With an advertising background and a deep and abiding interest in branding, Ganesh Vancheeswaran has carved a place for himself and his prodigious talent in niches as varied as personal branding, writing, editing, book coaching and as a voice-over artist. In this free-wheeling conversation, he shares his experiential learnings…
N: Hi Ganesh, let’s start with you telling us about your journey…how you became a writer and an editor?
G: I started with advertising in Madras, in an agency called Fountainhead Communications. I started in Client Servicing and then went into Brand Planning. And later, a bit of copywriting.
Later, I worked for Blue Star, in their core marketing function…for four and a half years I headed dealer management and handled all issues related to dealers and distributors. It was very, very different from my first job in advertising.
N: The second job was not about words or ideas, I’m guessing… must be complete action?
G: Oh yeah! It was on-field action. It was completely the left-brain kind of thing…very logical, rational, very business kind of thinking…understanding the concerns of dealers, mentoring them to perform to the best of their abilities, resolving conflicts between them, and other issues.
But then I realized my heart was in branding and related stuff, like communication, so I started working as a brand strategy consultant. This was also the time I moved from Madras to Bangalore. Tabse (Since then), for the last 14 years, I’ve been in Bangalore.
Even when I turned indie and came out of full-time employment I’ve continued to consult for companies on product and service branding, positioning, brand strategy and all of that. And communication.
Of late, in the last two years, I’ve carved out my other practice, for branding people. So I do person branding of individuals — entrepreneurs, independent professionals, start-up founders and company leaders…basically anyone who wants to build their brand as an individual. I have a framework for personal branding, which culminates in their social media communication plan and stuff that they can carry forward.
N: So that’s one track then…
G: Then my book (The Underage CEOs) was released in October 2015. That’s when I decided I must become a professional writer. I realized there was more juice in me. Kafi kuch cheezon ke baare mein likhna tha mujhe (I want to write about a lot of things)…so I turned journalist and then, I then went into content writing for companies.
This is my writing track. So as far as writing goes, I’ve been a journalist and I continue to be a journalist sporadically…I write a column on old Hindi film music and one on beer. I also do a fair bit of business-related writing for companies. I also script brand films and corporate films.
A few years ago, I realized that I’m a good editor too…I thought I have the ingredients to be a good editor. I then put that to the test and started taking projects for a lark. It worked out! My understanding of myself was right… that I ama good editor!
This led to a solid editing practice, which continues to this day. I edit books entirely for independent authors (non-fiction and fiction, both). I don’t work with traditional publishers. Authors come to me directly. I also help them house the book or publish the book in the best way. There are different modes (of publishing), and I recommend the best one after a discussion. So that’s another track I have carved out.
Editing led to coaching people in writing books — because I’m a good writer and an editor and there is a coaching bent of mind. So I have a book coaching practice too.
So there is the brand strategy practice, writing (two or three kinds of writing within that), book editing, book coaching and voice-related work. I narrate for corporate films and do a lot of voice work.
N: Wow! that’s amazing…there’s a whole lot of things that you do!
G: Yeah, man. I was speaking to a girl today and she asked me what I do. I then proceeded to unleash all of this onto her…she was frazzled.
And this reaction is quite common. I thrive on it. I realize that I cannot be doing only one or even two or three things. I don’t think so.
N: I totally agree with you because if I have only one project I feel so demotivated it might be a great project but the minute I get three other projects I’ll be excited…
G: Josh aa jaata hai (I get enthused). You feel like, “Oh man, something’s happening!”
N: Yeah, that’s the joy of creating I guess…
G: I know, yeah, and (the joy of) thriving in diversity…the dynamics of each work track are different, the learnings are different, and the way each project engages the mind is different…so it’s a very enriching experience, intellectually and emotionally.
And soon, in a couple of months or so, I’ll launch my podcast.
N: Wonderful! And the podcast will be about?
G: The podcast will be on branding.
N: Not writing?
G: No. Because I already run a webinar called ‘The Write Path’. It is for authors, giving them an end-to-end glimpse of writing, the publishing process and the marketing process for a book.
Through The Write Path, I answer questions like: how do you write/publish/market your book? I have not done it this whole year, but plan to do it once before this year ends. I usually do it once in two months.
N: You spoke about how you listened to your gut about editing…I want to ask you how did you do it based on your gut feeling. Did you tick off certain things, define the process, or did you just get into it?
