Travelling is like falling in love, you can't experience it without letting it change who you are: An Exclusive Interview With Meghna Pant

She delves deep into topics like her views on the publishing industry, travel and her recent book ‘How To Get Published In India’ which is considered a perfect guide that helps one navigate the often-opaque Indian publishing

Travelling is like falling in love, you can't experience it without letting it change who you are: An Exclusive Interview With Meghna Pant

A bonafide wordsmith, Meghna Pant, an author, journalist and speaker has written various novels and short stories that is tugging at people’s heartstrings. With her first job as a TV anchor, Pant has come a long way with winning several awards and is best acclaimed for tweeting the story of Mahabharat in 100 tweets. In this conversation, she delves deep into topics like her views on the publishing industry, travelling and her recent book ‘How To Get Published In India’ which is considered as a perfect guide that helps one navigate the often-opaque Indian publishing industry.    

Your book is a collection of never- before collected essays from industry mavens like Jeffrey Archer, Shobha De, Ashwini Sanghi, Twinkle Khanna and Durjoy Datta, what made you choose these authors and how did the idea come up?

'How To Get Published In India' (Bloomsbury) is India’s first and only comprehensive book on writing, publishing and selling a book. I wrote this book to help thousands of aspiring writers who are struggling to get their manuscripts published and achieve their dream of becoming a published author. When I started out, I didn’t have a degree in literature or mentors or connections, and I spend years learning how to get published and sell my books. The entire process was intimidating, frustrating and confusing, and I kept hoping that someone would write a book like this! It would have saved me a lot of time, effort and money! 

The book also features essays by top international and national authors, publishers and agents, like Jeffrey Archer, Twinkle Khanna, Shobhaa De, Durjoy Datta, Ashwin Sanghi, Ravi Subramanian, Rashmi Bansal, Namita Gokhale, Vikas Swarup, Meena Kandasamy and Preeti Shenoy, among others, who share their secrets, tips and insights for the first time ever! Almost all 33 essays were written specifically for this book. I broke down the advice I think aspiring writers need to hear in order to bust myths and answer questions as varied as which publisher would be best for your work, where to find inspiration for a story, how to manage your finances if you plan to write full-time, how to negotiate a contract, how to convert your book into a film, and how to become a bestselling author. I then approached writers, agents and publishers who were best suited to give that particular advice. Trust me when I say it took me months to put this together but I’m happy as one cannot find this precious advice anywhere else in the world! 

Also Read: A Book For The Writer, Of The Writer, By The Writer- How To Get Published In India By Meghna Pant

On travelling to 30 countries across 4 continents, 20 states and having lived in more than 21 homes; and its impact on her writing

To be able to sit down and write about the world, it’s crucial to first stand up and see what’s out there. My parents worked for the government, so I’ve seen most of India (20 states). My studies and jobs have taken me from Zurich to Singapore to New York and Dubai. I’ve travelled to 30 countries across 4 continents. As a result, I’ve lived in more than 25 homes! This exposure has given me a wonderful platform to immerse myself in worlds and cultures different from mine. It’s made me sensitive to what sets people apart and brings them together. I think travelling is the best way to absolve yourself from who you are. You realise the smallness of your fears and the largeness of your smiles.

 Traveling is like falling in love. You cannot experience it without letting it change who you are.

One unethical and one of the best practices in the publishing industry 

Most bestselling books are bought by rich authors, which makes it difficult for readers to have access to genuinely well-written books. The best practice is that the publishing industry is looking for fresh and new voices, so if you’re an aspiring writer, send the best possible submission package that you can. Also, there’s a lack of transparency, you can never know how many copies has your book actually sold. 

Views on self-publishing? 

More than 95% of manuscripts are rejected by traditional publishers in India. This is why most aspiring writers today resort to self-publishing, a way by which a book can be published without using conventional methods or a traditional publisher, sometimes in a matter of minutes. It may sound easy but beware as self-published books on average end up selling only 50 copies in their lifetime, and earn the author almost no credibility in the industry! It’s better to understand the process and invest time and effort in yourself as an author. 

Favourite authors?

I’m madly obsessed with everything Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie nowadays, whether it’s her stories, essays, or motivational talks. She might possibly be the most inspiring and gifted writer the world has today. In recent years I’ve enjoyed reading Rohinton Mistry, Leon Uris, Jhumpa Lahiri, Aravind Adiga, Alice Munro, Manil Suri, Manu Joseph, Tania James, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Elif Shafak and Yiyun Li, among others.

Also Read: Can Feminism And Motherhood Co-Exist? An Insightful Discussion Between Meghna Pant, Seema Punwani And Swati Khandelwal

On having a very unique feather to your hat by tweeting the world’s longest epic in 100 tweets. How difficult was it and how did it go about?

As people, we have found so many ways by which to articulate things. Take love for instance. We say it with a smile, a touch, a letter, a lifelong commitment, a WhatsApp message. Stories work the same way. Some need a small canvas, like a tweet, while others require a larger canvas, like a novel. It is a writer’s job to distil a story within its ideal composition. The Mahabharata is India's greatest and largest epic, stretching over two hundred thousand lines and almost two million words. It is also one of the world’s most perfect and powerful tales ever told, containing all the vital elements that go into a good story: family, betrayal, power struggle, war, love, lust, greed and the superlative win of good over evil.  It’s been retold in every which way and I thought it’d be nice for it to make its long overdue international Twitter debut.  

On when ‘Men Without God’ which was supposed to be her 4th book coming out

Writing a book is like jumping off a cliff without knowing where you’ll land, or whether you’ll land at all. My last two published books came out seamlessly while ‘Men Without God’ has taken five years and counting. But, then again, what is time in the life of a book?

Top 3 Mantras for aspiring authors 

Edit, edit, edit

Send a perfect submission package to the publisher

Market, market, market. 

It’s a testament to the skill and smarts of Meghna Pant who hasn’t just targeted her books for aspiring authors or people in the publishing industry, it has something in store for everyone. As she had quoted ‘We read the best selling books but not the best books’ I can undeniably say that her books are a bit of both!  

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