Know your Author: Suhasini Kirloskar

suhasini kirloskarIn conversation with Suhasini Kirloskar.  She has rolled out world’s first story to unfold entirely on Facebook. Experience it at www.facebook.com/ItsComplicatedOnlineFiction. Feel free to ‘Like’ her page.

ReadMyStori (RMS) caught up with Suhasini to understand her concept behind the story and how she plans to reach out to a wider readership.

RMS: What inspired you to write a book? and why in this format i.e. snippets on Facebook?

Suhasini: I’m fascinated by the emerging trends in media consumption among young audiences. My observations led me to believe that current and future generations are opting less and less for print books for their need for stories or entertainment. In fact, the nature of content on our TV channels has led them to move away from TV as well.

So where are they getting their stories from (as I believe we all love stories)? I came to the conclusion that people are consuming them from posts – on Facebook, WhatsApp and other tech platforms that their friends use. Here they find stories, humour, videos, inspiration and photos.

So I thought that it’s time fiction was also served on such as platform, and Facebook was my choice for a number of reasons. I initially thought about it as an experiment in creative writing plus social media. I decided to write the first story that unfolds entirely as Facebook posts. I searched and searched, but it hasn’t been done before.

The format is unique – it includes text, of course, but also photos, screenshots of WhatsApp messages, and we will soon have a song and a video. This is just the way in which we read posts on social media. I believe this is a new and enriched phase in fiction. 

I now know this has worked well – the readers love it!

RMS: Any social message you are trying to pass on? If not, what is the theme of your Novel / Book? 

Suhasini: The theme is love and relationships in the current social context. I feel that there are many questions that young people are grappling with. The story is a way to share some of these questions, and discuss, while not offering any set answers. Some of the themes in the story are:

  • The dilemma between ‘settling down’ and pursuing ambition.its complicated
  • Inter-religious love
  • Whether marriage is still the goal for young people
  • These are just a few of the things that we come across in ‘It’s Complicated’.

RMS: Are you planning on writing another book? If yes, please share some insights?

Suhasini: Yes, I’m looking for ways to make this an economically self sustaining activity, possibly with some subtle brand placement, for example. If that works out, I am looking to publish another book, and considering co-authoring one with another writer. The theme would have some crime and a lot of humor and adventure. However, it would cost – to organize the photoshoots, models etc. So we have to see how we can do it.

RMS: What is the kind of reader base you are trying to reach? Is there a Foreword which would give potential reader a base to settle with?

Suhasini: For ‘It’s Complicated’, I am targeting the 18-25 age group in India, who read in English. My current reader profile, of almost 8000 readers, matches this age group. Somewhat surprisingly, 55% are men, although I had thought that romance and relationships is of more interest to women.

RMS: Are you planning to use other social medium to approach Readers? e.g. Twitter or Wattpad or similar?

Suhasini: I’m planning to add an Instagram and Twitter channel for ‘It’s Complicated’ but there’s some work to do there. However, the full experience would be on Facebook. Facebook posts offers the flexibility I need, plus the ability to exactly target the audience.

RMS: Thank you Suhasini for your time during our conversation. We wish you the best for your unique effort in rolling out your story. We will be happy to host a compilation of your book on our platform to garner more readers.

3 R for Publishing a manuscript

As a writer, you may be contemplating an approach to tell your story. Typically there are two approaches:

  1. Book length
  2. Short stories or Essays

Publishing a manuscript, with either of the above approaches, can be daunting (irrespective of how much are you thinking through the details). Based on experience of successful and not so successful authors, following tools are helpful through the process of publishing:

  1. Researching: As a writer one needs to be updated with relevant info in your field of interest. There are many tools which help you gather content without you hunting for it. One widely used tools is Feedly, it helps you compile per topic information available over the internet and send them to you at a frequency you want it. Similar tools with slight variance are Inoreader, NewsBlur, and InBox My Articles.
  2. Revising: While revising your content you may be thinking of how do I improve my style of writing or is my writing style similar to an Author I follow. Not to worry, following tools will help you revise and improve writing style – I Write Like, Hemingway App, The Writer’s Diet, The Up-Goer Five Text Editor, After the Deadline. While these tools cannot be a substitute for a professional editor, it sure will reduce number of iterations.
  3. Reviewing: If you are writing a long-form text which involves more than hammering away at the keys until you’re done, take a look at Scrivener. It is helpful while collecting research, ordering fragmented ideas, shuffling index cards in search of that elusive structure. For those who do not want to / cannot invest in a tool using Google Docs (part of Google Drive) or Offline Office (Microsoft One Drive). Few Publishers may ask for HTML version (or if you are web writer ) of your text. For such requirement, use Markdown (free tool).

