Getting published in India has its challenges: Abhay Nagarajan

 | May 09,2011 11:32 am IST

A Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) graduate and a Masters in Finance from University of Delhi, Abhay Nagarajan chose to quit as a financial adviser to pursue his literary skills. His attempt at dealing a serious subject in a humorous tone seems to have struck a chord, as his debut novel, Corporate Atyaachaar, has featured in India Today’s fiction bestsellers.


Abhay Nagarajan shares his experiences with in penning down ‘Corporate Atyaachaar.’

1- Tell us something about yourself?

I did my schooling in Mumbai & Bangalore. I did my graduation from SRCC and followed that up with a Masters degree in finance (MFC) from the University of Delhi. I worked as a financial advisor for a little over two years. Apart from reading and writing, I take interest in cricket and reading cricket statistics.


2- What or who inspired you to write ‘Corporate Atyaachaar’?

My late maternal grandfather, Mr. Malayatoor Ramakrishnan, was a writer of repute in Malayalam. I was inspired seeing him work on his craft during my growing up years. Therefore, I guess the writing bug just rubbed off onto me. Having worked as a financial advisor, I did derive a sense of understanding of a financial setting (financial products, market dynamics, client interactions and so on) which played an important part in my novel.


3- Why ‘Atyaachaar’?

This book is about the protagonist’s angst and frustration which has been narrated in a comical manner. From a book title perspective, I felt a ‘Hinglish’ title would be pretty interesting and could get a reader’s attention. As the distribution reach of my book was both in tier-1 and tier-2 cities, I felt the title to be apt. Reading through mails which readers have sent me, the title definitely seems to have struck a chord!

4- Your debut novel has featured in India Today’s fiction best seller list. How big is the achievement for a writer whose first novel is published?

As a first time writer, I couldn’t have asked for more. It is an achievement which I shall cherish fondly for a long time. Clearly the mention in the best sellers list is validation of the interest which readers at large across India have shown for my book. (Corporate Atyaachaar was No 4 on the best sellers list in the issue dated 14th March and No 8 in the issue dated 4th April).

5- Apart from writing, what do you enjoy the most?

As mentioned earlier, apart from writing I enjoy watching cricket and reading cricket statistics.

6- Who is your favorite writer and why?

It is difficult to pinpoint a particular all time favorite writer. While working on this novel, a few writers’ works certainly did help me in my understanding of using finance as a backdrop in my novel. Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis springs to mind. It was a hugely entertaining read. When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein was another terrific read. All the novels and stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring Sherlock Holmes also kept me hugely entertained during my formative years. I re-read some of these stories while working on my novel.

7- Have you started working on your next novel?

Yes. If you have enjoyed the narration and humor in Corporate Atyaachaar, chances are you might enjoy my second book as well. If all timelines are met, the book should be out by the end of the year or by early 2012.

8- What would you like to be known as—An Author or a Masters in Finance?

Tricky question! At the moment, seeing the modest but certainly encouraging fan mail which I am getting, I think I would say being an author is definitely way cooler! This is because a few readers have also written in to me stating that my writing has motivated them to also write. It is an amazing feeling!

9- There is a question in the author Q & A on your website, “Is it easy to get published in India?” Does this question imply to your personal experiences in getting Corporate Atyaachaar published? Share your experiences.

I would say getting published in India has its challenges. This I feel is on account of the lack of clarity on how to go about the process for a first time author. (For instance- direct submission to a publisher or via a literary agent, time lag in securing a response, in case of a rejection how does an author pitch it to other publishers and so on.)


From my personal experience, initially, at the time of sending across my work (synopsis and sample chapters) to various publishers, not getting a response was a challenge. The lack of response was more frustrating than a definite negative response. Also, at the time of submission of my complete manuscript, I had to cut down extensively on the length of my earlier drafts. Pruning, editing and rewriting certain parts of the book was a challenge.


10- Your advice to aspiring writers.

At the novel drafting stage- The only advice, I can give is that once you stumble upon your idea (which you feel you can convert into a story), keep at it and write only because you are passionate about writing without any reward in sight. The process of structuring your novel is something which should excite you.


Once you have reached the publishing stage- I would strongly suggest you keep your draft ready in all respects before you send it out to publishers. Try to smoothen out all the rough edges by asking your close friends/ family to read your work and offer suggestions. Then send it across to publishers. Always keep the faith in yourself. Self-belief is something you will definitely need during the testing phase when publishers are evaluating your work. Once accepted, you are one step closer to your dream of getting published and possibly becoming a best selling author!


Good luck and best wishes!