His book The Paperback Badshah was a funny take on all the authors whose books (read: hard work and dreams) sell for Rs 100 or less, in the current competitive publishing industry. An interview with author Abhay Nagarajan:
How does it feel to be a published author? You have more than one book in your kitty, does one get used to the hesitation, rejection, irritation, success, and the whole game?
It’s a great feeling! Yes…I’m more confident now while approaching the whole publishing process. But as a new book is up for release, I’m as nervous as I was during the lead up to the release of my first book!
Did you frame the characters based on people from everyday life, or built them on a fresh mould? Where the situations based on real life.
A combination of both, I guess! People I have interacted with and casual conversations I’ve had in passing have provided me with material while creating characters.
Untouched topic, in a way. How high was the anxiety?
In late 2010 when my 1st book was out, I remember that there were only 5-7 titles in the ‘100 rupee’ segment competing with my book for shelf space. In 2012, when book 2 was out, it was around 10-15 titles! But now it is more like 15-20 titles! So clearly everyone has a story to tell. It could be a campus novel or life beyond a campus setting…but clearly there is a publisher waiting! This served as the basic focal point as I started writing The Paperback Badshah.
Strangely enough there was no anxiety as my editor immediately liked the concept!
Tell us something about your struggle with getting published. We have a fair idea that it isn’t a cake walk. But how was the real deal for you?
It is certainly a challenge. The main issue is- you send your synopsis and sample chapters- the phase which follows is the most frustrating. In some cases you get an outright rejection, in other cases, you have to wait for six months to get a rejection! The other issue is in the event of 7-8 rejections. What do you do? Do you want to self publish your work? Do you want to release it as an e-book? Do you want to approach the new crop of publishers in the market? Do you want to take the assistance of a literary agent (in case you haven’t already), to pitch the work again to a traditional publisher? These are some of the issues to consider.
In my case, book 1 was rejected by a few publishers but was accepted by my current publisher within a couple of months of sending across a book proposal. Book 2, 3 have also been with the same publisher.
Writing about the journey of a published author and expecting publishing houses to get the digs. Was it a difficult gamble to play?
Haha. Not really. My editor thankfully saw the funny side of things!
How and when did you decide to be a published author? Was it always a plan, or did you start thinking on the lines when you thought you had a plot with you.
No plan as such! Working in wealth management provided the backdrop for my first novel. Once I had a storyline in mind, I finished writing it, and then sent across a synopsis and sample chapters to various publishers.
At this point in time, I’m writing full time. So apart from writing, I read a fair bit. I’m also an avid cricket follower.
Have a couple of ideas I’m working on. But nothing is finalized.
Who do you read, who are your favourites?
In the recent past I’ve read Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Siddharth Chowdhury’s Day Scholar and Manu Joseph’s Serious Men, The Illicit Happiness of Other People. For the sheer comical entertainment on offer, some of my favorites are- Sidin Vadukut’s Dork Trilogy, Naomi Datta’s The 6pm Slot, Melvin Durai’s Bala Takes The Plunge and Anuja Chauhan’s The Zoya Factor.