are the 8 things I learnt since then.

  1. One book seldom gets you anywhere – The first book gets us, aspiring authors rid of that annoyingly lingering ‘aspiring’ word from our bios. But persisting through multiple books is when we really prove our resilience and love for words! This was not an empty lesson I learnt. Avishi, my second novel, in its launch month, garnered readership that Abhaya garnered in more than 6 months! Now that was some learning!
  2. Being an author, especially Indie author is a lot more than just writing. We would all love to zealously guard our writing time. But being my own publisher taught me what else goes into producing a book (Editing, Cover design, Synopsis, pricing, promotion and what not!). I learnt to outsource some activities and before that, identifying reliable providers who would do a good job.
  3. Thy name is Multi-tasking – 23 months down the line, I don’t have the luxury of just focusing my energies on my first book. I am marketing my first and second books, editing the third, writing the fourth and even plotting the fifth! Of course, there is this matter of focus. But juggling the products in progress in each stage of production is something we need to be prepared for.
  4. Social media is NOT a distraction. If only we had a control on when to use it and when to resist it. Social Media and Ecommerce is the one channel that supports your against the lack of conventional supply chain support that the traditional publishing industry enjoys. But learning how much time to spend on which platform was an exciting journey by itself! I learnt that building readership online happens long before our books come out.
  5. I am my own Publicity manager – At least until I earn enough to hire one! And that is some time away. Being shy of self promotion earned me nothing but frustration and a loss of crucial mileage in the initial months of launching Abhaya. We all know books spread by word of mouth. But our own mouths are the very first source of the word!
  6. I can’t afford to be that reclusive introvert – Gone are the days when being a writer meant to shut out yourself from the world and write. (I doubt such a period even existed except in imagination in the first place!). Networking means everything. I learnt to remain grounded while aiming high from other authors. I am learning what worked for who and why. All because I go out and talk!
  7. Love words? Love numbers too! – I am lucky to have been an analyst before my writer’s avatar. The love for numbers stayed with me and now it helps me measure the effectiveness of each activity. What is the word count I could manage per day over the last six months? What is the ROI on the time and money I spent on Social media? When to expect tangible and when to be content with intangible results? What caused the spurt in sales and what caused the slowdown? Loving words helps you be a writers. Loving numbers helps you be your own boss. 
  8. Growing is sharing – I learnt to scoff at a myth that perpetuates from the mediocre segments, “Don’t share your secrets!” Because, genius, there are no secrets and no short cuts! There is only learning and powering on! Learning happens only when you share your inferences with another and test your conclusions. Learning happens when you try to help those behind you to catch up with the distance. As Joanna Penn says, there is no competition, only co-opetition. Karma is real. Open up that mind and share your wisdom! 

 

 

6 books you must read if you are an Indie author (or if you want to become one)

The journey of an independent author is unique. Exhilarating as well as terrifying. The solitary phase of writing, the agonising rounds of editing, the pounding in your chest as you hit the ‘Publish’ button, the daze of initial launch time, the nostalgia, the celebration of crossing a milestone and the despair of not going anywhere, Indies can connect with it all. The greatest help that one can get in these phases is the assurance that they aren’t alone, that the problems they face have already been faced (and solved!) by those who are eager to share their success stories.

Here, I suggest 6 books by 3 authors that could act as a compass while you traverse through this exciting maze. Some of those are such books which I wished I had known about earlier. These aren’t those dreaded self help books filled with superfluous sermons. But they are true accounts of what worked and what did not and why. Scroll down to find out more:

10 Step Self-Publishing BOOT CAMP: The Survival Guide For Launching Your First Novel by S. K. Quinn

Susan Kaye Quinn, an author of 40+ novels suggests a step by step method of launching not only your first novel, but your career as a writer. Going through the book, I could feel the author’s resilience build up as she launched a novel after a novel. Her observations about the industry and insights of book buyers are an added advantage to those who are new to the publishing world. I personally disagreed with some of her views on editing those on Social media. But this book brilliantly summarises her learning through out the last five years highlighting the relentless hard work and perseverance she has wielded. One can’t help feeling her pride as an author mother who not only earned enough income to put her three kids through college, but also inspired her sons to take up a writing career, early in life!

