Tag Archives: publishing

Day 8: Camp NaNo (April)

It was a good first week of Camp NaNo. I am slightly over halfway through my goal for this April: 25K. I wrote about 1.9K words today. Will be doing some more writing in the evening. By the end of the weekend I expect to have at least 75% of the goal done. Besides, I am having a really good time in the Camp. We are a bunch of pretty active people: I love to log in to the NaNo website and see how have the word counts changed for my fellow campers. It a very fulfilling experience. Besides, we have some very good conversations going on, which I find very educating.

The book I am currently writing is about a two women: a mother and a daughter. There will be two different POVs set in two different time frames. The daughter’s POV is based on present times. When I set out to writing this for this NaNo, I did not intend to go beyond 25-30K. I have faced difficulties writing too long books with my last two books as well – and for me anything to write beyond 20K sounds too long.

However, today I was researching popular word counts and it appears that for a novel, 80K is the commercial standard. I am a little uncomfortable with that because I don’t know if I have enough to say in a book to make it 80K words long. At best, I am targeting 60K words. Would publishers even consider me? Haha.

Thing is if I at all complete this book, I will have completed 3 books in total. And for this 3rd book, I am actually considering being published traditionally. I have published two books directly through Amazon KDP program. I have realized that as a writer, at the moment I want to focus on bettering my writing skills. I require more time to understand my own writing: identify strengths and weaknesses and work accordingly. Besides, being accepted at a major publishing house is a validation of sorts. It is less about the money I make than the fact that somebody considers my writing good enough to put into publishing.

When I started outlining the book in the last week of March, I was thinking of going the self-publishing way only. But as I progress into the story and the word counts pile, I feel like if I am able to manage a decent word count and finish a story which feels complete when read, why shouldn’t I really go to a traditional publisher and try out my luck?

Well, wish me luck! Will keep you posted on whatever happens.

Banished Princess

When winter came again, she brought the woolens out. The letter was inside one of the deep pockets in the black cardigan. She found it when she was putting the woolens in the washing machine, to get rid of the dank, closet smell. Her face burned at the sight of the letter, a reflex reaction.

“Meet me in the park at 5 P.M.,” the letter had said. How many years had it been? Four winters, she realized.

Yet, time seemed not to have ticked a minute past since the day she left her home at 4.45 PM, wearing the flowered skirt that he so liked. Her marriage had been fixed, but not with the man she was meeting in the park.

The acid was sudden on her face, and she was unconscious before she could understand what had happened. She vaguely remembered his last words now, “You thought you’d marry a rich guy..” “…live a queen’s life while I pine and die for you?” “Bitch!” and then there was nothing.

Of course, the marriage was called off. Who would marry a girl half of whose face had been burned by acid? But worse were the allegations. Everyone started talking about how the daughter of the prestigious Chatterjees was having a love relationship when her marriage was already fixed. How she had blackened the faces of her illustrious ancestors. Why no one should marry their sons into the Chatterjee family again.

Her father, of course, would have none of what was going on. She was sent to her maternal uncle’s place in the country, where she was passed off as a distant relation, a banished princess.

The washing machine filled up with water. She stroked her face, like she had done so many times in the past four years and wondered if it was enough to drown her pain.

On publishing the first book, ‘Bound by Life’

If you have been on my page, you probably know about Bound by Life by now. For those who are not familiar, Bound by Life is my first book of short stories, set to come out on June 20, 2015 on Amazon Kindle.

When I started to write earlier this year with a goal in mind, I could only write from experience. That meant I was only writing about things I have seen and experienced for myself. For many weeks I had this question in my mind: Could one really write something well if s/he did not have at least some amount of personal touch to it? The question baffled me, and I wanted to throw it to every writer out there.


Hence confused, I realized I was not ready to write an entire novel. Somehow, since my genre borders on real life stories with all its trials and tribulations, I did not feel mature enough to write about many things.

I did start my novel though, and it has about three chapters in it now. But then I decided to start out with something small, something that I would feel confident in writing even with my limited experience. I decided to write a book of short stories. Before my resolve weakened, I decided I should name the book and fix a date, so that I actually went somewhere with it. Hence, I logged on to my bookshelf on Amazon, and chose the very last date available to publish a ‘pre-order’ category book (something that I was not publishing immediately) that day, and the chosen day is June 20, 2015, the due delivery date of my special baby!

I have grown up reading short stories, but somewhere along the way novels replaced them. It was only after I decided on writing short stories myself that I started reading them again (on magazines where I wanted to send my writings to and in Jhumpa Lahiri’s books). I researched, at the time, about publishing trends and found that the big publishing houses weren’t as enthusiastic about publishing short stories as they were about novels.

But I wasn’t going for traditional publishing right away, so I could put that thought away for a little while. So, for the next weeks, I concentrated on my short stories. Meanwhile, I sent some of them to magazines (see my post on that here). I was rewarded with an acceptance by the eFiction magazine for my story, I am Mala. It is available now on Kindle and the eFiction website.

Along with success I have met with failure. I sent this story, The Silent Victim, to Out of Print magazine. They informed me, with regret, that they could not publish my story. It felt bad, but I realized that I did not have much faith in that story myself.

So, this Sunday, I sat with that story, trying to edit it so that I could shape it for my short story collection. I saw then what the editor had seen, and silently I agreed with him for rejecting the story. In spite of the edits I had done before I submitted the story, there were still a few typos. The sentences did not flow so well. I deleted entire paragraphs which were clearly unnecessary to the main text. I realized this in the process: one must try and put as much time as s/he can between writing of a story and the edits. You really need that time to see the problem areas clearly. As of now, the story reads better, if not the best that it can be. I intend to return to it later for another round of edits.

