Recently, I got the opportunities to have an interaction with the founder of Ashvamegh, an international magazine, Alok Mishra. I have talked to him about his interests other than writing and reading and he told he was about to enter the book promotions market. Upon agreeing, I asked him some questions. Here is what Alok has to say about book promotions and his plans to stir into this field.
My Question: How do you see book promotions market today in India? You are going to enter this field with full fervour now.
Alok Mishra: I am not only thinking to jump into the field, I am looking forward to disrupting it! If Arnab can hope for a disruption in journalism, why can’t others do the same? By the way, let me accept that I like Arnab Goswami very much. It is his style of journalism that is liked by the people in India, no doubt about this singular opinion (haters will always hate). The idea behind invoking Arnab is very simple – when I began to think about disrupting the book marketing field, the first thing that came into my mind, being associated with the term disruption, was Arnab Goswami! He is a great man!
Coming back to the business, what is the general style of book promotions? Authors are looking for the readers – readers are waiting for the good books – there comes the game and someone in the middle links the both. Things over. Now the question is how far can this ‘someone’ go? How deep into the psyche of the readers this ‘someone’ can install the fact that a particular book is worth reading? What’s the best which can be done to promote a book or an author? Is there a limit? Can the best be done? The answer to all these questions can be various; however, for me, the answer is we can always do the best if we have right knowledge of the resources that we use and the tools that we deploy. So, in the book promotions market in India, there is immense opportunity for those who know it. Also, there is huge opportunity for the book bloggers!
My Question: But how can one not say that a particular book is being promoted on payroll? Then it has just become like advertising, hasn’t it?
Alok Mishra: As pointed out by the great classic critic Horace that the greatest art is in concealing the art, the same is true for the book promotions as well. Just don’t let the thread of promotion come out and be visible; you just act as if things are natural and you are the natural reader; you have read the book and you have published it as a book review.
Picking the book bloggers is the toughest job that a strategist has to deal with! If you ask me how do I shortlist and pick the finalists, the answer is simple – I look for those who write book reviews as well as other stuff. Those who only write book reviews on their website cannot ever look natural readers to the audience. Thus, anyone can determine that the ‘typical reviewers’ will review almost anything for the sake of money! I don’t fall in that pit!
My Question: And do you write book reviews yourself too?
Alok Mishra: Oh! Do I write myself! I knew it’d come now or then! Well, I haven’t hired a ghost-writer as of yet! And neither do I have any plans. I write my share myself. I do write for Ashvamegh; for ILN at times and of course for my blogs. I operate two blogs singularly by myself and every now and then I write book reviews for those two. I write the paid ones as well the free ones.
My Question: What are your long term and short term goals with this new venture?
Alok Mishra: See, I believe in the present having an eye for the future and at the same time keeping a track of the mistakes not to make again. I hope you get me! Long term and short term goals are set by the team, especially, my younger brother Amit. I just tweak and finalize the strategy and then we move ahead. A long term goal is making Bihar the mogul of author and book’s digital promotions. We have achieved few milestones as well; however, there always a mile to go before we can rest and in this case, it’s a long way! We always emphasize on finding new boys and training them for the purpose rather than picking the trained ones. This way, we are also able to offer some sort of employment as well as making them IT-vulnerable.
Thanks to Alok Mishra for his time and opportunity. It was good to know his ideas. Ashvamegh is already doing good in book promotions.