Friday, November 14, 2014

A Short Story about a Short Story Collection (Part -II)

Thanks a lot to each and everyone for commenting, messaging and appreciating the first part of this post. Your words encourages, inspires and motivates me. And, I'll always be grateful to you for your kindness.

Those who haven't read the first part of this post can do so by visiting the link here: Others can go ahead reading further.

Everything was organized for the launch ceremony. Tarun, Pari and all other contributors already reached much before the launch. The anthology in an attractive, shining cover was kept on a table. Pari picked one of them and turned a few pages in it. She read the acknowledgements there. The more she read, the more her heart cried. Few drops of tears trickled down her cheeks. Tarun didn’t even care to acknowledge her for all the hard work she did.

The launch started. Each of the contributors who were present there was given an opportunity to share his/her feelings. Pari did the same. However, she didn’t tell her pain to anyone. I spent a little time with Pari after the event. Later, I went back to my hostel.

Time passed by. The short story collection became a hit. As it happens with all other short story collections, the credit went to Tarun, the person whose mind was behind the anthology. Who was Pari?

Time passed more. Months were replaced by a year and more months added to that year later. I’ve been writing short stories one after another during this period. My debut short story collection released. I’ve been keeping a check on the book reviews time after time. Few days earlier, I was at and was searching for my book when I found out this.

Even before I could complete writing my first name, Flipkart was suggesting my name under the category, Books. A moment that I shared with Pari knocked my mind for few moments and I could not control the smile that appeared on my face.

I went to compose mail and wrote a mail to Pari attaching the above screenshot. Here’s the mail:


How are you doing? Where are you these days? I remembered you just now. Want to know, how?

Remember I said you something while you were contributing your short story? I generally search for my book at flipkart, checking for latest reviews by customers. Today, while I was searching my book, I couldn't stop a smile that came on my face. Attaching a screenshot with this mail. You will understand too.

Stay in touch!

Vishal Anand

Her reply came to me the very next day. Here it is:

Hey Vishal,

Firstly, thank you for making this effort. A lot of people we know would probably just smile and remember. And then forget.

I think we'll remember that conversation of ours for reasons more than one! It was a necessary phase of our lives. And yes.. This is what matters at the end of it all. Truly!

A similar but a little disappointing experience happened with me. I've come to ABC Lit Fest. Yesterday was the third and final day of the event.  After meeting all these authors and poets and others from the fraternity, I realised how much things have moved ahead from where I'd left it all, about a year back.

Gladly, few of them still remembered and recognised me.. A lot of them said that I have changed a lot.. God knows.

But yes, one thing that I realised was that, the gift that has been a part of you, wanting to come out in one way or other, someday leaves you too.

Perhaps, I have lost my quota of words. To be strung into a book.. 

Also, I was so much better than so many of them Vishal.. But why couldn't I make it? I've loved my words passionately. And yet, at the end of this Lit Fest, I stand empty handed.

A realisation that has become utterly clear to me, for good or bad is that, sometimes in life, there is no going back. Only moving ahead.

Maybe someday that book shall become me. Only that day my soul shall be truly free.

Too philosophical was I?  :)

Anyway, how are things with you..? 

So, you've moved out haan? 

And hey, I am glad you remembered me Vishal.

Stay blessed. And believe that good will happen to you. Not because it will, but because the other way doesn't give you peace. Or hope.


I wasn’t happy after seeing her reply. I wrote my last mail to her:

Dear Pari,

Are you okay? You surely have changed a lot. Your words are speaking for you. Let me know when you reach Delhi. Will make you a call.

Things are moving fast in the industry. I believe the delay we make, the more difficult it will become. Remember, how easy it was to get published by 2011? Everyone has a book by his name. But then, there is a concept that even the industry follows - Survival of the Fittest! The poor has to leave, and the one with strong determination will fight back again.

People have a tendency - Saluting the rising sun. Or, why would one care to give so much importance to me when I meant nothing to them few years ago? 

Words don't leave us. They are a part of us as long as we live. We just need a push. May be, someone who can hold our hand, encourage us to speak our hearts in form of a book. You're still better. You couldn't make it because you didn't try; didn't try enough to prove yourself to others. And, you're not empty handed. We keep on learning things by experience. Some teaches us what to do while others teaches us what not to do. Isn't it?

You don't have to go back. Move ahead. Show the world you're better than them. Work harder and prove yourself. With every passing year I believe, we become stronger and wiser. I believe, you will fight back with more willpower and determination than ever. Every year 84 k books release in India. Who knows them? I don't want you to write a book. Rather, I want you to create a masterpiece that will be remembered for years.

Were you really philosophical? If that's the case, am I too?

