Mixing a brew of freelancing and writing in the pan of social media
Today was quite an interesting ‘Book Day’ for me.
(And let me tell you right at the start that this is a long post where I will talk about my day and related things. If you are in a bit of a rush now, you can read it later.)
The day began when I started sipping my morning cup of tea at 8 am after dutifully downing three glasses (one litre) of water. This is my routine you know, so no point arguing about it. Then I started flipping the morning newspaper ‘Hindustan Times’. This was a surprise for me. Usually I deliberately choose not to see the newspaper in the morning, except to scan the headlines on the first page. But today, I went and picked up the paper and actually started flipping through all the pages.
It was at this point that I came across the half page HT write-up on Page 13 in big, bold fonts titled ‘Chiki Sarkar and her new publishing playbook’. (Click to read this HT article)
I went through the whole article with interest about this person called Chiki Sarkar, who has some impressive credentials as Editor & Publisher at top Indian publishing houses. Then I read that she has become a Founder-Publisher of a new venture called Juggernaut Publishing, which is a mobile publishing start-up. More importantly, this start-up has some new kind of an app that can be downloaded for reading good books and stories.
‘Less important’ was another fact about Juggernaut Publishing. ‘Someone’ called Sunny Leone would be contributing exclusive bedtime stories to it titled ‘Sweet Dreams’. You could read all those ’emotional’ stories at 10 PM on your smartphone, if you paid some money.
I made a mental note that I underlined twice, to check out the Juggernaut website and app for two reasons: Chiki Sarkar and Sunny Leone.
My two questions at this point were:
–> 1. What could be so new in another publishing platform that a person of Chiki’s A+ calibre and potential be so interested in?
–> 2. Sunny Leone is a writer too? Is this possible? (I questioned myself thoughtfully here: Then who am I and what have I really accomplished being in the writing field for more than 15 years?)
These kind of existential questions apart, my day rolled on with helping my pa with some bank work. In between, I started reading another book today. To remind you again, I have been an ebook reader for more than three years now. I have stopped buying physical books.
I have been a devoted Kindle reader all this time, using the Kindle reading app on my smartphone. If I remember right, I have bought from Amazon via my credit card and downloaded and read many full length fiction and non-fiction digital books on my smartphone. These books include: Forever War (Joe Haldeman), Proof of Heaven (Dr Eben Alexander), Dying To Be Me (Anita Moorjani), Rich Dad, Poor Dad + Cashflow Quadrant (Both books by Robert T Kiyosaki) and Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer).
My current reading list of kindle books that I had purchased earlier, which I read at leisure include: Wool (Hugh Howey), The Audacity To Be A Writer (Bryan Hutchinson), What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You (Ray D Strand), Copycat Marketing 101 + The Parable of the Pipeline (Both books by Burke Hedges), Wild (Cheryl Strayed), The Immortals of Meluha (Amish), Wishes Fulfilled (Dr Wayne W Dyer) and Write. Publish. Repeat. (Sean Platt & Johnny B Truant).
Today I added another book to my current reading list by buying it for Rs 54/- from Amazon and downloading it to the kindle app on my smartphone. The book is by writer Rachel Aaron titled ‘2000 to 10,000 – How to write faster, write better and write more of what you love’. I tweeted Rachel that I had bought her book and she tweeted back happily.
There are a collection of free novels and samples too on my Kindle app that I might get around to reading, once I have read through my current purchased list.
Finally, I got some time early evening and went to the Juggernaut website (www.juggernaut.in) , browsed around and finally downloaded the Juggernaut App from the Playstore.
–> 1. Share & Publish: If I am a reader, then it is natural that I would like to check out another good reading app that promises something new. The two Juggernaut elements that struck me were: If my writing is good enough, then it stands a chance of being published in this very reading app and people could even buy what I have written. Second, I could share books that I bought or got for free, with other readers. Both these elements are currently missing in my Kindle app for smartphone.
–> 2. Read curated Indian books: In this app, you will get to find the most interesting writers writing fiction and non-fiction in English and Hindi in India. Yes, Hindi books too will be coming here. And these books will be well curated and selected by a well-experienced team of editors. I don’t have to go around searching online for good Indian writers who will be worth my time and money. Incidentally, my author-friend Andaleeb Wajid’s book ‘When She Went Away’ is here on Juggernaut app, which I will be buying soon.
–> 3. Low pricing: You can subscribe to the different plans on offer at Juggernaut and read all the ebooks you want, or read for free. The price point is low. On kindle, I have at times found a few books that I wanted to buy, but their Kindle edition was laughably priced high, close to the physical book price. I have grumbled at the time and sometimes imagined myself flinging the ‘Crucio’ curse at the publisher.
–> 4. Introduction to latest Indian writing: You will get to read a good collection of Indian writers. Many of them you would never have heard of as they would not have been published elsewhere. You won’t find these writers in any ‘Best of….’ or ‘Top writers…’ or ‘List of best Indian writers’. But, they would be good enough, which is why you will find them here. It promises to be a promising platform for good Indian writers waiting for their first break.
–> 5. Reading curated Non-Indian books: I expect to find good non-Indian writing too here, courtesy of the good editors. If you are a non-Indian writer and have a good story or non-fiction book in you, then do mail your story synopsis with two chapters to Juggernaut editors. If your story is good, you will get published. As a Juggernaut reader, I am willing to pay to read your exciting writing. You already know the strict and intimidating guidelines of publishers around the world. Getting a foot in there is like competing for an Olympic medal. Your chances are better here.
–> 6. Support for an Indian start-up: I keep hearing of so many Indian start-ups that began well. After a period of time, some of them bit the dust, while others bravely carried on and did well. I have never really thought of actively supporting them. Of course, morally, my best wishes and prayers are there for all Indian start-ups that they do well and fill our Indian hearts with pride. This time, with Juggernaut start-up, I feel I have a chance to support them actively, especially as they belong to my field of reading and writing. ‘ अब भारतीय पाठक ही शुद्ध भारतीय लेखक, प्रकाशक एवम उद्यमीय प्रयास की नहींँ मदद करेगा तो और कौन करेगा ‘ (If an Indian reader won’t support a true-blue Indian writer, publisher and start-up, then who else will support it) 🙂
–> 7. Tell My Reader & Writer Friends: Now that I have the Juggernaut app on my phone, I intend to check it regularly for new books and new features. Whenever I am with my friends, neighbours and relatives who are into reading, I can inform them easily about about this new reading platform by showing them this app. I can even educate them properly on how to buy from the app.
Whatever little I have understood so far about Juggernaut Publishing, I like where they are headed. From reading all the positive media play that they have got over the past few days, I am guessing many established brick-n-mortar traditional publishing houses too are looking at the Juggernaut initiative with a lot of curiosity.
Here’s what Economic Times said about them,
The Times of India report on them,
article on them by idiva website,
Indian Express report, plus there are many other media outlets that have talked about them.
The Juggernaut objective is clearly mentioned on their website:
We aim to create a world-class Indian publishing company that redefines reading and writing for the digital age.
We began this journey with three simple aims and the launch of our mobile app is the first step in this direction.
–> To get more Indians to read books
–> To encourage more Indians to write
–> To make books less intimidating
Baba G (Google Baba) defines Juggernaut as a huge, powerful and overwhelming force. I can only wish that this juggernaut moves on gracefully and powerfully and gathers more steam as the months roll on. Many Indian authors, readers and publishers are keeping their fingers crossed from this point on.