Friday, December 01, 2017

Confessions of an Entrepreneur on Kindle Direct Publishing

Kong in Shillong sells #Kwai,
while reading on her Smartphone 
Key Point

The digital platform has changed the way we look at Media per se. If Newspapers are read online, then, why can’t books also be read online? And with a little investment, you are your own boss; you determine your working hours; you decided, to whom your book is targeted to and you can change your audience at any time. You are empowered. You don’t need a hand-holder. You, do-it-yourself (DIY) and you decide what you want to write about, what treatment you are going to give your book, who you will use as your cover designer, your editor, proofreader, beta reader…in short, you are master of your own product. The success is yours!

Graduating from editing School Magazines to the first published article in The Junior Statesman, edited by Desmond Doig, I was already overjoyed and strutting around with a swollen head when I came across my first job as a Copywriter in an agency.

Being in an environment where reading, writing and commercial art was the only thing I did – in those days, we copywriters, artists, visualizers and all, were a protected community) – I found my pen scribbling away at all times. Poems flowed like Coke and stories took birth in my head, faster than I had ever thought, they would. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote until I found a collection had come about. A few books of poems and stories, traveled from one city to another, as part of my belongings. Then, one day, the computer happened. Data operators sprung up from all quarters and I gave my books of stories to be neatly typed and systematically placed together. I always wanted to publish them.

But that too sat in CDs and in my Gmail account! Bless Gmail! Such a fabulous place to store your thoughts and writings, in a folder called MYWRITINGS!

Then, one day, someone asked me, do you have a blog? What’s that, I thought? And right enough, I was soon on one - Sulekha.com was the beginnings of my dreams come true. Whoever said, that you had to slog for your money?  The brilliant concept started by Satya Prabhakar and Sangeeta Kshettry, found content without paying for any. Pages upon pages of stories, poems, ideas, discussions on any and every subject under the sun, made Sulekha.com one of the most successful dot.com companies. All you needed to do was to open a blog and start to write. Needless to say, I was hooked immediately. I wrote as if there was no tomorrow and the feedback was enormous - I got instant high from the LIKE and comments and long discussions ensued between me and the readers. Why do we need the #JaipurLiteratureFestival? I was addicted. Here, I met awesome authors, whose books I would hold and review in days to come.

But that was way back in 2007! By 2009, I saw many authors of Sulekha.com, publish their books. But we are talking of 2009 – that is way, way back! Soon, we were going to see a sea change in publishing.

Vanity Publishing, or what was looked upon as a poor cousin of REAL PUBLISHING, like being published by Penguin and Bloomsbury, and the FAT OLD MEN of publishing, was going to see a sea change. As publishers rushed from UK, USA to the new country India, with a colonial past, hoping to get their share of the mullah, Amazon’s Direct Publishing Platform, Kindle Direct Publishing came and slowly started making their presence felt.

Then, success stories started to filter in. Rasana Atreye, a software engineer in the US, of Indian origin, had sent her story “Tell a Thousand Lies” to over 100 agents in the US and got no response. Finally, the story was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia Prize. Publishing houses began to chase her, but she chose to go it alone. She chose, KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing as her platform to publish her book, giving all the traditional publishers a rejection slip! She had 17,000 downloads on the day, her book went up for sale on KDP! And downloads continue, unabated.

Writing as a Profession

There are a few things every writer wants – readers, people who buy and read their books, people who review, comment, appreciate their work. And most of all, their book must generate revenue for them.

A writer spends hours of their day or night, invested in their book. They certainly are writing because they have a story to tell, but most of all, they are investing in terms of money and time on these books, which they then want to sell for a living. A book which has been written and put up for sale, with no readers and no downloads, may dry out funds put aside and make the fertile mind a dry desert.

Hence, to sum it up, if one has spent one year to write a book, then one must calculate what one has had to give up to keep writing. The ROI, return on investment must clearly, be enough to generate revenue that can go back as an investment into the next book series.

