Interview: Chetana from IKnowItMOM.com

We spoke to Chetana,  founder of IKnowItMOM Pvt. Ltd. She started the company with her husband Ishwar Bhat.

Chetana is an engineer, animator, storyteller, entrepreneur and a mother. She has a keen interest in psychology and she loves children. Her experience of working as a program analyst in Infosys has helped her map professional problems with childhood issues. She has had great success in combining development psychology with storytelling. She is a certified storyteller from Kathalaya. Her stories are popular as she talks about difficult topics without sounding preachy.  Ishwar, the co-author,  is also an engineer. He has 20+ years of experience in training and blogs at Mid Manager.
Tell us a little about your venture IKnowItMom.com.

The IKnowItMOM company was born with a vision to create a better childhood. Children who develop the right attitude early on become more successful in life. To help with all-round growth, we cover all aspects of childhood like bullying, safety, money, health, food, memory techniques, leadership, relationships, etc. We bring the best of technology into education through physical books, interactive eBooks, animation and mobile games.

The books on bullying are a prominent part of your series. Why did you choose to write about this theme?

When my son was 5 years old he said he wanted to learn Kung Fu. He joined Kung Fu class and was good at it. Within a year, he got his first belt. Then he started making excuses and skipping classes. I knew he still liked Kung Fu, since he enjoyed practicing it at home. After talking to him, I came to know that the other boys in the class call him ‘Baby’ and teased him. As a caring mother I tried to help by saying “Just ignore them”. Of course, it didn’t work. He was emotionally hurt.  That’s when I realized how bad the effect of bullying could be. I wondered how many children out there missed opportunities because of bullying. I couldn’t find books that taught practical tools to handle it, so I decided to write about bullying. These books cover all types of bullying: verbal, physical and cyber. They make children self-sufficient and confident.  My son is 9 now and has already reached Red belt in Kung Fu.

Some tips to prevent cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying can be very well managed with awareness. We need to tell children about the risks of being online. Most children don’t know that downloading a game can be dangerous. We need to install Anti-Virus software and use kid-safe browsers. Children should never reveal their identity to strangers and parents should monitor any emotional stress in the children after using the Internet. Most important, keep communication open with the children. They need trusted adults to share their problems.

How to be safe online, what to do when we receive hateful messages, trolling, mobile addiction, social media addiction, hacking, dangerous selfies, and many more topics are covered in  Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety. It is one of a kind book with unique illustrations.

 

How do you advise parents and teachers to use the books in your series?

Our books are designed to be used as teaching material for parents/teachers and as books meant for children. Parents can also use our books as a Parenting Guide to develop the right conversations with the children. For each story, the introduction page sets the context. The Activities page can be used for introspection and assessment. The books begin with a quiz where children can check their knowledge. Life skills coaches can use these books as part of their curriculum.

Future projects?

Our next book will be on ‘School’. Many children don’t learn because they have issues with the school or the teacher. This book will motivate children to learn. It will also reduce pressure on teachers. We will publish many more books, eBooks and games next year. We also plan to design curriculum around these books. We want to give children all the tools to be emotionally strong, so that they can reach their full potential.

Tell us about self-publishing experience.

When Ishwar and I started our company, we had very little knowledge of book publishing. Pothi.com helped us to understand the publishing industry, especially self-publishing. Our first book was published at Pothi.com. We like the simple workflow provided. It is easy to navigate, publish and try different printing options. Thank you very much.

Thank you Chetana for taking the time to answer all our questions!

Interview: Sunaina Patnaik

Sunaina Patnaik is a twenty-something writer from Hyderabad. Her writing explores the realms of vulnerability, loss, healing,and self-love. Warm Delinquencies is her debut collection of poetry and writing that deals with the matters of the heart.

We decided to talk to this poet about her journey.

 

 

I would come running with
shovels and spades,
torn paperbacks and bottles of ink,
and get my hands dirty all too willingly,
we aren’t meant for calm seas,
blue horizons, and clear skies,
who are we fooling?
we are only destined for
dingy basements, sappy music, and
warm delinquencies.

You have published a poetry book with themes exploring love, separation, and healing. How did you zero in on these themes?

In my experience as a reader, I’ve read a number of books that dealt with subjects like love, separation, and healing individually but not together. When I started writing ‘Warm Delinquencies’, I was certain that I wanted all these subjects together to convey the journey of a lover, the aftermath of a heartbreak and eventually, the healing.

Which poets or writers have influenced you the most?

