Part of the Around the World in 8 Hours virtual conference. Full schedule for today available here.
“Can’t say that I understood social media well, I just try to be myself and see where it goes!”
Amish Tripathi has taken Indian publishing by storm, bringing a sci-fi fantasy edge to Hindu gods. As he prepares to publish a new trilogy, he speaks to Porter Anderson on his experience of the publishing industry.
With his success – often with the mention of 2.2m copies sold so far – Porter notes that Amish says, ‘God’s been kind’. He’s a believer, yes?
“I’m certainly a believer,” he says. “Did have an atheist phase once, but I find that rationalism and dharma can go hand-in-hand.”
What’s fascinating, too, is that Shiva is an Earth-dwelling God – you find this closest to home, in a way. “That’s true,” he agrees. “Lord Shiva is an earthly and frankly rather cool God, who is especially popular with the youth.”
For the benefit of aspiring authors, Meluha was rejected by some 40 publishers. “I stopped counting after 20 rejections! I didn’t choose self-pub,” he notes. “Just made a virtue out of necessity! But now I have a proper publisher. Having said that, I think self-pub is about FOE. A publisher has the right to reject your book, but not the right to shut your voice.” He’s represented by Hachette’s Jo Fletcher Books in the UK, and Hachette in the US.
But it begs the question, how did a banker know social media so well? It’s impressive that he was able to market the first outing of book 1 so strongly on social media. “Can’t say that I understood social media well, I just try to be myself and see where it goes! Of course, you shouldn’t leave it to publishers. You must take charge of your own book.”
Could he share some publicity strategies at the time of the first Shiva book? “We distributed the first chapter of the book free of cost, as a sampler. That worked really well for us!” He also had a chapter bound and printed on its own, correct? “Yes, it was distributed FOC at many bookstores. This had never been tried before. Really worked well for us!”
The Immortals of Meluha is to be made into a film, but what about the other two books? “Yes, @karanjohar’s co Dharma has contracted the rights for entire Shiva Trilogy.” Isn’t a Hollywood director looking for a US production? “Yes, a Hollywood deal is also on. I’m represented by an LA based agent called CAA for my film deals.” The director/studio working on the deal has not been announced yet.
As of January, the trilogy has made more than $9.4m. When does the new one start? “The first book of the Ram Chandra series, Scion of Ikshvaku, will release later this year.”
What has the Shiva trilogy taught you about India’s readers? “Oh, answering that is difficult in 140 characters. But I guess I can say that India is changing. Our confidence is rising once again. So there is a greater interest in stories rooted in our culture and country.” He agrees that it’s an excellent time to be writing.
How far into the Ram of Chandra is he? Or is it all finished (the classic George R R Martin question!). “I’m writing it. And I promise that it WILL release this year! Also, I’m waiting for George R R Martin’s next!”
How do international readers react to the subject in Shiva trilogy being a living god? “My books have released internationally only recently,” he explains. “And by God’s grace have been well received. Also, nothing wrong with devotion to your God. What is wrong is when you attack another person’s God.”
Does success give more time for writing and reflection, or just more people like Porter to talk with? “Bit of both actually. I love reading, and I certainly find more time for it now as compared to my banking days.”
How is his confidence as an author now? Does writing get easier? “I’m an instinctive writer,” explains Amish. “I just follow the story the way it comes to me. It’s actually quite easy that way!” What was the point he felt he could leave the banking career behind? “When my royalty cheque became more than my salary. I don’t come from a privileged family. Can’t be irresponsible.”
Another great twitter chat for #pmdc15. Definitely need to read that series now…