Bitten by the Entrepreneurial Bug

I look at my books as products of my mind. Hence, I have set aside money for publishing. While I may not follow all the Digital Marketing tools, I would certainly join Facebook and have 1 Page for all my book, have a LINKEDIN profile and join writers groups there, join TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and all other discussion forums, that talk of books, book publishing, and marketing. I would also be conscious of trends – more and more, people are reading nano-writes, #TerriblyTinyTales, short stories, and small titles that cost as good as a coffee at CafĂ© Coffee Day. So, if your book costs anything between Rs 35 to Rs 150 and can be read on a device like a Handset or Kindle, the better it is. It takes, 45 minutes to travel from HUDA City Centre Metro Station in Gurugram to Rajiv Chowk in Central Delhi – can you give your reader a 40 minutes complete story, point to point, which he has paid only Rs 50 for? That works!

Obsess! Obsess! Obsess!

Hot selling authors need to feel the pulse of the reader, all the time. So they must be obsessed with them. What are they doing? How do they engage? WhatsApp? Whatzup, with them? So, as authors, we need to keep our ears to the ground and remember content is king if you have spoken to that dude in his language (lingo). Last but not the least - size matters!



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Julia Dutta is a digital marketing professional who writes on weekends.






Sunday, September 10, 2017

Book Review - Where Love Begins Vibhavari by Dr Joshodhara Purkayastha

Photo credit HERE
The beautiful, soft cover of the book was an instant draw for me, when it arrived at my door step. The mesmerizing face of the cover, and the light pastel colours were soothing to my mind. Naturally, I read the book at almost one sitting. The absorbing content can be clearly seen at three levels.

The first is direct. Vibhavari, a girl from a poor family in Rishikesh, is married off early at sixteen to a man from Dubai. The marriage turns abusive and the young Vibhavari is beaten and sexually abused by husband and brother-in-law. Innocent, shy and beautiful Vibhavati, bears this brunt, including bearing two sons from this marriage. At last, finding a way to escape from this torture, she is back to her own country, the two boys being placed in a boarding school in Panchgani, near Pune, Maharashtra.

After a marriage in which she literally undergoes marital rape, Vibhavari, is however, still looking for love, as she quite understands that there is a distinction between love and sex. She is looking for love, when, on her visit to see her sons, she meets a man, with whom she gets physically and emotionally close. However, when the question of marriage is brought before the man, he quickly retreats, saying the togetherness was more for mutual sexual pleasure and not for making commitment. Vibhavari is shocked and decides to stop meeting him.

Shortly after she meets a man from her own building residence, who is bethropped to  a lady, but does carry on an illicit sexual relationship with Vibhavari. This too meets the same fate – there will be no marriage in future. Vibhavari is depressed, lonely and still searching for that love, when, at the Yoga class she finally meets the man, older and wiser, with whom she is married again, and learns and travels a lot. Vibhavari, however, it seems is unlucky in love, as this last, treasure trove of love, is snatched away from her by death. Vibhavari is left alone, but this time, many things change in her life and lead her to an amazing end, coming the full circle, of life and love.

But, there is a deeper second level to this book and I would like to dwell on that. The perfect abuse story, of marital rape, physical abuse and mental torture would have lead to two consequences – one, Vibhavari would have shied away from society and become a recluse, but in fact, the opposite happens. She celebrates her body, her ability to find sexual gratification and to be engaged sexually with men she isa attracted to, showing the reader that there are two options available to the abused human; they can chose to become a recluse or they can embrace the world with more desire. Vibhavari chose the latter, but was still unfulfilled, because, she was really looking for love.

The third level of the book and story is complex and uplifting.  Desire, deviance and divinity make the third level the most exciting, for the reader with a ‘third eye’ that goes beyond the mundane. It is Freudian in nature – desire is inherent in man. Id,Ego, Superego. But where Freud stops, Indian spiritual therapy begins and so, Vibhabavi, the simple girl from Rishikesh, returns home, physhically, metaphorically and spiritually, back to where she came from and the reader now must travel with her, to Rishikesh to see what love finally is and where it finds its ultimate source and resting place.

Where Love Begins Vibhavari, is a powerful story at all levels, for love, is a primal search that is the be all and end all in our lives, until we know better.

Click HERE to buy the book.


Dr. Jashodhara Purkayastha (Yashodhara) is a professor from the education field with twenty-five years' experience in teaching psychology and philosophy, having done her master's in education from Mumbai University, India. She has completed post-graduate work in economics, this being one of the subjects taught. She has done her doctorate in education also and is giving her time to set up teacher training methods. She has written a poetry book consisting of 105 poems in three languages.You can reach her at: jashodharap(at)gmail.com