A Writer in the Digital Age — By Anurag Anand

This is undoubtedly one of the best times for English language authors in India. Not only are the readers eager to lap up quality works, but the publishers too have found the erstwhile missing courage to promote homegrown talent. I can only be delighted to be a part of this industry around this time. 

However, this increased acceptance also implies increased competition and the need to continuously differentiate ones work. The resulting need for marketing and promotions can sometimes be frustrating for an author, who, otherwise, would prefer spending his time in churning out stories instead.

The social media is without doubt a boon for authors as it provides them with an accessible and economical option to connect with readers and promote their works. At the same time it also allows readers to share their views (occasionally, vent out their frustrations as well) on books they have spent their time and money on. The consequential of online book reviewers provides a great platform to discuss books and spread word about the ‘good’ titles that hit the shelves.

But like most things that spell opportunity, this space too is beginning to get marred by excessive commercialization. The number of reviewers approaching authors for reviewing their titles against an agreed consideration has risen considerably. There is nothing wrong with this trend, but only if the terms remain strictly commercial – of the deal-or-no-deal variety. There are several instances where the quoted ‘consideration’ owes its origination to some misnomer about the kind of money authors earn from their writing. And more disturbingly, when the authors decline such proposals, it leads to backlash, at times translating into full-brown smear campaigns online ! 

As an author I can only hope that this is a passing phase and eventually the fly-by-night operators who, on smelling blood have moved in to claim their share of the kill, will realize the futility of it all and back out, leaving only the honest and genuine players to operate in this segment.

My journey so far in this alluring world of books has been great ! My first book, Pillars of Success, came out in 2004. This was right at the start of my corporate career when I was working with a beverage major in Rajkot, Gujarat. The move to Gujarat from Delhi, the city I had grown up in, meant that I had to leave behind my comfort zone and my circle of friends. Initially everything about Rajkot, from the eating habits of people to the language they spoke, seemed alien to me. There wasn’t much for me to do with my free time, and in a stroke of unexpected brilliance I decided to devote my time to writing. Now when I look back, I can only thank my stars for that sudden impulse.

Having toyed with several genres like Self-Help, Historical Fiction and Contemporary Fiction, I have had the privilege of shaping a plethora of unique characters. 

Some of my personal favorites are:-

Amrapali from The Legend of Amrapali: While many would be familiar with the name and achievements of the yesteryear courtesan from the kingdom of Vaishali, not much is known or has been written about Amrapali the person. So, when I took up the task of weaving a fictional story around her life, the task of carving Amrapali in flesh and blood while retaining the grandeur of her persona was a daunting but immensely gratifying experience.

Sejal Patel or Sherlyn Ahuja from Of Tattoos and Taboos: We live in an era of contrasts and one of the starkest ones is that of life in a small town vis-à-vis a bustling metropolis. The travails of Sejal Patel, a small town girl hurled into the blinding hustle-bustle of Mumbai, and her metamorphosis into Sherlyn Ahuja, an antithesis of the person she was, makes her an interesting character to study.

Myra from Where the Rainbow Ends: An innocent 5 year old who, for no fault of hers, finds herself on the wrong foot with her destiny. Her resilience, the subtlety with which she adjusts to the rapidly changing circumstances and her selfless love for her father makes her an immensely likeable character.

Why have I chosen all female characters as my favorites, well, I don’t really have an explanation for that. Perhaps women characters offer a much wider palette of emotions for authors to paint them with, or maybe it’s nothing but just a personal bias.

Where am I heading ? 

Well , dividing the limited time one has between work (day job), family and writing can sometimes be daunting. Sadly, writing, by the sheer virtue of its inability to voice a protest, often has to make do with only the residual time and attention. But then, if you are passionate about something, you will find a way to squeeze it within your schedule no matter how crammed it already seems to be ! 

— By Anurag Anand 
Bestselling author of books like The Legend of Amrapali, The Quest for Nothing and Of Tattoos and Taboos. His latest offering, Where the Rainbow Ends, is scheduled to hit the stands in October 2013.


  A mentorship series on writing effectively and beautifully. You can find previous posts here.

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