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Archive for the ‘So you’ve written, now what’ Category

I’m currently in Delhi, on a book “promotion tour” (God, I’ve alway wanted to say that!) and am having a total blast. My publishers publicity person is the nicest girl around, who, in spite of being some eleven months pregnant, is looking after me grandly. She is being so solicitous that I feel like a rock star…well, except for the good stuff like drugs and alcohol 🙂

The first launch went off well. Everybody kept telling me I’m looking hot, so, come to think of it, it went off great. The venue was nice and cosy with a fine view of the monuments of Lutyen’s Delhi. The Park Hotel had gone out of their way to cater for the event and had prepared a delicious array of sumptuous snacks and finger foods. A special mention to Anushree Banrejee and Urvashi Malik of the Park Hotel for handling the event with such enthusiasm.

Then, yesterday the whole day was spent talking to media. It was a packed day, tiring as hell and as much fun! The highlight of the day was me in my halter neck dress bringing the traffic at Parliament Street to a complete halt. I’m not joking. The dress which doesn’t garner a second glance from my bhaji wala in Bombay wreaked complete havoc in babu Delhi. It was hilarious!

And now I have to leave. Some more interviews lined up, plus have to prepare for tomorrow’s launch at Gurgaon. I’ll blog about everything a little later when I have more time. Ciao!

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Writing for film is an altogether different animal. I’m afraid there’s no substitute for the grind – meeting producers or trying to meet them, narrations (during which their phones will ring constantly), rejection etc.

After listening to you or pretending to, they’ll tell you that it’s all very well, but can you develop an idea that they have?’ You have no choice but to comply. And even after that they may reject your work. Else they may not even meet you again.

Also, no one will ever tell you NO straight off. In this industry, people are so insecure and no one knows when someone will make it big that they are mortally afraid of rubbing anyone off the wrong way. Instead, they will devise inventive ways to fob you off – I’ve been away on a shoot (never mind that the guy hasn’t made a film in years), I got caught up in other things etc.

What makes the scene more complicated is the fact that most film people – producers, directors and even actors, are notoriously disorganized. So you will never know if the guy (let’s face it, it’s a man’s world) is trying to avoid you or is genuinely busy.

There’s nothing for it, you’ll just have to rely on studying body language. And you’ll have to be good at it. Most film people are practiced phonies and lie with consummate ease.

And even when you get a producer interested in your script, the onus of putting the project together will be on you. So you’ll have to run around trying to get a director, actors’ assent and the entire cycle of narrations and actors trying to fob you off will begin again.

Getting a director isn’t easy. Most directors have their own ideas and scripts which they are trying to get produced that they aren’t interested in yours. Getting stars is even more difficult.

So, as you can see, getting your script turned into a production is an uphill task and it could be years (if ever) when that happens.

Instead, what most writers and directors do is get actors’ assent (meaning dates) first and then go to producers. If you have a commercially viable star cast, getting finances and even producers is a piece of cake.

Then again, there are so few stars and they are so busy, that even with the project all together and ready to roll in an instant, you may still have to wait years before beginning photography.

 

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Apropos my post about authors’ contribution in promoting their books, one of my readers has a peculiar problem. And that is that in spite of doing everything to promote/raise awareness about his book there is little movement on sales.

Another reader, Dr Arun Kumar, posted a comment in response which basically said:

“In the field of literature, mode and role of publicity is limited. If your creation is interesting and meaningful it will get response sooner or later. When there were no means of publicity, great literature was created by unknown persons and the society noticed it. It will be fruitful to send books to critics and editors of the literary pages.”

While in most parts I agree with what Dr. Kumar says, I would be reluctant to label any product “uninteresting.” I have seen bad, and I mean really BAD, products do really well.  

Which brings me to the next subject in marketing. While it is important to market your product, it is more important to market it well. Which basically implies identifying your target audience and accordingly providing hooks to engage them.

My book, Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions, is chicklit-meets-crime and I am quite clear that my target audience is Male/Female 16 – 35, SEC – A and B. Accordingly the most important media for me are magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Femina, JAM, Fad, Seventeen, Marie Claire, national dailies, and social networking sites on the Internet. And even within these, I work out different pegs for different publications.

For Vogue/Femina/Marie Claire, my protagonist is one of their readers – smart, sexy, confident. And that goes for me too – a sexy ex-investment banker turned author. For Fad and JAM, the irreverence and street-smarts of my protagonist matters, as well as the fact that I as the author am a multifaceted person – marathon runner, mountaineer, MA in Economics and MBA in Finance who’s chosen a career based on my passion; for trade related media, Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions is a tongue-in-cheek look at the TV industry and a great inside joke….and I belong to that industry.

