Dear Chetan Bhagat

Dear Chetan,

First things first. Let me get a few confessions out of the way.

A, I have not read any of your books and yet I have seen your popularity and sales figure soar with every title you come up with.

B, the only rendezvous I’ve had with you was when I was working as an event manager. I came within breathing distance of you when I was trying to put a mic on your jacket, moments before you were to go up on a stage and address a gathering for the a motivational lecture. Oh, you seem to have done a brilliant job of delivering the lecture. Because after you were done, I heard enthusiastic and loud applause from the audience. Alas, I could not hear you deliver your lecture because I was running around to get the next act ready.

C, I am yet to meet anyone who has shown fondness for what you write or how your write. But for some reason, everyone I know has an opinion or two about you. And that sir, is no mean feat.

Chetan, I write to you to thank you for giving me the courage to quit my day job and wade in uncertain waters while I chased my dreams of being a published author. If not for your success, I couldn’t have done it.

Please indulge me as I go back in time. I first heard of you sometime in the later half of 2004. I was a first-year MBA student at a leading business school - MDI Gurgaon. Since it is a college of repute, students were expected to be good with academics and be well rounded. Those days, reading was regarded as a great way to “build CV value” when the placements happened. So I picked up reading.

I tried different genres. And by trial and error I settled on and fell in love with winding and layered tales of injustice, crimes, murders and the common-man-doing-uncommon-dares-in-face-of-adversity spun by the likes Jeffery Archer, John Grisham, Sue Grafton and others. What more, I often found myself lost into day dreams of creating such plots and stories myself.

Even though I had faith in my abilities and a fire in my belly, I was not sure if I could actually become an author. How could I? After all, I came from a humble background and English to me was, what can I say, intimidating! To me, English was something that only the elite could indulge in, in their fancy, lavish dinner parties. Lingua Britannica was something as exclusive as an admission to your alma matter – the IITs and the IIMs.

The writers and the readers of content created in English had to be special. I mean look at the bestseller list in India from Oct of 2004. Giving you company on those charts are greats like Dan Brown, Amitav Ghosh, Paulo Coelho, Robin Sharma, Mitch Albom, Khushwant Singh, Pawan Verma and others. All these authors have a pedigree that I could give an arm and a leg for. Each of them is read by and discussed by those socialites in their fancy Page 3 parties. And like most things they mulled over in their parties, I could hardly comprehend the language, the depth, the richness, the detail, the pain, the suffering, the longing and other such things that their books talked about.

You, Chetan, were like a whiff of fresh air in an old room full of yellowing books that hadn’t seen sunlight in years. You presence on the list dispelled the famous notion that writing was a serious business; and the notion that you had to be, if not a doctorate in literature, a post-graduate at least to even think about writing.

In fact more I read about the publishing business in those days, more I realize that if I had approached a publisher back then with my manuscript, they would’ve laughed on me. I probably would not even get to enter their grand, opulent offices. On top of it, back then, there were hardly any publishers. And most of them probably believed that they were the custodians of English language. In today’s parlance, we call them the Grammar Nazis.

Fast forward to the Oct of 2014. The tribe of these Grammar Nazis is fast headed towards extinction. The remaining, handful Grammar aficionados are hardly given any importance by anyone. There are more publishers than there are authors. Even foreign publishers have set up shops in India and they regularly publish books by authors like you. And I. Literary agents, and good ones at that, are now dime a dozen. Experienced editors are willing to work with newer authors without expecting a fortune for their editing talent. Great designers are willing to work for next to nothing. Modern trends like self-publishing and social media have unleashed a new crop of writers and given them cheap innovative ways to reaching their audience.

The publishing industry as we knew it traditionally had changed. And Chetan, you ushered this change. Your success made this change possible.

Unchanged however remains your presence on the bestsellers lists. Or may I you’re your dominance? On the latest list of bestsellers in India, you are accompanied by the likes of Paulo Coelho, Sachin Tendulkar and Boria Majumdar. And then there are authors like Preeti Shenoy, Ravinder Singh and Durjoy Dutta.

Sachin is an exception here because it’s his autobiography and it would probably be his only book in life. Apart from Boria (who co-authored Sachin’s book), I am not sure if any one else on the list has a background in literature or journalism.

