Monday, July 1, 2013

Promotion Tips by Amish Tripathi, a Million-Books-Sold-Million-Dollar-Advance Author

Wellness guru Deepak Chopra says, "Amish's mythical imagination mines the past and taps into the possibilities of the future. His book series, archetypal and stirring, unfolds the deepest recesses of the soul as well as our collective consciousness."

Last week, I attended a conversation with India-based author Amish Tripathi (writing as, Amish). His Shiva Trilogy is a mythological fantasy continuity series that falls between young-adult and adult books and became a blockbuster hit in India due to his marketing chutzpah. He's known as India's literary pop star.

With a million and a half copies of the self-pubbed trilogy in print and his fame outstripping him week after week, Amish was recently given a $1 million advance (for South Asian rights only) by Westland Books of India for his next series.

Amish has achieved cult status now with fans sporting Shiva Tattoos, as reported by the Deccan Chronicle of India, and wearing embroidered shirts of his book covers.

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an interview with Amish wherein he talked about his rocky road to publishing fame. He was rejected more than twenty times when he shopped his first book around, so he decided to self-publish it.

In the conversation I attended last week, he said that he quickly realized that no bookseller was willing to sell the self-pubbed book of a debut author. "How will a reader then buy my book if he doesn't even know it exists?" asked Amish. "It's a fallacy that a good book sells itself. While good marketing cannot sell a bad book, it can drive business for a good one. So write a very good book first, and market it like mad."

Amish came up with the idea of creating a free sampler: He bound the first chapter of his book in the same cover as the book and handed stacks out to booksellers to give away at the cashier counters two weeks before the release day. The book started pre-selling itself and created such a buzz that by the release week, the presales and sales put him on multiples bestseller lists. This was the first time in the history of the Indian publishing industry that such a phenomenon had occurred.

His book was then acquired by Westland Books, who published all three books in the series.

(Amish said that he wasn't willing to give away free copies of his first book, however, not even in the first few weeks, because he says when the whole thing is given away for free, it lessens its value.)

Amish used the cash he was raking in to make professional movie-grade book videos. Take a look at his book trailers. He had them shown at top movie theaters all over India in a publicity blitz, as well as released on YouTube. This was the first time, this had been attempted in India. And it proved to be extremely popular. His sales went through the roof.

Then he went a step further for his third book. He hired top recording artists to create a CD of ten original songs depicting themes and scenes from the book. He sold those CDs in advance of the release date of the book, and they flew off the shelves, adding to the waiting frenzy for the third book.

All three of his books are optioned for movies, and the first one is in pre-production. In addition to self-promotion savvy, he also has a sound head on his shoulders for the business side of things with contracts and such. He has portioned his rights out very carefully, leaving most of them in his hands to bargain with.

His writing style and presentation of the story appeals to the young and the old, male and female. He took Indian mythological tales and his personal philosophical beliefs and fashioned storylines to convey them in his trio of books. His books have a devoted female following, because it is rare for a male writer to write such strong female protagonists in addition to male ones. He believes that "stronger women make for a better family." (He claims this is how the original myths were, with powerful female leads, but in the middle of the last millennium, they changed as society changed into a patriarchal system.)

He wrote articles and gave talks to kids as well as to adults on the background behind his books. He said he did this to encourage coffee house discussions of the themes and motivations and conclusions of the books.

He has made a deliberate study of the brand he wants to convey. He told us that he chose only his first name as his pen name, because in India, his last name immediately puts him in a social class, which might mean fewer sales outside his social class. I noticed very similar answers to the questions from yesterday's conversation and the Wall Street Journal interview, which shows he has studied the most commonly asked questions and decided beforehand how he's going to answer those.

He very personable during his author appearances. He comes across as very intelligent, well-researched, knowledgeable without being pedantic, at ease, courteous, very honest, and witty. As with everything about him, I do believe that he gave considerable thought to this aspect of his brand, too.

You can reach the author at his page on Facebook or via his active Twitter feed. You can buy his books in the U.S., new or used on Amazon.

His advice to aspiring writers: "Write first with absolute commitment, with absolute love of the loneliness of writing. Don't write for the reader or the market. Write for yourself and for the story you're telling."


Harshita Varma said...

Good to read Shiva triology..but then here comes the most creative writing of an Indian author.. Harshita sharma's Shades of adolescence !!

Harshita Varma said...

Good to read Shiva triology..but then here comes the most creative writing of an Indian author.. Harshita sharma's Shades of adolescence !!

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