Varun Tejwani is a finalist in KDP’s Pen to Publish contest
Varun Tejwani’s evolution as an author can be attributed to two people. The first, and most important, is his wife, and the second is marketing guru Philip Kotler.
“I’m an avid follower of politics, and from my discussions with friends and colleagues, I began to realise that this is a world driven by propaganda in which public perception is king. What I perceive to be reality may be very different from what somebody else perceives. And the truth may indeed be stranger than fiction. So I started thinking about political conspiracies, what the media and politicians tell us, and what may actually be transpiring behind closed doors. I realised that most societal evils today are a manifestation of this propaganda, which is being used to mask the actual evils that exist,” says this finalist of Amazon KDP Pen to Publish contest.
He began recording his thoughts and impressions on a blog as an outlet to express himself. Eventually the blog transformed into a novel thanks his now-wife and then-girlfriend Phaguni. “She was the one who insisted that I publish my first work Psycon, a political thriller, as a novel, and the book got an amazing response.”
Varun’s initial foray into publishing was through another self-publishing platform. But he says that came with a number of challenges. “I realised a lot of the self-publishing platforms don’t really offer much. That’s when I heard about Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I had another idea for a sequel to Psycon, and wanted to see how convenient it was to publish a book on KDP. I realised it would be so easy to publish my novel using KDP.”
Describing his experience with publishing his second book The Last Chai as ‘a cakewalk’, Varun says, “This is the first book that I published through KDP and thanks to the Pen to Publish contest, it is getting due recognition.”
He did try the more traditional route of sending the manuscript to publishers, and even got positive responses from a few. “But traditional publishers already have several titles in their pipeline, and by the time they got around to my book, it would have been nearly one-and-a-half years. My book is a political thriller and focuses on an assassination attempt on the Indian PM just before the 2019 general elections. So publishing it after 2019 would have made no sense. KDP offered me an easier and faster way, hence I opted for it.”
A number-cruncher for an FMCG major with a background in sales and marketing, Varun applied the learning from his day job to grow as an author. Mentioning why KDP appealed to him in the first place, he says, “Philip Kotler speaks about the importance of the 4Ps in marketing: product, place, pricing, and promotion. You need these four in the right amount to ensure that any new product offering you take to market is successful. If you look at KDP, the control of these four variables is in the hands of the author.”
He explains further, “Control over the manuscript, the cover page and keywords reside with the author. You can change pricing at any point, at any given interval, and the revised pricing will be reflected in 72 hours. KDP makes books available across the globe, and gives you access to every possible reader out there. And finally, promotion. The most powerful tools KDP has equipped their authors with are the free book promotions, as part of which you can sell your book free of cost for a period of five days. What more can a new and upcoming author ask for? Getting readership even if one has to sell the book free of cost gives you the word of mouth publicity needed for an upcoming author like me. This makes KDP the perfect platform to launch your new book.”
He describes how, despite his stressful and hectic day job, he was able to pursue his alternate passion. “I would come back home from office at 7.30-8 pm, which did not leave me the luxury to approach a traditional publisher during my working hours. On weekends, most traditional publishing houses would be closed. What KDP offers me is an opportunity to upload the manuscript that I have during my non-working hours. KDP runs 24/7 across 365 days. I can upload my manuscript at my own convenience, and make all possible modifications when I want to.”
Varun got to know about the KDP Pen to Publish contest through a banner on the KDP portal. Once again, he credits his wife for insisting that he participate. “The opportunity to get mentored by stalwarts of the literary space, and known authors like Ashwin Sanghi really appealed to me. An upcoming author needs visibility, readership, and a resurgence in confidence levels when your work is acknowledged and recognised. This contest gives me all that. I get an opportunity to learn from these mentors as I am new and have a lot to learn. Most importantly, my book gets read by known authors and the publicity is sure to help me in my literary journey,” he says.
He adds that the opportunity to get a publishing deal with Westland for the winner of the contest is valuable. “The kind of reach that Westland has in the country is unparalleled. They have best-in-class distribution that any traditional publishing platform can provide. That is what I’m looking to explore.”
“We all need a personal goal, which gives us a purpose in life. For me that sense of purpose comes from becoming an author, which has been facilitated by KDP. The journey has been long and arduous, but with KDP coming in it has become slightly smoother,” he signs off.
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