I loved the idea of having a five year mission statement as a writer. Also the quote that I would treasure for a long time, “There is no perfect. There is only finished.” Intrigued? Check out the book, clicking on the image below:

5 Steps to Self-Publishing FOR LOVE OR MONEY: Build a Career as a Self-Published Author

Written by the same author, the compendium dispassionately focuses on balancing the passion and career aspects of writing. In Susan, we see a passionate author who seeks to disrupt stereotypes that have built up in the publishing world. But she also sheds light on the brutal truths that many idealists among us would dread to accept. Reading for love or money, helps us reconcile the passionate author in us with the commercial success seeker and mould ourselves into pragmatic career writers. If you are someone who has already launched a book or two and are aware of the basics of the Self Publishing journey, I recommend this a notch more than the book above. Click on the image below:

Successful Self-Publishing: How to self-publish and market your book in ebook and print (Books for Writers 1) by Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn does not need an introduction. If Self Publishing were a religion, I am sure she’d be the all powerful Zeus! 😀  If you know the word Indie author, it is almost impossible that you have not heard about Joanna or have seen her in one of the literary meets, bubbling with enthusiasm to share her journey. Her positivism, I admit, is infectious. I could keep pessimism and despair zealously at bay, whenever I read her blog or listen to her podcasts. The book below is something which I wish I had read before I launched my debut novel Abhaya. Nevertheless my learning was acquired ‘hands on’ and I strongly suggest you need not face the hard stops I did. What more? The book below is free!

How To Market A Book: Third Edition (Books for Writers Book 2)

We are all aware about the famous quote that 50% of marketing works. We don’t know which 50%!  In this book, Joanna comes up with another great compendium of all the marketing techniques that an indie author can deploy. It is not just the author’s experience (which is no mean achievement!), but also summarises the best of what one could learn from the galaxy of successful Indie authors. The insights drawn, might be a bit skewed towards the Western markets and Indian Indie authors are advised to make their own conclusions with the local knowledge. But nevertheless a must read, not once but every time you have a book to launch!

Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should: Updated Second Edition (Let’s Get Publishing Book 1) by David Gaughran

Another hard hitting account of the world of publishing by this very successful author of 11 books. This book is more a pitch to Indie authors to digitally publish. While most of us go for a ‘digital first – print next’ model in a bid to test waters, given our budgetary constraints, Let’s get digital  increases an indie author’s confidence about digital publishing. Again, the readers might want to be wary that the information and data shared are largely US-centric.

Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books

This is one of the 6 books, I would again recommend in a stronger tone. While the first book details about the industry dynamics which is crucial, Let’s get Digital details out the way Amazon works, its algorithms, the mistakes that many authors commit and the pitfalls to be wary of. Those wanting to go wide might find the book very Amazon centric though there is a dedicated section about going wide. But I found the book very relevant to Indian Indie authors to who, Amazon is still the most preferred platform. The numbers and data cited to inch into the best seller lists is only relevant to the US store. But the good news is that Indian authors have far lesser numbers to achieve to get into similar top positions in the best seller and popularity lists. Don’t miss this book.

That’s all for now! Have you read a book that could help an Indie author’s career? Do let me know in the comments. 

An Indie author’s wishlist to Amazon [Working post]

(This is a working post and I shall take time to gather inputs, organize them and perhaps frame a petition to Jeff Bezos. If you are an indie author and/or have something that you want to bring to the notice of Amazon, please  feel free to leave a comment below.)

Dear Amazon,

It has been close to six months since my debut novel went live on Amazon. Needless to say, the self-publishing and selling experience has enriched me a lot. You made me feel empowered as an independent author and thank you for being there for me.

