Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Author or Commodity? with Guest Blogger Shobhan Bantwal

The Book Boost welcomes Kensington author Shobhan Bantwal to the blog!

Here's what she had to say about the real deal behind becoming an author...

Author or Commodity?

Some years ago, when I was an amateur writer obsessed about becoming a published author, like many of my fellow writers I had naively assumed that once I got that first book in the hands of a reputable agent, I had it made. And once the agent made a sale, it was smooth sailing from that point on.

Boy, was I wrong! After four published novels, several short stories, and dozens of articles, I'm no longer a novice. Back when all I could dream of was seeing my book in print and autographing hundreds of copies for adoring fans with a smile and a flourish, I had never given any thought to what the late radio journalist Paul Harvey would call "the rest of the story."

Writing a book, and by that I mean a finished, polished manuscript, is only a small portion of what goes into publishing it. I don't presume to know everything that goes on behind closed doors at an agent's office or at a publishing house, but I do know what it is to be an author. The time an author actually spends writing is minimal, while the time she spends on molding herself into a salable package to be offered first to publishers and later to readers, takes up a large chunk of her time.

But I must admit it is a wonderful feeling to see one's debut book in the bookstores, shiny cover, author photo, intriguing back cover blurb and all. However, the effort that goes into promotion and marketing can serve up a healthy dose of reality.

While most publishers work hard and long to market their authors' books, they have limited budgets, therefore they expect the author to market herself effectively to augment their own efforts.

A mid-list and/or debut author is a tiny sardine swimming in an ocean of whales, sharks and every size in between. It is up to an individual author to decide how much time, money, and effort she can realistically devote to promotion-marketing. Once that debut book hits the stores, the author must ready herself to appear on a stage, both virtual and real.

Even when an author is shopping for an agent, she must offer an attractive package. By that I don't necessarily mean good looks (although that helps greatly) but in terms of writing credentials, background, interesting life experiences and such.

As for my own experience, as an Indian-American, I had to come up with ways to make my personal life interesting. What could an average 50-year-old working wife and mother have to offer to catch the attention a busy agent and busier publisher?

That is when I realized that my life experience was what made me unique. I was an immigrant from India, someone who had grown up in a conservative Hindu Brahmin family and had an arranged marriage. My ethnicity, my marriage, quirky sense of humor, and talent for telling a story with lots of spicy details had the potential to be an interesting commodity to be offered to agents, publishers, and future readers.

The packaging has worked rather well for me. Readers seem to be as interested in my background and my roots as they are in reading my "Bollywood in a Book" style stories. The Unexpected Son is my fourth book published by Kensington Publishing. I'm working on books number five and six at the moment.

A Note from the Book Boost: Thanks for the insight into your complete author package. As one of those tiny, struggling sardines myself--I can totally relate. Please tell us more about your book and where our readers can find you.


What happens when a woman who's realized her dreams wakes up one morning to a shocking truth?

Vinita Patil opens a mysterious letter from India that instantly turns her comfortable life upside down. It tells an impossible story: she has a grown son in India, a child she was told was stillborn 30 years ago. Now his life may depend on her.

Revealing her secret past to her husband could ruin her marriage. But she's compelled to return to her battle-scarred town in India and save her son—and pray for the faith of the family she leaves behind...

Read and Excerpt here: (click on "Read an Excerpt")

Want More Shobhan?
Visit her website here:
Watch the book trailer. Click here!

Pick up your copy of her book today! Click here!


Miriam Newman said...

What an adorable cover. This sounds as if it could be a very profound sort of book. Best of luck with it!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Miriam. I sincerely hope you read the book and enjoy the story as much as the cover image.