G: I do some due diligence, I don’t blindly jump into anything. I listen to my intuition. Let me take that part up first.
I think that (my gut instinct) has become second nature over the years. It started early on in my career. After ignoring certain calls, certain indications from my gut, I learned the lesson of not doing that anymore. I started paying attention to it…you know, keeping my antenna up and sensing the signals that are coming from within me…so that became, early on, second nature to me.
It comes from self-awareness, Nishka. I think all of us have to work on it and nurture it. It’s so underrated, so ignored, but it’s so precious! When you have self-awareness, a lot of things fall into place. You know what you can do and what you should do and at the same time, you know what you should not venture into. The do’s and don’ts, both ways…you get more clarity in life. Self-awareness, therefore, is critical…and listening to intuition comes from that.
I am wired that way, and maybe I have nurtured myself that way. I’m introspective. I contemplate a lot, I observe a lot, and I speak to people. And when I speak, I listen to them deeply, looking for all sorts of cues.
So from reading, from observing, from hearing, from people, I get all these cues, and all of that feeds into this awareness, which then manifests as my gut feel…it’s telling you something. Listening to your inner voice is a process. I hope I’ve explained it well.
So I get these signals from the inner voice/the gut. And then, after that, comes a little bit of due diligence. It is essentially about checking certain fundamentals; not too much, definitely not getting paralyzed in analysis, but it’s something like this…
You wake up the morning after and say, “You know, last night I thought about this. Is it really true? Will it work?”
I let that feeling and that question stay with me for a few days. I mull over it. Then I go through some of the work other people have done and what I’ve done in the past and see if this realization like, say, “I can be a good editor” – does that match. Can I find some proof in my own work, or have I helped somebody else in this capacity earlier?
Then I check if there is demand for that offering in the market.
I might be good at it and I could continue to do it just for my own pleasure, and that’s okay. But if I want to convert it into a professional practice, then there must be enough people needing that service, right…that’s demand.
‘Is there enough demand?” I ask myself.
To check that, I make a few calls…I speak to people. Later, I research a bit, with added focus, checking if I can make this work for myself in a professional sense.
Figuring out the demand and getting at least some of the contours of that profession right is vital.
N: Ah! So now you actively try and meet the people who are doing it…you try to find them somewhere…
G: Correct! At least three or four people, that’s all I need. It’s not like a large study…it’s just to find people who have relevant experience, and who’ve been doing that kind of work for some time.
The questions help me figure out what their daily life is like, what the challenges in that profession are, what are the highs and the lows, etc.
Once I get a sense of that, I sit back again, let this whole thing sink in and percolate, and then I take a decision.
So due diligence is all about:
A) assessing demand
B) understanding the work dynamics of that profession and
C) looking for proof that my initial sense about my fit for this profession was correct (or not).
I put these three together, and if I’m convinced (the answers are yes), I just plunge in. If the answer is no, then I might still tentatively go ahead and figure it out, or I might just tell myself, “I’ll delay this, boss…it’s not for me now.”
Both possibilities exist.
N: When have you delayed something?
G: I’ve delayed my idea of podcasting. It’s been on my mind for two years. Okay, there is demand for it. I have domain expertise in reading, writing and anything to do with publishing. Also in branding and communication, which includes social media.
I know I can do a great job…I am already doing voice work too. So podcasting is a no-brainer. But technology-wise, setup-wise, etc. I knew I was not ready at that time — two years ago. I didn’t have the mind space to figure out the technology and how to distribute the podcast. There are these elements, right? Just like writing is not just about writing, podcasting is not just recording your episodes.
N: Yes, you need a marketing team or someone to work with you, right?
G: Correct… it’s about production and marketing too, and I wasn’t really ready for those aspects then. So I put off getting into podcasting for 2 years.
Now, when other things have fallen in place, my other priorities are taken care of, and I have a better understanding of the aspects of production and marketing, I think I’m set for it. Podcasting is a classic example of when I delayed entering a profession because something wasn’t right in my scheme of things.
N: What I want to understand is if there is ever really a No once your gut feeling starts?
G: At certain points, you will end up saying, “no.” This has been my experience.
For example, years ago, I wanted to do something in the travel space. The idea did fulfil some of the criteria I explained earlier. I wanted to curate travel experiences for people. My gut told me, “you’ll do it well because that’s you love the mountains, you love travelling. You love all taking kinds of trips.”
