If there is one year that will not draw a neutral expression for anyone it is 2020. For some, it turned their lives upside down. For others, downside up. For some, they discovered minimalism, while others had a complete meltdown trying to balance work, family, and chores from the confines of four walls. Whether it was deeply positive, or unnerving, one thing is for sure: 2020 has changed the world forever.
As we enter the last month of this epic year, I cannot help but smile. I believe 2020 has been a breakthrough year for me – and has made me better. A better wife (I have my husband’s approval on this!), cook (much to my chef’s chagrin), speaker (never before have I spoken as much as I did this year!) and Zoom-er (new term used for people attending more than three meetings a day, with smart torsos, sporting pyjamas with bathroom slippers below). Above all, it has pushed me to my limits as an author.
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Finding a Publisher
With three books at different stages of completion I was a happy author looking forward to 2020. Little did I know the world would turn into a Netflix thriller drama and each of us would be protagonists. One of my most defining pieces till date, The Breakthrough on the lives of 11 people who began their life with nothing but are today blazing examples of holistic wonders was ready by March 2020. I had the final script in hand and was wondering which publisher to go ahead with. Suddenly everything came to a standstill and the future of publishing, books, bookstores – looked unclear.
Somehow, I felt the book needed to be released at the earliest as it would cheer people and offer tremendous inspiration as it was all about riding the tide and coping with uncertainty and what better opportunity than the pandemic to use all the learnings. Just the act of writing it had fine-tuned my thinking and was helping me adapt to change so much better – would it not go and offer hope, when most needed. And yet, I had no clue which publisher would be crazy enough to go with my flow.
I have understood the power of intention in 2020. Somehow, we were able to draw one of the top publishers into our crazy plans and they were willing to bet on us even through really challenging times where forget printing presses being shut, paper itself was not available. The book already had a sizable pre-order, and somehow against all odds, the publisher released a 488 page, 4 coloured book in 30 days’ time – an unheard-of feat in the history of publishing. What kept the editors, designers, and the publishing house going, was this intent: the book could offer hope at a time the world needed it most. They had to give the orders to multiple press to get the desired quantity. Couriers took much longer than expected and we had trucks full with books, not moving an inch because of inter-state rules. I feel grateful to my publishers for going beyond themselves to help us.
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For our part, we wondered how we could thank them and wanted to have a grand launch. Since a physical one was out of the question with all 11 living in different parts of the country, I asked myself, why not a digital one? In a meeting we tossed the thought around – since the book is on 11 people how would it be to have 111,111 people attend the virtual launch slated on the 15th of August? This would make it one of the biggest book launches in the history. We had a months’ time to get this number and it looked impossible as even with all our contacts and a great digital team put together we could not cross 11,000.
All along in 2020 I have held onto this one thought: let problems come from everyone, the solutions will come from me. It was a strange, unexpected tie-up as one of the biggest online events companies came on board to host the event: a digital book launch, so unlike all its other musical or theatrical events.
As late as August 14th, we only had about 18,000 people registered for the launch and I remember sleeping feeling – hey life, all of us associated with the book have given it our very best, now you conspire and make the miracle happened. I don’t know if it was the last-minute reminders that did it, or the final push, but we did not just get 111,111 people to attend our launch – we had 3,82,500 attend it! It was a breakthrough!
Most bookstores still closed
However, before I could dwell too long in the happiness, we realised that even after such an attendance, the book sales were a very tiny fraction of attendees. In the last three months, we have come up with innumerable ways of making the books presence known. With most bookstores still closed, and people not willing to venture out, the odds have been lower. An author does not just compete with other authors for a book, but with an ever-growing entertainment industry too.
At every step this year, there has been a lock. And every lock, had its own key – only to reveal yet another lock. It has not just been a physical lockdown but a mental, financial, emotional one. Through it all, the only thing that kept me going is, “Keep moving… through the sunshine and the rain, keep moving.” Let no lockdown, lock you down. And those are the two words I wish to leave you with. Keep moving…
The views expressed are the author’s own.