Ayan Pal. I am an IBM-Accredited IT professional, Speaker, and Author with 11 titles to my credit, best known for my novel ‘Confessions on an Island’. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Communication Engineering (VTU, Karnataka) and have completed a course in Education Technology (SDSU, California). As an IT professional, I have amassed over a decade of experience across top IT organizations including WIPRO and IBM. In the process, I have won several international awards that include two Brandon Hall Silver Awards, considered as the “Academy Awards” by Learning, Talent, and Business Executives worldwide, and 6 IBM Service Excellence Awards. As an Author, I have contributed to several Amazon Bestselling anthologies and co-authored ‘Crossed and Knotted’ which made it into the Limca Book of Records under Literature. I have also been ranked among India’s top new authors on Litagram, considered as the ‘Instagram of Literature’, and was a finalist in the Orange Flower Digital Creative Superstar Awards, in association with Harper Collins, in the categories of ‘Creative Writing’, and ‘Humor’. As a speaker, I have delivered key note speeches, conducted workshops, and judged events across some of India’s top educational institutes and am currently considered as one of the 50 most influential communicators and leaders worldwide, as per Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. I was the first person from Kolkata to have received its highest recognition - ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’, for outstanding communication and leadership skills. I am also the reigning District Champion of Impromptu Speaking for the world’s #1 District for 2016-2017 – District 41, serving North & East India along with Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. When not working, I love to read, listen to music, binge watch my favorite TV shows, play with my daughter, and cook for my wife.
I have always loved reading and creative writing and also won awards at school for my short stories and poems. But I tended to look at creative writing more as a hobby than a career. Being good in Computer Science and Mathematics as well, I decided to pursue a career in Science and Technology instead. However, it was during a semester break in 2002 when I realized that I may not be doing justice to my creative talents. Surprisingly, it was the Manoj Night Shyamalan’s sci-fi thriller - ‘Signs’ and its message – ‘there are no coincidences in life’, that made me promise to myself to be an author someday. I began writing my first novel during my final year of Engineering, but wasn’t able to bring it to fruition for multiple reasons. However, upon joining Toastmasters in 2010, I was once again drawn to the world of literary pursuits and storytelling. In 2013, I once again took to writing. One thing lead to another, and in 2014 I was published in my first anthology - '21 Tales to Tell'. My story titled 'A Choice between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh' was inspired by a trip to Bangladesh, the country of my forefathers. I have never quite had to look back since!
Getting readers, I feel, is the most important. Money will automatically follow!
While attempting my first novel more than a decade ago, I did face a severe issue of writer’s block, which took hold of me for months! However, ever since I took up writing professionally since early 2014, I have not faced any major issues while ideating. However, that is not the only challenge that one can face. I personally also find it difficult to decide upon what all to cover in terms of story arc, and while attempting a novel, which idea to take forward, because when you start, you have to take things through. And that is usually when anyone can get a writer's block. If and when I do face any sort of block, I simply take a break and do anything else I like - be it watching my favorite TV Shows, Cooking, or socializing with friends. When I have had enough of it, I get back to writing and almost always, the writer's block disappears!
Digital and Print Binary has had a huge impact on writers and readers alike, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing! It’s important to change pace with changing times, and in the age of increased Social Media proliferation, it’s important for writers to adjust their styles if necessary to cater to newer reader tastes. Shorter, crisper, clearer content is the need of the hour and there is a wealth of opportunity in here, especially for those specializing in short fiction.
Uniqueness, crispness, and a great story definitely helps, but at the end of the day, a reader is most likely to try an author they have read and enjoyed before, or a publishing house of repute. But nothing beats word of mouth publicity. If one’s book is talked about for whatever reason, be it good or bad, it will sell. That's where effective PR comes into the picture.
Let me share what I did for my debut novel - 'Confessions on an Island'. I started off by creating a Facebook Page to promote and shared snippets of the book. I next launched two trailers covering different aspects of the book and shared it across Social Media platforms to create the right hype. I also used every opportunity to share my thoughts through interviews and create the right kind of buzz about my latest novel. Once the novel was launched, I used the theme of the book as an example to launch the book. For example, I had a special event in an exotic unoccupied island in Sundarbans to highlight the setting of my novel - a private island in Malaysia. I also launched it in bookstores like Starmark (Kolkata) and Atta Galatta (Bangalore) as my lead female character was a Bestselling Author. Since my book was like a travelogue set across multiple cities, I used my contacts to visit and launch my book or conduct promotional events in as many cities as I could, across multiple Indian states including West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. I also highlighted the many reviews of the Book received over Social Media, and conducted multiple creative writing workshops across top educational institutes like IIT Kharagpur, IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, IIT Delhi, IIM Calcutta, and IIM Kashipur, for instance, and used the opportunity to talk about and highlight my work in general, and 'Confessions on an Island' in particular. In the process my debut novel 'Confessions on an Island' was acknowledged by Dainik Bhaskar, a leading Hindi daily, as the best novel of 2016. It also received almost 70 reviews on Amazon India with an average rating of 4.8, and was rated across Flipkart, Goodreads, etc. similarly, in the process emerging as one of the highest rated books of its genre in India over the past decade.