Saturday, July 7, 2012

Feature: Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

I want to welcome Mohana to my blog! She has given us a portion of her life story that is relevant to me and maybe to you as well. Don't think that it may not apply to you because you don't write or don't self-publish, rather think about it as she dared to open the door to her dreams. I have too. Have you? If you haven't, I hope that you will...soon.

From Me to You (or Why I Went Indie)

By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

This time last year I was in New York City, that metropolis of culture, entertainment, and commercial publishing. As part of a literary festival, I pitched my novel, then a work in progress, to over 30 agents. This was the first time I had spoken to agents face to face. One said they didn’t know how to sell a novel with a male protagonist to female readers. Another said that a foreign setting didn’t appeal to US readers and asked me to change the places where the story took place. People I talked to in line said they had come to this event last year or the year before, and they were back after making changes to their projects.

I vowed there in line that I would not be back next year, spinning my wheels. I would rather try the indie route, the one I heard so much about in other sessions at the same conference.

“Don’t tell them that,” one of the organizers said, inclining her head towards the seated agents.

Twelve of them said yes, they’d like to see more of the story as it was. Armed with these signs of encouragement, and it must be said, the human contact, I returned to our home in Doha, Qatar, to send the manuscript off.

Sure enough, as I kept working on the manuscript, and sent out samples as requested, the personal touch I had received at the conference (doled out in three minute segments) evaporated. In their place were the form rejections that I had received in the ten or so years I had been writing.

“We regret that we cannot represent your work and are returning this to you as someone else might feel otherwise.”

I did what I had promised myself (and threatened to do at the conference), I self-published. Not just the one I had gone to New York to sell but five others. I started with the oldest and worked my way forward as a way of trial and error in the e-pub world. I learned a lot: a made a few mistakes.

Here are my top two rules for success:

One: Get your network ready long before you need to use it. This means make friends, gain followers, give reviews, and re-tweet. You get what you give and you give what you get. So give a lot in the ramp up to your own work and the community will embrace you.

Two: Explore the range of services available for indies including editing, cover design, proof reading, formatting of your ebook, and book trailer creation. You may find people you like working with immediately; you may want to do a few of these tasks yourself.

Now, a year later, I am ready to launch the one book that triggered it all: Love Comes Later. If you have a story and the time, grit, and determination to get it into the hands of readers, then epublishing is for you.

Description of Love Comes Later:
Hind is granted a temporary reprieve from her impending marriage to Abdulla, her cousin. Little does anyone suspect that the presence of Sangita, her Indian roommate, may shake a carefully constructed future. Torn between loyalties to Hind and a growing attraction to Abdulla, Sangita must choose between friendship and a burgeoning love.

A modern quest for the right to pursue love and happiness, even when it comes in an unconventional package, LOVE COMES LATER explores similarities between the South Asian and Arab cultures while exposing how cultural expectations affect both men and women. Identities are tested and boundaries questioned against the shifting backdrops of Doha, Qatar and London, England.

LINKS for Mohana:

Twitter: @moha_doha

No comments: