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Posts Tagged ‘Novels’

I recently received an invite for a discussion of Jeffrey Archer’s Paths of Glory at the Taj President. At first I thought of declining. I mean, the Taj President! It’s 30 kms away! But then two things clinched it for me. The fact that my publishers were going to be there and the words ‘cocktails and snacks,’ printed in bold letters on the invite.

Accordingly, I called a cab (did I mention there was going to be booze?) at 6.30 p.m. It takes about two hours to travel from Andheri to town and I didn’t I didn’t want to be a loser and arrive at the dot of 8 which is when the event was scheduled to begin. Of course, that was the day traffic decided to let up and I ended up reaching at 7.56 anyway.

So, trying to look all dignified, I made straight for the concierge and asked him where the Library Bar was, like that was where I had wanted to go in the first place. He looked at me strangely and said the Library Bar had closed down some four years ago and there was a new lounge in place called the Wink. The Wink! Man, they need more imaginative planners.

Anyway, I ordered a beer and tried to linger over it. But habits of a lifetime die a hard death and I found myself glancing anxiously at my watch every two minutes. Till I heard an unmistakably English accent. An educated English accent. The voice was coming from somewhere to my right. I peered into the dark recesses and noticed an elderly Englishman sitting there with two Indians. Was he…? And then he mentioned the name George Mallory. Yup, he was Jeffery Archer all right.

So I relaxed, sipped my beer more leisurely and listened to ol’ Jeff crib about Indians’ time management skills. “What is with Indians? I mean, they arrive for a 3.30 meeting at 4.30 and if you ask them the reason for their tardiness they look all surprised and say but it’s only 4.30!” I found that quite funny and managed to snort beer into my nostrils while trying to laugh silently.

His talk was quite well-graphed. I guess it helps when you’ve sold millions of copies and have done this often. He knew when to make the audience laugh with his anecdotes – “a ten year old in Chennai told me that he’s read all my books and even thought one or two quite good” – and he knew when to insert a serious point, like the impressive sales figures of his books, notably Kane and Abel and Not a Penny More….

He made fun of the famous English snobbery and, in the same breath, betrayed his obvious pride in being an Oxford man himself and in being titled. Subtly, of course. As in recounting something someone had said to him. “And then he says to me, ‘Lord Archer, you do realise that save for two premises, your book has no validity.’ And he’s absolutely right!”

During the q&a session people asked him the usual stupid questions like advice for aspiring writers. Why would people ask him that? He’s been a bestselling author for over 30 years! He’s forgotten what it is to be a struggling writer. Ask him what he does with all the money.

And then the booze flowed…I don’t remember what happened afterwards.

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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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