But, I realised…
- it’s a crowded space; there are too many people trying to do too many things in the travel domain.
- If I wanted to set up a business like this, I would have to invest a considerable amount of time in it — in getting people, setting up the trips and actually travelling. Too much energy and time (would be spent), which meant that my other work tracks, which were well-established, would suffer.
So I had to ask myself the question, “am I ready for all of this? Do I really want to do this?”
And I said, “No.” And that’s a clear no.
I asked myself this question 10 years ago and I said no then. When it comes up even today, in a chat or after a drink or two, I just say no again and swat the idea away. Maybe it’s just not meant to be. I can travel personally as much as I want, but I can’t translate this passion into a profession without bearing a huge cost.
N: Thank you, Ganesh, for explaining the unexplainable so well. Now I want to ask you about your learnings. You are a writer, editor and book coach. What are your learnings in each of these fields?
G: Sure! I’ll start with my learnings in writing.
- Write about something that you really, really connect with deeply. It’s one of the mystic laws of the universe that what you connect to communicates itself to the reader in a deeper way. This is true of any work of art, any work of creation. I find this in the films I script, in the stuff I write, and in the books I edit.
In editing, for example, I have seen that when I’m aware of the work I’m doing — of the book I’m taking up, of the intent of the author — my connection becomes stronger and the result is superlative! Versus the initial days, when I made the mistake of not taking this approach. Not that my work wasn’t good or my integrity wasn’t all there. But the thing is, sometimes, I would take things a mite casually. I’ve been a little distracted in my approach; I might have been thinking of something else while working on a book…
Then I realized quickly that my deep attention, and my deep connection, with that book was not there. I could see it in the final output.
I could also see this in some of the articles I wrote. So my first learning is, when you write a book, pick a subject and theme you are deeply passionate about, and deeply connected with.
Here I’m not only talking about non-fiction or domain expertise. Even if you were to write fiction in sci-fi or magic realism, or poetry, see that it comes from a sense of depth and deep connection.
- I think this is like when you’ve had a drink at night and said whatever you felt, without really thinking. But the next morning, you analyze what you said that night. When you look back, you might be horrified at some of the things you said, and you might be happy about some of the other things you said. You may even think, “Hey, I had the guts to say this!”
I think this is a good analogy for the book-writing process.
When you write the first draft, it’s like you’re having a drink. You know it’s an outpouring of thought over a drink. But the self-edit — and I encourage every author to self-edit their draft before they send it to a professional editor —is to be done in ‘the cold light of the morning’.
This process is a great coming together of your heart and your intellect. You have to put out whatever you want to put out, but at the same time, because it has to be palatable to the market, to the people who read it, it cannot be just self-talk, right? You’re talking to somebody else, so it has to be structured. Certain things should be said, some other things can’t be said — moderation, filtering, etc. have to be looked at. You’ll be able to do this analysis in the morning after.
I encourage all authors to write their first draft of their manuscript, leave it aside for a few days and then, come back to it and self-edit it.
3. The third big learning is that, unless you’re writing a diary which is a keepsake for your family and something to be discovered by your grandchildren later, your book needs to have a market fit. Again, this fit depends on what the book is about — its theme. It could be for children — a very entertaining story. Or it could be poetry, a memoir, whatever. Please understand who it is meant for.
Identify the market fit (of your book) at the outset and then make sure that you write it for that person, keeping that persona in mind. This really enhances the impact of the book.
- The fourth learning is to pace out your book-writing well. I’ve seen a lot of people throw themselves frenetically into the book-writing process, but I’ve also noticed that there is that tension within them…like they’re being forced to finish it in a certain time, forced to write something and be done with it.
Let’s take NaNoWriMo as an example because we are in November. It’s a great challenge. It works for many, many people and all that, but my point is this: please make sure that you allow yourself enough breathing space… allow your mind to be fully in the writing process when you write even that first draft. A lot of people don’t do this and then they subsequently realize with horror, “Oh, what have I written? It doesn’t make sense at all! My heart isn’t in it, it’s not true to the intent I set out with.” They see that there is no power in what they’ve written and that its alignment with their intent is completely missing.
Whether you have household challenges, people to be taken care of at home, health problems — perhaps you have a full-time job too — you have to marry your writing schedule with your overall schedule, the larger framework of your life and carve out time and space for you to be attentive while you write.
