I spoke at the Samanvay Lit Fest on Saturday 3rd November.
Samanvay is a festival at the India Habitat Centre that brings together many writers and performers of various languages on one platform.
My panel discussion was on "Where is my reader?" It was most interesting to be sitting next to 3 esteemed writers.
Jai Arjun Singh in the blue was the moderator. He writes for The Hindu, Tehelka and has written a book about teh cult film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron which has been recently re-released.
Biman Nath, the author of The Tattooed Fakir spoke about how he is not media savvy and hoped the story sells itself.
Palash Krishna Mehrotra is called for many "readings" at the Hauz Khas Village but they end up being a dance party and he has a few beers and goes home. His book The Butterfly Generation is extremely popular and I've ordered it from Flipkart today itself. Palash should really write comedy since the audience was in splits over his answers to Jai's questions.
During the question and answer round someone asked us "What do you mean by conservative India?" We had all been talking about the "conservative Indian" who is traditional in his thoughts. Palash answered, "The Bajrang Dal." And the woman asked, "Anyone else?" And he replied "No."
I was in splits.
I said that many authors were now labeled as mass market and the term should not be derogatory. Later I met a "fan" who asked, "Didn't you write 50 Shades of Grey?" I smiled and said, "Similar. I wrote Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas and Mistakes LIke Love And Sex." And he replied, "Oh, I haven't read those." Nice.
We all spoke about how authors need to start doing their own marketing. I confessed I was not a marketing whiz at all. I had done English Literature from LSR and filmmaking from Jamia. But since I loved interacting with people and writing, I used any medium online to reach out to as many readers as I could. And that's why I had a blog, a FB page https://www.facebook.com/LMVODI
and a Twitter account https://twitter.com/Madhuribanerjee
How else could I connect with people?
At the end of the day, all authors want to be read and appreciated. It's a lonely profession as Palash said. We sit in one room, wondering about characters and scenes and when we finally publish it, a year or more of our lives has gone by. All we can do is sincerely hope that someone will like it. That it will result in sales. That the outcome will be a publisher commissioning us to write more and further our careers. And it all depends on the reader who is willing to spend Rs 150/ on your book.