1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
I have a short story collection out on Kindle Unlimited, titled Extremely…. Given that I had been a closet writer until now, these stories have been written over a period of the last thirteen years, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they have grown with me during this time. I have tweaked a word here or edited a paragraph there whenever I took a break from my original profession (I hold a doctorate in ecology, run my own environmental consultancy firm and, with two kids, have my hands quite full!).
As the name suggests, each short story deals with an extreme, be it of a thought or an emotion or a trait, and tells how these extremes ended up shaping the protagonists’ lives. Each story delves deep into the workings of the human mind and yields insightful perceptions about why we do what we do. My experiences and observations have been the sources from which I have drawn inspiration.
2. How have your sales been?
I have struggled with sales, so far. In fact, I can safely say my sales have been next to nothing.
3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
It’d be wrong to say I chose self-publishing (*grins*)…self-publishing chose me, rather. For a first-time, non-celebrity author who is not a native English speaker and who is yet to gain sufficient confidence about their writing chops, self-publishing is probably the only option. Or that is what I think, with my limited experience. The definite positive of self-publishing is the satisfaction it accords to the indie author of holding their book baby in their hands with minimal hassle. On the downside, there is the seemingly insurmountable problem of marketing your book and ensuring it reaches the rightful owners – the readers.
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
Believe it or not, my shy, embarrassed self has prevented me from sharing the link of my book with most of my friends and family. The stories are so much a part of me that my self-consciousness has taken the better of me. So most of my networking has been with strangers in Facebook groups.
5. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
I cannot say any of my marketing techniques have been successful as I am yet to make sales. Honestly, all I am doing now is requesting folks on Facebook for genuine reviews! So it’s social media marketing only, so far.
6. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I am definitely against paid reviews. I feel strongly against that.
7. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Really, I feel publishing is a process that bridges two aspects that are emotionally very distant. One of these is, of course, creative satisfaction, because it’s a great feeling to see the thoughts in your head come out as a spick-and-span, well-bound volume.
But publishing is also akin to a cut-and-dried manufacturing process, and your book is your product. It needs to be packaged right and made to reach the right user base. For indie authors, the twain has to meet somehow.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
A second book of mine titled Chandrakanta, which is the English translation of a 19th century Hindi romantic thriller, was better off as a single book; it was my folly to have published it earlier in four volumes. Well, I have deleted the individual volumes and re-published them as a whole (also on Kindle Unlimited). But now Goodreads is not allowing me to delete the earlier versions. Call me an idiot, but even this minor glitch bothers me.
9. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Get the opinion of the first fifty readers – I know it is a hen-and-egg problem – but it has to be tackled. Give it out for free, pester your faithful pals to read and opine, form a club of beta readers. Do your best, but collate the opinions of the first fifty readers. This gives you a clear idea what your book is like, if there are any drawbacks to be tackled and which readers would be interested in reading it. After that, it’s all about clever marketing (which I hope someone could train me for!).
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
I have recently finished writing a contemporary murder mystery related in the old-fashioned way – a straightforward manner with a reliable narrator and a linear narrative – where suspense takes its time to build, and there are a whole lot of clues strewn about for the clever detective to make sense of. Naturally, the readers are in for a surprise as far as the whodunit and the howdunit are concerned. While this book is getting its cover designed, I am half-way through its sequel, too.
I have also finished a set of 20 stories for children, but I am looking for a good illustrator for the same.
And then there are the times when poetry simply refuses to stay inside me and threatens to get expressed. But I haven’t written enough to make a collection.
11. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Poetry blended with ecology, science with nature, psychology with illustration and fact with imagination
12. How can readers learn more about your books?