If this means that you can’t really finish your first draft in two and a half months or three months or any other shortish frame of time, so be it. You should then keep a slightly longer time frame so that you can do justice to your book and all other important parts of your life.
I’ve seen a lot of people burn out when they’ve tried to force-fit this into their schedule. I’ve also seen them chuck their book completely because they realize that the first draft is not ‘all there’. Then they just put off the process. So the hack is to prevent this from happening. Take it easy.
Don’t go by external cues and by what other people are doing. Figure out a schedule that works for you.
- My last point is slightly counter to this, but both these are actually two sides of the same coin: don’t allow your book to vegetate for too long.
I think it’s a very, very nuanced thing. Many people say, “I have my office work, my travel, my job and so on.”
But I’m saying, if you’ve decided to write a book please finish it within a reasonable time frame — keeping your other priorities in mind and keeping the complexity of the theme of the book in mind.
Some books need more research. Some books don’t need research. And some others are creative leaps. Figure out the ideal kind of time space, ensure that it’s reasonable and finish your draft within that.
I’ve seen partially-written manuscripts simply vegetate and die! Those books just don’t happen. There are many cases where the temptation to procrastinate, to find excuses, to shift the reason and keep postponing is very strong.
This is why I’m saying that while, on the one hand, you can’t force your writing, on the other hand, you can’t let it vegetate either. And this comes from a slightly mystic kind of realization that every book has a certain energy flow…it’s like your breathing… every task has an energy flow. You must understand the energy flow of your book and finish it in that flow. It’s possible. So many people do it!
N: Wow! Those are such great learnings Ganesh…now tell us what you learnt while editing
G: Yeah, I guess they are slightly different ones…
- This is basic, but many people still don’t know it or don’t realize its importance. Self-edit your first draft once or twice. Finish your draft, put it away for a few days, and then see it in a clear light…you will have a slightly different perspective on certain aspects of it. You will identify wrinkles and gaps. The focus of self-editing is to iron out these wrinkles and plug these gaps.
- After that, get a professional editor. I’m not kidding you, many authors put out their books without getting them edited professionally. The result— is glaring mistakes for everyone to see. Getting your book professionally edited doesn’t mean that your writing credentials are being questioned — it’s not about how good a writer you are. It’s not that at all.
An editor comes with an independent, objective perspective and that perspective helps the book.
It’s for the benefit of the book…because we writers have been close to our book for six months, eight months, one year, whatever the time frame. So we will miss out stuff. This is true of any work, any project, we do.
- This point is about the writer’s relationship with the editor.
Now, the writer knows their theme very well, whatever it may be. Because that has sprung from their world. But the editor’s job is to do certain specific things and make certain recommendations to improve the book. So trust your editor after you choose them.
Trust the editor and respect their inputs. Work with a kind of healthy respect, saying, “let me listen to what the editor says, and then let me take that feedback seriously.”
There is a nuance here…after considering the inputs, the author has every right to say, “No, I don’t think this works for my book. So I’m going to reject this suggestion.” That’s a perfectly valid call for the writer to take even while trusting and respecting the editor for the skills and value they add, and for the perspective they bring.
I encourage every author to do this and not to just treat editing like a tick mark that says they’ve been through the process. Several nuances and layers come up in editorial comments and discussions.
- I also want to talk about rates. I want to say that cheapest is, almost always, not the best. In any domain. The best actually comes at a premium. So, while the author has constraints (all of us have a certain budget for any work), I’m saying be flexible enough to stretch it.
Be willing to stretch that budget a little. Be in sync with real-life payment scenarios for editing.
I’ve seen again and again, in India and abroad, authors come with a poor understanding of what effort goes into editing and what value it adds to the book. Often, they have very unrealistic expectations of the editing fee.
So, before choosing an editor to work with, look around and understand what international editorial associations like EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association) have put out as normative rates and standard rates.
Next, gauge the fee-quality value proposition of a few editors. Understand that your editor’s work is going to enhance the quality of your book. A great editor brings a deep knowledge of the nuances of the language, a keen understanding of the reader’s mind and of trends in the publishing industry, and a mind that is logical and creative at once.
