Welcome! My name is Michelle Dalson, and I will be interviewing Vignesh Balu, a software engineer who published his first novel and experienced the arduous process of writing, publishing, and marketing. Before we discuss the process with him, let’s learn a little bit more about his background.
I am Vignesh Balu, currently working as a Software Engineer in a leading concern. My writing career kick started when one of my friends pointed out that my way of writing is interesting. Her words made me to look back my works which gave me the confidence to start a novel. When I decided to write a novel based on love, I know very well that I can’t write anything new as there are already millions of love stories. But I believed that the life in everyone’s love story is unique. I wanted to register my version of love which eventually resulted in “IN LOVE WITH LOVE”.
Michelle: Wow, that’s very impressive! Tell us how how you planned the storyline of your first novel. Did you outline your chapters before you wrote them? Did you keep a document where you jotted down all your ideas as they came to you?
Vignesh: My first novel ‘IN LOVE WITH LOVE’ got published some Eight months back. The novel is based on a true story and so I didn’t had the need to work out on the story line too much. But then, I know as an author that I can’t write a complete book of true incidents which can keep a reader interested. So, I decided adding a few unreal events without affecting or spoiling the originality of the story line. Once I got a clear idea of what I am going to write, I developed a six page hint which took me three days after which my novel is almost done. From there, I just followed what I planned and it worked out well.
Michelle: Sounds like the planning process wasn’t too hard for you since your story is based on true events. What advice would you give to other aspiring authors about planning for a novel that’s not based on true events? Would you advise them to follow the same steps you took to plan your book? Why or why not?
Vignesh: Decide what you are going to write. Each genre of writing has different demands from the writer. For instance, if you are writing a story on a real life, then you can’t keep a foot wrong in the facts you write. A reader never forgets what he read in the second page when he reaches the 200th page. So you have to be accurate in every event you narrate. Whereas if you write a fantasy novel, you can write that a broomstick can let you fly and still escape with it. So make a research on the genre you choose. Stick to its basics. Plot your entire story before you write your first chapter and then put your pen on paper. This may not work for the writers who start their books without a clear complete idea. This is my strategy and idea to fellow writers but on any day, go by the way in which you believe you are strong.
The Writing Process:
Michelle: Great planning advice. Tell us a bit more about the the writing process of your book. How many drafts did you go through before you finally published your book?
Vignesh: A few drafts in my case. Every time you go through your book, you will find areas to improvise and areas where you have been horrible. Correct them. Do this process as many times as you can. The more you do, better your book gets.
Michelle Did you work with an editor? Did you find him/her helpful?
Vignesh: One important point that I have to register here is that ‘Editors can do wonders’. The work of editors is much underrated by many writers. Believe in them as much as you believe you. It is better to hire a professional experienced editor to all your novels if you want your novel to be perfect.
Michelle: I agree. Editors are very essential, but so are non-professional readers and writers. Did you get anyone else to read your story for feedback? Beta readers? Critique partners?
Vignesh: A few of my friends read and reviewed my book. My objective is to reach a lot of non-regular readers. So I gave my book to my friends who are not very much interested in reading and heard their reviews which turned out well for me. But for any author, I will recommend them to get reviewed by some good critics too.
Michelle: I see. So it sounds like a variety of readers with different reading levels and interests is helpful for feedback.
What other important advice would you like to give to aspiring authors about writing, rewriting, and editing a novel?
Vignesh: Both writing and editing is not a one-time process. You want to do it as many times as you can if you want your book to be successful. If I have to give one valuable advice to the fellow writers from my experience, I will say them to remove the chapters which deviate from their story line, no matter how interesting they have written them because people doesn’t seem to be interested in reading any chapter which is not carrying the mood and flesh of the story.
The Publishing Process:
Michelle: Alright, let’s discuss the publishing process of your book. What route did you take to publish your novel? Large press, small press, or independent publishing?
Vignesh: I took the non-traditional way of publishing. Find your virtue before you decide to choose your way of publishing. If patience and perfection are your virtues, then go by the traditional way. If you lack any one of them, then it is better to go the other way and personally I feel that traditional way of publishing is quite hard on new writers. But traditional way will give you more comfort and confidence on your book. More than that, traditional books can be always more successful than the non-traditional ones.
Michelle: Hmm, so then why did you take this publishing route?
Vignesh: I made a research on the publishing routes I can take. One important reason which made me take non-traditional publishing is the fact that this way can let me see my book in printed version a year before traditional way. It takes a lot of time if you take the traditional way. It took three months for a traditional publisher to approve my first three chapters whereas just one month for a non-traditional publisher to release the printed version. I believe time is money and more than that I felt that the time I released my book is the crunch time for me to release as I was on the final days of my college life which made me to take the non-traditional way directly.
Michelle: Then I guess it depends on how patient you are and how fast you want to embark on your writing journey with your book.
