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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Online as well as offline publicity campaigns make sure that the audiences don’t forget the book or the author easily.
- 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.
- Giveaways through social media influencers also help in spreading the word about a book.
- Some publishers release book trailers that give a much more dramatic effect than simply publishing a blurb.
- Cover reveals also keep the audience hooked.
- 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
- 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.
- Favourable reviews by critics and bloggers ensure that more people are inclined to buy a book.
- 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.