The Ravinders, The Durjoys and others like them are not yet in their thirties and they command a fan following as large as established Bollywood or Cricket celebrities. Each book they come up with, is much-anticipated and celebrated by their fans. Without your influence I bet they wouldn’t have even considered writing as a career.

You know Chetan, you not only gave the Ravinders and Durjoys the confidence to go forth and write, you gave me a precedent that I could share with my family when I decided to quit. I could tell my friends that I was going to be an author like you and no one raised even an eyebrow. I could talk my employer into granting me a leave without pay for a period of one year. Your success gave me a plausible justification for switching careers after almost 10 years of work. The world around me questioned my sanity but because I had your success as an example, they eventually acquiesced. 

There is more Chetan. You also helped create an entire ecosystem. Because of phenomenal success of your books and non-stop inflow of money pouring into your coffers, new publishers, distributors, designers, editors, reviewers sprang up. All of them attempting to ride the wave, the avalanche of new authors pounding on the doors of impending boom in the publishing industry.

As one such writer, an author, I shall remain indebted to you forever for your seminal work, 5 Point Someone. It started the avalanche that we all are hoping to be a part of. You have proved beyond doubt that English language and literature is no longer a slave to the modern and the rich and the famous. Isn’t that what you are reinforcing in your latest book, Half Girlfriend?

Chetan, Thank you so much! For giving wings to a common man like me to chase my ten-year old dream. And for helping create an ecosystem where the dream could actually see light of the day! You are the knight in the shining armor for dreamers like me. If not for you, my dream would’ve remained a mere thought bubble. I would’ve gone through life without realizing my true passion, my potential.

Thank you once again!

Saurabh Garg
Author, The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Oh, would you have time to read my first book? I would love to send a copy. Please do let me know.

Note: An edited version of this letter appeared on qz.com at http://qz.com/315668/dear-chetan-bhagat-i-quit-my-job-and-became-a-writer-because-of-you/

Untitled. 12.12.14 / 18.12.14.

It's one of those days... Just too much has happened in last 24 hours. Let me try and chronicle those things here.

(a). A friend's dad was unwell. I spent an entire day in hospital. The hatred and aversion that I have for hospitals came rushing back at me. While I was there, I could totally see lives of my loved ones flash past by me. I took a vow to get healthy and never ever see inside of a hospital (for myself). So unless it's REALLY REALLY important, I will not step inside an hospital. More on hospitals on some other post.

(b). One of those important women that I talk about in (a), I called her. I told her that I loved her more than anyone else, anything else. And she hung up on me. She had to. I had no right calling her after all these years and do that. I am sorry for doing so. But I was way too full after the incident at the hospital.

(c). I made a new friend over the last few days, thanks to the book. She is THE 3 AM friend that I've always wanted in life. Not that I dont have other such people. But she is in a different continent and is as broken as I and can totally understand where I come from. But then these are early days. So let's see how it goes.

(d). I am ready to move on yet again. Its not been three months and I've had enough. Let's see what is next. More on this in some other post in some time. I DEFINITELY know what I dont want. And I still dont know what I want. May be I need to see a shrink or something. If only I had the money.

(e). I was messed up in my head and I was killing time on YouTube. Stumbled on this video. And while I enjoyed the performance, I had this shade of guilt and pity. My heart goes out to artiste like Lucky Ali. I have some vague idea of the show business and the kind of tantrums people artists throw. Here he is, performing at a stage that looks small by all standards, on a sound that is fucked up and with a band that looks like an ensemble at best. And he's Lucky fucking Ali. The God reincarnated. Yet getting old by the day. Lucky Ali is / was my first tryst with romance. With O Sanam. How can he perform at such a small stage? May be he likes to do so. May be he does not feel the need to be on a stage that is worthy of his stature. So yeah, pity, guilt and confusion.

(f). I have almost closed on my goals for 2015. Top on that list is my health. Second is guitar. Third is running a marathon/ The others are same as that of 2014. Financial freedom, travel, writing etc. Again, more on this eventually as we draw close to the year-end.

That's it.