And your book is going to reflect your thoughts, your knowledge, your creativity, whatever… it’s a part of you! You’re carving out a piece of your heart and putting it into pages. With so much being invested, please consider enhancing your budget a little, if needed, and being in sync with fair rates. Otherwise, this can quickly become very exploitative for the editor. Because there are people who need the money, you know? And they may just sign up with you, thinking, “hey, let me do it for this rock-bottom but unfair price.”
If that happens, it’s exploitative for the editor, and it’s bad for the book and the writer. Because you may not get the best quality work.
- Finally, give editing time. I don’t think it’s worth rushing this…I have often had to educate authors on this. I’ve seen other editors do the same.
You’ve spent x amount of time writing your book, now let the editor spend y amount of time doing their work! I see some authors in a great hurry to bring out the books.
I see this more in non-fiction, especially in professional books and business books, where you’re writing the book to enhance your reputation, build your brand, to make yourself be seen as an authority on something.
Okay, that’s a very genuine need…I don’t doubt that at all. I’m here to support you. But the problem arises when you write that book in 10 days and expect the editor to also turn around the manuscript in 7 days or 10 days or 2 weeks! It is ridiculous; it short-changes the book.
N: Ten days?! Is that a textbook in 10 days?
G: Yeah man, seriously!
So, at one level, it’s admirable that you’ve written a book in 10 days…it’s great if you’ve managed to retain a certain quality and communicate your thoughts and cover what you wanted to cover. Great job! But don’t expect the same speed from the editor.
I find that many published books have so many mistakes, mistakes that could have been avoided with good editing. The authors are either okay with it, or they don’t realize it…I’m not sure of that. But there is this hurry to get the book out into the market at any cost. This hurry can’t be at the cost of the quality of your book, right? Because ultimately, it’s going to feed into your brand — what you stand for and how you’re going to be seen. Why would you want the reader to read slipshod work?
N: My pet peeve are those 30-day book programs…
G: Oh, don’t even go there!
I am going to write on social media about these programs.
N: The worst thing is when they say a book is a visiting card… can you relax with a visiting card, does a visiting card give you insights and do you agree or disagree with what’s written on a visiting card?
G: Hahahaha! Yeah…for all these reasons I tell them, “boss, you need to give it time.”
I’m very patient. So when it comes to such writers, I walk them through the whole process and explain the need for time. But some people are still adamant. Then I say no.
So my recommendation, encouragement and request to authors is, please give the editor and the editing process enough time.
‘Enough time’ is contextual. It depends on the complexity of your work in the book, on the length of the book, and on your writing style. All of these factors impact the extent of editing required.
N: There’s a point you made here about choosing the editor and this I believe is very true even when I talk to people who want are looking for a writer to write their books, I say, “if you and I can talk easily and if we can exchange notes in this short half-hour discussion that we are having and we can make each other laugh or connect in some way then it’s great we can work with each other… if we can’t then we shouldn’t work together.”
When one talks to their potential editor what should they check for?
G: Yes, you check for that. Writers should check their potential editor’s body of work, look at other titles they’ve edited and speak to other authors they’ve worked with.
Suppose you’re considering two or three editors…speak to each one, and check out two or three of the authors they’ve worked with to find out how their relationship has been. Do this reference check. It’s a matter of asking the editor, “Can you give me the contact details of some of the authors you have worked with?” and subsequently speaking to those references. Check about their relationship with the editor, what value the editor brought to their book, their mindset and approach… you know, stuff like that.
Some four or five essential questions like this will give you a deeper sense. You marry that with your circumstance and your own instinct after your conversation with the editor and come to a decision.
This due diligence helps the author pick the right editor.
N: Ganesh, when you ask for a manuscript, what exactly do you need? How many chapters, and from where (beginning, middle or end)…what details do you need?
G: For the longer tomes, I take writings from different sections — beginning, middle and the end — because I know it must’ve taken the author many weeks or many months to write it. And during those months, some significant changes could have happened in their life and in their frame of mind. But if it’s a shortish kind of manuscript or if it’s mid-length, I just ask for parts from the middle.
I ask for around two and a half thousand words from the middle. That’s enough for me to get a sense of their writing style and theme, and therefore, the extent of editing required. I also ask them for the chapter sequence, if they’ve drawn that up. I’d also like to see an outline or a synopsis of the book.
N: But wouldn’t they always have a chapter sequence, right?
