No Place For Ego Or Self-Deception While Writing A Book: Mayur Didolkar
Mayur Didolkar’s The Dark Road has been making waves among Indian readers.
Swarajya seized the opportunity to speak to the author and ask him, among other things, what goes into making a bestseller.
What is the secret formula for writing a bestseller? Many aspiring authors grapple with this question as they set out, dreamy eyed, to write theirs. In search of an answer to this question, and for other things writing, Swarajya spoke to Mayur Didolkar, whose recent novel The Dark Road found a place in the top 10 bestsellers list and has been among the most downloaded books on Juggernaut, the popular ebooks publisher, in the last couple of months.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Congratulations on the performance of your second novel which has been doing really well.
This is a very encouraging start, especially considering that my little book was competing against the books of names like Shiv Aroor, Chitra Subramaniam, Anand Ranganathan, Sagarika Ghose, Arnab Ray and Twinkle Khanna.
How have you reacted to all the responses you have received from readers online? How can social media work for a new author?
Quite a few of the readers follow me on social media and hence they chose to send their feedback on the app as well as through direct messages through Twitter or Facebook.
I think for a new author, every reader who takes time out to read and then takes more time to leave a comment about your book deserves to be responded to. Generally the feedback has been one of encouragement and enthusiasm. I have always responded to all of them personally.
What are your plans to widen the reach of your book? How do you think new readers can be inducted into the art of reading?
I think for e-books like The Dark Road, as well as books that are available in both the print and “e” formats, social media and word of mouth are the most potent tools. Traditional methods such as book readings and signing have their own charm, but as a strategy to reach more and new readers, it is a slow and expensive method for a new author like me. Also, in this new age, authors need to market themselves well in order to market their books; i.e., to widen the reach of the book, the author needs to widen his own reach on social media. I am working assiduously on improving this part of my client reach.
What is the best comment you have received thus far? Also, which has been the most popular character in the book, and what do you see as a reason for its popularity?
I think the best and most touching comment came from a lady who told me that Sanju (the victim in the novel) reminded her of her younger days and that she identified with the struggle Sanju went through for most of the book. I think most readers love the sassy and sensible protagonist Prasanna Killedar. A lot of women readers have praised the decision to have a middle-aged woman as the principal character. I think breakdown in law and order in a society always has the worst effect on women and therefore they understand the need to maintain law and order at all costs much better. Nothing represents a breakdown of social order like a murder and hence Prasanna’s quest to find the killer is not an intellectual game of sorts but a single mother’s crusade to make society a little safer for her young daughter. I think most of the readers identify with this struggle and like her for it.
With respect to the new-age reader, do you think a particular genre does better than others?
Not really. I see all types of books, except perhaps poetry, do well. Today’s readers are well-informed, choosy and they follow trends quiet well. Crime and psychological thrillers as a genre has been one for all seasons and readers have been responding enthusiastically to it since the time of Raymond Chandler and Byomkesh Bakshi.
What would be the key ingredients to dishing out a bestseller?
I think to write a novel that manages to appeal to a wide section of readers, the story needs to have a strong situation and interesting characters at its heart. Almost all the books that have done well commercially and managed to retain their appeal over the years will always have a very interesting story coming out of a very interesting situation and they will have characters that talk, behave and think like real people.
Also, I think, we writers need to understand the professional side of writing and be willing to work extremely hard with the team of editors in tightening and improving the book so that the reader gets to read the best version possible. There is no place for ego and no place for self-deception in that process. You need to trust your editors implicitly. My editors at Juggernaut as well as Rasana Atreya (who helped me with the developmental editing before sending the manuscript to Juggernaut) made me revise the book a number of times and in the process made me delete some dialogues, events and sentences that I had really liked while writing. And you know what – I think that made the final product much better.
What’s next? Does the success of this book inspire you to write more books in this genre?
The production process from writing to publishing a book is a long one and hence while I was working on the rewrites of The Dark Road, I was also working on my new projects.
I have finished writing my next novel that I am for now calling ‘Tears for Strangers’ this May and in all probability, Juggernaut will have the first option to release it on their app sometime in 2018. Last year, they also commissioned five short stories from me, of which The Call That Changed Raunak's Life and Varun's Theory of Accidents are already released on the Juggernaut app. The Call, which was released last month, has received a lot of praise for its originality and the twist in the end. Three more short stories are due to release shortly on the Juggernaut app.
We have also tentatively finalised the schedule for three additional short stories in the supernatural genre last month, and I am working on that project now. Other than the short stories, my next Prasanna Killedar novel and another novel (as yet unnamed) are in the initial stages right now. I intend to release at least one of them (along with Tears for Strangers) in 2018. Let’s hope for the best.
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