Wrote this on 12.12.14. Published on 18.12.12. Why? I did not get time to work on this. Wonder how would the next book happen. #fml

Hello, #trss

Ladies and gents, #trss is now live. 

And it will be out in the market in less than 365 days. 

Help Me!

I sent this email to a few friends and strangers. Seeking help. The version below is an edited one; after I got feedback from some who chose to respond. If you want to help me as well, please do let me know

Hi,

Most of you know me. The ones who don't, I met / spoke / interacted with you while I was working on my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story. In a couple of cases, you read the book and wrote in. In one case, you are a friend of a friend and you've liked what I wrote. And one of you is a person who reads my blog (yay)!

I write to you because I need help. I have realized that writing makes me happy and if I can get better at it, I can work on my terms, actually make a living out of it and get out of the rat-race. And not just living, I could live comfortably!

For the record, I define comfort as a state where I don't have to think twice before I buy the latest iPhone. I use the iPhone as a proxy to PPP or the Big Mac index.

So coming back, I know I make a lot of mistakes when I write. My grammar could do with improvement. I even slaughter a few sacred cows! I thus want to create a group of trusted friends, acquaintances that would read first drafts of what I write and give me feedback before I publish those on public platforms.

 It will help me in two ways.
A, I will get advice from a trusted group of people.
B, It will help improve the quality of my output.

So, here are some more details on it.

Why you?
Because you have helped me in past. Because you have a view point that I thought was really unique. Because I believe you could help. And most importantly, because I thought you cared about how I write!

What kind of things will I send to you?
These would often be things that move me, things that I need an opinion on, things about technology, life, travel, writing, characters. Things that I really want to share. And of course things I write for commercial purpose - books, scripts, speeches etc. Think of this as a private blog or a closed mailing list. Think of this as way to peek into my brain. Think of this as a testing ground for me to test my ideas on. Think of yourselves as guinea pigs. And FYI, guinea pigs are actually rodents!

What do I expect from you?
Three things. Only.

  • Honest critique on what I send you. This could be comments, praises, edits, suggestions, ridicule, death threats, love letters, friendly fire etc. 
  • Opportunities. If someone asks you for someone who could write, please point them to me. 
  • Links, tips, things that I should be reading, videos that I should be watching, content I ought to be consuming, people I must talk to, practise that I need to put in, to become a better writer. 

What is in it for you? 
I dont know. Except the rush of good hormones that you get when you help someone. And my gratitude. Think of yourself as a king. Or a queen. and think of me as an artesian who's come to your court seeking your patronage and blessings. In the times when Kings and Queens ruled the world, they would often shower artesian with gold, pearls, palaces, princesses and what not. On the other hand, all I am asking for is your time, your patronage. Too much to ask for?

 That's it!

Over to you guys! Oh, this IS the first piece that I want your feedback on.

And, as Steve Jobs would've said... one more thing... Who all do you think I can seek help from on writing? Can you please connect me with them so that I can include them in this list? I promise that I would not send more than one email a week.

On that note, if you choose to not receive these emails, PLEASE tell me and I would remove you from the list.

Thanks so much! Please do tell me how to improve this.

Regards,
Saurabh

P.S.: Once upon a time, I read this quote and I just cant get it out of my head. It goes... "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." I have used it so often that I think I am bordering on getting obnoxious. But I love it so much that I cant stop using it. And I will continue to use it. So, dear giants, please help me see further.

Departmet of Silent Audence (DOSA)

Goodreads. As on 06 Dec 2014.
When I was at MDI, there was this bunch of guys - all of them were really intelligent and good to talk to and everything - who never spoke in the classroom sessions. Even though MDI placed a lot of rigor on class participation and speaking up in lectures, these guys will never ever speak up. Even when the professors pointed at them and asked them questions, they'd stay shut at the cost of getting ridiculed and docking grades. Of course they knew the answers and they could speak eloquently outside the class. But in the room, they'd not utter a word - no one knows why. And they called themselves DOSA - Department of Silent Audience. They were there to seep in everything and not speak up. Like sponges. They were there to stay shut. They were like silent lambs. Actually I could've titled this post the Silence of the Lambs.

Anyhow, it's funny that I am reminded of it them almost 10 years after I first encountered them. Why? Because in the last few days, the feedback, the reviews, opinions and other things on The Nidhi Kapoor Story have started to dry down. I dont know how the sales figures are moving for the book. But I do know that a lot of friends and family have bought the book. And I know for sure that I have not heard from most of them. Not strangers, not the common man. But family and friends.

The first few days were fun. I am not exaggerating but I would get some input, some feedback, some other comment almost every hour. It was probably my 15 seconds of fame. Only if each second, I wish, could last a lifetime!

Once the first set of people were done with their response, the frequency dropped drastically, the way a ball plunges down a tall tower perched on a high hill.

Next lot of people to write in were strangers, casual readers who had picked the book after they were exposed to all the noise that I made on the Internet. Remained absent was feedback from friends and family.

Now, almost 15 days after the book became available to the world, the feedback I get is now few and far between. And all of it is from people that I did not know of before I wrote the book. Thankfully a disproportionately large proportion talks about the book in good light. There are a few things that I've been told to work on. And I am working on those as I work on my next book. More on it later.

So, if you are reading this, I urge you, implore you, beg you, on my feet and with folded hands to please share your feedback with me. Postive, negative, ugly, good, excellent, pathetic. You may choose any word to express your opinion on the book. I promise I will neither fly away to the cloud 9 (or cloud 7 or whatever) nor hurl myself into the abyss of depression. Your feedback would only help me get better.

Please. If you have read The Nidhi Kapoor Story, please do share what you think of it. Like these 20 people who have taken the pains of letting the world know what they think of #tnks. Apart from these 20, there have been people who think that that book is a piece of shit and they've stopped talking to me! That's ok. I loved the fact that it could provoke such strong reactions.

As long as there is a reaction, all's well. But a reaction guys. Please. Life doesn't work like that. We are after all social animals and we ought to communicate. We response to stimuli. Remember Biology 101? Hope this is a sharp enough bite in the arm to wake up from your slumber and make you share your feedback with me.

Oh, and the guys at DOSA, I am not sure what happened to them, its after all been ten odd years since I've seen them. Get the point?

No? Damn!

The Story of The Nidhi Kapoor Story

A friend who wanted to quit to write and didn't have the balls to do so asked me about how I went about it. I told her that I didn't think a lot and just did it. She was insistent that I write a story. This is an edited version of the email I sent her sometime in Sep of this year. I think this post is relevant to other authors that I've made a commitment to on Catapooolt. Thus posting it. 

The Car Ride in August 2013
"Are you out of your mind? You want to leave a job that takes you all over the world and pays you for it? How many people are that lucky?" Vivek said when we took that turn towards Lonavala. If we didn't take that turn, we would have continued on the Mumbai-Expressway towards Pune.

"I've had enough of travel. And I think it's the right time. You know that I've always wanted to write a book! And if I am lucky, let me ride my luck and try and write a book. Worst case, Suvi will hire me back. He's promised me as much." When I quit Gravity, I had asked my boss, Suvi if he'd hire me back in case the book doesn't happen.

"Whatever man. Just know that you are not young any more and you ought to leave these frivolous things behind," said Vivek. He continued to drive at a steady 40, both of us enjoying the crisp air of the night shrouding us.

I could see that he was concerned about me. Unlike him; he is as emotionless as a rock. I however was optimistic about the time to come. Unlike me; I am not the kinds to think about tomorrow.

I said, "Que sera sera. Whatever has to happen, will happen. Right now I've gotta go pee. Just stop the car please."

He parked on the side of the road. Before I could step out, he said, "you better fucking finish that book or I'd kill you!" 


Sep 2014
The conversation above happened sometime in August last year and it's almost the end of September of 2014. I am still alive. That means that I must be done with my book! Update. Yes I am. Its on www.tnks.in. It took threats from friends like Vivek, encouragement from people like Rana Sir, coaxing from #sgMS and infinite support from my sis and my parents to be able to get the book done.

It's been about 15 months since I've quit and I've exhausted my life's savings (I had cashed all my savings to be able to afford to live in Mumbai).

The good bit is that the book is now out. The great bit is that I enjoyed my freedom as a full-time writer and a part-time contractual marketing guy. And the sad bit is that I will have to join a naukri in a couple of days (Update: It's Nov and been working for almost a month now).

So the challenges I faced, the mistake I made and the lessons I learnt while writing the book are listed below.

Challenges I faced.

  • Life away from home. I may not be that attached to my folks but I miss having my family around me. They remain the biggest source of inspiration, support, comfort and all that makes me what I am. I hate to be naked about these things but I miss them. I could've done better if I was home. But I had to be in Mumbai for other reasons. 
  • Comfort Place. I need a perfect setting to be able to write. The right chair, the right table, the right temperature on AC, so on and so forth. And while I was working on #tnks, I often had to contend without one or more of these things. Starbucks came closet but I can't sit there forever.
  • Loneliness. The dreamers are often alone. I think its because its hard to sell your dream to someone else. It often got lonely. I have tons of friends but they've got priorities. Thankfully, a lot of strangers were very kind towards to me while I was working on the book. More on this soon.
  • Money. Money makes our world go around. I did not have enough of it. Actually, no one ever has enough of it. So there were times when I had to not do things that I would want to, to save money. And for someone like me, who's been lucky to not see bad days (in terms of money) it was a huge huge challenge. 
  • Self-doubt. I must have asked this myself a thousand times. That why would someone want to read what I write. I still don't have an answer. And I don't think answers are coming anytime soon. 

Mistakes I made.
  • Took a part-time job that ate a lot of time. Thankfully, I was fired from it. But then the flip side is that I had to take up another full-time job that virtually leaves me with no time at all. Money, like I said, makes the world go around. Sucks to be a slave.
  • Took all advice on face value. Just because something worked for someone else, doesn't mean that they would work for me as well. I took suggestions and instead of helping me, they acted as deterrents. Of course the ones helping were doing it with good intentions. And that means that none of this may work for you. So, rather than blindly taking up advice, please please see if it makes sense for you. 
  • More. There must be more mistakes that I would've made. Like most other self-obsessed people, I may not be able to recall all the mistakes here :)

Lessons I learnt.
  • Write everyday. If there is one lesson I've learnt, it is that I ought to write everyday. It's like a muscle. If you dont flex it everyday, if you dont practise it everyday, it will rust. In fact I remember this line - "karat karat abhyaas te, jadmati hot sujan" from when I was a kid. All these years hence I am reminded of the lines! 
  • Leap of Faith. It’s ok to take leaps of faith. When I quit, I had plans of living off my savings. I did that. And before I could really dip into my savings, I got an opportunity to work part-time for someone who paid me enough to take care of my rent. Everytime I was in a soup, some solution came my way!
  • The world is far nicer than I though it was. When I quit, I heard of grim stories of how the world has wronged people. Plus, I have always been a huge cynic. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness of strangers towards me. People came forward to help me, support me and even give their time and money to me. 
  • Assume that the world will ridicule you. I have another line. From I don't know who, "Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." I learnt that no one will ever understand why I crave so much to write. They may not, I am not answerable to anyone. The world ridiculed me, laughed at me. It was tough to stay strong. I tried. I failed. I am learning. 
  • A life of poverty. Lately I have been trying to figure out if I can make a career out of writing. My language is not really perfect and my vocabulary is limited. But what the heck, I'd try. So, I've been meeting writers and hustlers. And everyone has told me that it's a long long long road and it's full of poverty and rejection and dejection. I am not ready for this one yet. But I will someday make an exception. 
Finally, I totally believe in the concept of paying it forward. I am going to do the same. I am willing to help other first-time authors discover the magic of writing a book. Trust me guys, there is nothing as pleasurable as seeing your name in print. Especially when you’ve been cherishing the dream for almost 10 years. 

Please write into me and I would love to help in anyway possible. Ofcourse if you believe in my story and you really want to help me, please consider helping me in my fundraising attempt with Catapooolt

I may not be the best writer around but I know how to get a book out. I am going to get 5 books out by 2020. Just wait and watch. 

Thank You. 
Saurabh Garg 
30 Sep 2014 22 Nov 2014

The Life Triangle

Source: Unknown
Apologies for the rant last night. I was probably intoxicated by my inability to get things done and my thoughts were paralyzed by my financial condition.

