Ankita Chadha, an MBA student, has managed to accomplish what a lot of young writers can only dream of – write a book, get a publishing contract and see the book entering into the re-print cycle in a short span of time. So I invited her to share her secrets (well, not exactly) with the rest of the writers who hope to get published some day.
Ankita, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the book?
First of all, thank you for interviewing me. I am currently pursuing my MBA from Indore. Apart from regular studies I have been into writing since my school days. The book I have authored is ‘Anything else but love’, which belongs to the romance genre – an adult contemporary fiction – published by Pustak Mahal (Cedar imprint).
What/who inspired you to write this book and choose this genre?
Few months back I saw a couple in my dream, all dressed in white. And I couldn’t get that ethereal scene out of my mind. The dream somehow implied that eternal love stories still exist and the concept of forever love has not vanished yet. That compelled me to write a book in this genre.
When did you start considering writing as a serious option?
Writing was never an option for me. It has always been something I am really passionate about. If there’s a thing that takes all my creative energy, it has to be writing. I have been writing poems and articles since a very young age.
After completing the manuscript, what were the non-creative parts that you had to deal with to get the book published?
Till you are writing a book, everything seems okay. Your land of imagination works magnificently. But as soon as you step out of it, the real journey begins. From writing a good query letter to finding the right publisher, it’s not as easy as it seems to be. You don’t need an ounce of creativity when it comes to approaching publishers, especially the right ones. You just have to be right in your approach and apt in your content.
As a first-time author without prior experience in these areas, how did you manage each of them?
Sometimes it got very difficult since there were very less people who knew about this area. But then you learn with each step. And I learnt everything slowly as I entered into the process of getting published. I even got very agitated when the publishers did not reply for months. But then I came to know that it usually takes this much time, or even more, to get published. You need to have a lot of patience and faith while you are dealing with the people of this industry.
What were the main challenges and how did you tackle them?
The first challenge was to give the story a proper ending. The fate of a story is decided with the kind of ending it has. You do not only have to consider the reader’s point of view, but you also have to do justice to the book as well. And to maintain that balance is the biggest challenge.
The next major challenge was to get the book published. As a first time author I knew very less about this field, and hence I was quite apprehensive when it came to approaching publishers. At this time, your intuition is your biggest guide. Hence, I went along with it.
Are there any aspects that you’d have handled better in the process?
Impatience is what I think I should have worked upon. And then, another thing I would have handled better is writing a query letter. I now realize that a lot depends on the kind of query letter you are writing. I want to make all the writers aware that it doesn’t matter how good your story is and how much marketability it has.
Everything will go down the drain if you fail to write a good query letter. Because, it is through that letter a publisher gets an idea of the whole picture. A good publishing house will not even consider replying you properly if you have approached him without/with a bad query letter.
Your first edition has been completely sold in a short span of time. How did you manage to create a buzz for the book? Did you have a well-thought out marketing plan for the book?
Social media plays a great role when it comes to reaching the masses. I used facebook as a means of promotion, and hence the buzz was created.
I did not have a chalked out plan for marketing the book. There was just a book launch in my mind, which I did after the book came out. Apart from that, everything went along with the flow.
What’s next on your horizon? Any new projects already simmering?
There are two books I am planning to write. One is again in the romance genre, and the other is paranormal fiction.
Did you refer to any good online content to learn more about the publishing industry?
Yes, Google always helps. I searched a lot about the publishers to be approached, how to write a good query letter, literary agents, etc. And I was surprised to find so much content about it. It was fascinating to know about how a publishing industry works. I was only aware of the presence of literary agents outside the Indian publishing industry. But it was surprising when I found out that literary agents play a vital role in the Indian publishing industry too.
Any words of advice for the new writers who are planning to write their first book?
Write, and write from your heart. Forget what the readers read, what the publishers publish. Write what you want to write, and give respect to the characters you are creating. Because if you do justice to the characters and the content then no one can stop you from getting published by a good publisher and reach the pinnacle of success.
Apart from this, do make sure that you have chosen a right publisher. It is very important for the publisher to have a robust distribution network; otherwise your book will lay unread. Do not hesitate if a good traditional publishing house requires you to wait for four to five months, because at the end, the wait would be worth it. I can understand the urgency a writer feels to see his characters on paper, but then, the paper needs to be that from a reputed publisher.
So, these things should certainly be kept in mind before and after writing a book.
Thanks for your time, Ankita. And good luck with your new projects.
Any questions for Ankita? About writing, publishing, promoting books? We’ll see if we can get her back here to address them.