Amish Tripathi graduated from IIM Calcutta. He has worked for 14 years in financial services industry before becoming a full time writer. He is one of the best selling authors in India. Millions of copies of his books have been sold in a short span of time. Known as “India’s first literary popstar”, his Shiva Trilogy series is fastest selling books series in Indian Publishing History.
He has won numerous awards. To name a few are: Communicator of the Year by PR Council of India, Pride of India Award, Forbes Magazine listed him in the 100 most influential celebrities in India. He is also selected as an Eisenhower Fellow which is a prestigious American programme for outstanding leaders from around the world.
Sita: Warrior of Mithila is the second book in the Ram Chandra Series. The first book in this series Scion of Ikshvaku was the highest selling book in 2015 in India. It was my privilege to have a great conversation with the best selling Indian Author. We had an amazing discussion regarding his latest novel and his writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
It was a series of co-incidences which happened in my life I didn’t had planned to become a writer. There were stories which grabbed my soul and I had to write them down. I wasn’t really thinking of where it would go. I was a good voracious reader but never thought that I would be a writer. I guess it was a blessing from Lord Shiva.
I had a passion and interest for this subject.
What kind of books you liked to read when you were a boy?
I read a lot of non fiction. I read non fiction books on mythology, spirituality, science, politics and philosophy. So out of the number of books which I read, only 10%-15% books I read are fiction and rest are non fiction.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Getting it published (with laughter :D), that’s a joke. There are different challenges at different stages. I think the biggest problem that is there among people(who want to be a writer) all focus is on How do I make this book a best seller, how I do I make money, how do I become famous, those are the wrong motivations to write a book.
If your aim is to become rich and famous I believe that there are much easier ways than writing. Writing is a bit like sports and movies. In Movies and sports, most people actually make almost no money, there are only a very few which make more money than they ever bring possible. It is very concentrated; it is very high risk and high return. Whereas if you do a job in banking or IT there is a stable career and revenue, and everyone makes money.
Things like sports, movies and books you cant do this because you want to become rich and famous and its not the easiest way. A few lucky people make it, most don’t. You should do simply because you have a passion for it. I think that mindset is the key channel to build. You must have this mindset, that I will write because I have a passion for it. That also means you should have a job to pay the bills. Then you can see your writing flourish.
How much research do you do before writing a book?
I don’t do research while I am writing, because that distracts me. But the way that I see is everything I do when I am not writing is research. I travel a lot, I read a lot, I read around 5-6 books every month. All that traveling and all that reading is research. I am doing research in every waking moment.
What motivated you to write the book “Sita – Warrior of Mithila(Book 2 of Ramchandra Series)”?
The Ramchandra series is a 5 book series and this is the second book of the series, so it is the continuation. This book is very interesting as Sita Ma is in her ancient warrior feminist strong character. In modern India we know Sita Ma from the 1980s television serials which depicted her character in a particular way. But in the original Valmiki Ramayana she is way far stronger character. In Adbhut Ramayana and Gond Ramayani she is a warrior. That truly inspired me. I think there is a good message for the India of today.
How did you came up with the idea of writing Mythological fiction genre books?
I didn’t grabbed the idea the idea grabbed me. I was never planning to be a writer. I was always a good voracious reader, but I never thought I would be a writer. It truly is a blessing of Lord Shiva. I had an interest in this area, but having an interest and writing a book are two completely different things. There is a lot of wisdom in our mythological stories which we can learn and apply in our lives today. Stories are cool they are great fun to read as well.
Who are your favourite Authors?
I read too much for having any all time favourites. Still some books which I liked reading in the recent past are Shashi Tharoor’s Era of Darkness and Meenakshi Jain’s Sati.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I am an early riser, I attempt to write every morning, I listen to music while writing and I like eating cream biscuits while writing. I am just with my laptop and I write. Though right now I am in my marketing phase of the book so I don’t write now.
What is the greatest challenge in choosing the right publisher?
The first important quality the publisher must have is that he must be willing to publish your book. Specially in a large country like India what the publisher should have distribution capabilities. So you have to judge whether the publisher can be a good distributor. We don’t realize the scale of our country.
There are more people in India than all of North America, Europe, Middle East and North Africa put together. We are more of a continent than a country. Distributing in a country this scale is a huge task. Distribution capability is very important while choosing a publisher, that’s a critical part of success. “Kitaab agar available hi nahi hai toh bikega kaise”(If the book is not available how can it sell).
Can you enlighten any of your marketing or promotion strategies which worked for your previous books?
You can do a lot of innovative things here. We gave a free booklet with the first book as a sampler. We came with a trailer film for the first book. I personally went and delivered few books which people ordered online. We also came up with music CD album. We used social media platforms from time to time.
After having discussion with newbie authors, they say that they get very less percentage of royalty from the sales. What is your opinion on the same?
Every writer must negotiate the best deal possible. The negotiations depends upon your market strength. Example if you are a new movie actor, you will not get paid like Salman Khan or Prabhas. Even Prabhas is now known not only by whole country but overall in the world because of Bahubali. But he didn’t started earning so much in the early days what he is getting now, right. Its like 20 years of hardwork he might have done. That’s like journey in life, when you are new to your job like when you join a newspaper your salary might not be as good. But if you are good at your job then you become editor and you get paid well.
So focus on work and keep raising your own value. If you raise your value then others will pay you more. In every career not just in writing, that’s how it works.
Any Tips for newbie authors?
You must write in your heart. If you don’t have money to pay the bills at the end of the month then have a job. Have a job which pays your bills, because then you can keep writing freely. I wrote my first two books along with my job. Only when my royalties came more than my salary then I resigned my job. I didn’t resigned before that.
A good book doesn’t sell itself, that’s a fallacy. You have to market it properly. Write the book honestly with your heart, but once you finish the book then you have to be practical and pragmatic and market it properly.
Earlier if the publisher rejects your book then no one would buy and anyone couldn’t read it. In today’s day you can self publish your book, its much easier than it used to be. Printing costs have come down and you can easily convert your book into PDF and upload it online like Amazon Kindle. You can make your voice heard, this is a powerful privilege which all the writers have.
Write with honesty from your heart don’t bother about success or failure. Because your book is the voice of your soul and you never sell your soul. All the Best!
You can buy his book now: