A pleasure to present this informative conversation with Meghna Pant, the author of ‘How to get published in India’. Meghna is a renowned writer awarded with Laadli Media Award, Bharat Nirman Award, FON South Asia Short Story Award, Muse India Young Writer Award, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Shortlist, Frank O’Connor International Award Longlist and Commonwealth Short Story Prize Longlist.
So, here’s to our conversation with Meghna, whilst keeping her book How to Get Published in India in context…
Laffaz: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I harboured no dreams of being a writer when I was young, though I did dabble in writing. I was 19 when my first short story, Aberration, was published online. The plot and characters stayed with me for months before I gathered the wherewithal to finish the story. But the discipline of writing, its stark loneliness, does not usually appeal to the young and skittish. So I did what all Indian children are taught to do: I acquired degrees – an undergraduate degree in Economics and a double Master’s degree, including an MBA. Post my studies I worked in corporate finance and then switched to business journalism. So, I never did see myself as a writer.
I started writing seriously ten years ago, when I was going through a terrible personal crisis, in order to escape from my reality. To improve my art I took several writing courses in New York, where I was working, and soon build a body of work.
Laffaz: How and when you decided to write your first book?
The idea for a full-length novel, One & A Half Wife, came only in 2010, and that’s around the time I also started putting together short stories that would come together in the collection Happy Birthday! The moment I saw One & A Half Wife on the bestseller list in a bookstore in 2012 was the first time I let myself admit that I was a writer. And I’ve not wanted to be anything else since.
Laffaz: Do you follow a specific work schedule for writing books?
My day begins and ends with writing. I’m either writing, thinking about what to write, reading, finding means to sustain my writer’s life, or experiencing new people, countries and encounters to keep my mind bloated with ideas and inspiration. I face the opposite problem of writer’s block as my head is full of ideas and I have no time to write them all down! I follow a strict regiment with deadlines and goals. I write 500-1000 words a day on average. I like to be organised in every aspect of my life, so my house has to be clean, finances have to be in order, health has to be heeded, family and loved ones have to be indulged, and work has to be done. I am, therefore, borderline manic my time, not permitting its wastage in the hands of fools or life’s many distractions (including social media where I spend limited time).
Laffaz: How did you get the idea of writing ‘HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA’? What was the inspiration behind?
When I started out, I didn’t have a degree in literature or mentors or connections, and I spend years learning how to get published and sell my books. The entire process was intimidating, frustrating and confusing, and I kept hoping that someone would write a book like this! It would have saved me a lot of time, effort and money! This book was written keeping my struggles in mind so another aspiring writer does not have to struggle. I wrote this book to help thousands of aspiring writers who are struggling to get their manuscripts published and achieve their dream of becoming a published author.
Laffaz: What value does ‘HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA’ create or what are the takeaways for the readers?
HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA (Bloomsbury) is India’s first and only comprehensive book on writing, publishing and selling a book. Indian publishing is different from any other model, whether in terms of accessibility, advances, contracts, logistics, distribution, marketing, the role of editors, and any other aspect you can think of. The problem is that no one has ever written about this world before. With my book I wish to break this opaqueness and allow people a glimpse into the inside world of publishing.
The book is receiving a lot of attention already. It’s #1 on the Amazon bestseller list. It’s been reviewed favourably by all top newspapers like The Times of India and The Hindu. I’m inundated with messages from grateful readers. It was named as 2019’s best books to read by SheThePeople and Brown Paper Bag. The book was launched at the world’s biggest literary festival, the Jaipur Literary Festival, and has received praise by India’s top authors like Amish Tripathi. It shows us that there’s a huge need in India for a book like this and I hope HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA helps every aspiring writer become a bestselling author!
Laffaz: What do you like most about ‘HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA’? is there something exceptional?
The book features never-before essays by top international and national authors, publishers and agents, like Jeffrey Archer, Twinkle Khanna, Shobhaa De, Durjoy Datta, Ashwin Sanghi, Ravi Subramanian, Rashmi Bansal, Namita Gokhale, Vikas Swarup, Meena Kandasamy and Preeti Shenoy, among others, who share their secrets, tips and insights for the first time ever! They cover each and every aspect of book writing, publishing and marketing, even aspects that you haven’t thought of. Durjoy Datta’s essay on the kind of money you can make as an author, Anand Neelkantan’s essay on writing for TV and movies, Meena Kandasamy’s essay on why you should publish with small presses, Anup Jerajani’s essay on how to self-publish, and all the others, are incredibly honest and useful. If you follow their advice it will change the fate of your book. You’ll not find this precious advice anywhere else in the world!
Laffaz: What do you like least about ‘HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA’?
That no one wrote a book like this when I was starting out. It would’ve saved me years of hard work and struggle.
Laffaz: How did you get ‘HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA’ published? Do you recommend your publisher to other authors?
I’ve been in touch with Bloomsbury India for a while to work out a book. When this came along they loved it, and the rest is history. I would recommend them anytime! They’re one of the best publishing houses in the world.
Laffaz: As everybody says ‘HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA’. So, would you like to suggest something to the potential authors?
There are 82,000 new books that get published in India every year, of which around 22,000 are in English, and only 2% of these books make it to bookstores. And you’re not just competing with these books. There are around 2.2 million books that get published globally every year. 75 million books already exist on this planet. You are also competing for people’s time. You are competing to get that reader off his phone, off Twitter, off Whatsapp, to pick up your book and take out the time to read your book. You are competing with movies, plays, comedy shows, iPad’s, video games, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Peppa Pig, Taylor Swift, the 10,000 movies that come out every year, and the 75,000 music albums that come out every year.
So, when you’ve invested a few years or months of your life to write your book, develop the patience and persistence to spend a few months to read this book, find a good agent or publisher, market your work so that your book finds the best publisher and the right readership base. Read HOW TO GET PUBLISHED IN INDIA so you can make your mark as an author and make your dreams come true.
OVER TO YOU…
So that was our inspirational and informative interview with Meghna. We hope that you have found this conversation inspiring too. You can connect with her via her social media profiles…
You might also want to explore these other books by Meghna…
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