Hi Vani! Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, ‘The Recession Groom’.
Can you tell us a little about your path to publication?
My path to publication was paved with several interesting milestones. It was a journey that spanned two and a half years and I have illustrated it here.
Do you still have the ‘hook’ that introduced your story to your publisher in your successful cover letter?
Yes, here it is:
The Recession Groom is a contemporary story that tracks the journey of a young IT professional from India across the period of global credit crisis and the adventures he faces to find his perfect partner. I have given my work a uniquely Indian flavour, with its underlying theme being that of arranged marriages, a concept which has long piqued the curiosity of western readers.
Can you remember when you first had the idea for your manuscript? Can you tell us about it?
I went to London in 2008 to pursue an MBA degree from Kingston University and witnessed first-hand how global recession affected the Western economies. When I read that top multinationals were declaring bankruptcies and handing pink slips to their employees, I thought about how these macro changes would affect the little world of a person from India…his/her chances of happiness…of living a wonderful life…of finding a perfect partner.
How much has real life influenced your novel writing?
My background in business journalism trained me to write in pyramid style. I wrote facts and supported them with numbers. Writing ‘fiction’ was a different ball game altogether. It required me to unlearn a lot of the old rules. By the time I finished writing the final draft of 'The Recession Groom', my imagination had completely taken over. In a way, I’m glad I made that effort.
How much consideration did you give to ensuring your book had international appeal?
I wrote my novel for a global audience and took care to explain local customs, traditions and ceremonies so people from other backgrounds can understand them. I travelled widely during this period and made friends with people from different nationalities which helped me to incorporate a wide array of characters in my story. I also chose a topic that had touched people across continents and social milieus and was aware that even though my story was about an Indian boy, it was going to strike a chord with many, no matter where they are based.
Your main character is called ‘Parshuraman’. What do you think about names that are difficult for your reader to pronounce?
Many writers use difficult names. Cormoran strikes your tongue, Blomkvist twists it completely and Langdon is lumpy. To me, an unusual name piques the curiosity of a reader and if used properly, lasts longer in his mind compared to a Jim, John, Jack, Ria, Rahul or Dev. That was the reason I chose Parshuraman (Parshu-raman). It gave me the opportunity to build a story around his name and make it ever more intriguing. Here it is, in his own words:
My name is Parshuraman Joshi. I was named after Parshuraman, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who rose to become a great warrior of his time. My parents thought I’d be the same.
I— I’m no warrior.
I’m an IT professional. A Business Analyst.
How long did it take you to find your publisher and how long did it take from the publisher accepting your work to publication?
I didn't wait to finish 'The Recession Groom' and started looking for publishers early on. Bad strategy, no wonder it flopped! It wasn’t until I’d completed my manuscript that I found a publisher; took me two and a half years. (I do not have a literary agent. In India, we do not need one!) Thereafter, it took me fourteen months to see 'The Recession Groom' in print.
How did you find the motivation to complete your novel and the patience to wait for it to be published? What kept you going?
I read success stories of good authors and always thought to myself, ‘If they could do it, I could do it, too.’ I listened to their videos on youtube, watched movie adaptations of their novels, it gave me confidence and a vision for my book, ‘The Recession Groom’. Good music, amazing food, quality relationships and affirmative thoughts also helped me a lot. Your own book, Claire, '52 Dates for Writers', was also a great source of motivation. I even made bookmarks for myself after reading it!
Any top marketing tips?
Landing a publishing deal is not the end of the story, an author is the brand ambassador for a book and must know how to market it to prospective readers. There are many options to choose from. I used Goodreads to review books and found success as a reviewer. I have my own website called vaniauthor.com and also blog for Huffington Post. I have a twitter account for promoting my book (@Vani_Author) and I’m also active on Google Plus, Youtube and Instagram. Creating an impressive profile takes time and I’d recommend that authors start early.
Can you tell us a little about the process of making a trailer for your novel?
Book trailers are a great way to reach out to readers. I prepared a concept trailer for my book using Windows Movie Maker and pitched it to a Movie Director who decided to take up the project. Alternatively, there are many websites which allow authors to prepare their own book trailers – for example, animoto.com.
Can you tell us a little about the cover design process? Is this something the publisher ran with or did you have a lot of input yourself?
I’d a rough idea about a bridegroom sitting on a horse, his face covered with festoons of beads, the way we have in North India. The creative team of Leadstart Publishing came up with a cover design and I suggested certain modifications.
You have a great author photo! Can you tell us a little about the process of creating that?
Thanks for liking my author photo. It was a part of a professional photo shoot. The team and I searched through a pile of pictures to prepare ourselves ahead of the shoot. At the end of it, we decided that a natural look with a formal attire would suit me best. The locations were carefully chosen and so were the accessories and props.
How much guidance has your publisher given you in marketing your novel? Do you think you feel as responsible for marketing your work as if you’d self-published?
My publisher sent me detailed marketing information which was very helpful. There was much that I needed to do on my own like building up an online presence, setting up my website, creating a book trailer, contacting reviewers, planning the media launch etc. I look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Can you tell us a little about the publishing industry in India right now? Is it equally focussed on print and e-book publication, for example?
A recent survey of Media Habits by NOP World Culture Score Index found out that Indians are the world’s top most readers and spend about 10 hours per week reading.
Most publishing houses agree that readership of fiction is increasing and people are showing a preference for e-books. This is also apparent from the popularity of literature festivals and the number of authors and readers participating in them. There are communities of reviewers and bloggers that are actively reaching out and supporting local talent. All of these are signs that the Indian publishing industry is set to grow hugely in the next few years.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I loved my characters so much that right after The Recession Groom, I started writing a sequel to it. There’s a third one in the series to wrap up Parshuraman’s story.
Need a dose of editor’s wisdom? ‘52 Dates for Writers’ offers a wealth of practical advice and exercises to help you write or revise your novel.