Meanwhile, I started to read about how to format the book for Kindle. I created the front page with the name of the book and my name below it, read some stuff about copyrights, and added the dedication page. I also learnt so many things on MS Word in the process, about page breaks and Active Table of Contents. I have settled on a font type (Georgia) and the page margins.

So far, I have about five stories completed and the others are underway. I am trying to speed up the process as much as I can, for May is going to be a busy month with my final semester in college (but we all now how moody our muses can be, so I can be as fast as my muse allows me to). There are project and lab reports to complete, and circuit diagrams to draw. Our departmental farewell is in a few days. Finally, in about a month, I am going to graduate!

Nonetheless, I look forward to June when I can invest more time to my book alone!

Like my Facebook page for all the updates on Bound by Life. What was your experience of publishing the first book? Do you have any suggestions for me? Tell me in the comments below.

The Pilgrim’s Journey – Part One

Welcome to a new series at Scribbles@Arpita. But before I start, let me ask the old-timers something: When you landed here today, were yourself confused about this blog’s identity? Were you about to hit the close button when you suddenly found the interview with Tammy L. Gray on writing and self-publishing from last Wednesday and realized what was different?

Yeah, I know. Scribbles@Arpita is changed! Big time! I promise there won’t be such a drastic change again in the near future, but please do let me explain to you why that this change was necessary.

Oh, before I do that, a warm hello to my new visitors! For context, here’s what my blog used to look like before it underwent The Great Transformation!

Earlier version of Scribbles@Arpita

Earlier version of Scribbles@Arpita

Earlier version of Scribbles@Arpita

Earlier version of Scribbles@Arpita

Now, jumping on. Throughout my college life I have wanted to publish a book by the time I graduated. By the time I got serious about it, it was March 2015, only three months short of my graduation. There are a number of steps that I have started to take since and that is going to be the subject of ‘The Pilgrim’s Journey’. It’s going to be a long series in which I will pen out my wayward journey into the creative world of writing and the difficult world of publishing.

Why do I think this series will be a help to you? That’s because I research a lot about writing and publishing. And in doing that, I often come across awesome tips from various people in the writing and publishing business which I believe will be of much help to those who are starting off like me. I am sure you do your research well. The aim of this series is not to replace that; it is here to help accentuate it. Oh, you have something to add on to my experience? I’d be happy to host you as a guest in my blog. Just leave a comment below if you want to share your experiences here and I will get in touch with you.

So, in the first installment of ‘The Pilgrim’s Journey’ let me tell you what I have done since March this year.

  • The idea to get myself published coincides roughly with the birth of this blog. I believe a blog is a good way to garner readership and build your brand. It’s a great medium to carve out a relationship with your readers, letting them know what you write and also see what they want to read. I was recently reading Jane Friedman’s Guide on blogging. Do read it and you’ll know why my blog underwent this huge plastic surgery.
  • Then all of a sudden I came to know about Amazon KDP, where you can self publish your books at no cost at all. I published a story as an experiment. Let me tell you here that it has sold no paid copies so far, and even the free copy sales were meager. But it taught me a great deal about how to publish my second book, Bound by Life, which will come out on June 20, 2015. So, mark your calendars!
  • After I published the story on Amazon KDP, I created my author page at Amazon Author Central.
  • While I was on this creating spree, I stumbled on Facebook, and created my official Facebook page to reach out to readers. It doesn’t have many followers yet. But I just started!
  • I started looking for free Kindle books and came across this beautiful novel on YA by Tammy L. Gray. I wrote to her on Facebook, asking her to do an interview with me. Luckily, she agreed, and I happened to have the very first interview on my blog, which by the way has many good tips for beginning self-published writers. I hope to do more of these interviews in the coming months. So, if you know an author who cares to be interviewed by a beginning blogger, do let me know.
  • Since I started to write seriously, I have checked out various online contests (read, free online contests – I have this strong policy of investing money in writing only after I have got some initial monetary return through my ebooks. Call me a miser, if you like but I refuse to budge!). I participated in a Flash Fiction contest and was even shortlisted, but well, did not make the final cut.
  • I have also been checking out magazines which publish short stories. I sent out my writings to a few like Out of Print, eFiction and StoryShack. But then I realized that I was yet to match their standards. Plus, I have my own project (Bound by Life) to tend to which consumes all my creative energy these days. So, I am going slow in the magazine sector as of now. But as soon as I am done with my book, I will be sending out new stories to the magazines.
  • I started to read more since March. I read Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland’ recently and loved it! Currently I am reading a book on Indian history, ‘Freedom at Midnight’ by Dominique Lapierre.
  • I signed up for free newsletters from some of the veterans in the publishing industry: Jane Friedman and Chip McGregor. I LOVE Jane’s website! It has just the right tips and suggestions for me.

I don’t know when I will hold my first book in my hands (a real book made of real paper). I don’t even know if what I am doing right now is going to help me do what I want to. But I have a feeling it will. Either way, I am allowing myself a year to fail. To fail and to learn: that’s the motto for me in 2015.

See you around in the next part of The Pilgrim’s Journey, and I hope I shall be able to share some good news with you by then.

Before you leave, please let me know how you like the new look of Scribbles@Arpita. Does it attract you and make you want to read on? Or is it too cluttered and distracting? Your feedback is my guide, my compass.