Growing up, I read Ruskin Bond and Enid Blyton avidly. Inspired by Bond, I started penning personal essays at an early age, sent it to my friends in the form of letters, postcards etc. which made me familiar with tracing inspiration from my life and things happening around me.

The other writers that influence me are Haruki Murakami and Vikram Seth. I keep going back to Seth’s poetry because of its ethereal beauty.

Tell us about how you got started with writing and what motivated you to get published.

I did several pieces and interviews throughout high school and college. I found writing poetry and personal essays quite cathartic and started a blog in 2011, succeeding which I never had to look back. The intent of publishing it originated when I realized I had a readership that resonated with my thoughts.

Do you think that poetry is more popular than people would like to admit?

I like to believe that poetry has always been popular for its power to express a lot in little. Although the rise of poets on Instagram is a new trend, it’s still just an additional medium for writers to share their work. We’ve always sought solace in Plath’s or Bukowski’s poetry; millennials now are drawn towards the poetry of Lang Leav, Michael Faudet etc. because of the writing form which is lucid and deals with modern issues.

But what I think has really changed is the mindset towards poetry. When I was in school, poetry was perceived as something undecipherable; however, the world is now more open to poetry.

Where do you write? Tell us a bit about your writing process.

I can write anywhere. Through chaos and silence. In crowds and isolation. But mostly I tend to write in the comfort of my room, usually late in the night.

Tell us about your latest project.

Right now, I’m working on a collection of short stories. I’ve started this project much before I’ve embarked on writing Warm Delinquencies, but it’s still a work in progress. I’m hoping to finish it towards the end of 2018. Fingers crossed!

What is your favorite pastime besides poetry?

Juggling between reading, writing, and a 9-5 job leaves me with very little time. But when I find time, I binge-watch TV shows, movies, and explore new restaurants in the city.

Thank you, Sunaina!

You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Interview with Hema Saramma Varghese, Freelance Book Cover Designer and Illustrator

We conducted an interview with Hema Saramma Varghese, the Freelance Book Cover Designer and Illustrator who works with us at Pothi.com and has been designing covers with us for around nine years. She has done her  MCA  from  MK University, Tamil Nadu. She lives in Trivandrum, Kerala, with her husband and daughter. Her passions include photography, visiting art exhibitions and experimenting with new handmade craftworks. She loves to watch old classic movies.  You can check out her FB feed here: www.facebook.com/revivedesigns.in

Describe the cover creation process in brief. What are the parameters you look at before starting and how do you go about it?

Most authors either call me up or maybe send me a short synopsis of the book they have written. They even send me their ideas of what they expect their cover to look like. If the idea is pretty complicated, then sometimes I need to step into their shoes and imagine what they are visualizing. Perspective is one parameter that I look into before I start with any complicated cover design work.

Sometimes the thoughts of an author can go pretty much overboard. They conceptualize a lot of stuff on their cover which don’t make a good fir aesthetically speaking. A bold and a specific theme that goes along with their writing is another parameter that I look into while creating cover design.

The last but not  least parameter includes the colors which give an overall feel of the book for a specific genre. But then sometimes, in the end, the colors are always left to the author’s discretion.

How many revisions does a cover typically go through?

A maximum of 3 revisions.

Why is cover design important? Your message to writers and potential cover creators.

Recently I read in a magazine that a cover design is like a 3-second ad and every writer needs a design that can catch the attention of the readers.

Well, I am a lover of art. When I was a young child, I had a library full of books published by Ladybird (A London-based publisher, now a part of Penguin publishers). There was one book that I read and I never liked its story. But I never gave the book to anyone because I loved its cover design.  Everytime I held the book, I spent more time looking at the design. After many years I realized that cover design is a unique art.

My message to all potential writers and all  writers who have not seen a breakthrough with all their writings is to Never separate creativity and writing. Both need each other just like a soul needs a heart and a heart needs a soul. Your creative idea for your cover design can speak more volumes than all the words you may have written in your book.

And to all potential cover creators, learn to respect the author’s ideas. Learn to implement it and learn to give. Ultimately this will help you to grow not only professionally but even on a personal level.

How did you get into cover designing?

After completing my Masters in Computer Applications from MK University, I got married and settled in Bangalore. I didn’t find any life in programming and instead I enjoyed doodling a lot. I created a portfolio of  art works and then mailed it to all the well-known advertising agencies in Bangalore. My works were noticed and thus I got a job as as a junior graphic designer in a graphic design firm. My first book cover design work was a handbook about a school festival from a reputed school in Bangalore.

That’s how I got into cover designing.