In the meantime, from my own experience and also based on my interactions with the indie author community, I realized that there are a lot of things that Amazon could do to make things easier for authors in helping them sell better. An author’s time is better spent in writing. While I believe that authors also need to spend time and efforts on marketing and selling, Amazon can do the following to make the eco-system long lasting.

  1. Give us the intelligence and insights – I would love to know how many landed up on the page of my book from which sources and how many such clicks converted (bought). Also, let me know how many added the book to their wish list. Mostly, people do that as they are waiting for the prices to reduce and that insight helps in my pricing decisions. Another  desirable insight that can be shared with the authors is about Kindle Unlimited. While I get the logic behind the number of pages, it would be great to know how many downloads translated into full reads and how many did not.
  2. Just because the reviewer is my ‘friend’ does not mean that his/her review is paid – Figure out a more intelligent way to weed out dishonest and paid reviews. Spying on social networks isn’t an intelligent way to do so. The only audience for an indie author is his or her social media connections and their word of mouth means a lot. Especially with Kindle and ebooks, it is simpler to figure out whether the said customer has read the book before reviewing it.
  3. Payments – Let me appreciate the monthly payment policy of Amazon as against the quarterly or bi-annual payment system followed by many publishers. But you are also a global firm, so behave like one – I am an Indian author whose book is live on all international portals of Amazon. But apparently, the company can process payments to my Indian Bank account only from those sales through the Indian and US Portals. Effectively, the sales that took place through the UK, French, Italian and Australian portals haven’t translated into payments and they won’t until the minimum amount accumulated in each country portal is 100$/100 GBP. Isn’t that unfair? If processing so many smaller amounts is an issue, is there no middle ground? Say, why can’t the company convert the smaller payments into Coupons that authors can use to buy books from Amazon itself?
  4. Returns Policy (especially the one on ebooks) – This is a problem that I did not personally encounter but many seem to be doing so. Amazon charges the author for ebook delivery to the customer. That eats into the royalty. When a customer returns an ebook, the author loses full money, as well as the delivery costs. Amazon seriously needs a different policy on ebook returns. Amazon has the technological capability to gauge till where the reader has read the book before returning it. (If they can count page reads on Kindle Unlimited, they can do it here too!). Also, 10% of the book is open for the customer to read and make a call before buying. It is rare that someone likes the sample three/four chapters put out and buys the book and then dislikes it. To give a fair chance to both sides, please rethink your returns policy. If a reader has read the full book and still dislikes it, the author can at least get the royalty equivalent to a single full-read on Kindle Unlimited.
  5. You have acquired Goodreads. Now integrate it – Goodreads is a great place to market the books. It offers a great deal of visibility too. In my experience, the ratings there are more honest and spontaneous reviews and ratings. Can Amazon look at integrating the ratings and reviews from Goodreads on the respective pages of the books? All it needs to do is segregate the verified purchases from others. This helps as we don’t have to ‘hound’ the known readers constantly to paste their reviews on both places.

Addressing the wishes I am sure would be to the advantage of authors, readers and Amazon itself. A vibrant ecosystem needs regular upgrades. The tech-gods at Amazon would agree with me.

Cheers and Regards

An Indie Author

 

 

Why your Beta Reader is more crucial than your writing coach

The year was 2013. I had wrapped up an early draft of my debut novel and had forwarded the samples to a couple of publishers and agents. The wait of six to nine weeks was followed by reminder emails from my side when replies flew in promptly with regrets and rejections. A couple of rejection mailers flew in so quickly after my reminder that I was tempted to believe they were auto generated. It was then that I came across this author and writing coach who also worked as a literary agent. Having attended one of his writing workshops in the past, I had hoped that this person would empathize with my endeavors and help me take the manuscript forward.

