‘Booked’ for life: Milee Ashwarya, Editor-in-Chief, Penguin Random House

Milee Ashwarya

She is the Editor-in-Chief of Penguin Random House India, and has been a voracious reader for as long as she can remember. SheThePeople.TV caught up with Milee Ashwarya to talk about her responsibilities, experiences and her undying love for books. New authors in the making, she has some tips for you as well!

What does the life of an Editor-in-Chief look like?

Well, it is not as glamorous as some people tend to think! There is a lot of hard work, desk-work, multi-tasking and management involved. For me the best part is that it is a creative role and I get to meet extraordinary people from diverse fields. There is a certain thrill when you discover a new voice, help great writingto reach out to many more readers and enable existing authors to keep writing books that are better than the last one. At the same time, you are responsible to give the best and help authors achieve their dreams.

You must have to cope with a lot of deadlines on hand; how do you manage that?

Yes, we have to keep dates and deadlines in mind, and publish for certain seasons and occasions. I think it just comes down to planning and having a good team to support the plan.

Milee Ashwarya on shethepeople

Milee Ashwarya with actor Shilpa Shetty at a book launch

There is a certain thrill when you discover a new voice, help great writing to reach out to many more readers

You’re part of a legacy that has given award winning literature to the world; how fortunate do you feel to be a part of it in some way?

I feel extremely lucky and proud to be a part of Penguin Random House India. You can never be average; you have to always strive to be the best and live up to the great legacy you are a part of and continue contributing to it for future. It is a journey that we are on with all our authors, partners and the brilliant team at Penguin Random House India.

Did you always picture yourself working in a publishing house?

I always loved books but I happened to join publishing by accident. I had not planned it. And now I am hooked!

Also read: Journalist Rana Ayyub’s self-published book on Gujarat gets off big launch

How do you think Penguin Random House publications are helping young readers?

We publish for all segments and age groups. Under Puffin we publish for children and young adults. Under our adult division we bring out books in different genres from literary, commercial to business. We are focussing on our local publishing programme and trying to cater to young minds whether it is fiction or non fiction.

What kind of genre does the younger generation enjoy most these days?

I feel readers still love a good fiction. So romance, thrillers, mythology are selling well. True crime is another genre which has picked up.

Milee Ashwarya on shethepople

Milee Ashwarya at advertising guru Piyush Pandey’s book launch

Graphic novels are slowly getting more readership; what do you think is attributing to this growth?

International graphic novels have always been popular but home-grown ones are now picking up. The improved quality or art and production is one of the factors aided by strong storytelling.

What do you think are the five dos for an author?

  1. Be original
  2. Take your craft seriously
  3. Work hard to get your book proposal right; first impressions matter
  4. Engage with your readers
  5. Stay true to your expertise and experiences

Also read: Simplifying mythology through ‘Amma Tell Me’ : Bhakti Mathur

How about you? By what age did your love for books start and begin to grow?

Since I can remember. But after grade three I was hooked forever.

Milee Ashwarya

Milee Ashwarya talks to SheThePeople

Which are some of your all time favourite books?

  1. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  2. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami


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