Who is your inspiration when it comes to art/cover design?

I pick up inspiration from  books, newspapers, film posters and even art exhibitions. Even nature is a great inspiration for me to do a cover design project.

Which cover that you have designed are you the proudest of? 

The Legend of Amarapali by Anurag Anand – a woman oriented historical fiction book.

You also create infographics and comics at InstaScribe. Tell us about the experience.

As a graphic designer, I love comics more than Infographics. On a professional level, learning to create comics is a challenging experience, especially when I need to create comics as per other people’s ideas. But then this helps me a lot in my visualization and illustration skills.

Some links to Infographics and Illustrations Sara has worked on at InstaScribe here:

World Book Tour- Japan

How to write a Romance Novel

The Secret Life of the Writer’s Cat

You’re a freelance cover designer based in Trivandrum. Tell us what you do when you don’t design covers and create graphic art.

Other than doing my usual household chores, I keep updating myself with new graphic design trends or participate in workshops where new handmade craft works are taught.

Do you have any advice for cover designers who are starting out- any software they should know or courses they should be doing?

Listen and learn about the author’s ideas and give as per the author’s requirement. Adobe Photoshop or any other image editing softwares will be the best software to start out with.

Thanks Sara! Was a pleasure talking to you.

 

 

Five Questions to Answer When Self-Publishing a Technical Book

We asked Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of Cracking the Coding Interview, a bestselling book for technical interview preparation, for some advice for technical self publishers. Here she outlines the five essential questions one needs to consider when self publishing a technical book. We believe this is useful even for other non-fiction writers and self publishers.

The best advice for authors of a similar genre (anything in the business / technical type) is to think about your book as a business. Writers are entrepreneurs, and writing a book is a business. The same concepts apply to both.

Building a great product is important, but it’s not everything. You need to think about the following questions:

Is there a big market?
How many people want your book? Your book won’t sell well if it’s too “niche.”
Is there good demand in your market?
Just because people need your book doesn’t mean they actually want it. Is your book useful to your market? How useful? Are they already looking for something like yours?
There is a tradeoff between the size of the market and demand; the bigger your market, the less “perfectly suited” it is for any one person. My book, for instance, is only for software engineers and would be considered very “niche.” However, because it’s a small and focused market, it outsells any of the “general purpose” interview books out there.
How much competition is there?
You should be aware of the existing competition for your book. If there are a ton of other books out there, you need to hope that you’ve written a really, really good book (and that’s hard!).
Remember though that just as too much competition is bad, too little competition is bad too. There’s often a reason that there isn’t competition, and it may mean that there isn’t actually a big market out there.
How will you market / promote your book?
You can’t expect to just write a great book and suddenly have people desperate to buy it. You need to think about how you are going to promote it. Do you have a popular and relevant website or blog? Do you train people? There are many ways to promote a book or product, and you need to find one that works well for you and your market.
What is the minimal viable product?
In start-ups, there’s a concept of the “minimal viable product,” which is the quickest product that you can build that basically solves the customer’s needs. It might not be fully functional and do everything that they want, but it fulfills their most pressing demands. If you release with that first, it will help you get customers and to understand what customers really want.
The same concept applies to non-fiction / business / technical / reference books. The 5th edition of Cracking the Coding Interview is a 500 page paperback book. The 4th edition was “only” 300 pages. The first version? It was a 20 page PDF.
The first edition was the “minimal viable product.” It wasn’t perfect – in fact, it was far from perfect – but it was enough to establish that there was a good demand, a good market, and a good reason to continue to develop the book.
The wonderful thing about print-on-demand services like Pothi.com is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time writing the “perfect” book so that you can print 3000 copies of it. You can write the “minimal viable book,” and then write a bigger and better version once you figure out that lots of people want to read it.

Note 1: Read the interview with Gayle about her experiences of self-publishing and her book “Cracking the Coding Interview.

Note 2: We have extended the deadline for Tech Publishing Festival to August 5, 2012. If you are looking to self publish a technical title, make sure to submit your manuscript before the deadline to avail free design and distribution services.

[Author Interview] Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of Cracking the Coding Interview

Gayle Laakmann McDowellGayle Laakmann McDowell is the author of Cracking the Coding Interview, a featured book in our Tech Publishing Festival. She used Pothi.com to bring out an Indian edition of her book which is available for sale on Pothi.com, Flipkart, IndiaPlaza and other Indian retailers. Cracking the Coding Interview is the #1 book for Software Engineering interviews preparation currently.

