The Hamster Who Opened A Pandora’s Box

Them: So what is it you do? (conversation starter)

Me: I write. (while bracing myself for the inevitable aftermath)

Them: How lovely. Where can I read your book? (genuine interest)

Me: I am in the process of writing it. (sounding like a recorded message)

Them: Oh. Ok. (conversation ender)

Me: I was busy with the kids. (pointing towards my 22 and 18 year old daughters)

Them: …… (Kids??? Polite silence and moonwalking away from me)

I sounded ridiculous. I had run out of reasons. That’s when I quit making excuses and got down to compiling my short stories into an ebook and alongside completed my first novel within six months. (waiting for the applause)

I sacrificed my short story collection ebook at the altar of experimentation with marketing. I sold years of heartfelt emotions for 99c and for free on Kindle Unlimited.

The trajectory of “ A Smattering of Darkness” went like this over a few months.

Month One – Yes! Month Two – Not bad. Month Three – Noooooooo.

A star was not born. No New York Times bestseller lists. No Booker Prize nominations.

I had waited over three decades to unleash my stories on the world. I was not going down without a fight. A Smattering of Darkness had featured in the top five of its genre on Amazon constantly. Most of the reviews were good. People had responded to my writing. My novel was waiting in the wings for its launch and I had to build a readership for it through this ebook. It was time for a fresh perspective.

I used up my internet bandwidth and devoured all the information available on marketing ebooks. Finally, I was armed and dangerous, fully prepared to enter Pandora’s Box of Self Publication.

  1. GoodReads : I signed up. It was formidable. Reviews that read better than my book. An author-reader orgy like none other. Alisha “Priti” Kirpalani, GoodReads Author, was unveiled. My ebook shimmering like a tiny flame on to-read shelves.
  2. Twitter : I have always loved the 140 character challenge and tweeted microfiction over a period of time, slowly and shyly gathering followers. I now brazenly display all the words I pen, hawk-eyed and awaiting retweets.
  3. Instagram : Acting on my girls’ suggestion, I signed up for an account and post philosophy or poetry on a daily basis. My heart races when I see that little, red heart glow. I feel like the new kid in school, watching the cheerleaders and jocks of Instagram writing dazzle their million followers.
  4. Facebook : All authors need a page. So I created one. A self created shrine to the fruits of my labour. Click the like button. Like me, like my words.
  5. Medium : A blog. No serious writer can survive without one. Here I am. Responses, recommendations, reading, stats, followers. It is a heady feeling. The calibre of the ‘Medium’, readers and contributors challenging me to write in an unfamiliar genre.

I am a writer. I love playing with words. I have connected with readers and and am grateful for their appreciation. I am touched when someone tells me my writing touched them. There is no greater joy than hearing that.

But… I feel like a hamster on a treadmill. A part of me envies the old me that did not care about readership or followers. When writing had no purpose except to feel a sense of completion. When I never woke up or went to bed, checking ratings and reviews.

That time is past because now the words glare angrily and the stories scream to be heard. Neither them nor I can be confined. It’s a brave, new world.

Alisha “Priti” Kirpalani is the author of “A Smattering Of Darkness: Short and Shorter Twisted Tales,” a collection of short stories of varying lengths encapsulating the grey shades of the human psyche. Her new novel will be released later this year.

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