Nikesh originally self-published his book through Pothi.com after which the book was accepted and published by PustakMahal.
Pothi: Nikesh, congratulations on getting your book published by Pustak Mahal! Tell us something about yourself.
Nikesh: I belong to Raipur, have done most of my schooling at Baroda, my engineering at NIT, Bhopal and MBA at IIM, Lucknow (2008). I have worked in IT and FMCG industries for some time before moving to education sector recently. Currently I am working with the academics team at IMS Learning Resources, Mumbai. I have lived in several places in India.
Apart from writing, I am interested in reading, watching movies, quizzing, cricket and travelling.
Pothi: Where can we find your book on the Web?
Nikesh: It is available with several leading online stores: Flipkart, Infibeam, Indiaplaza, Amazon (Kindle version), etc.
Pothi: Favourite author/book? Name the one that made the biggest impact on you.
Nikesh: It is difficult to single out a book but some of my favourites are: 1984 and Animal Farm (both by George Orwell), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), Catcher in the Rye (J D Salinger), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts), Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), The Prophet (Khalil Gibran), The Godfather (Mario Puzo) and The Day of the Jackal (Frederick Forsyth).
Pothi: How did you get the idea to write a novel? Is it a novel? Memoir? Fiction based on real life?
Nikesh: It was a mix of various factors. It was something which I always wanted to do!
I have been somewhat creative throughout my life but this had been mostly limited to blogs, short stories, few articles in college publications or just cracking PJs! There was always an urge to do something more, maybe on a larger platform and this is where I got this idea to write a book. I started and abandoned the project a few times, but eventually I got going and wrote it.
It is a work of fiction, but at some level it has been influenced by my life—my beliefs, opinions, travels or experiences while working in FMCG industry, a result of watching too many movies, a reflection of my confused self or just a figment of my imagination!
I guess there will be people reading between the lines, and there is nothing I can do about it. Maybe, if this happens I can consider it as a good omen!
Pothi: What is your favourite part/passage/chapter from the book?
Nikesh: Impossible to single out any one!
Pothi: How much time and effort did it take to finish the book?
Nikesh: It took a few months to write. It kind of followed Pareto’s principle—the first 80% took 20% of the time! That was when a basic skeleton was ready. Then it was all about revising it, re-revising it, re-re-revising it and so on. Theoretically there is no end to it. This went on for almost around a few months. Most of that time was used in giving ‘finishing touches’!
The process was quite interesting and it often involved stretching my imagination and kind of living two lives—one real, and other one virtual, imagining what the book’s “hero” would be doing! Once the image was ready, putting it into words and what would finally come out was a lot different from what I had initially imagined.
Pothi: How was your publishing experience? Any advice for new authors?
Nikesh: The publishing experience was a kind of mixed bag. To begin with, I was a ‘nobody,’ sending an unsolicited manuscript to publishers. There were publishers who never replied, there were some who rejected it outright and there were some who wanted to make major changes to the content to make the book more ‘spicy’!
I eventually decided to go ahead with self-publishing on Pothi.com and the feedback was quite encouraging.
Later on, Pothi sent me a mail regarding a competition by Cedar Books. I participated in it and my book was selected for publishing.
As far as writing a book is concerned, I think getting started is the most difficult part. Once you break that inertia, you have set the ball rolling.
To begin with, self-publishing provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase your work. Also, since there are no major copyright issues or other legalities involved, switching to a traditional publisher (the advantage in this is the reach of their distribution channel) is hassle free. With pothi.com, they were quite responsive and willing to help and also have a transparent system in place, which makes the self-publishing (especially for a new writer) experience a lot more comfortable.
Pothi: Did you find the experience of self-publishing worthwhile? What more would you like to see?
Nikesh: Absolutely! Self-publishing is a wonderful opportunity as it lowers the barriers to become a published writer.
Also, it lets you control your content as some of the traditional publishers dictate terms about content. It is like you have a movie ready and the producer comes and says, “This won’t work. Add a few item songs, introduce a love story as a sub-plot, put in more masala and make it spicy.” If you are comfortable with it, it might work in your favour, but as an author I felt that my book should be what I want it to be.
Self-publishing is a relatively new concept in India and its reach is quite limited. So, if I write a book, not many people outside my immediate friends circle might know about it.
Going ahead, I would like to see self-publishing sites having tie-ups with retail channels (especially online ones like Flipkart). This might help in giving authors a wider reach.
Pothi: Plans to write more going forward?
Nikesh: Definitely. But I would try to steer clear of all those life/love at IIT/ IIM kind of stories!
Pothi: Thanks for talking with us, Nikesh, and all the best for your writing endeavours!