[Pothi.com] Please tell us about your book. What inspired you to write it?

[Gayle Laakmann McDowell] Cracking the Coding Interview: 150 Programming Questions and Answers is focused on helping software engineers prepare for technical interviews at top tech companies, like Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

It grew out of my company’s website, CareerCup.com. CareerCup offers thousands of free interview questions from tech firms added by users after their interviews.

I realized though that providing sample questions to practice on isn’t enough. Candidates also need to learn how to solve problems.

So, I took the best 150 of interview questions and wrote up thorough solutions for all of them. I showed multiple ways of solving problems, in a way that candidates can follow along with to improve their solutions, and offered concrete strategies to develop new algorithms. The book is now over 500 pages long!

[PC] Tell us about yourself. What is your background?

[GLM] I have worked as a software engineer for Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Computer Science. In addition, while I was at Google, I became very involved in the hiring process. I was in the top 1% of interviewers at Google, and served on its hiring committee. In addition, I have interviewed with 12 of the top companies (including Amazon and IBM) and received offers from all of them.

In short, I know both sides of the software engineering hiring process thoroughly!

[PC] Have you written any other books? Tell us about those.

[GLM] I have written one other book, called The Google Resume: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company.

Whereas Cracking the Coding Interview focuses just on software engineering interview prep, The Google Resume is a more comprehensive book that details the entire recruiting timeline, from college projects and majors to designing a resume, writing cover letters, and negotiating an offer.

Getting a great job starts well before the interview and continues long after, and The Google Resume shows candidates that process.

[PC] Why did you decide to self publish your book? Did you first try the traditional publishing channel or had you decided to self-publish from the beginning?

[GLM] Being an engineer, I took an “iterative” approach to writing. Actually, I really hadn’t intended to write a real “book” at all.

I wrote Cracking the Coding Interview as a PDF interview guide which I sold directly from CareerCup. Candidates loved it, so I continued to expand the contents. Pretty soon I had written a book – only it was a PDF instead of a physical book. Finding someone to print it was the next logical step, so that’s how I wound up self-publishing. It was mostly an accident!

I’ve since gotten a number of offers from publishing houses to publish my book for me, but there’s no reason for me to do that. With enough work, you can do almost everything that a traditional publishing house can do – and make far higher royalties in the process.

For my second book, The Google Resume, I did decide to publish with Wiley, which is one of the largest US publishers. The reason that I did that is that I knew that there was an awful lot I didn’t yet know about publishing, and I wanted to learn from how they did things.

[PC] How much time and work went into each revision?

[GLM] For the most recent edition, I worked on it for about nine months.

[PC] How is the book doing?

[GLM] It’s doing better than I ever expected! It’s currently Amazon’s #1 book in Interviewing, #1 in Software Development, and #361 out of all books. (PC: The Indian edition is also in the top 100 bestsellers across all categories on Flipkart for past 7-8 months.)

[PC] We recently saw a Russian version of your book. How did you decide which all markets to cover and how did you go about releasing the book there?

[GLM] The book is being translated and published in Russian, Traditional Chinese (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), Simplified Chinese (China), Japanese, and Korean. I’m also working out some other deals right now. The publishing houses have all approached me. They are, presumably, finding me from my high sales rank on Amazon and picking my book based on the large technical audiences in those countries.

[PC] It is clear that writing a good book takes a lot of effort. Do you think it has been worth it? Has it helped you in advancing your career?

[GLM] I’m a bit unusual as compared to most non-fiction authors. I actually support myself from my book sales. So, yes, it has helped my career a lot!

My book has also landed me a number of speaking engagements at top schools around the US, a major conference in Canada, and an NIT and an IIT in India. And when I start my next venture, I’m sure the credibility and name recognition will be very valuable.

[PC] Do you get fan mail? 🙂 How does it feel when someone comes back and thanks you for writing the book?

[GLM] I get a number of emails, tweets (@gayle), or Facebook comments (http://www.facebook.com/gayle) from people thanking me for my book and telling me how it helped them land their dream job. I try to respond to all of them, and it always feels great to know that I helped someone.

[PC] Thanks a lot for talking to us! We wish you all the success and even more readers in time to come!

Note: We also asked Gayle for her advice to fellow authors in the technical genre. That will be coming up in the next post. Stay tuned!

Interview with Nikesh Rathi: Author of Somewhere@Nowhere

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!

Nikesh originally self-published his book through Pothi.com after which the book was accepted and published by PustakMahal (http://www.pustakmahal.com/book/book/bid,,9546B/isbn:9788122311303/index.html).

