It is always lovely talking to Kiran Manral, Author of All Aboard, The Reluctant Detective, and Once Upon a Crush. And when she recently disclosed that THREE NEW BOOKS written by her are coming out this year, within a span of a few months, we had to know the secret behind her amazing efficacy. And with someone as warm and welcoming as Kiran, we thought it would be better to ask her directly, and also take this opportunity to extract some bonus pieces of wisdom.
So here goes:
Vibha: Three of your books are coming out this year. Wait! Are you kidding me? How on earth did you make it happen?
Kiran: Trust me this just happened, all three books were written at different points in my life, in three different genres and submitted at different times to three different publishers. If anything, this is complete proof of how disorganised I am and how I can’t make things happen because any sensible person would have planned it out, I just tend to go with the flow and let life happen as it does.
Vibha: Serious question. So far, you’ve written mainstream fiction, chicklits. How do you classify your upcoming books? Can you share a bit about them, if possible?
Kiran: Book 3, All Aboard which is being released end of August from Penguin Random House is pure romance, chicklit, commercial fiction—a light, fun read. It is the story of a girl, who has been ditched practically at the altar by her fiancé and goes on a Mediterranean cruise with her aunt to cheer herself up and finds herself terribly attracted to someone on the cruise who seems to tick all the boxes that she does not need. You know, we’ve all been in that situation sometimes where we’re attracted to someone who seems so wrong for us but just can’t resist ourselves, that’s what this book is all about. Book 4, Karmickids being published by Hay House, is a book based on my parenting blog, which was also called Karmickids, basically is an anecdotal, first-person account of bringing up my son from age 0 to age 10. It is funny, poignant, and something I think every parent will identify with. My Book 5, The Face At The Window, being published by Amaryllis, is something completely different from what I’ve had published earlier, it is a more serious book, the story of an old Anglo-Indian retired school teacher living alone in the foothills of the Himalayas, waiting for her life to end. They’re all rather different from each other, and each was absolutely delightful to write.
Vibha: Some authors write in spurts, some every day. What works for you?
Kiran: I believe in the discipline of writing something every single day. Even if it isn’t fiction, even if it isn’t creative writing, even replying to a questionnaire like I’m doing now, or putting up a blog post, or writing out my column. Writing is like a muscle you need to keep exercising, until it becomes almost like an involuntary muscle, where you can put your fingers to the keyboard and feel the words flow out without having to stop and ponder and retrace your steps and lose your thread of thought. If you write and if you read every single day, you have done all you must do to help yourself as a writer. I think of it as a daily riyaaz—one doesn’t expect a sportsperson to perform well if there hasn’t been rigorous practice, nor a musician, nor any person from any other skilled profession. Why should writing be any different? You need to practice the craft, to put nose to the grindstone, to keep writing even if that writing is nothing that will see the light of day in print and ink. Folks see the fact that I have books out now, but the fact is that I have been a writer from the time I was in my teens, and I have been writing professionally as a features writer for over twenty years now. I’ve put in my hours of practice. I shall continue to put in my hours of practice.
Vibha: As a writer, what is the best thing that has ever happened to you? “Getting published” doesn’t count as a valid answer here.
Kiran: As a writer the best thing that ever happened to me is my mother and my husband. Getting published comes a distant third. My mother always believed that one day I would be a published writer and never gave up on that belief even though I drifted into nothing –gave up full time work after I had my baby and meandered into freelance writing of articles and content which was great because it let me work my hours but wasn’t really very fulfilling creatively. She would keep reminding me occasionally that I needed to write my book, and finally, to make her, and two dear friends who had also been similarly pushing me to write, I sat down and wrote my first book in a complete incredible writing spurt and I was lucky that Westland liked it enough to publish it. It gave me the belief I needed in myself and my abilities.
I also say that my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me for the simple reason that he stays completely out of my work space. There is no pressure, no expectations, no censure, no criticism, nothing from him. He gives me all the space I need to work to my heart’s content, with all the support I could need. And that makes things so much easier for me when I know that he’s around, like a rock, always.
Vibha: What advice do you have for writers who write well but cannot market themselves?
Kiran: I really don’t know, to be honest. Everything does rather seem hinged on marketing oneself well, and I’m barely keeping my nose above the water myself in this era. All I can say is take pride in your work, put it out there for as many people to know about it, don’t hesitate to talk about it, and that’s half your task done. Reach out to your potential readers in every which way you can. Social media has made things rather easy to reach out to groups of people via reading groups and book clubs on Facebook, you can set up a Facebook Author Page to keep people posted about the updates on your book and the events you plan around your book. You could use twitter as a medium to reach out to readers. But most of all I would say, don’t really think of it as ‘marketing’. Think of it as reaching out to your readers—whether it means going to bookstores and reading from your book, going to schools and colleges and chatting with students about what it means to be a writer or whatever your target readership is. Know who will read your book and reach out to tell them about your book.
We love Kiran’s candor and her practical advice, and we hope that you will also find her suggestions helpful.
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