Where Jaswant Singh’s autobiography was concerned, it was the excerpt about the unearthing a US mole in the prime minister’s office that created the required amount of curiosity before the book’s release.
In case of LK Advani’s My Country My Life, the claim that he was not consulted during the Kandahar hijack negotiations and Jawaharlal Nehru’s “weak” stance on Tibet is creating a buzz.
If the fact that the book has been “over sold”, as claimed by publisher RK Mehra of Rupa and Co., the released excerpts from Advani’s 1,000-page memoir have already had the desired effect.
Barely a week after it was released in New Delhi, Mehra is all set to order re-runs of the book in the coming week. The book hit the market after teasers -excerpts from the book — created just the right intensity of ripples.
“All over the world, publishers do this to arouse interest,” said Mehra. “Excerpts are released a week before the book. It is a gimmick.” He was quick to add that Advani needs no such gimmicks.
This model of releasing dribs and drabs of information about a book’s content to create anticipation about it has long been an established marketing pattern in the UK and the US. Newspapers often pay huge sums of money for rights to print extracts - preferably the most controversial bits of the book — prior to publication. Indian publishers are beginning to borrow that template.
Hillary Clinton’s Living History, launched in 2003, was much awaited for the story on husband Bill’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Recently, extracts from VS Naipaul's biography The World Is What It Is, were run by London's Daily Telegraph. They described how his loveless relationship with his first wife shattered her.
For Advani, the timing is perfect. He has been hailed as a prime ministerial candidate and with elections in 2009, the book could serve as a promotional tool.