Things are still tough with me. I still have to struggle for so many things.

I will always remember you. No need to be glad. Try picking my call inspite of being glad. That will make me happier.

Even if good doesn't happen to me, I will force it to happen to me. Was doing and will continue doing it. Yes, it is.

Stay in touch!

Warm Regards,
Vishal Anand

I dialed her number the next day. We talked for almost an hour until I had no balance left on my phone. I tried to convince her to write. She said that she will give it a try. That was the last time we communicated. 

I would like to apologies as this is the only short story that I’m leaving incomplete. Why incomplete? I think, this story will finish when Pari will launch her debut book. I will try till I succeed. And, I think, I will be a happy man that day.

But then, I do think about others. About us. About people who have a dream to become authors! We look for a short cut and get trapped easily in the traps thrown by people who have better knowledge than us of the industry.

There are many Paris between us. A lot of them have left writing. Many of them though understand everything and cry about the wrongs done to them, still chose to be a part of these. They still contribute to anthologies with only few people knowing and appreciating them. There are also few Paris’ who will shout about an anthology if they are a contributor there. However, they will be more than happy if their names are beautifully printed on the cover as an editor.

Tarun has changed as well. Even young people with no experience in writing have taken anthologies as shortcut to success, unaware of how many Paris’ they make. After editors, now another term called 'compiler' is getting popular. Publishing houses too are taking it as a wonderful opportunity. They don’t need to pay to contributing authors after selling their books. Few of them choose to give certificates to contributors. While few others even choose to demand money from contributors for the sake of publishing. So called editors and publishing houses gain and we; the one with dreams in our eyes fail.

With the success of my debut short story collection, few people came to me asking me to become an editor of such anthology. But then, whenever they ask so, I ask few questions to myself. ‘Will I be able to give the credit to every contributor that they deserve? Will they gain anything out of such anthology? Won’t I be making more Paris?

I don’t have an answer to these questions. And that’s why I may never become an editor. But then, I do wonder, there are still too many short story competitions. There are too many aspiring authors. And then, there are too many Tarun’s among us. I know I won’t be able to stop them. But then, this is just a small initiative to make people aware about what happens behind a short story collection. If I’m able to stop even a person from becoming Pari with this post, I think this short story is successful.

I hope you liked this post as you liked my previous ones. Feel free to drop your comments, feedbacks and suggestions. You’re welcome for a discussion too if you don’t agree to me. Maybe, I will learn something from your point of view. Anyways, that’s all I have with me today. Hopefully, I will drop another post soon. Till then. Bbye!

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Short Story about a Short Story Collection

Now-a-days, we are seeing a lot of short story competitions for different anthologies. In fact, few people have come out with their poetry competitions too. I too have a short story; a short story about a short story collection. 

This story is true. However, the names of characters have been changed and minor liberties have been taken for a healthy purpose here  and would like to say that the story doesn't mean to harm anyone by any means, but comes with a thought that I believe in.

Those days were different. Short story collections weren’t in fashion then. Or, they were in their infancy. I was a blogger those days. I would write poems, short stories or any other thought that came in my mind. 

When you write for a blog, you want others to read and share their views. That was the time when I learned about Pari for the first time. She was a blogger too. She would write poems, short stories or anything on her blog. But there was always a difference in the way we wrote.  She was far better than I was. I would read her blogs and would be in awe. Maybe, that was the reason, whenever I would complete writing a blog post, I would share it with Pari and would wait for her views. She would read it, criticize or appreciate what I wrote. That was the foundation of a good friendship. 

A few months later, one of the bestselling authors of a romance novel, Tarun planned to organize a short story competition. His debut book was doing well. He had a good fan following. I met him few days back in one of the book launches. We spent some nice time and were happy to know each other. I was a struggling author back then. I don't remember how many publishers had rejected my manuscript till that date. The one who accepted it wanted a huge sum of money to publish my book. As a student I couldn't arrange the money to pay to the publishers. Like every other struggling author, I would ask published authors for suggestions and for any help if they could. Tarun knew I was struggling to get my book published. So, as soon as he organized the contest, he started approaching people like me who had a dream to become authors.

I clearly remember the day, he pinged me. He mentioned that he was expecting a story from my end. I had written few short stories by then. And I loved what all I had written. They were a part of my heart, my soul. I could not give any of them to anyone. They were like my children to me and I have been nurturing them like a mother. How could I give any of my children to anyone? I refused him. He didn't say me anything. 

The competition was in full swing. Many aspiring writers from all parts of the country dropped in their stories. A shortlist was prepared and a list of selected stories was made. I was surprised when I saw Pari's name on the list. She didn't mention me that she had submitted a story for the competition.