While book reviews never hurt, I am not really pushing for them. Let’s face it, while it is exteremly well written (yeah, even if I say so myself. You can form your own opinions after reading the first chapter. ) and racy, it is not nobel prize winning category. Plus, young readers don’t go much by reviews. 

Beleagured authors try and even succeed in getting media space devoted to them (media companies as as hungry for content as we are for space), but if they don’t maximise the platform given to them they may have limited success.

As for the rest, I agree with Dr. Arun Kumar. If it is interesting and provides value it will get a response sooner or later. The important thing is to keep pushing and pushing it right.

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Your job is by no means over once you’ve written your book or your screenplay. In fact, it has just begun. After that you have to get it produced. which means writing several query letters and endless rounds of submissions and rejection letters.

Say, you manage to get your baby produced, then you have to promote it. One word of caution to wannabe screenwriters. There are several production houses which are routinely on the lookout for scripts. Resist the temptation to drop your screenplay in an anonymous drop box or leave it at the reception. Chances are it will never be read and after two years or so you’ll get a call to come and collect it. Try and meet someone and narrate the story to him/her. If the story grabs him/her then get into the screenplay.

Meanwhile, coming back to publishing, once your book is published, the onus of marketing is on you. Publishers in india, especially English language publishers operate on wafer thin margins and their keenness to control expenses on the marketing front is understandable. So learn the art of marketing yourself.

When I was just starting out in my career and contemplating which field to take up, a senior colleague advised me to get into sales – the door to door kind. His theory being that once you’ve learnt to take door being slammed in your face gamely, you develop either a thick skin or a winsome personality. Both are handy. And you are ready for anything in life.

Moreover, it’s all about selling. Think about it. Whether you’re in a job interview, a sales call, matrimonial interview, you’re always selling something.

Some authors are the retiring sort who would rather die than ask journalists to write about them. They are horrifed at the thought of tomtomming themselves. Well, if you are that sort, you can do two things here. One, you can lose that cloak of modesty and pick up the phone. Or two, hire a publicist to do it for you. Of the two, I prefer the former. It’s cheaper and it builds relationships.

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Yep! Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions is out in book stores and is literally flying off the shelves. Okay, so I visited only one store yesterday. But it is doing well theree so I’m taking the liberty of extrapolating this to the universe of stores.

I walked into crossword yesterday and asked the store manager for a reco. She looked at me up and down and somehow slotted me into the chicklit-cum-crime reader category and recommended Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions.

I didn’t know where to look or how to react. It was kinda hilarious and a little surreal to be recommended one’s own book. I think I turned a peculiar shade of pink-purple. Anyway, the manager looked at me anxiously and said, “You don’t have to buy that book…we have other recos as well.”

At which stage I hastily said, “Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions was fine.”

She nodded sagely. “Good choice.”

For those who want to read a bit and then decide, I have updated the Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions page at the top of this blog. You can read the first chapter there. Or you can click here to read the first chapter.

Cheers!

 

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Okay, I have summararily been proven wrong. The two blogposts Let’s Talk About Sex generated the maximum amount of traffic. Also received a lot of interesting propositions in my email. The gmail server must be burning up.

From now on I will only write erotica.

Also received appreciation for my article in Sunday Mid-day. Damn, they never uploaded the link! Anyway, will scan and put it up. Any idea on how to do that? I mean I can scan it, but how do I upload it as a post?

Plus the latest issue of Debonair has also featured an interview on moi. Need to upload that as well. Though I suspect the other articles in the magazine would generate more interest.

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I received my copy of the book yesterday and the feeling was bit anticlimactic. And a bit surreal. After weeks and months of anticipation when I got the book, it was like holding any other new book. The only difference being that it was my name I saw on the cover. In that sense the experience was a bit unreal.  I am still feeling kind of detached, like it’s not happening to me. I suppose it will sink in. The joy of something definitely lies in the anticipation of it.

I am irritated, no, impatient with myself. You know how it is. When you expect to feel something, want to feel something, but just can’t? Here I am holding this extremely good-looking book with kickass production values and all I can think is, hmmm. For God’s sake, my editor is more excited that I am!

Meanwhile friends are clamouring for the party I promised I would throw upon receipt of the first copy. They think I’m being plain curmudgeonly. Perhaps I am.

I find it difficult to concentrate on anything. I mindlessly play Freecell.

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