Describe the pros and cons of this publishing route for you and your book.
Vignesh: Commonly, you can expect a traditional publisher to do a lot of marketing for your book. He will provide a lot of help in distribution. But your book have to cross his tests which is not short of difficulties. The current set up is in such a way that you have to have a very efficient literary agent to make your book cross the line of traditional publishing. On the other side, non-traditional way gives you some extended control and right to your book. You will be the decider on the most important criteria. But you have to be very good in marketing your book if you take non-traditional way because you are going to be the main man in every part of your publishing process. Don’t believe that your publisher will help you in the processes even if they promise that.
I didn’t go for a literary agent for my book since I didn’t take the traditional way. But for anyone who takes the traditional way of publishing, it is very important to have a literary agent who can give a clear picture of what your book has and how can you take it further. Hiring a literary agent doesn’t promise you a smooth publishing, you still have to do a lot of hard work if you want your book to be printed.
Michelle: Very helpful advice! So to wrap things up, what are the key factors a writer should think about before choosing one of the three publishing routes?
Vignesh: As I already said, a good research on the different publishing routes itself will give a clear idea of that. And also, don’t forget to keep the territory you are going to publish in mind. All markets aren’t the same. You can reach success with different routes in different regions of the world.
The Marketing Process:
Michelle: Now it’s time to discuss the hardest task of the writing journey: marketing. Explain how you drew people to read your book. What marketing strategies have you specifically used?
Vignesh: First, you have to start marketing your book from the day you start writing. Reaching a lot of people surely takes a lot of time. Be prepared for that. Promote your book on Facebook, Twitter and all other social forums. Have an attractive and active blog which is the best way to draw a lot of readers.
Second, when you market the book, be sure that you market the content of the book. People have to know what is special about your book. They need a reason and an interesting grabbing factor to draw them to pick your book among the thousands. The name of the book and the cover only will never be enough to attract a lot of readers.
Third, not all your Facebook and internet acquaintances are going to read your book. Only a minority of them will do, that too if your book is good.
Fourth, you won’t hit the best sellers list only if you had written an awesome novel. A good novel and a successful novel are two different things in writing world.
These are the marketing strategies I didn’t know as a new comer which I want to make clear to all my fellow writers.
Michelle: I see. Sounds like a lot of work, of course! So how did you use good reads to promote your book? How much time did you dedicate to connecting with others on good reads?
Vignesh: I didn’t spend too much time on promoting my book on good reads. It is because there is not much of awareness about its existence to my target audience.
Michelle: How about facebook? Did you use facebook to promote your book and if so, how much time did you dedicate?
Vignesh: Actually a lot of time, you have to be very active if you are going to promote your book through Facebook. You will face a lot of criticisms too early because of Facebook. There will be people who will judge you way too early and criticize. Take all of them positively and improve your book.
Michelle: And how about other social media sites? Did you use Twitter?
Vignesh: Twitter is way better than Facebook for book promotions. I reached almost double the amount of people through twitter than Facebook consuming little time for twitter. Stay more active in twitter so that you can generate a lot of readers for your book.
Michelle: Hmm, in my opinion, the connections you make on twitter seem much shallower than the connections you make on facebook. Another writer told me that Twitter just seems like a place where writers are just shouting out promotions without generating much of a strong following. But I guess it’s different for everyone.
Are there any other websites you used to promote and sell your book? Or any websites you recommend for other authors to promote/sell?
Vignesh: Amazon kindle and wattpad are giving a lot of luxury to writers these days. You can directly publish your books there or just parts of it without any one’s approval or scrutiny. You can reach the readers directly through these both and collect ideas on your writings. Make use of these forums budding readers.
Michelle: Ah, I’ve considered using Wattpad before. It seems ideal to have some works available for free prior to the release of a published novel, just to generate a readership. I’d love to ask you more about this later! But to wrap up this section of the interview, is there any additional advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors about marketing?
Vignesh: You can make a lot of interpretations and research and conclude with the best ways for your book, but that won’t be enough. Know your target audience better, analyze them and write in a way to reach them. For instance, I live in a state where the population is 70 million and the best book in the local language from the best authors has a statistical sale rate of only 1000 copies which is literally 0.001 % of readers. A book of normal standards is never going to be successful for me. I wanted a lot of non-regular readers to read my book. I made them my target audience. So I decided to write a book without complex words and in a typical Indian English slang which yielded me a lot of readers. So decide what will work out for you. At the same time, always be ready to face the negative sides too.
- Website address:
- Facebook contact info: https://www.facebook.com/vampire.vignez
- Twitter contact info: https://twitter.com/Vickydinu11
- Goodreads contact info
- Books (you can provide links): http://www.power-publishers.com/buy-books/fiction-novels/in-love-with-love-detail
- Where else can we find you? Mail id : Vickydinu11@gmail.com