To his credit, this mentor cum agent had pointed out valid loopholes and gaps that a first-time author would not have been aware of. But the problem with this gentleman was that he pushed his solutions along with the problems he identified. And those brought new problems. Without my knowledge, in my enthusiasm to see my name in print, I started rewriting under his mentoring. Thirty percent down this second draft, I began to lose steam and the connect which I had previously enjoyed with the characters. The writing slowed down.

It was then that this stranger from one of the social networks chanced to see samples of my earlier draft and took pains to congratulate me and ask me about the progress of the full novel. This was the exact push that rekindled my interest and I shared the developments with him. Mahesh (his name) turned out to be a person who shared my interests about various subjects including history, literature and legends. After going through my journey and the latest half draft, he asked me a plain question, “Why are you turning into a scribe to your agent? Why are you letting him change the crux of your characters? As juvenile as it looked your earlier draft was far more original and endearing than this new one.”

It was then that the truth about the ownership of characters hit me. Despite my newbie attempts, my characters carried an air of independence and originality in my earlier draft. The agent’s way of looking at the story was somehow strengthening the stereotypes that publishers believed would sell. Not his mistake as the gentleman had a paid mandate from me. But Mahesh’s inputs made me think and rethink about the whole thing from an independent perspective. His was an honest reader feel.

I decided to not stick to publisher stereotypes and assert my writing the way I wanted. Now it does feel that I am making a villain out of my writing coach. He wasn’t and I did take stock of the problems he pointed out and examined them in an objective way. I rejected the solutions he wanted to impress upon me. I was also lucky to have had a few author friends who backed me up saying while I need to agree with those writing loopholes, I needed to find my own ways to fill the gaps rather than take someone else’s directions.

The process took time, given my demanding job as an investment professional and the long writers block that arose out of structural dead lock in the storyline. Contemplating, deconstructing books of similar genre, deeper reading into scriptures (Mine is a Puranic fiction) and a move and I should mention my mother’s backing which was the strongest, everything helped me re-work the basic storyline. Two years down the line I could arrive at a draft that finally satisfied me from within before I Self Published it on Kindle Platform (Honestly, I was not left with much courage to tap the doors of traditional publishing houses after all what I went through two years before). There are more beta readers who supported me through the last leg of the journey.

The experience taught me the value of Beta readers. While I serendipitously met my first beta readers, it is advisable that each author develops a network of beta readers who support the writing with constructive criticism while respecting the writer’s independent thoughts. The criticism they give needs to respect and empathize with the writer’s endeavors.

 

Catread1.png

Original Picture credit : lecatts.wordpress.com

To support it with an analogy. You are a mother who just delivered your newborn. The last thing you want to hear from anyone at this stage is about the possible flaws that your child has. It can make you fly into a rage. Hearing insensitive criticism on a freshly written piece or a blog post evokes almost similar emotions from a writer. But it is also necessary that this writing piece goes out to the world as perfect as a human can make it.

 

A Beta reader (There are alpha readers and beta readers for those wanting to go technically deeper. But here, I chose to use the term Beta reader as a common term for both) is free from biases that might generally exist in the publishing world. Their reading experience makes them aware of the variety of thought and originality of each writer and they value it. Any author reading this post of mine will agree that writing is a lonely journey and the company of these nurturing entities will brighten it up when we need it.

Indian publishing ecosystem is yet to acknowledge the value of beta readers. It would be great for the ecosystem if it got together and created a hobby-career stream for them. Mine gave me invaluable opinions, those which mattered more than the paid advice I got from professionals. Currently, an Indian writer needs to develop his or her own network of beta readers either from friends and family, social networks or from the many budding blogging/writing clubs. My mother, husband, and a few friends are usually my first beta readers. Today, my network is on the rise. The investment of time and effort were worth it and to a newbie, a conscious effort is warranted. The beta readers are indeed more crucial than writing coaches. I can’t emphasize it more because my Beta reader saved me from becoming a scribe to my writing coach!