Friday, October 4, 2019

A book launch and reviews!

The days leading up the launch of The Hawa Mahal Murders on the 20th of September were tense as there were public appearances at the Pune lit fest. I am not used to speaking in public or going on stage. Sure, my book was a PILF contest winner but all the more reason to be nervous!

It all went off fairly smoothly, thankfully.

The moment when I actually walked on stage for the book launch felt surreal. It still does.

The aftermath wasn't as relaxed
as I expected it to be. Yes, the book is launched and I was privileged that it happened with Javed Akhtar and at the inauguration of PILF because it was a prize winner...but what next? People have to know that it's a good book, right? For that I need reviews! I was in contact with several book marketers but hesitated. Couldn't I manage good reviews on the sheer merit of my book? It was an idealistic way of looking at it.

The result of it was that I did not have ready-made reviews on the day of the launch, unlike some other books which were launched around the same time. I heard about the modus operandi of garnering reviews as the days went by. You have to hand over preview (free) copies of the book to selected people so that when the actual launch happens they flood GoodReads and Amazon with reviews. Who would have thought that this is the done thing? I could not help but think that these dozens of "preview" reviews were suspect.

Recently I checked some books by Indian authors which had around a hundred glowing reviews but when I read the sample, I found the writing not up to standard. Either publishers are lowering their standards or people are. It's not surprising that the best-sellers are all foreign authors. No one is really believing these reviews.

My reviews are slow in coming but they are organic. They are coming from people who bought my book after the launch. The reviews are good. The first review I got sent a thrill through my heart. It was from an unknown person who spent her/his money to buy my book. All my reviews/ratings so far are from people who have purchased the books and liked them.

This particular reviewer bought the book from Amazon early on. Even before I started to tell people about the book. I have no idea who it could be but that is exactly why I love the review so much.

Here it is. It was posted barely a few days after the launch. Like the reviewer said, the book must have been finished in one sitting. What I liked about the review was that she/he appreciated the setting. Mumbai.

There are other reviews now but this was the first. All the reviews so far are from people who actually paid for my book and they all found my book thrilling.

I am getting more reviews on my whatsapp messages! People are not comfortable with putting up reviews on Amazon but are telling me privately that they loved my book. That they found it thrilling and exciting. And that it was well written. That they admired my craft. All these people paid for my book. I know I am repeating this but I like the sound of it!

A couple of them said they tried putting up the review on Amazon but there was some glitch or the other. Never mind. They liked my book and that's what matters.

Anyway, I am thinking it's time I gave out free review copies. Better late than never. Maybe even hire somebody.

Genuine reviews have a way of making you feel good. In my case, though I always knew I wrote well, I wasn't sure about how well I had handled the suspense. When you read and revise a book so many times, you are never sure about that. Now, doubts have been set at rest. My book, The Hawa Mahal has suspense in plenty. According to one private message: It's a thrilling, exciting enjoyable ride!

Related Reading: Reviews after a month and then a Reviewing Reviews after three months of launch.

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