Author’s agony…


What goes on in the mind of a first-time author when his book is released? What are his anticipations on visiting a bookstore? How he reacts when he finds his book at the bookstore? Here are a few interesting anecdotes from the printed world by Asheela Butler.

Tucked amongst people gathered to be a part of your book release, you once again brush your fingers on the book cover to get the sense of “Yes, my book has finally got published”. It is now that the thought, “The battle is over”, crosses your mind. You happily revel in the freshly dawned attention by the people around you. Thus, you decide to have two extra pegs of the premium whisky available at the bar. After all, doesn’t all the rigorous disciplining manifested in penning a book of some 300 odd pages, followed by meticulously working with the editor to prune the text earns you this much?

It is only after gaining some amount of experience in being a published author that one is bestowed with the knowledge that the deal is still half done. Anyhow, it doesn’t take you too long to figure out this fact. Next morning, as you reach the airport to catch a flight to your home town, the first thing that you do post checking in is to visit the bookstore. Your eyes are gleaming with the hope to see your book showcased in the ‘Latest Arrival’ section. Faster than the melting ice at the north-pole does the same gleam in your eyes disappear when you struggle to persuade the man at the counter to keep a few copies of your book.

Anyhow, as you board the flight you assure yourself that this is just an aberration. You sooth your senses by deciding to halt at your favorite bookshop the moment you land in your hometown. Soon sunk in the fairly cushioned seat of the aircraft your memory is clouded with events from the past. You recall the instance when the head of marketing had assured you that his team has left no stone unturned to flood all the bookstores in your hometown with the book. Also, you did over hear the chief publisher mention to one of the celebrity guests that the book is sure to be an instant hit amongst the readers. It is then beyond human foolishness to ignore a sure shot winner like this, you think.

After two hours of physical rest and mental exhaustion you reach your favorite bookshop. You ask the assistant if he has a copy of your book. Somehow you chose not to divulge him with the knowledge that the book is authored by you. He asks you to wait for a minute and as he turns towards his computer. With every click of the mouse, the distance between your two eyebrows narrows. Finally the man in front of the computer screen nods his head saying, ‘Yes sir, we do have a copy of the book.’ It seems as if the heavens have showered you with blessings. You want to explode screaming with joy, but your garb of an inquisitive buyer forces you to act decent. You request him to show you a copy of the book and start following his footsteps. He quickly walks towards the first bookshelf, then the second, then the third, leaving you with no time to react. Finally he halts at a shelf that reads ‘CLASSICAL LITERATURE’. You are completely flabbergasted when he slips out your book from there. You try and explain it to him that the book is more of a racy read (though not a thriller) and should be placed in the ‘FICTION’ section. The man, laded with years of experience says, ‘Isn’t all Phiction, Literature?’ You want to correct him but his phonetics is a direct give away to his limited knowledge, so you chose to keep silent. Swapped off all the energy by now, you chose to quietly retreat to your home.

That night, as you slide into your bed, your white pajamas with strawberry imprints remind you of the bookshelf episode – how? The mismatch is too jarring to be unnoticed and yet it is seen everywhere.

(Asheela can be reached at

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