Now that I have slept over it, it sounds like a trifling thing.

Actually to be honest, it's not trivial at all. It is important. It's one life. We live only once. And we better live it with peace, happiness and with friends and family while we are at it. What else is the purpose of life?

So, from where I stand, I think of life in three variables. Money, Health and Writing. Health is a larger theme encompassing physical, mental and emotional health. And of course, on top of these three are things like family, friends, relationships and other such things that make us human.

Let me talk about each now. Start with writing. Writing gives me pleasure. Though I am not sure if it can pay my bills. It can't. Not right now. May be sometime in future.

Money is what makes the world go around. To be able to do nothing but write, to live in the mountains, to travel the world, to buy those gadgets, that car, it takes money. And apart from me, everyone seems to be making enough and more of it.

Health is probably the most important of the three. If I not in the pink of my health, I cant enjoy the orgasm that I get from writing, I cant ride that bike that I would've bought from all the access money I would have and I definitely would not be able to enjoy the mountains and beauty around it.

So I need to juggle these three tough balls (of money, heath and writing), while walking on a tight rope that is stretched on the poles of relationships, friends, family and other emotions.

I can't fall down for sure. And I don't want to drop these balls either. It's like being on the guard all the time. It's like being that circus artist that has a million eyes watching him; and he has to perform, even if he is unhappy or unwell or bored or something. There is no way he can let his guard down. There is no way he can not perform. And worse part, you he can't even say that he's bored or tired or unhappy.

Damn life!

There was a time when I thought I could manage all three and get things done. I did it for a few days. But I guess I was wrong.

I can't manage all three. Leave three, I am having tough time figuring just one of the three out.

How do you guys do it?

I give up!

I give up. I can't do it. I can't. And I hate myself for it. I just don't have the time to do it. Or may be I don't think its important enough for me to do it. Or may be I don't have the balls or perseverance to do anything. Or may be I am loser. Or may be, I am a quitter. Isn't that why sgMS left me?

Irrespective. I can't do it. I am a loser.

Second year running, despite all the effort, intent and determination, I have failed to reduce my waist or my weight and I am going to lose a bet. Bet is not important. Important is that I can't do a shitty thing like losing weight. Especially when for a large part of the year I had nothing else to do. Fucking kept procrastinating. And here I am. Fat, old, unhealthy, lethargic all the time.

Of course now I have something to put the blame on. And yeah, that's what I am doing. Getting off easy by putting the blame on someone else. I am not owning upto my shit. I am merely putting the blame on someone else. My job. It keeps me busy and so I don't have any time to do anything. Guess this is what they mean when they say that it's tough to juggle a day job and a hobby on the sides. Hate the fact that I have to slog the entire day, sitting behind a desk to be able to make ends meet. Hate that I've given the control of my life to someone else, willingly, so easily. Guess this is what that Apple TVC from 1984 spoke of?

The world, is fucking unfair. Life, unfairer than that. I refuse to play thy game. I want out.

Really do.

Book Review. God is a Gamer.

I recently read God is a Gamer. The latest by Ravi Subhramanian. Got the book as part of the book review program by Blogadda.com. 

Please note that this is NOT a paid a review. I do NOT make any money from this.

Before I launch in a full-blown review, let me get some numbers out of the way. I mean the ratings.

Readability: 3.5 on 5
Suspense: 3 on 5
Storyline / Plot: 3 on 5
Overall: 3.5 on 5

One line verdict
God is a Gamer is an attempt at writing a chase through myriad locations, characters and situations, all of it culminating in one destination. A pot-boiler for sure.

Full review
I read the book a few days back but never found the time to write a review. Here I am, on a Sunday morning. Trying to wrap my head about what I read a few days back. Whatever I write will come from my head and I would not have the advantage of flipping through the pages to write the review.

So, the plot is slightly difficult to talk about in few words. I'd still try. A few seemingly unrelated crimes happen in New York, Washington and Mumbai. In US, a high-ranking government servant / official is murdered and the great police departments, the FBI, the CIA and all other three-letter agencies can't seem to figure out the intent or MO. In Mumbai, a banker is killed and the police is forced to cast a net so wide that the Finance Minister himself becomes a suspect. Meanwhile in Mumbai, a BPO handling transactions for the large financial institutions in US gets hacked and it results in

At time the books reads like a corporate espionage, a political thriller, a murder mystery, a chase and of course, a love story! Love the way Ravi got all these themes together in one place! I wish I could do the same with my books!

