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Bestseller tricks

Are you itching to write? A controversy is all you need to turn a book into a success, writes Sonal Srivastava.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2006 17:35 IST

Are you itching to write but really don't know if your book will make it to the bestseller list?

Take a cue from those who not only know what to write but also how to sell it well. Take former union minister Jaswant Singh who raked up enough brouhaha over his book A Call To Honour with the buzzwords like spies and IC-814 hijack. His book went into the fourth reprint within a week of its launch.

Though the mole mentioned in the tome may have evaded the eyes that matter, it surely helped Singh.

Ruffle feathers

The first lesson for a beginner is to befriend 'controversy'. Says Kapish Mehra of Rupa and Co, publisher of Singh's book, "Controversy provides a fillip to the book." So, even irregular readers evince interest in a book that ruffles some feathers.

Agrees Ravi Singh of Penguin Books India, "Just as a controversial film attracts an initial draw, interest generated in a book helps it in the beginning. But it's a bad idea to generate a controversy that is far-fetched."

He says he's happy with the ruckus created by the erstwhile cricket coach John Wright's book Indian Summers. "Due to the buzz, we’re sure its sale will cross the 5,000 mark when it is released."

Hold attention

Controversy isn't enough, a bestseller should also hold the reader's attention. In this context, targeting an audience helps — ask any BPO executive or an IITian about Chetan Bhagat and chances are, he will narrate the entire story of Bhagat’s bestsellers even if he is not an avid reader.

Says PM Sukumar of Harper Collins, "Books when targeted on a specific audience do well, like the chic-lit genre targeting the young."

And when these two issues are taken care of, the publisher can focus on the marketing and pricing — the book has to be reasonably priced or people will settle for a free copy of your hard work. So, start scribbling, we might just have another bestseller coming our way.

Read my book: Jaswant Singh’s book, A Call To Honour, has generated enough interest to get into a fourth reprint.