G: See, some people come to me at a very early stage. So then, after I have the conversation with them, I encourage them to sit back and think through the chapter list.
N: Ok…When you started editing, were these the requirements you had at that time or they have grown with time?
G: By and large, they were the same. But asking for the mid part of the manuscript was a nuance I added later. Initially, I would take any part the authors would send me. The other thing I added later was asking for the chapter list.
Also, I started having a detailed call with the author, asking them about their intent (why they are writing this book), if there is a deeper purpose (there could be), who they are writing the book for (knowing your audience is important), what kind of impact they would like their book to have (often, the author wants to shift certain behaviour, enlighten or educate their audience in some way) and a few other things. Some authors don’t have a clear idea about their target audience or intended impact, so, I help them understand these clearly.
This conversation is vital for me to understand where they come from. I have realized over time that it’s important for the author too because it helps them sharpen their book’s contents and its market fit. They’ve often come back to me and said, “hey, great conversation! Thank you; I was a little off (track), but I now know how to align my book better with the market.”
N: This is very important, especially for non-fiction…start with one target reader, as I call it. See what that reader needs and how your book can help… I think that is very crucial and that’s really missing because many times when authors start thinking about their book they get so involved in the whole idea…I will teach this, I will teach that and they want to teach everything…
G: Yes…they come from the power of their knowledge. They must’ve spent years doing whatever they are doing, and they’re very passionate about it. They’ve done good work in that field, so they want to put that into a book now. I have to temper that enthusiasm down a bit and align them with certain elements of the world outside.
N: Yes because they are at step 100 but their target reader might be at step 30… if they tell them everything then it’s an information overload and the reader will not take any action. That means their book will not have the impact they dreamed of…
G: Yes. And sometimes, it’s about structuring — how to make your knowledge palatable to your readers. This depends on who the targeted reader is, right? So you must think of that while writing your book.
N: Absolutely, Ganesh. Now I want to ask you about marketing. I recommend to my authors that they start talking about their idea ‘now’ and then by the time they publish their book they will have some people pumped up enough to buy their book.
G: Yes, correct. I agree with you completely. That’s one of the things I recommend to people too. Broach your topic and keep talking about it offline, online, on social media…everywhere, much before you launch your book.
Just generally start spreading the word about your interest in that theme, about your knowledge, your deep connection with it, and gradually build it up…you know, all this takes time! It takes a year or more to build your credibility and visibility to at least a decent level.
Establish your credibility, and your connection with that theme in advance, so that months later, when you announce your book, many people would already know about you. Because you’ve built your visibility to a great extent.
So there is a greater chance of people wanting to pick up your book. Rather than you just coming out cold one day and saying, “Hi! I have this book. Who will read it?” Nobody will.
N: The saddest thing here for me has been senior professionals reaching out to me on LinkedIn saying I’ve written a book, would you like to read it
G: Yes. But why should I do that, boss?
For marketing, point one is, to talk about your work, your connection with the theme of the book and your knowledge about it, often enough. Regularly and consistently. Make it part of your social media plan. And talk about it at offline events that you attend. Generally, tell people you meet.
When you do this regularly, you start building your brand in that space. And then your book gets plugged in later. Not the other way around.
In a nutshell, market yourself first, market your book later.
N: I think that’s a great quote! I feel marketing creates more fear in writers than in writing or editing their books. Authors think that they have to go and tell people who they are and what they are doing — showcase their value and connect with people…but that’s not the ONLY way to do it. We have to educate the writers that marketing is easy. You don’t need to be on all the platforms together. You are allowed to move at your own pace.
G: Yes, and it also eases the whole game for the author when they understand that marketing can be aligned with their personality! No one size fits all. There’s no one perfect formula…nothing like that. Market the way you are. What can be more empowering than this realization?
There are as many styles of marketing as there are people in this world!
Another point. A book’s marketing has to be spaced out. Most authors do not know this. They get frenetic, there’s a lot of flailing of arms and legs in the first month or so after a book comes out. No doubt the launch is a great feeling, a great milestone. But authors face burnout soon after that.
My advice is to calibrate this whole thing and draw it out. Give yourself at least a year and a half to two to market your book. Your book can’t recede into the recesses of your mind or go into some corner after just two or three months. You can’t give up, boss. You have to keep it alive.
