How To Write And Publish a Bestseller in India

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How to write a bestseller in India is and has remained a mystery for many. Over the past few weeks, I have followed the Top Selling, Newly Arrived, and the Most Popular sections of online booksellers such as Amazon and Flipkart with interest, and today it was time to visit a physical bookstore. I was both amazed and amused to see the variety of books in the store. Amazed, because the fiction section was overflowing with books — half the aisle space was occupied with fresh arrivals and bestsellers. Amused, because I noticed a few recurring themes about fiction novels.

In order to get your fiction novel published in India, you should meet one or more of these criteria (not necessarily in this order)

  • You should write love stories

Romance involving characters who go to college is great, teenage romance is preferred.

  • Write about life as a student

Experiences of students who are in school or colleges. Again, school life preferred. Teenage anxieties, adjusting to a new school in a new city… you get the picture!

  • You should be a Non Resident Indian

Writing about random themes that not many Indian authors write about- stories involving fashion, marriage, self discovery, etc.

  • Be a previously published author

You need not have authored books, any form of the written word would do- blog, newspaper columns, even a PhD thesis for that matter. Best if you have published something abroad.

  • Write fiction involving religious characters

In order of preference, plots involving the Holy Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh) or the incarnations of the latter two. If you prefer, pick any century and write about the dominant empires that ruled most of the country at that time.

  • Be a Bengali

Maybe it’s the fish, or the sweets that they like, but lets’ face it- Bengalis have a flair for the written word. And they are able to put it to print in much greater numbers.

  • You should be an alumnus of IIM or IIT

This phenomenon is most visible of late. By sheer numbers, bestseller novels written by alums of IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) outnumber alums of IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology).

  • Be an Expat Living in India

If you can write about everything from the colorful drapes to the heat and the dust, your novel will get published.

Needless to say, the higher the number of the above criteria you meet, the higher your chances of getting published. So do you think you are ready to write your bestseller?

I had originally written this post in September 2013. After conducting nearly 70 interviews of authors publishers and entrepreneurs for MyKitaab Podcast, I am convinced that the above still remains true. You may also read a copy of this post on Medium.