Thursday, February 21, 2013

Feedback from an author about my book

Available on
RA: Hi Julia, I'm reading "Until Death Do Us Part". What a wonderful, bold collection! You should seek out more reviews for your book. It deserves more visibility.
Julia Dutta: Thank you! Be the first to review, especially if you can put it up on Amazon itself. It counts there. You know, I do my job; it is for others to review/talk about it etc. But even a note from you, fulfills the purpose of writing. The book has touched one heart. I believe it has many. My job is over.
RA: Amazon's been discouraging reviews by fellow authors, which is why you should seek out other book reviewers. They've taken down quite a few of these even for me.
Julia Dutta: I know that they have been refusing to allow those who downloaded the book in the Kindle Free Download Offer to comment. The book will find its destiny, as they always do. Somehow, I feel very strange about promoting my own work. Finally, I am advertising professional - have you seen people in that profession scream and shout about their campaigns? I am grateful for your suggestions. I do take them very seriously and tweet about them.
RA: Even mainstream authors are required to promote their own books now, and you and I are self-published. I promote my book by offering it to book bloggers who blog in my genre. Have you ever seen me tout my book on any groups? I hate in-your-face marketing, as well.
One thing I would recommend for your book is the hiring of a professional editor next time before you send your work to a publisher. The book is very well written, though.
Also, the readership for your book will be necessarily limited because the shades of lesbianism will make people uncomfortable. I see you have not listed a category for your book. Want to try gay and lesbian literature/romance to see if you can find more readers/reviewers?
Julia Dutta: Thank you so much for your engagement with my book. The book has been published by Xynobooks LLC, USA. I have not self published. Regarding the editing, I agree with you totally; next time I will send in the text for professional editing before I send it to a publication. What I have found in this one is, like all good Editors, the publisher/Editor interferes very little with the manuscript and they do not add much to the text. So on my next one, I have been careful, done a lot of work myself. I can suggest to my publisher to add, Lesbian, gay, CSA etc. As you can see the Publishers have targeted Women as a category, to market to. "Stories of women from India" they said. Some of the stories are as old as 1985! Others are as new as 2011.
I am part of LinkedIn writers group and everyone there seems to have Self-Published and they do market their books very well. My publisher has said that the comment on Amazon is BEST and also talking about it on Twitter, as the book is naturally targeted to reach the hungry for India stories, NRI possessing Kindle, iPad, Tablet etc. In India, it is yet a far cry, the Kindle I mean.
RA: Btw, The formatting could have been better. The text being centered in my Kindle, is very hard to read. I format books, so I know this can be done better. People often will not read a book if the formatting is bad.
Julia Dutta: Do you mind if I told my publishers about the formatting? Perhaps they need feedback too to improve on their software too! Thanks a ton for talking to me.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

An eye for an eye

On the 11th February, 2013, as I stepped out of the train at 12.30 pm, I received a call from someone living in a village in West Bengal. She was in a state of panic. “Mita (name changed) has just got murdered by her nephew, at 12.15!”

At first, the words did not sink in. But once on the way to my Office, I called back again and listened to the events that lead up to the murder. The nephew, just married a year ago, was living in Mita’s house with his widowed mother, when recently, the family was asked to leave the house, because, Mita wanted to sell the house. Having risen from abject poverty, Mita, had made a living for herself, which fetched her enough money to own two small houses, one in her village and the other in Pune, Maharashtra.She also had a comfortable income and had become a celebrity in her village, because of the power of her pocket. People in her family vied with each other, to be named the nominee of her wealth. I suspect, no less, this nephew may too have nursed the same greed in his heart.

On the fateful day, Mita had returned from two days away from her house in the village and was countered by her nephew, as she entered her house. A spurt of violence ensued between the two and at 12.15, that afternoon, he picked up the vegetable cutter called ‘bothi daa’ and struck her neck with it, causing her to die instantaneously. Suddenly realizing what he had done, he hid inside the house, till the rest of the neighbours broke open the door and pulling him out, beat him to death, with their bare hands. In a span of one hour, two killings had taken place; the police were called in only later.

Mita was an exceptionally bright woman. In ’73, she came to stay with us, to look after me, when I came to Bombay, to stay with my maternal aunt. We were very close to each other, quite naturally. She learned her letters while staying with us and later went to Hong Kong, and earned herself a lot of money. In her early teens, she had been married to a transvestite, who tortured her and forced her to leave himher. She later took diksha from Asaram Bapu and lived in Pune, in her own flat. In all, she spoke 5 languages, English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and her native tongue, Bengali. She taught herself to read the Gita, the Hindu religious book; she read English minimally and wrote it for Banking purposes. She was an enthusiastic learner and it was a joy to teach her.

Ashis Nandy, in his chat with Moushumi Bhowmik and Sukanta Majumdar (The Hindu, Saturday, February 16, 2013, The archive of separation) says, referring to the Delhi gang-rape, “I don’t see anything as disjunctive but as part of a continuity. Murders, the gang rape, the protests, all are part of a continuity. To me those youth at the India Gate shouting for death sentence for the rapist, suggesting death by torture, there is continuity. There is violence in the air in India, even those who were protesting displayed the culture of violence.”

A few years ago, Prof Amartya Sen, called Kolkata the safest city in India, based on a study of Government generated crime report, which showed that Kolkata seemed to have the least crime. Needless to say, as we all know, most crimes against women go unreported and hence, the above statement does not hold water. Furthermore, in cases like the one cited about Mita and her nephew, which is not a case in isolation, what are we supposed to believe?

Does violence exist as an integral part of our society? Can we take the law into our hands? Does, an eye for an eye, serve a purpose, without the intervention of law enforcing agencies? After all, if the Government’s machinery is slow to act, or indecisive, then can we say that acts of violence may best be met with violence, tatastu, here now?

The dreadful news has still not sunk in. I regret that there is futility in the conversation, except for only reasoning purpose.

And for coming to terms with the fact that Mita is no more. Does it really matter how she died?

Read also:
Violence Against Women in India: Three Things to Know