Of course I could get into more details but then I would have to unravel the suspense. Nah, I won't do that. The book has to be read. It's definitely a one time read. And a racy one at that.

Coming to the good bits...
  • Short chapters. Each chapter is about 2 slides of the page. Brilliant strategy. The book becomes a page turner. I think that's a new trend. Last book I reviewed, Private India was similar. 
  • A brilliant way to teach the basics of financial industry, especially a peer to peer currency like Bitcoin. Reminds me of Goldratt's Goal. I think Ravi needs to look at that genre closely. Can he make the boring things like finance into interesting plots and stories like God is a Gamer? 

There were a few things that I did not like. I call them not-so-good bits...
  • Too many characters for my liking. Unless the book is a Godfather that requires me to think of motives and actions of men (that are guided by long standing traditions rather than moments of insanity), I dont want to burden myself with too many characters or too many side plots. May be its Ravi's style. 
  • The Bitcoin misnomer. The book has hardly anything to do with Bitcoin. Agreed that crimes happen because the Bitcoins are at the heart of the issue but again, I won't call it The Bitcoin Thriller. 
  • Hollywood-ization. There are elements in the book that probably are best suited for a spy thriller (spoiler alert: hidden rings etc) based in the US of A. As an Indian reader, I just can not relate to these things. May be other evolved readers can. But I cant. So it could be my limitation, as compared to the book. You decide. 
That's it I guess in form of a review.

In the end 
Definitely a one-time read if nothing else. Do read it. At times the book is unputdownable. I could finish the book in two sittings. That's it. 

Thanks!
SG

Notes
1. This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

2. Since I am an author as well now, I take these reviews even more seriously.

3. If you want to review my first book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story, please write into me (or leave a comment) and I would be in touch.

To pay or not to pay...

"Influencer" marketing
Continuing from where I left on Tuesday (the rant about book marketing), I have a few decisions to make. And I cant seem to arrive at em. Let me first put forth the questions. And then I'd talk about my thoughts on those.

a. Some very popular book review blogs, websites, e-zines have agreed to cover my book (website, buy) and review it. Surprisingly most of them are asking for money. The money will apparently go towards "writing" the review, "promoting" the review (on their websites, Facebook and twitter) and creating imagery associated with. Though the brazenness with which they've asked for money, it looks like a norm in the industry rather am exception but I am not sure if I want to pay to get my book reviewed. Or may be I ought to pay because I have to market the book somehow. So this is question number one.

b. Most of the publications that I've wrote into (begging to cover my book) haven't replied. Some have. And most of those "some" have huge ego issues. The emails are snooty, arrogant and full of words that I can't even comprehend. Some dont even understand the context and market for books. It was surprising to know that such ignorant people run these successful websites. The question thus is, is it worth talking to such people? Agreed that they would help market the book. But do I tolerate them? And why is that I am the only one seeing such attitude? What about my other writer friends / contacts? They don't seem to be fazed by any of it!

c. Where do I draw a line between marketing, advertising, bribing, advertorials, editorials, product placements, interviews, debates? I know that boundaries are blurred. Who else will know this better than I (after all I work in the industry)? Am I willing to do this for my own product? All this while, I have never had issues paying people to talk about other people's products / services. Why is that I am having issues paying for mine?

d. Will I spoil my relationship with these "influencers"? After all I am in the market for the long haul. I am hoping to write one book every year. And I need all the help. Each of these people can tell me if I am a good writer or a bad one. They can help me improve the craft. They can connect me with others. So on and so forth. By refusing to work with these guys, am I sort of alienating these guys? Am I making enemies out of these guys? Will this come back to me in future, to haunt me?

So far, I dont have any answers. Since the book has started to ship, I need to now probably pull up my socks and get along with these influencers somehow. Would love to hear thoughts and opinions from other authors, writers. And if you read a lot of book, want to know what you think as well.

Thanks!
SG