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The Secret Behind The Tag Of A Bestselling Book

The last few years saw a major curve in the trends of the publishing industry. From a majority of the population learning that there is more on offer than Chetan Bhagat’s popular books to aspiring authors clinging to the mediocrity of the same formula to achieve their own success, the shift has been dramatic and stagnant in different aspects. The youth started understanding the gamut of what Indian literature has to offer with the advent of authors such as Ashwin Sanghi, Amish and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Non-fiction became a hot topic as interest in mythology grew and it gave way to mythology experts like Devdutt Patnaik to revive the interest in a perhaps forgotten genre.

The cheesy, formulaic romantic love stories still continued garnering a lot of attention. More and more authors did and still do depend on romantic stories to play safe and retain their audiences or establish themselves in the market. A few of the bestsellers in the last decade include:

  • The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi
  • Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
  • Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat
  • The Shiva Trilogy by Amish
  • Shikhandi by Devdutt Patnaik
  • A Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 
  • Everyone Has A Story by Savi Sharma
  • It’s All In The Stars by Preeti Shenoy
  • I Too Had A Love Story by Ravinder Singh
  • The Girl Of My Dreams by Durjoy Dutta
  • Maya’s New husband by Neil D’Silva
  • Mafia Queens Of Mumbai by Hussain Zaidi
  • Bombay To Baiculla by H. Zaidi
  • The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Now, if we analyse the above list, while it boasts of some diversity, more than half the list still feature love stories. The following are the reasons that could have lead to their success:

  1. A sudden upsurge of interest in new genres such as mythology, non-fiction and magical realism. With new authors bringing in an entirely new, relatable writing style along with topics and characters are known as well as unknown. Readers found themselves drawn to this paradoxical mix.
  2. Social media platforms play a big role in creating a hype for the book before its release and keeps the momentum going even after the release.
  3. Popular authors attend different book launches, literary festivals and events, as a new addition to the promotional agenda. This helps them meet and interact with their audiences in real life.
  4. Online as well as offline publicity campaigns make sure that the audiences don’t forget the book or the author easily.
  5. Sometimes, well-known celebrities are roped in to launch the book or promote it on social media. Ashwin Sanghi released his latest book, “The Keepers Of The Kalachakra” with Sonali Bendre. Sometimes forewords by famous authors or writers can speak volumes about the book which adds to its USP as well.
  6. Giveaways through social media influencers also help in spreading the word about a book.
  7. Some publishers release book trailers that give a much more dramatic effect than simply publishing a blurb.
  8. Cover reveals also keep the audience hooked.
  9. Arundhati Roy’s novel, “The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness” was released almost 20 years after her first book, also making it to the Man Booker prize shortlist. People wanted to read and find out if the book would match up to “The God Of Small Things”. The political atmosphere in which her second book plays out also ensured that it was being talked about well after its release
  10. Intriguing book titles also play a role to help someone pick one book over another. For example, Bhagat’s “Half Girlfriend” was such a talk of the town even before its release because people didn’t know what the word implied and how it would play out in the book. The hype not only made it a lead pre-order target but also ensured that it was made into a movie as well.
  11. Favourable reviews by critics and bloggers ensure that more people are inclined to buy a book.
  12. The pre-order strategy of selling a book before the actual release give publishers and authors an actual idea of how much a book is likely to sell in the long run. It helps them gauge if they were able to create a hype in the first place.

With so many authors publishing their books every year, giving the audiences a story to care about is the only thing that could ensure their sure-shot success. Publishing houses don’t prioritise on marketing all their books in equal measure, so authors need to put their best foot forward in promoting their books independently as well.  If the author isn’t sure why anyone would buy their book, the marketing strategies can only help so much.

In a nutshell, an author remains a bestseller only if their stories can keep the audiences engaged and entertained, before and after buying their book.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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