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S.V. DIVVAAKAR | Author Interview

July 1, 2013

Are you a debut author, frustrated by the lack of response from a publisher; by the lack of response from your readers; by the lack of response from media? Do not worry. Grab a copy of S.V. Divvaakar's latest book "Beaten by Bhagath" and chill out. Filled with anecdotes and experiences, this book will surely prepare you for what is to come. We got a chance to interview the funny, witty and humorous Divvaakar about his views on the publishing industry and its future.

s.v. divvaakar author interview

BookGeeks:     Tell us something, which, nobody knows about Divvaakar.
Divvaakar: Hmm, that sounds scary! On second thoughts, since there are a million things no one knows about me anyway, what’ve I got to lose!  How about this: almost twenty years ago, I actually got to sing playback for a Bollywood movie that was to star Anil Kapur and Madhuri Dixit. The movie never got made, but I have still have a recording of the song. And, last year, I submitted a trilingual song ‘Aiyaiyo’ for the movie ‘Two States’. This time the movie will get made, but I haven’t heard about the song, yet. I can share private links to the song if you wish. There, that’s two things no one knew about Divvaakar.
BookGeeks: “Beaten by Bhagath” is a great book. What percent of the book is based on your own experiences? 
Divvaakar: Thanks, it is really gratifying to hear that BBB has struck a chord with so many people, especially experienced bloggers like you who come across hundreds of books and writers. The story itself is a work of fiction, but of course it does draw on anecdotes which many debutants face or relate to.  The parts about BB’s struggle to get published and then marketed do draw on some real experiences, though dramatized and coated with self-deprecating humour. But all the other parts: the college, the class mates, the sexy boss, London and thereafter, is pure and fertile imagination, complete fiction.
BookGeeks: What, according to you, are the major bottlenecks in the Indian publishing industry? 
Divvaakar: I think it is going through a major revolution, and the shakeout has started for conventional publishing/ distribution and traditional promotion models.  Technology, modern retail and online commerce have changed the game for the publisher-distributor-retailer combine; while eBooks and digital marketing have changed the game for authors. It is becoming a high stakes game, to be among the few books that even get a share of noise to reach readers. As I said in BBB, there are 4000 new books coming out every year in India. 11 books a day! No joke.
BookGeeks: In the book, you have written about the emergence of e-books and total disappearance of paperbacks. Do you believe in that theory? 
Divvaakar: I love the musty smell of the paperback, personally, but I have made the conscious effort to buy mostly eBooks this year. And it has quickly become a habit. Take Dan Brown’s Inferno Hardback or Dean Koontz or Ken Follet’s 1000 page opuses- how long can you hold them with two hands? On Kindle and iPad Mini, it is all palm-sized. And for me, the e Reader dictionary feature - it’s a killer.

I don’t think paperbacks will die, but the way paper costs are shooting up worldwide, and real estate prices soaring, paper backs cannot make money. They will become ‘show pieces’ like coffee table books, the bulk consumption will be eBooks. Already, school textbooks are mostly being given on eBooks, here in government schools ! We are getting there faster than we believe. Mark my words-ten years later, we will be reading mostly on devices synced to one another. There will be embedded audio, dialogues with the accent, and, even smells- yes! An enhanced experience awaits us in eBooks. And the readers will be foldable like paper.

BookGeeks: Have there been any offers to convert the book into a movie? 
Divvaakar: Ooh! It’s early days yet. For now, I’d be happy for the book to get talked about, do a few more reprints. Who knows? But tell know what, I’m willing to give a 25% finder fee for anyone who gets me a deal. That’s a binding offer.
BookGeeks: Tell us something about your next project. 
Divvaakar: My next project is a thriller family drama about a modern woman who loses her honour, her home and her son, and fights to get it all back. Many first-time ideas have been thrown in. As we speak, it is at the last stages of closure with a BIG publisher. Fingers crossed. Godspeed.
BookGeeks: Any debut author faces many hurdles during his endeavour to launch a book. Which is the most difficult part – Getting the right idea, actually writing the book, finding a publisher or marketing? 
Divvaakar: Each one of them, one after the other. However, I must say this in defence of the the business: there are many helpful souls who will guide you, provided you are a good disciple and willing to learn. Having a mentor from the publishing world is critical- we all need people who see potential in our writing and are willing to lend a hand to see us succeed. Many a big author got that lucky break through a friendly angel.
BookGeeks: What would be your advice to any budding or debut author? 
Divvaakar: An author’s biggest weakness is EGO.  We should all be willing to accept the rejections- there are usually good reasons for reactions and suggestions that come in the manuscript stages- sometimes, authors believe they know best. And, spending money alone doesn’t get you anywhere, ultimately the reader must feel and connect with the story and the author. That is my biggest lesson. As an author, now I only seek to connect, to understand my readers better and strive to be understood by them equally. I felt that with BBB a connection got established with at least one section of the readership.
BookGeeks: Would you like say anything about the team? 
Divvaakar: I like your transparency about the review process, which is very useful to the author as well as the reader. The EQ is a good barometer (Trademark it!).

As reviewers, you are like Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘MULTIPLIERS’, you have great power to influence your network. With great power comes great responsibility. I think your reviews demonstrate that responsibility and sensitivity, so that even ‘Jor Ka Jhatka Dheere Se Lage!’  Keep up the noble work.  Best luck!

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