A Conversation with Bestselling Author Praveen P. Gopinath on How a Good Manuscript Alone Cannot Get You Published
When he started writing his first book at 31, Praveen P. Gopinath was pretty sure and confident about his aim in life. He wanted to make it big, get fame and recognition. He had a perfect plan for achieving it. Now, at 35, when he has written ten books and is at a stage where his growth graph is sprawling, he still has the confidence to achieve more.
Praveen’s verified Facebook page where he writes excerpts from his life, has over 78,000 fans. His new journey as an author was a comeback from a phase when he was living an unstructured life. And while authors are usually struggling to think of a topic that would attract readers, he recognised what would sell best – his life.
“My debut book itself was an autobiography, which included 82 stories about different people, events and incidents that occurred in my life so far. I did not search for characters or spend days to give them a name, because the characters in my book were the ones who were a part of my life and had an impact on me at different stages. Therefore, I sold something people considered useless and unworthy (written him off). Despite this, I knew that my stories would be appreciated because they were not made up and many could relate to them. I converted my drawbacks to my fame and I am proud my plan worked,” says Praveen.
A simple example that justifies his confidence is that he has become a bestselling author in just four years, apart from receiving awards and recognitions that include – 11th most influential Indian authors in social media, Indian achievers’ award as prolific author, brand ambassador of MIMS Medical Centre, Dubai, and many more. However, for him, it was never a surprise or any sort of bonus because he says he has earned the position he is in and he even forced the Almighty to think, “What he desires is his destiny.”
Praveen is an author who openly admits that any great authors have not influenced him and that “he is his favourite”. Moreover, he is of the opinion that dreaming and letting one’s thoughts wander is what makes a person grow and that he is more inclined towards writing real life stories because he clearly knows the difference between dreams and reality. It is then no wonder that a kid who was always fascinated by fairytales and cartoons grew up to become an author who deals with real life stories and experiences.
Explaining why his books have done extremely well, Praveen says that he is imperfect and that his imperfections make him stand out because they are unique and cannot be copied. This was the reason why he even chose to keep the title of his first book, (Being Moon on 31st Crossroad) grammatically incorrect. He makes sure that his readers can relate to his books and have a rapport with him. This could probably be the reason why there are many people who even share their real life incidents with him. According to him, the readers have “the next door author” feeling when it comes to him and this is exactly what boosts the sale of his books.
Two of Praveen’s books – God (English) and Thanthonniyude Maryathakal (Malayalam) – are being made into movies, for which he is writing the dialogues as well. The making of one film is progressing and its first look has been revealed. The movie named Kautilyan (inspired from God) is being directed by Sadanandan Rangorath, producer of the blockbuster movie Salt & Pepper. This is his debut venture as a director.
Commenting on how God happened, Praveen says that he was working on the book even before his first book was published. However, after a gap, he completed it. He had a yearning to publish a book named ‘God’ as he liked the thought of being called as the ‘creator of the ultimate creator’.
“I feel really content when anybody Googles or reads – God by Praveen P.Gopinath. Some people ask me if I am the person who made God, I get an unexplainable joy as being called as the creator of ‘God’,” he says.
He is very confident about the book being made into a movie, because he says that as a spectator he would like movies that can be watched enjoyably and probably repeatedly and that Kautilyan matches those standards.
Amid all the recognition, Praveen says that occasionally he also gets mails saying that authors like him have made a mockery of the publishing industry as his books have reached the bestseller charts. Nevertheless, Praveen takes every criticism positively and now when he has reached a position out of sheer hard work, no negative comments can discourage him. He says that his motto is “compliments keeps me inspired and critisicisms help me grow”. He gives the entire credit to himself and says that he does not care if people feel that he is immodest.
“My English might be pedestrian, and there might be grammatical errors as well. That is an issue, which can be corrected in the publishing industry. But what can’t be easily done is writing a book, finding a publisher who brings out the book in the market, getting it distributed in stores throughout India, a walk-in customer buying the book after reading the back cover blurb in two minutes, and the book reaching bestseller charts just because people read it and liked it. That my friend is not an easy task. That is what I tell some of my critics who mailed me saying that they are scared to bring out their books because I have made publishing industry look like a mockery when books such as mine hit the bestseller chart. I will tell them that my imperfect books are better than their perfect manuscripts because it takes a lot of hard work, courage, skill, strategy and planning to consecutively write 10 bestsellers with three different publishers and stay among 15 most sold authors in India where more than 6,000 new books release ever year,” he added.
Being an author, when Praveen was asked to elaborate his take on the present publishing industry in India, he said that paid publishing is what is being promoted these days by many publishing companies, where the author bears the cost of publishing his/her book. It then becomes the sole responsibility of the author to sell the books and most of the times ends up with one edition coming out as most of the copies remain unsold due to poor marketing, distribution and availability only on e-commerce sites. He is of the opinion that traditional publishing should be promoted where the publisher bears the cost of publishing, printing, advertising and distribution of the book and the author is entitled the percentage of royalty of the sales.
Despite being a person who always encourages budding talents and persuades people to write, if they really have an inclination towards it, Praveen is also aware of the present scenario in the publishing industry and as a word of advice to the aspiring authors says, “Understand the fact that a good manuscript alone will not get you published and don’t get disheartened when your work is rejected. It doesn’t mean that your manuscript is not good. The publishing industry works on a grading system based on points and you just get one point for a good manuscript. Another is the genre they are looking for at that point of time for example; if they are looking for motivational books and your manuscript genre is motivational you earn that point. Celebrity status of the author is also a grading criterion that will earn you a point. Marketability of the author and book is also an important point- winning criteria. In most cases, if your manuscript gets the ample number of points, only then you get published.”
From starting from scratch and deciding to write an autobiography at an early age, Praveen always knew that there was a person within him who had the charisma to hold the people reading his books and listening to him, back to their chairs. He is an extraordinary example of a person who realised his unusual strength to convert his weaknesses and failures into his fame and success.