Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Book Wishlist in 2014: Read more, Refine your writer's voice

The year is 2014. And I have a wishlist. But it is a different kind of wishlist that has been inspired by Mark Rubinstein's thought-provoking article as given here 



So, here you go. This is my 'book wishlist' for 2014.

Good fiction across all formats and genres

Well-written fiction - be it in short story form, novel or literary form - should be welcomed, promoted and discussed. 
Renaissance of non-fiction books
We are seeing a renaissance of non-fiction books being published, discussed and promoted across the country. This is terrific and I hope this trend lasts. Unlike in fiction, it is the subject of the book that becomes the bait for a reader to pick it up. Interestingly, it is the very same subject that drives a publishing company's marketing plan. This means that a publishing company may have several non-fiction books in the pipeline but their marketing of it would vary based on the topic itself. 

In fact, TOI had ,in a recent report, cited 'According to Bahri, the ration of sales for fiction to non-fiction is 60:40.' Interesting fact, don't you think? 
Some of the notable non-fiction titles this year include  historian and author Ramachandra Guha's "Gandhi Before India" and Anita Raghavan's thriller "The Billionaire's Apprentice" which traces the rise and fall of business tycoon Raj Rajaratnam and financial consultant Rajat Gupta.
Another key trend to watch out for is in the area of legal books. Some of the finest names in India’s legal system are penning their observations, experiences and sharing their expertise on niche areas of law. Don’t miss books like Fali S Nariman’s “Before MemoryFades” which is a gem of a book touching upon his interactions within and outside the legal profession as well as interesting anecdotes, stirring experiences that can give you a real feel of what the legal profession is like behind the scenes and lots more.
Another book to check is Sandeep Parekh’s ebook titled ‘Fraud, Manipulation and Insider Trading in the Indian Securities Markets’ and is already gathering momentum. You can read moreinformation about it here 
Growing tribe of quality-conscious readers 
We need to cultivate and nurture a growing tribe of quality-conscious readers who demand more from the books they read. This should fuel a hunger among writers to excel at their craft and take it more seriously. True, in India, pulp fiction that celebrates sex and one night stands sells like hot cakes. Everyone is reading it. But should we let sleaze overrule the charm of a good, well-written story that tugs at the heart strings? Never. 
Let Readers buy & Writers write 
Authors should tone down their fetish of promoting and highlight "star" ratings of their books on websites like Flipkart. 

The more authors try to aggressively rate only themselves  or their books as better than the rest, the more it turns off avid readers like me. There has to be a sense of balance in a writer's mind while promoting one's books on social media. This is not to say that all Indian writers are guilty of 24X7 coverage of their book promotions but increasingly I see it go over the top, nauseatingly so. But increasingly, a number of Indian writers are so bullish about their books that they try to become book sellers than writers. To me, that seems a clear indication: they are losing the plot about their craft. 
In one of her rare public interactions with readers, Anita Desai mentioned this trend. She spoke about how lonely and painful the writing process had been for her but she would still write, write and write without caring whether anyone read it. That's the kind of passion that every writer needs to incorporate into their writing practice. I am serious! In fact, Anita Desai also said she never tracked whether herbooks sold well and was pleasantly surprised to know that her books were so well-received abroad and were a topic of study and discussion among students, particularly in the UK and US.  
She also cautioned contemporary writers about getting too caught up in the cycle of marketing and promotion and gently hinted that to write is the best way of showing love to your craft. I SO love her simplicity and openness about this.  Writers, please get your act together, focus on the craft and not go overboard with publicity stunts. 
One of the reasons I have decreased my intake of books by Indian writers is because their over-the-top aggressive promotions that spoils my interest in buying their books. 
Also, established authors in popular genres who have met with success are pumping out inferior and formulaic novels that appeal to below-average readers. To do this continuously tells a choosy reader like me that the author is either stuck in a rut or is thinking only about the number of copies being sold. That is a clear dampener and I would steer clear from buying books of so-called 'popular' authors.
 If you liked this post, do read this too.   What's on your wish list for 2014? I'd love to know.

5 comments:

Amit Singh said...

Hi Swapna, I am a blogger and a book author. I have published my book "Sorry... Again? Can he purge his sins?" through Amazon. It is a romantic thriller. I request you to review my book. If you agree, please leave your email ID in my blog, I moderate my comments so your ID wont become public, alternatively you can also mail me at amitsinghindia@yahoo.com. I can send you the PDF of the book or a link from where you can download free copy of the book. You can read the first few chapters of the book in my blog here Sorry... Again??? - Excerpt . Here is the store link of the book, Amazon.in. being a self published book I desperately need promotion of my book, hence I request you to help me in this regard.

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