 

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!

COMIX.INDIA Vol. II on Preorder (20% Discount)

COMIX.INDIA Vol IICOMIX.INDIA Vol II is now available for Preorder. There are a total of 12 entries in the volume containing 320 pages. Preorders are open till July 12, 2010. You can use the coupon code POCICOL and get a 20% discount!

Since this vol has grown up to 320 pages, we also created 2 smaller books each having 6 entries. If you want, you can buy one of the two smaller volumes which contain 164 pages each. These smaller books are available at 10% discount.

Check out more about COMIX.INDIA on their website.

COMIX.INDIA Vol II only became possible because of the combined effort of a dozen contributors, an editor and a designer. Read on to know more about this awesome bunch. Should we call them the Daring Dozensome?

Continue reading “COMIX.INDIA Vol. II on Preorder (20% Discount)”

The Cycle of Inspiration

Meena R. Shankar is a happy home-maker. A Sociology graduate with Masters in Social Work, she worked as an Asst. Professor before becoming a full time home-maker.

It was 25 years ago, when she was pregnant with her daughter, that she started writing. Over years, the poems she wrote covered a variety of subject and emotions. Her father and her husband encouraged her with their appreciation, expectations as well as critical feedback. Her husband Ramesh even compiled her poems as spiral bound diaries couple of years back.

Her daughter Aparna went a step ahead and decided to publish the book as a gift on her mother’s 50th birthday, completing the cycle of inspiration!

As she celebrates her 50 happy years in this world on June 18, 2010, with her husband Ramesh, son Vignesh, daughter Aparna, son-in-law Vikash and her soon-to-be-born grand child, we also join in to wish her a very Happy Birthday! May she continue to spread the song of life through her poetry for many years to come. Her poetry collection is available on Pothi.com.

50 years later, son publishes father’s writings!

Sachendra Garg ‘Rashmi’ grew up listening to the poets in various kavi-sammelans/Mushairas during his formative years in 1950s. Be it the ones organized at Lal-Quila and broadcasted on radio on the occasion of Republic day, or the annual ones at Dayal Singh College Karnal. With this exposure and encouragement from his teachers, he was soon writing poems himself, which were published in many contemporary magazines and anthologies with the pen-name Rashmi. He wrote a lot in the period of 1955-62. A dream of publishing them as a collection was born at that point of time, but other callings of life took precedence and it never materialized.

Some 50 years later, his son Shaleen Garg decided to re-collect the poems he regarded as the “most valuable property the family has” and publish the collection.

The dream is now a reality. The book “Vihaan” (a name that poet had thought of way back in early 1960s) was launched in Yamunanagar, Haryana in presence of more than 150 people. The vimochan of the book was done by Dr. Ramesh Kumar, General Secretary of Mukund group of educational institutions. The four hours programme also rightfully included a kavi sammelan. Some photographs are below. The book is available on Pothi.com.

You Make the Story – We Make the Books!

Shachii and Gaurav Manik are a Mumbai based couple who run a software company as a day job. However, it is their kids at home (two boys aged 5 and 3) , who do a great job of challenging their creativity. Gaurav loves to make up and tell stories which he creates with the help of the two boys.

This family exercise made them realize how creative the kids’ minds can be and the idea of “You Make the Story – The Creativity Workshop for Kids” was born. During the workshop the kids are encouraged to come up with a basic story plot and draw pictures of a scene from this plot. Then Shachii and Gaurav expand on the story and make it comprehensive, create and design the book, publish it and have it printed from Pothi.com. Two books from their earlier workshops are available on Pothi.com – “Adventures of the Red Club” and “The Amazing Journey to Zog“. A copy of the book is given to the kids who helped create the book.

The workshop is targeted at the kids between the ages five and ten years. These workshops are a one time session of 90-minutes each and the duo is open to conducting the workshop in any locality in Mumbai. ” We think it is a great way to bring out the imagination of a child, they seem to enjoy working in a group to create a story and draw the pictures. In the end it gives them a personalized book and a “I helped create this!”-feeling, and a special bond with the other kids that were present in the same session,” says Shachii about the workshop.

You can follow Sachii on Twitter.

Publishing books from the workshop is a great example of the use of Print on Demand. It does not take a lot of money to become a publisher and the encouragement the children get from seeing their work in a book is invaluable.

What are your kids doing this summer? Encourage them to express their thoughts and become a publisher for them right away!

Check out some other awesome books created by children which are available through Pothi.com. We will also try and bring to you glimpses from some of the privately published projects this month.