Jayant, IIM Bangalore PGP 92 alumni, born and bred in idyllic Bangalore, Jayant currently lives in scenic Seattle. After MBA he has donned different professional hats over the past twenty years — Corporate Trainer, Management Consultant, Technology Manager, Financial Planner, and Faculty at Business Schools. This is the story about him and his book 'Colors in the Spectrum'
After a long career as a management consultant, what made you go after your passion of books and writing?
The passion was always there. It took me a long time in life I guess to connect the dots – that dreams can be turned into reality! A major life change – such as relocating to the US may have acted as a catalyst. Once that happened there was no holding me back – I set about doing whatever it took to translate the ideas and stories in my head into a tangible book form.
While the motivation was largely internal, the external environment is rendering itself progressively more conducive. During the last decade and a half, several Indian authors have hit it big on the international scene. Back in India, the trend of MBA’s turning into published authors is becoming the new normal.
How did you feel when you decided to pursue your passion of writing books?
You have named your protagonist after the famous Mahabharata character Karna. What about the characterization and rest of the story?
Karna’s characterization in the Mahabharata is the epitome of dichotomies. He is strong and noble, courageous and loyal; yet his life is a series of missteps and curses; a tale of irony and ignominy. I was always fascinated by this complexity – not being a black-and-white person myself. It is no accident that the protagonist of my first novel is christened Karan. The story itself bears no resemblance to the epic – it is my very own – born out of the fertile machinations of an over-active imagination. Yet the characterization of my protagonist bears a striking parallel – while having everything going for him as a teenager, his adult life is a rapidly degrading spiral of bad luck.
Most of the first time writers find it very difficult to find the publishers. What are your experiences? How did you approach them?
Every writer’s publishing journey is unique. There is no template or model or a set of standards that can be applied for being published. It took me almost five years to find a publisher. Being the kind of person who leaves no stone unturned, I had tried every trick of the trade – reaching out to agents and publishers, in India, USA and the UK; using emails and traditional mail; sending out queries and pitching in person at writer’s conferences.
Rejection was the name of the game. Sometimes it was stated – clothed in eloquence and garbed in diplomacy. Most of the time – it was implied – there was simply no response. Was the state of the economy to blame or the plethora of wannabe writers that continued to mushroom? May be the fact that I was a virtual nobody. Who knows? May be it was the life lesson I was to learn. Patience. Eventually one of my classmates from IIM Bangalore, who had published his book of short stories through Leadstart Publishing (India), gave me a referral and things started happening. The time had come for Colours in the Spectrum to see the light of day.
How did you promote the book? What are the channels you used?
Initially, my publisher did provide me with a standard marketing plan. On a regular basis, I make use of my website, Linked in and more prominently my Facebook Page, updating them frequently for a decent digital presence. I freely gift my book and/ or promotional material to interested book-lovers.
Two book launch events – one in Seattle at a local golf club and the other in Bangalore, at the Landmark bookstore, where cine actor Mr. Anant Nag was my celebrity guest, helped create the initial buzz. The latter event garnered considerable press and publicity locally, thanks to the efforts of a PR firm – with several newspapers and magazines and even a TV channel covering the event and publishing author interviews.
During the last few months – I have continued to organize and participate in author events and book signings in the Seattle area and Bangalore. I have conducted giveaways on Good reads and been featured on professional blog sites (including this one!). I am currently in talks with a social media and digital marketing agency to devise a publicity campaign focussed on growing the sales of the Kindle version and the paperback version of Colours in the Spectrum.
Ultimately – friends and family have been the most effective channel – offering their unconditional support, purchasing my book and reviewing it, attending the events, and spreading the word!
How is the next book coming up? Were things smoother than the first?
The first draft of my second book, Family Secrets is about forty percent complete. While I have no dearth of story material and plot points in my head, paucity of time has slowed its progress. Yet, things are definitely much smoother. For one, I may have gotten better at the craft. Two, I am establishing the pattern of getting it reviewed as I write – courtesy the wonderful members of my writing group with whom I meet every other Saturday. Three, I already have a publisher. I plan to release the final manuscript to the publisher in early 2015.
Please tell us about your movie script and your plans to bring it out.
It is a complete script for a full-fledged movie with the classic ‘bollywood’ ingredients – that was professionally developed while attending a screenwriting workshop. I need to work on a plan on how to market it!
What are your future plans?
Continue to build my brand as an author. Get Family Secrets in 2015 and proceed to write my third book. Find serious takers for my movie script. Beyond that – Que sera sera – I tend to look at life as a bundle of possibilities and am open to any new experience it throws my way!
What do you suggest to the current MBA students who want to follow their passion?
Your passion is what makes you, you! Whatever the passion – just follow it. That is how you evolve and learn to utilize your full potential and experience the classic self-actualization principle purported by Maslow!
Just a word of caution. If you are lucky to have a passion that can help you make a living and give you the quality of life you aspire – power to you! Else, make sure to engage in a job or profession that you like and tolerate, that will help you make a decent living and find alternate ways – such as volunteering or freelancing or teaching – to pursue your passion.