I dropped her message in her chat box, ‘When you’re free, do ping me.

Tell me, Sir, a reply came few minutes later.

We talked about few things going in each other’s life before I mentioned about the collection.

I wanted to talk about the short story collection, I told her.

Yes. Tell me, she replied in nanosecond.

I have done a little research. I think the contributors don’t get the credit they deserve when they participate in a short story collection, I said honestly.

I don’t understand.

I met an author few days back. He is writing since 90’s for different collections. In his last collection, even APJ Abdul Kalam submitted a poem.

Are you talking about Inklings?


What’s the author name?

I told the author’s name. To my surprise, Pari hadn’t heard about him.

What’s the use when you don’t know the authors in your own collection, Pari?, I questioned her.

Inklings have too many authors, Vishal, she replied.

That’s why I ask you not to participate in such anthologies. I want you to write at places where people know who Pari is. When anyone types your first name in flipkart search, it should suggest your surname.

What a dialogue, dude!, she wrote in excitement.

Next, I read a few lines on her FaceBook wall credited back to me.

We chatted for a while and she said that she would give it a thought while writing next short story. It was time for her dinner. She left and I involved myself with some other work.

Everything happened as it was destined to. Editing of the short story collection began. Let me be honest with few facts that I’ve known in recent years. There may me multiple anthologies you must have read by now. Almost all of them come with a phrase on its cover ‘Edited by XYZ.’ But I do wonder how many of them are edited by the same person! Pari’s anthology was no different.

Tarun’s grasp on English wasn’t that good. And, Pari was far better in literature. Maybe, that was the reason why Tarun asked Pari to edit the book. Pari was very happy as she believed that it was her first step to achieve her dreams. She agreed to edit stories of all the contributors in the anthologies. Tarun didn’t have to even read all stories once. 

Days passed by. Weeks passed. Months passed. The promotion of the short story collection was going on in full swing. There is a good thing about any short story collection. Every person who contributes a story in the anthology promotes it. Each contributor thinks of the anthology as his/her own book. He/she will share posts, pre-order links, trailer or anything related to the anthology. Maybe, that’s why anthologies are promoted more than novels these days. Pari’s anthology was no different.

Most of the contributors asked their friends and relatives to pre-order the anthology. Most of them did. The anthology received good number of pre-orders. The day of the official launch for the anthology came closer. Pari was still left with too much editing. Tarun convinced her to do it faster. 

I think, there’s a wonderful thing about every girl. When they love a person or a thing, they do it with all their heart. They are fully devoted to it. Pari was no different. She loved her dream of becoming an author. So, she would even skip her dinners to edit the stories; she would bunk classes. There were sleepless nights involved. Finally, editing was done.

A launch was announced for the anthology at New Delhi. Most of the contributors, few of those who lived outside Delhi came for the launch. Contributors invited their friends and relatives. I was invited by Pari too for the launch. Though I had some urgent work the next day, but I visited the launch ceremony just for Pari.

What happened on the launch day? What happened after the anthology released? What about Pari? Do you have questions in your mind? Please go through the second part of the story here:

Friday, August 29, 2014

That thing called ‘Free Copies’!

Before I begin telling you what I exactly mean by this post of mine. Let me tell you a short story: story of a reader, a reviewer and an author.

It was month of February; year 2013. Delhi Book Fair was going on. Readers, reviewers, authors and all book lovers crowded Pragati Maidan. It was those days when Vijay, a book lover and reader decided to meet Himadri at Delhi Book Fair. Himadri was a well known book reviewer. Any author who would write a book was bound to send a copy of his/her book to Himadri. Vijay being a student could not spend much on books. He had good friendship with Himadri. So, he asked her to bring two books with her that day. Himadri did it as said by him. In book fair, Vijay met other authors. He asked one of those authors to sign the autograph for him. They didn’t have a paper other than those two books. Vijay opened the first page of the book and asked the authoress to sign on the first page. 

‘The book belongs to someone else and you’re making me sign it,’ she said smiling and signing the book for Vijay.

Vijay smiled and replied, ‘Who cares? It’s just another book that came for free.’

The very next day Vijay met the author of the same book in the book fair. The author was kind enough to drop Vijay to his place of residence. They both sat on Vijay’s room. Vijay picked out his book from the cupboard and asked him to sign it for him. The author turned the page and found out that he signed it for Himadri while he himself went to give the book to her. He turned the first page to find the book signed by the authoress on the first page. That was one of the embarrassing situations for Vijay. Though the author signed in the little space left below authoress’ signature, Vijay was left with a guilt; the guilt of disrespecting the book that the author wrote after hard work of many sleepless nights. 

