This is 12.40 am, September 15th 2021. At 12.40 am on this date exactly a year ago, I was super nervous. My book had been released on Amazon.com 40 minutes ago, and within a few hours was due to be released on Amazon India. My first ever book! What do people call it? Debut book?
I was praying, and wishing and praying. A sudden fear of failure had swept my mind one more time. On one hand, my thoughts were: it’s just an e-book as of now. On the other hand, I was thinking: Good Lord! It’s still my first ever book!
Only a few days ago, on the night of uploading the final manuscript of this book, I got cold feet. The whole world was about to see, read, feel what I had felt. I was putting a part of myself out there, for the world to see.
I rushed to my brother Abhishek’s room, and asked: Do you think I am making a mistake? Releasing a poetry anthology of poems full of my emotions? He said something that would forever stay with me:
It is what it is. You are making a choice. And then he added: Prepare for impact!
I laughed thinking: I would just be happy if a bunch of friends and family read it and enjoyed it.
Within 24 hours of thinking this thought, I found my book as the No.1 New Release on Amazon.com. I stared at the computer screen in utter disbelief! I rushed to my parents’ room, texted my brother and we all celebrated at 1 am! I remember making “urgent chai” and then my father praying over me for the blessing.
Do I need to say I couldn’t sleep that night? By 5 am, my book was trending as No 1 in Amazon Hotsellers, Christian Poetry, Poetry and Anthology categories. And remained among the Top 100 for several weeks that followed.
Just like that! I got my I-came-I-conquered moment!
Months of hard work and lots of pre-release promotions had paid off!
Also those days, I was on my knees several times during the days and nights. Yes, a blessing like that must get me on my knees. It should have, and it did.
A huge shout-out to Abhishek
Abhishek designed the cover of my book and many people said they were inclined to buy it after they saw the cover. For once, I am okay with people judging the book by its cover. This guy stood like a rock throughout my book writing and publishing journey. Design was just a tiny part of it. He is such a huge blessing.
Behold the anti-climax
Despite that I knew deep down that God had given me a blessing that I had so desired most of my life, I was starkly aware of its fleeting nature. The moments of discovering my book among the bestsellers, to the time I celebrated, everything was a blur! A mechanical reaction at best.
The euphoria lasted for a few seconds, believe me! I didn’t doubt the talent at that point, nor the gift of writing that God had so freely given me. But I was also aware of all my promotion exercises, and the marketing tactics that a Youtube video had taught me: How to get your book to the bestseller list without paying anything?
A plan had, for once in my life, gone exactly the way I planned it. With that realization came a strong sense of emptiness. Weird emptiness. What now? I got what I wanted, what’s next?
While dealing with these thoughts, I geared up to release the paperback version of my book that came out 10 days later. A Canadian publisher Ukiyoto Publishing had agreed to print and distribute my book in India and the rest of the world (since Amazon doesn’t fulfill print orders for Indian authors for reasons best known to the company).
During this time, I began to honestly evaluate book reviews and feedback. I was waiting for a more human impact, something I would cling to or attach the book’s success to. Bestseller tag hadn’t given me the kind of triumph I had expected. I prayed about it: God, I also want my book to influence people, in believing in you, in putting their faith in you.
Some heart-warming moments
God did bless me with a lot of heart-warming experiences from readers. Some readers found my book as a way to be more hopeful with life, others found answers they had been looking for. In the Dedication section of my book, I had named a lot of my friends as a gesture of gratitude for their support.
The funniest and the most tear-jerking reactions came from that section. A friend Jaideep penned down a full-length poem expressing how overwhelmed he felt to find his name there. I was teary-eyed by the end of that poem. One of my school friends, Varun Pauddar gave me a heartfelt shout-out on Instagram. A friend Kristen bought a copy for her 90-something year old grandmother. I was thrilled to know she loved the book. Another friend Emily included my book among their Christmas gifts. If I listed down all such things, this blog will go on forever!!!
Some of my friends showed their names proudly to their parents saying: see we helped her write the book. That cracked me up every single time. My best friend from school Nidhi Airen showed my book to her husband and daughter saying: do you guys have any friends who would dedicate your name in a book?
But there are two incidents that will stand out for me.
The first was one of the responses I got when I set aside some copies for some special people. One of my aunts shared a copy with her neighbour, who then asked her about my faith. The conversation eventually led to a full-length Gospel sharing. Hallelujah! God heard my prayer and was still working His way.
The second came in the most unexpected way. This was just two weeks before the nation-wide lockdown in March 2021. One of my close friends, Shanee was in town with her whole family. She decided to pay us a visit. I am particularly fond of her three children: Joya (12), Gus (10) and Lucy (9). We eventually got into the subject of my book. Her two girls grabbed a copy and found their mother’s (Shanee) name. Then Lucy came up to me saying: would you include Joya’s and my name in your next book? OFCOURSE, I said, hugging her.
But that wasn’t all. Shanee posted on her Instagram later that the children were suddenly very interested in writing stories, because I inspired them to write. They would gather over the weekend on their dinning table and just pen down the things of the day. I read that post and I was like:
What? So I am a role-model now?
No other achievement is more important than this. If I were married and had children, I would want my children to see me as a role model. And I would feel exactly the same way I felt when I saw the effect my book had on Shanee’s children.
Through the course of my journey in writing my first book, I felt God made me see quite clearly the kind of things that matter to me. I realized I find deeper joys in just setting good examples and standards before those who look up to me. And yeah, I like that I value this more than any other material achievement. Hallelujah!
You can find my book here