Wednesday, 16 August 2017

3 Actions Writers Can Take To Create More Diverse Literature

“Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”
― Albert Einstein

1- Write From Your Roots: You don’t ‘force’ diversity in your stories. Write what you know best—you are sure to bring diversity, if you are authentic. Nature is diverse.

2- Create Diverse Communities: Go out of your way to create room from authors who have been underrepresented. Remember the driving rule— the vehicle that is going downhill should give way to the vehicle that is climbing uphill? — Follow it in publishing. (Not to say that the ‘white writing’ is going downhill. I am just using an analogy here.)

3- Social Karma: Boost the diverse books like it’s your own work. The goodwill that goes out in the global community comes back to everyone’s aid.

Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and the author of yet to be published psychological thriller I am 16 I can. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 

Friday, 17 March 2017

3 Wh-Questions About Finding Literary Agent

On the quest for the Holy Grail, every writer is bound to make mistake. Have you made your share of mistakes? Okay, I was trying to be funny there. On a serious note, let’s talk about literary agents.
When I started my literary career (read, I thought, “Okay, I have written a novel, what do I do now?”) I had not heard about the parallel careers of the literary agent. This was March 2015. Around 2 years back. In last 2 years, I have tried to find an answer of a few of the Wh-questions about this profession.
This is what I learnt.

Who are they?
Myth: Gods/ goddesses who can salvage your writing career
Truth: You are a writer. Think of yourself as the CEO of a company. Literary agent is your first point of contact with the industry. Your go-to person. They don’t write your book for you. YOU write them. With or without a literary agent, you are the writer. Literary agent aids you in meeting your career goal of becoming a selling writer. 

What do they do?
Myth: They make a writer an overnight success
Truth: A BOOK makes a writer a success. Your career depends on your book. Literary agents present your book to editors at the publishing house. This editor acquires your book. Literary agent takes 15% money from the money you make.

When they are right for you? (Or Should I work with a literary agent?)
Myth: I am a hybrid/ self-published author; I don’t need a literary agent.
Truth: You are an author, right? Do you aspire to make money writing books? You need a literary agent.

Reason: No career is an island. Think of writing as any other career. Say, you are a sports person; will you need a coach? Yes. Even the best of the sports people have a coach they work with. Same. Ditto. If you are a writer, you need a literary agent.

Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and the author of yet to be published psychological thriller I am 16 I can. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

3 Lessons About Rejection In Publishing Industry

(1)  Rejection Sucks. Is it news? If yes, then please leave the publishing industry and work somewhere else. World should not be deprived of your pious contribution in a professional arena. Publishing industry is NOT for you.
Publishing industry= Lots and lots and lots of rejection.
If you don’t have a thick skin, you have exactly one option: Develop a thick skin and stay at it till you develop it.

(2)  Rejection is Feedback. When you will be rejected your first reaction would be, “I am okay, they are not okay.” 
They have it against me. 
    (a) Racism. 
    (b) Prejudice. 
    (c) Micro-aggression. 
    You can keep enriching your vocabulary but it won’t help.
What WOULD help?
Work at your craft.
Revise like your life depends on it!
Your career for sure does depend on it.

(3)  Rejection is Empowering. Did I spell it right? Is it not depressing or disheartening, but empowering? Do I know what the word empowerment means? 
    How? How is rejection empowering? 
Every profession attracts certain kind of personalities.
What are the most common denominators of a writer’s personality? (Kindly forgive the cliché; I am trying to paint a generalized picture here.)
(a) Shy
(b) Introvert
(c) Observant
(d) Good at detecting sh*t, this also means—oversensitive
(e) Neurotic, especially prone to anxiety
List is long...

Writer do have some personality issues/ demons which
they need to slay before they can become what they are
meant to become. Let's enjoy the moment and say the
word-- HERO. 

How does the rejection process empower a writer?
In the orient, they figure out the strength of a bull for the fight arena by the following method. 
They prick a bull with a needle and measure how many times the bull charges in spite of the pain of this prick. The greater is the pain-tolerance-quotient of the bull, the stronger this bull for the fight arena.
I guess you got the answer. How rejection is empowering for the writer?
It’s the measurement of a writer's strength.
Rejection process makes a writer stronger for a long and lasting writing career. 
Do you have the mettle to be a writer?
If you can handle rejection, then...
Let’s talk about craft :)

Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and the author of yet to be published psychological thriller I am 16 I can. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 

Friday, 3 March 2017

My Three Phase Hero's Journey On Quest For A Literary Agent.

When I wrote my debut novel #iAm16iCan I was a full time screenplay writer for a major TV show. I was earning good. I was making a living following my passion—writing.
Was I happy? Far from it. Anyone who has worked for Indian TV industry knows that it’s a writer’s nightmare. So, yes, I was making money living a nightmare.
Nevertheless, this book was different. I was writing it in ZONE. At that point, I cared for nothing. No publication. No contract. No agent. This was the CALL of my life. I was born to write @YinYangSeries. Any writer who has been at the craft for 10+ years can recognize when writing reaches the ZONE state. I was in ZONE— FLOW.
After writing the book, I sent it to bloggers, journalist, and media people in India. We were “men” at work. #IndiaAgainstRape #Veerisha. Work was needed. We were doing it.
Then, I moved to the USA. And this is for the first time; I realized that publishing a book can be a systematic process. Unlike in India.
What did I do? Remember Hero’s Journey? I refused the call! I kept saying, no, I would do it my way. I don’t need an agent. Mistake. Big mistake! Thanks to my husband, last January 2016, I was convinced that I need a literary agent. And thus the quest for the Holy Grail started.
I have a memory of 3 phases.
(a) Departure: There are 1000s of agents out there. I will for sure find one.
What did I do right: I attended @SFWC and pitched my novel. 8 out of 10 agents I had pitched asked for a full manuscript. Later they asked me to revise the novel, which I did, but this first round of acceptance gave me the confidence I needed to precede in the USA publishing industry with my book.

What did I do wrong: At one point, I got in a Twitter war with someone who I should not have offended. I won’t go in details here. But it was stupid of me to do that.

(b) Initiation: Every writer worth his/her salt has a literary agent. I must be a terrible writer for not having one.

What did I do right: I worked with 3 freelance editors (2 developmental editors and 1 line editor) to make my book the strongest book I can present.

What did I do wrong: It’s not something I could have controlled, but I suffered from severe mood/ anxiety issues. For which, I am undergoing a treatment.

(c) Return: Literary agents are neither god/goddess nor demons. They are very efficient professionals working at the forefront of publishing industry— FOR writers.
Literary agents are writer’s best friends. They work for writers. ALWAYS.
Every writer—I repeat—EVERY writer—self pub, hybrid, or traditional published—need them.

What did I do right: I worked with 3 editors to polish my query letter. These 350-400 words are a writer’s first introduction. They must be laconic and brilliant.

What did I do wrong: I posted a rejection letter on Twitter. At that point, it seemed I am doing the right thing, but I was NOT doing the right thing.

If there are people who have created the White Wash situation in publishing, there are people who have been working diligently for We Need Diverse Books. It’s not fair to create panic and whitewash (pun intended) the efforts of the people who are working hard to make change.
It was a wrong behavior on my part. My apology.

Overall, in last 1 year, I have learnt a lot. As I am a newbie in the publishing world, yes, I did everything by making mistakes. But I hope other writers learn from my mistakes. Also, I hope they learn from what I did right :)