Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My name is Amar Vyas, which is my pen name, and I live in Bangalore, India with my wife and our dog Buddy. As of now, not a full time writer- my day job pays the bills, though I hope to change that in the next couple of years. I have been writing poetry, short stories and blog posts for the past several years, but only in the past three years have I ventured into writing books. My Debut novel NRI:Now, Returned to India, was released in August 2014. It is the first in a four part fiction series featuring the protagonist Amol Dixit. As of July 2015, I am writing the third and the fourth installments in the series in parallel.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Name of my latest book is Urban, Sophisticated. The title and the theme of the story is inspired by a true incident- A friend of mine had written a post on Facebook, announcing the birth of his first child. That triggered a thought, which ultimately turned into the third book in the Amol Dixit Series. If I say or write anything more, I might as well give the plot away 🙂
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My writing takes different forms- longhand, typing on a computer, and more recently, recording in audio format and then putting the different pieces together to get the first draft ready. I have to travel a lot because of my work- three or four flights a week- for me, pen and paper works best for the flights. When I drive to work, if an idea comes into my mind, I record it onto my phone. During other times, I type on my computer. My preferred location for typing is my standing desk.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
My preferred genre of writing is Fiction/Humor, and P G Wodehouse has been a great influence. In addition, some of the early influences were Jeffery Archer and P.L. Deshpande (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1194308/), who was a very popular Marathi Writer, Musician and actor.
What are you working on now?
I am wrapping up the third book in Amol Dixit Series- Urban, Sophisticated. At the same time, I am also writing the fourth part in the series, which shall remain unnamed for now. I am also researching for my first science fiction novel, which I plan to write in early 2016.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
The best method that has worked for me has been to email the potential reader(s) directly, with a book description and the link where they can buy or download the book. Or, if they prefer a free copy, they can write back to me.
Among other channels, a direct link to Amazon has worked best for me, because it is a known site, the reviews are already there (and fortunately, over 4 star rating). The reviews give validation and on a lighter note, some bragging rights.
My author website and blog are other resources- though I do not promote my book from my website (it is on my to do list).
A few weeks ago, I came across booklaunch.io – though I haven’t explored it much.
I am working on exploring other avenues- Goodreads is a must-do, podcasts, and of course sites such as awesomegang.com
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Set a schedule that works best for you, but don’t give up on writing. At the same time, do not forget to communicate and connect with readers. As authors, our primary role is to create content and communicate it to the readers. Next, we have to connect with people who care about our writing. Finally, we should also consume the content that has been crated by others. Blogs, books, podcasts, videos, you name it. That is what will help us grow.
I call it the “4C” rule- those who have taken business marketing classes might have heard about the classic “4P” model, my “4C” approach is a spin on the same.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Sharath Komarraju, a fellow author from Bangalore and I’d like to add a much more accomplished author (sharathkomarraju.com) told me a recently that as an author, the first million words you write are for you to grow and develop as a writer. after the first million, you are ready to put your best works out. I am not sure whose quote this is, and whether this is what the original quote is, but I really liked it, and while I am three quarters of a million words away from my first million, this is one advice that needs to be followed.
What are you reading now?
It is a Sunday afternoon here in Bangalore, and at the expense of earning the wrath of booklovers- right now, I am reading the newspapers from past week and a few current affairs magazines. Long hours at work and travel leave me with very little time to catch up on what is going on around the world. Going back to my “4C” approach- Sundays are for catching up on Content.
What’s next for you as a writer?
First and foremost, I need to finish the first drafts of the novels that I am writing. Next on the cards is possibly translations of my books- there are about six languages in India that are spoken by over 50 million people, and it would be hard to ignore translations in India!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
That is an interesting question and a tough one to answer. But let me be a bit greedy and grab four books. The first one would be the Bhagvad Gita. I am not a very religious person, but that book has had a profound effect on me. It is simple, everyday practical philosophy. The second book would be “Write, Publish, repeat” by Sean Platt, Johny B Truant and David Wright. I love their Self Publishing podcast, and that book has been on my To-Read List for a long time. Finally, I will take the books written by my grandmother and mother- the former is a biographies, the latter is an unfinished memoir. They are both in Marathi language, I would like to translate them into English and Hindi so that more people can learn from their writing.