This is why tempering your passion and spacing it out is so critical otherwise you will burn out. Don’t feel dispirited if there isn’t a huge uptick in sales in a month after launch. There might be fifty/ hundred/ two hundred people who pick it up during this time. If you’re really a celebrity, if you’ve really worked hard at building a brand, and have a great followership then thousands of people may pick it up. But for the average author, sales are built up through months of promotional work.
Look at it this way. You’ve got a great book in hand. Now please do yourself the favour of marketing it well. Otherwise, you’re doing your book an injustice, and why would you do that?
If you want professional help, please sign on someone…a book marketing professional. Of course, that comes at a cost. Understand that and invest in a good professional. But their intervention won’t last forever. So, willy-nilly, the author has to do most of the promotion themselves.
N: So we spoke of these things for marketing:
- One is to build your brand, start the conversation much ahead of it, and market yourself to market your book
- Two is about spacing out your marketing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint
- Three is to take professional help for a limited period of time, should you need that
- Four is to tap into relevant Networks (that takes time again)
G: That’s a good summary.
Also, try to find early champions for your book. Seed the book, spread the word and promote it in a focused way in relevant circles.
Having something like a blog also helps. You can carry forward conversations about the book and its genre and theme there. You could write about your experience of writing the book, narrates backstories and anecdotes, etc. You could do this with a blog or just write about it on social media, but I think, you as an author need to keep writing about your book in smart ways.
Your book is your baby. So you can keep marketing it forever, and you should. Meanwhile, maybe you will move on to book number two, book number three, etc. Or move on to other pursuits in life…that’s fine, this happens with many of us.
N: I think I will add that along with a blog you need a website for your book or yourself
G: Absolutely. I second that! It’s good to have a website in your name; it acts as your professional window. You then plug in your book and other pieces of work into it to showcase your entire professional entity.
N: Learning to market yourself, and learning to talk to others about your ideas are big learnings for authors and there is no shortcut to them. They have to be done, especially in today’s age when there are so many books out there and as many aspiring authors…
G: Correct and there’s so much noise about everything.
The trick is not to try to out-shout others in a frenzy and hope to be heard. The trick is to be smart about it. Start the conversation and start building your credibility and your visibility much earlier.
Just breathe deep and take it easy…keep doing it day after day, keep chipping away. That’s the trick.
Even in traditional publishing, for most traditional publishers, the money is really in what is known as the backlist — the books that have been published in the past, not the recent releases. Books that have been published two years ago, four years ago, seven years ago, fourteen years ago… make up the backlist. This is where the money is for even big publishers!
I hope the penny is now dropping.
So, as an author, please give yourself and your book that kind of time. Even as you keep doing other things in your life, keep chipping and chipping and chipping away with your book promotion efforts.
N: So most publishing companies talk about their latest releases and bestsellers. But their money comes in from something they’ve published earlier?
G: Correct. And because you mentioned bestsellers, let me say this.
One of the things I hammer into participants of my webinar ‘The Write Path’ is: don’t write for your book to become a bestseller.
Just write so that it makes a great impact on the readers. Just make sure that the book delivers on your intent for ONE person, one reader. And you will find it doing that for thousands of other people like that one person. Just keep your audience in mind and make sure that you have a great product that the book just delivers to its intent. After that, let the dynamics of the market, of life itself, take over.
The bestseller tag has been thoroughly abused. I think it’s a hollow term… a vanity metric. There are no widely agreed-upon figures saying, this is sale benchmark for bestsellers in this or that genre It is highly subjective. And, like the weather in England, it changes from day to day.
N: Wonderful conversation, Ganesh. One last thing I want to ask you: if people want to work with you what should they do?
G: Holler! Hahahaha!
They can just go to my website. It is fairly comprehensive, giving them the essentials of my work streams, explaining how I work and all that. After that, they can email me or connect with me on LinkedIn.
Editorial website: https://www.the-efa.org/
Books by Ganesh:
Ganesh’s column on Old Hindi Films: Scroll Link
How to connect with Ganesh
LinkedIn : Ganesh Vancheeswaran
If you want to hear more stories from the author path and understand a bit more about this extremely fulfilling but often doubt-infested practice called writing do join my newsletter for writers. Click Here
If you want to build trust with your content and connect with your readers?
We should talk. Email me now: Nishka@Nishkawrites.com
Plussssss….Looking for more videos on the writing process?
Check my YouTube Channel. Subscribe and like:)