Last but not the least, once you have your manuscript ready, you need to track you submissions. Tools like Submittable or Duotrope may help you depending upon which Publisher or Editors you are engaging with.

Happy writing!!

Once your story is ready for the world (i.e. completed eBook), you have a choice to leverage ReadMyStori platform for unbiased opinion and Author Analytics.

Kid’s mind during vacation – idle? Should they read? If yes, How?

While we all talk about kids to relax during vacation (especially in today’s cut throat competition), they also need to have fun.

Would you agree books are one such medium? With scorching heat outside during the day, would it be great to have a book in hand (printed or eBook) and something to sip on the side. As parents you would like to wish those mobile games should stop working for a while and let them pick up the books and enjoy the characters within. If your kids have less attention span short stories would be ideal. 

On one hand we know children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers. They become better writers with larger vocabularies, and most significantly, tend to develop stronger critical thinking skills. On the other hand, how do we ensure kids who shy away from reading (even if they can read) should enjoy the time reading books.

Of course an easy way, for most parents, is to keep nagging (read pushing), incentivising (read bribing), criticising his/her choice and many such methods, are going to deter the child from reading.

Now, the key question, how to turn their resistance into eagerness. Some of the following should work. Feel free to share your methods / tactics which worked for you. It might work for someone else too.

  1. Look out for topics which are related to their interests and hobbies
  2. Activity based reading (for e.g. make different parts of an aeroplane or windmill and then assemble them, also find information like, Are the wings of a plane smaller or larger than the body of the plane and Why)
  3. Let older children read to them, they enjoy showing off their skills to an admiring younger one
  4. Children should see you reading in your spare time
  5. Let them read aloud an interesting passage in a book or newspaper (don’t force them to read every word right)

Explore eBooks on ReadMyStori App, if you think our eBooks are good reads, do refer us to your friends and family. Look forward to hear from you on best practices which have worked for you to get your kid to read.

ReadMyStori Blog
ReadMyStori Blog

What are the best things based on children’s books?

While reading books, children are left with impressions of so many things. Some of them include:

  1. Characters
  2. Colours
  3. Animals
  4. Clothes
  5. Food (e.g. cakes, vegetables, etc)

…and the list can go on. Lets talk about what kids have access today, from picture books, comics, science fiction, to adventure. Most of them are very well illustrated or even interactive content including sound and light. Children 5 yrs or younger are attracted by colours. ReadMyStori App (Android / iOS) gives access to different books across different age group.

Lets address best characters which have been liked and appreciated by kids across generations. Sharing a few here:

  1. Charlotte’s Web, by E B White   (The New Yorker writer cherished for his elegance of style gives us an altruistic spider with exquisite manners, and a pig to make her proud. There are intimations of mortality, but a plot of fame and legacy thumbs its nose at the inevitable).
  2. Biscuit from the Biscuit series: Biscuit the sweet, yellow puppy, who is good at making friends, being playful, and learning new tricks
  3. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne : Characters begin days by visiting one another, and end up shifting houses, learning to fly or surviving floods
  4. Series of Mythological Stories (in India) listed at http://www.kidsgen.com/fables_and_fairytales/indian_mythology_stories/

Have listed some characters, look forward to hear from you on other things listed above and the classic books as reference.

2015 is projected as good year for Authors and Publishers

At the beginning of 2015, we at ReadMyStori appreciate:

  • Feedback and inputs from Readers
  • More than 10,000 likes on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter and Pinterest
  • 130% increase in book downloads and even more reads

We have enhanced User Experience for Readers on Android platform, will soon be releasing ver 2.0 on iOS (Apple iStore). 2015 is projected to be a good year for Authors and Publishers  (including self publishing).  Sharing few selected insights below.

A) 11 key topics in the new Digital Book World:

  1. The book publishing industry’s digital transformation and how it’s still in its infancy, with numerous opportunities for innovators, change agents and book business entrepreneurs
  2. How ebooks will continue to open up new, greater audiences for publishers
  3. The aftermath of the Amazon and Hachette dispute, an opportunity for publishers to reflect and reevaluate the book distribution ecosystem
  4. Why publishers should embrace and maximize IT, data and analytics
  5. The importance of learning new skills to master mobile – the world’s fastest growing media platform
  6. How self-publishing will continue to grow as more options arise from technological trendsetters
  7. The educational publishing market’s transformation and the EdTech opportunity
  8. Why navigating the intricacies of international markets is essential for digital book publishers
  9. The role of content marketing in the publishing industry
  10. How dynamic communities, built around content, are supercharging the discoverability of books
  11. The value of partnerships and supply chain collaboration in the book publishing industry

Source: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/eleven-trends-and-opportunities-for-digital-publishers-in-2015/

B) Global E-book market accounted for approximately 12.6 percent of the Global Book Publishing market in 2014 and is expected to increase to 27.8 percent by 2019.  Source: http://www.technavio.com/report/global-e-book-market-2015-2019

C) e-Publishing, lit fests likely to rule the literary world. Last year saw more than 60 book fests, that is an average of more than one a week. Source: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/epublishing-lit-fests-likely-to-rule-the-literary-world-in-2015/521476-3.html

From playing Candy crush to reading eBooks

While at a restaurant, with family, have you observed kids playing with smartphones (or parents handing them their phones)? Some parents or slightly older kids bring their iPads / Tablets to ensure they are busy and not crib while everyone can peacefully talk / eat 🙂

We have received interesting inputs from few parents, these inputs have helped their kids to develop a habit of reading eBooks. They have have downloaded ReadMyStori app and set of books from Pratham Books. With parents handing over their phones (while at a restaurant or driving a car or in situations when they are busy and need their kids to be quite for sometime), these kids are engrossed in reading very well illustrated eBooks.

These inputs got us thinking. Are there any easy and yet good ways of inculcating habits of book reading? Sharing a few points (original article from Leo Babauta).

  • Set times. You should have a few set times during every day when you’ll read for at least 5-10 minutes.
  • Always carry a book. Wherever you go, take a book with you.
  • Make a list. Keep a list of all the great books you want to read.
  • Read to your kid. If you have children, you must, must read to them. Its never too late 🙂
  • Read fun and compelling books. Find books that really grip you and keep you going.

A big Thank You to readers who shared inputs with us. Other readers, feel free to share your inputs.

Steps to self-publish an eBook

Have you decided to publish an eBook? Are you skeptical? The good news is, it’s easy to publish than you think. Usually, for quick references, authors go through blogs and videos on YouTube to understand the process. If you ask Authors who may have gone through that path – they would say its not by just pushing a button.

Having done some research you may have put some thoughts into your strategy to self-publish. It will be fair to ask a question, how would a Publisher execute this effort i.e. what are the different tasks e.g. editing, marketing, publicising, and of course writing the book. You are headed in the right direction.

We recommend following steps (listed below) based on our research. Remember, ReadMyStori is not a Publishing platform, we enable you to reach out with your eBook to a wider audience and learn from analytics. Analytics enables you to take a more informed decision.

  1. Write a “Value to Reader” book: Gather your thoughts and start detailing them to ensure a reader connects emotionally or practically (depending upon the theme of your book).
  2. Get your book edited: Most successful authors get their books professionally edited (including Amish and Chetan). Get your book edited from “Book Editor”. Having said that, there are very few successful Authors who have edited their won books.
  3. Convert into an eBook: While converting into an eBook format (e.g. from MS Word to PDF or ePUB) the first thing you will notice is to create a book cover. Book cover should be attractive, as it has to stand out between a lot of eBooks. Formatting comes second (different types of layouts), followed by conversion (i.e. PDF / ePUB).
  4. Find ways of reaching out to the World: Approach distribution channels which can take your book in front of a reader base distributed across the world. Amongst others, Amazon has created an interesting program for self-publishing authors.
  5. Promote your eBook: While the first step is to write the book, you should also be thinking about promoting the book from day one.

If you have started to weigh your options to self-publish, hope this blog post gives you enough pointers to act on. Feel free to share your comments below or write in to us at readmystori@gmail.com.