Time passed and then Vijay himself became an author. Now, he understood what really a book means to an author and what actually a free copy is.

Before I begin telling you any further, let me tell you two things. First of all, Vijay is no one but me. Secondly, before I tell you anything about free copies, I would like to tell you a little about publishing industry and the process.

Publishing industry, as I have known it in recent years is much more complicated than what I had seen it from a reader’s eye few years ago. Readers see it as a money making industry; giving glory, fame and money to the authors. However, the actual scenario is just the opposite. I wondered it to follow a simple rule. Write a book, sent it to publishers, they will publish it and bang! You’re an author. But recently with the increasing number of manuscripts that are floating in the market, it is really difficult for any publisher to read each and every manuscript. Tell me! What would you do if you get as much as 50-60 mails per day. I believe you would too look for an escape. Moreover, try visiting a Landmark or Crossword near your place. You may notice the book section getting small and being replaced by eatables or toys. Publishers are making less money. So, to tackle this, there are hardly few publishers who publish books with traditional publishing. For other aspiring authors, there is a simple rule: pay and get published. Authors with no choice have to go for it. No matter, how he pays the publisher. Whether it be his dad’s hard earned money, borrowed up money from friends or a personal loan, he pays it to the publisher to fulfill his dream.

What next? The book goes in pre-order at different online portals. The author shares the pre-order links and bang! A chatbox opens up with a message – ‘Yaar! Mere ko ek copy sign karke bhej dena.’ Or, ‘Arey, aap to mere ghar k kitne pass rehte ho. Aapko to khud book sign karke deni chahiye.’ Few of those messages get those copies for free. But then, this has just started man. There will be another set of facebook friends whom you may have never met even want signed copies of your book. By signed copy, it doesn’t mean that they will cherish it. It means they want a free lunch.

Come back to author side again. You may wonder how many free copies he gets from the publisher. Hardly, five to ten or maximum twenty! Enough? No.. not really. Actually the number of people who want free copies are not less than 50 in any case. Now, suppose author wants say few more copies from his publisher, what will he do? He will surely take a price from the author. These books are sent to authors at a discounted rate that may vary from max 40 to 50% discounts. Suppose, there is a case for few seconds, let us assume that author gets something called ‘free copies’, what will he do? If I were an author in that place, I would like to take maximum copies from my publisher and sell it to distributors, retailers and other book sellers at a price that my publisher does and make hell lot of money to recover the investment I made or even gain more. But then, why can’t a publisher give it for free? No matter, one does not think but book printing and transporting it to distributors is a bigger part of the cost at which the books is sent to the distributors for distribution.

The author though has to buy few copies for him. Why? Every author wants his book to reach the masses; he sends it to bloggers, reviewers and newspapers. Once I asked Mr Anand Neelakantan, #1 bestselling author of Asura: Tale of the Vanguished whose book had numerous newspapers coverage for months. My question was simple - What is the ratio of the newspapers coverage to the books that has been sent to newspapers? I was amazed at his reply. The actual copies that have been sent to newspapers were around 200. However, the newspaper coverage was hardly 20-25. It brings the ratio to be 1/8th or 1/10th of the actual books sent to these newspapers. In most of the cases, author is bound to take this burden as newspaper is a strong media to reach the masses.

In my other conversation with Mr. K. Hari Kumar, the bestselling author of ‘When Strangers Meet’, I came to learn about a new story. Hari was to attend some family function that night when we were talking. I wondered family functions are good place for an author to speak about their work. But again to my surprise, Hari told me that every relative of his wants a free copy of his book and it’s useless to talk about his book to them.

Disheartened, I looked for a solution. I mean, the author who is already burdened with the heavy loan he took while getting his books printed, what should he do? And, the solution came in the form of a website named, a venture by Dipen Ambalia, who is himself an author of three books till date. Getsignedbooks is a concept where an author can sell his personalized signed books at a price he/she wants. I got listed my book there and whenever there is a ping or comments saying, ‘Yaar! Mere ko ek personalized signed copy chahiye.’, I would smile; share my book link from the website and ask the person who demands it, ‘Please! Go ahead. ’ Only genuine people who needs authors personalized copy will buy it then, others will never demand it again, nor buy it.

However, not many authors have registered their books on the website. They are still troubled, working hard to sell their books. What should one do as a reader? Trouble him more by asking free copies? I believe, no. With this post, I just want to request every reader not to demand for free copies. No matter you don’t read your friend/author’s work, but at least don’t bother him by asking a free copy. Trust me, if you really deserve it, he/she will surely send it to you. 

That’s all I have with me for today. Hope I didn’t hurt my readers very much. Just a request! Think before you drop a message in author’s chatbox – ‘Can I have a signed copy of your book?’