If you are curiously reading this post then you might be one of the Author-Wannabes who are following the footsteps of ChetanBhaghat, Amish Tripathi, or PreetiShenoy. India is a weird country, the following meme nails it!
Most of the aspiring authors are engineers who desperately want to show their hidden skills; so what do they do? Blog! Yeah, that’s how all author aspirants try to gain some fan base. Blogging is to Writing as CAT is to IIM – at times, this is true and at times this can be a serious case of stereotyping. Well, as a professional content editor and writer myself I have come across a lot of newbie authors (bloggers and non-bloggers) – few I know personally, and a few professionally. Knowing different people is an art of gaining different experiences that we can never gain by ourselves in this lifetime. I have compiled a checklist that every aspiring author should keep in mind. More than a checklist, this will be a series of Do’s and Don’ts.
1. Never Quit That 5 Digit Salary Job: You might be earning somewhere ranging from 10,000 to 80,000 or even more based on your experience, talent, LUCK, and the buttering skills (no offence meant :P ). Now, in the craziness of becoming an author don’t quit the job. Want to know why? Well, you can write a full-fledged novel (when I say novel it is a book of 70,000 words or more) in some 2 months’ to 2 years’ time (depending on your momentum); the proofreading, editing phases, publishing, and release will take another 1 year. So it almost takes 1-2 years to give life to a book and as a debutant author, you may earn a profit ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 6,00,000 or if lucky even more. I am not scaring you, I am just telling the worst case scenario and a probable best case scenario. So 2 years of time and only this much profit, still want to kill the golden egg laying hen (your corporate job)?
2. Pick your genre wisely: Once you have decided that you are going to write a novel the first thing that should be picked is a genre. Decide what you want to write about at an outer level – Fiction or Non-Fiction. Further scrutinize and find a proper genre in it. Most of the writers just write a memoir or something from their life. Yeah, it is a great idea – you already have the story and screenplay, you just need to revamp it with commercial elements. However, that depends on two things – how effective your story telling skills are and how beguiling your story is. The two best examples of semi-autobiographies or memoirs which caused a sensation are “2 States” – ChetanBhagat and “I too had a love story” – Ravinder Singh. The other option is to go for a really crispy story or concept and build it from the scratch. Most of the Indian authors of this era are writing cheesy, slapstick, and light-hearted romantic novels. These maybe good for a one time read but then if you want to nail it big, think different. You may stick on to romance but add more elements like thriller, comedy, or even melodrama.
3. Research: This is one of the most important to-dos for any aspiring author. To write one book, you should have read at least 20 different books. You shouldn’t copy or adopt anyone’s style or concept but you need to learn from the positives and negatives of each book. To become an ardent writer, you need to be a voracious reader first. Read different books, short stories, columns, newspaper, blogs, etc. Inspiration may come from anything and everything.
4. Write Daily:Consider write as a rite! Write at least a page daily – a poem, a story, a diary entry, or anything imaginative. Like any other skills, writing also improves by practice. If you are feeling the writer’s block then you need to relax and concentrate on other hobbies for a day or two and then write again. If you feel that you don’t have enough topics to write about, there are a lot of online blogging communities which provide daily, weekly, or monthly prompts. My recommendations are Daily Post by WordPress, Write Tribe, and IndiSpire by IndiBlogger.
5. Connect with people: As a writer, you must connect more with the people. This is not just for increasing your followers or fan base but also to know what the readers want from you. As a blogger, having fellow bloggers as blog readers is more than sufficient, however if you want to be an author then you must connect to non-blogger readers also. They are the ones who will buy your book in lumps and they are the actual fan base. Fellow bloggers or writers will be a motivational factor, as well a very good critic but at the end of the day when you publish a book, the public opinion matters and remember, “Never underestimate the power of a common man”.
6. Attachment and Detachment: When you want to be a writer, you must be attached as well as detached. You must be attached to feel and empathize with every single person and story around you at the same time be detached enough to write about it.
7. Publishing Woes: Okay, so you have found a genre, conceptualized a story, wrote daily, connected with people, and got inspiration from real life scenarios, completed the writing – What’s next? Publishing!! Well, before that there are couple of other steps like proof reading and editing but let’s wrap it all up into a single term called publishing. So what exactly should you do in this phase?
· Do the primary proofreading. I know, it is difficult to proofread you own story, but the primary proofreading should be done by you to retain the authenticity of your work. Do it carefully and relaxingly.
· Write a witty, catchy, and unique synopsis for the story – Don’t give away the story but still make it very appealing.
· Make a clear cut summary – this is the one wherein you will write the whole plot in a single page.
· Keep an intriguing and impressive title to your story – Keep it as unique and as catchy as possible.
· Mail the title, and sample chapters (mostly 3 chapters – 6,000-12,000 words) to the publishers. Also, courier them if needed.
· Don’t send it to too many publishers. Select the top level publishers and mail them. They generally take 30-90 days of time to get back to you. Breathe, relax, and wait. Once they get back to you and if the answer is affirmative then you can move on with the steps they say, else just relax and repeat the procedure with the next set of publishers.
· Decide on one thing before mailing the publishers – do you want the book to be published immediately or you want to be published with the reputed publishers? There are lot of self-publishing houses which will charge you some investment for publishing, and they will publish the book within 2-3 months. If you prefer to go with traditional publishing then go for the traditional publishing houses, they won’t charge you anything and the publishing process is fully traditional and streamlined; it will take a minimum of 6 months – 1 year to get published.
I hope the article was informative. If you are interested to know more, I will be glad to do write more on each of the above mentioned issues separately.
Happy Reading and Writing!
Lots of Love,
SrilakshmiIndrasenan aka Stri is a freelance content writer and editor. She writes technical, creative, fiction, motivational, fashion, and relationship based contents. She has 4+ years of experience in content writing and editing and also she is open to jobs like EmCee and Wedding planning. She blogs at http://www.iamstri.wordpress.com/ where she writes on categories like fashion, social issues, short stories, memoir, reviews, and humor. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/iamstri