The Joy of English and English Masala- Jesse Karjalainen ep58

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Jesse Karjalainen was born in Sweden to Finnish parents, and he grew up in Australia and returned to Scandinavia in his twenties to discover his roots. His latest book is English Masala, a narrative-nonfiction book about the language and history of Anglo-Indian words or, story of English words from India.

There is always the danger of not knowing when to finish the book.

Click on the white arrow in the image below to listen to the Jesse’s Interview

Discussion with Jesse about English Masala

  • Jesse Karjalainen reached out to Amar for an interview through the contact form on the MyKitaab Website. Two other guests including Karan Bajaj have appeared on this podcast using this method.
  • Jesse’s hobby is commercial photography, and he makes more money from photography than he does through book sales.He received his journalism degree from Scotland but he realized that writing a book was more fun.
  • Working in Journalism helped Jesse to write clearly, and his background in marketing helped in branding, packaging, selling and knowing that the people want. His professional experience in Corporate Communications helps him view the book publishing from the business side, and photography helped with cover design and visual communications. Jesse makes the cover designs for all his books.
  • As on April 2016, Jesse has 1 traditionally published and 4 self published books. One of these five books is on English Grammar, another on English words from India.
  • Jesse decided to write his first book when his journalism job was at risk during the worldwide recession. His first book is about Grammar, which is a reference book on this subject.
  • For his nonfiction books, he develops what he calls a “fishbone”and then he “adds meat”to it. He wrote about first 10,000 words (scope of the book, outline, etc. this way). He gave the draft to a couple of people including his then manger who gave him a feedback. His second draft was about 25,000 words. At this stage, he gave the book to a different group of readers. He gave the book the final structure for the Third draft, and the final version was around 50,000 words.
  • In terms of timeline, Jesse began writing the first draft in May 2009 and the book took nearly one year to complete. According to Jesse, there is always the danger of not knowing when to finish the book.
  • He decided to approach traditional publishers, and read a lot of advice and How-To’s in the process. But most of the resources were for fiction writers. After getting a couple of rejections, he began approaching publishers directly January 2011 onwards.
  • Jesse contacted five publishers at a time, and he would wait for a month for their response, Then, he would send five more proposals.(Amar also followed a similar approach as Jesse for his debut novel.)
  • Nonfiction writers pitch proposals to publishers; they write the book only after the proposal is accepted. When Publishers asked Jesse how long would it take to write the book, he replied that the book was ready. The formatting, the cover design, etc was ready. Jesse signed the contract in end of February, and he delivered the manuscript in first week of May, and the book was published in November 2011.
  • When Jesse decided to approach Agents, he contacted the CEO of a publishing agency who liked Jesse’s proposal. However, the editorial and marketing teams rejected the manuscript and the book was rejected by the publisher.
  • Jesse’s other books paved the way for this transition to self publishing from traditional publishing. For his second book, he wanted to know more about the history of English from America (USA). This is a category called narrative nonfiction.
  • Nonfiction can be a textbook or a How To Guide, narrative nonfiction is a story led. The market for narrative nonfiction is bigger than nonfiction.
  • Over the period of the next 18 months, Jesse wrote more than 250,000 words. This became a dilemma for Jesse, because no publisher would be willing to publish such a large number of words.
  • Jesse lives about 10 miles from Joanna Penn. She advised him to split his book into parts and self- publish them in multiple genres in order to expand the reach of his readership and also visibility.
  • Jesse’s Latest Book English Masala began as a journey to learn English words that originated from India, which resulted in a book of 120,000 words.
  • Ganja, Pal, surf originated in India. The word Presidency was coined during the era of the British Raj. Doolali was a word coined by the British – name of the town Deolali near Nasik, where the British officers would wait for the ship to England to arrive. There are words which are supposedly originated from India, but are not native to that country. For example, Vindaloo is a Portugese word.
  • A lot of words relate to the food, the culture, the people the religion, of India. Words are from languages as diverse as Hindi, Urdu, Malyalam, Bengali. They are included in English Masala.
  • The book English Masala is available on Amazon worldwide as an ebook.
  • Jesse is open to translating his books into Indian languages, and would welcome Indian publishers to take a look at his books.
  • Based on his anectdotal research on How To Write a Bestseller in India, Amar believes that Jesse’s book might do well in India. The reason is that he is an expatriate living in India who has written about India, and covered things that are not typically written or spoken in India. (Think Slumdog Millionaire.)
  • Jesse’s Book Recommendation: Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Favorite Podcast: Free Domain Radio from Canada- he is the biggest YouTube Podcaster in the world, with over 100 million views.
  • He still prefers to read print books. Jesse likes the fact can one can take notes, fold pages and put bookmarks in a print copy.
  • Jesse plans to write a series of books on American English next, followed by a history of Scandinavian words in English.
  • His advise to authors: To minimize the number of rejections, follow the instructions that the publishers have listed on their website. For example,do not send manuscript for romance book to a publisher who publishes nonfiction.
  • Other advise: Do not send the manuscript, write a 2-page proposal to the publisher to increase the chances of getting rejected.

Jesse will be happy to send a copy of his ebook to those who would like to review his book.

Ways to connect with Jesse

About Jesse

Jesse has lived in the UK for over a decade now and he is the author of several books on the English language. He started off in journalism but soon found himself in academic publishing working in editorial, copy editing and design. After getting a publishing deal for his first book he went on to gain a business MSc in Marketing Communications and he now works in a corporate communications management role in the IT and tech sector.

He speaks roughly three and a half languages, and he has received approximately the same number of rejections each from both publishers and literary agents. Nevertheless he is both traditionally published and self-published, having not quite decided which of the two he prefers.

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