Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Challenges of Being 'One Book' Old!

Before my first book The Sinister Silence was published (my second isn’t out yet!), my goal was to ‘get published’. Like Arjuna who focused on the ‘bird's eye’ with single-minded resolve, my aim was to get ‘published’. It was a gruelling process and in one of my earlier blog posts, I recounted my journey from writer to author .

However like most first-time authors, I realized that once you are published, your challenge has only begun. Here's why!

1. Managing expectations – If people have liked your book, your next book must be even better. It is a writer’s responsibility to challenge herself to come up with a better second book. So, keep writing, come what may!
2. Managing distractions – Authors are tempted to google their names, check Amazon rankings every now and then, stay ‘social’ and connect with readers. This may get tiring after a while. Remember: A writer’s mind needs to be fresh so that new ideas can reside there.
3. Keeping up the momentum – A book launch or reading is not enough! You have to keep at it, generate interest among readers in multiple ways all the time!
4. Online visibility – Thanks to technology, people don’t just buy books from physical bookstores anymore. The online community is overflowing with activity – people buy online all the time. So staying visible online – real-time – becomes important. But a writer can’t always do that. You need to write - remember?
5. Book reviews – Getting a professional to review your book is another challenge. The number of authors getting published is increasing every day. Ditto with the number of reviewers. There is also the option of subscribing to 'review packages'. I am not comfortable paying money to get my book reviewed. But then, it works well for some authors, which is good. So those who don’t opt for ‘paid reviews’, don’t get XX number of reviews to showcase on social media. So, you have lost a certain percentage of audience there too!
6. Review on Goodreads – Unlike Amazon or Flipkart, the reviews listed at Goodreads are not necessarily from people who have purchased a book through an online store. Anyone with a Goodreads account can randomly rate/review a book. Someone may just dismiss your labour-of-love with a 'one rating' even if they haven't read it! So new authors - please don't lose sleep over reader ratings :). However, Goodreads is a nice place to be for those who love reading and enjoy maintaining reading lists.
7. Building your brand – Attending book-readings, talks, events etc. and interacting with people to increase your reader-base is important, especially if you are only a-book-old. If events are not possible offline, authors can also organize such events online. The challenge is that you will need to invest a lot of time from your daily schedule for such activities. Rome was not built in a day, you see!
8. Active blogging – is important to stay 'alive' in your reader’s mind. The curiosity around the book will die down a few months after the book release. To stay connected with your readers, you need to stay in touch through your writing.
9. Time management – This is crucial, especially if you already have a day job. To market your book, schedule promotions, and interact with readers while at your full-time job is no mean feat. Plan your time and time your plan. Set goals with deadlines. 
10. Writing your next book – This is THE most important thing to do if you want to live the life of an author. To seclude yourself and continue writing amid all the distractions, temptations, and book promotions is a tough call. Nevertheless, like Arjuna again – the focus should be unwavering. A writer needs to write - that's the core requirement. That is your true calling.

Good luck to all new, old, and aspiring writers! Cheers to your writing journey!