Meet the person who creates the BOOK
Here’s a portal that connects schools to authors, illustrators, storytellers, designers, environmentalists, historians, sociologists, etc. to visit their schools and interact with the students to motivate and inspire them.
To be launched in March 2019, Author Connect is a platform to connect authors and schools. “We found that schools are always struggling to get authors, illustrators, poets and storytellers to visit their schools and interact with the children,” shares Sanjita Mazumdar, Partner and COO, Author Connect.
“We have a passion for books and thus want to promote the people behind the scene. Not just authors but also the illustrators, designers — all the people who have put their energy in giving birth to the book,” tells Sanjita.
“We decided to create this platform where both schools and authors register, and schools can view the list of the authors and choose the ones they would like to host at their school. This would facilitate sharing of thoughts and ideas and more exchange and interaction with children. It will also give inspiration and motivation to students to help them become budding writers and to express themselves better,” she adds.
“Mostly, schools approach booksellers or publishers to arrange such interactions with authors as they do not know how to directly reach them. This interaction is more like a book promotion, wherein the publisher or the bookseller can also promote the books of these authors,” she adds.
While, Sesh Seshadri adds, “Publishers have done many workshops in schools, but these workshops are primarily for a book launch or a book is being adopted by a school and they want to do a workshop on how to use the book in the classroom. It is basically about teaching the teachers about its functionality and usage. But, with Author Connect, we are focusing on being neutral and being a connect between the book makers and the school. For example, there is a fiction author, whose books are not used in the classroom, but the school wants the children to listen to the author’s view. We will connect them through Author Connect.”
Thinking beyond authors…
“We are not just targeting authors, it can be illustrators, storytellers, designers, whomever the children want to listen to. It could be an environmentalist, historian, sociologist, fiction writer or somebody who talks about global perspectives,” shares Sesh.
“Besides, there are so many young authors and Indian authors and students can connect with them if we have this portal. And it’s a very neutral portal, we are not trying to push any particular author or publisher or book,” adds Sanjita. To which Sesh adds, “Self-publishing platform has produced some fantastic authors, who have not been able to publish with mainstream publishers. The recent New Delhi World Book Fair had three stands, which had probably published 500-600 new authors in a short span of time, of which many are really good authors. These authors will now have a great opportunity to go and talk to the children.”
Engaging schools and authors…
“We have already done some preliminary sharing of the idea with some schools and they were very enthusiastic. While, we have also reached out to few authors directly and few through publishing houses. We also did a soft launch of Author Connect at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2019,” tells Sanjita.
“We are planning on a pan-India network and want to take it a step forward and invite International authors who would be visiting India and put that availability also on the platform so schools can see who is visiting India, who is visiting their city. Authors travelling within India – can put up their availability so schools can view that too. It would be a very interactive platform with a lot of live news updates,” she adds.
“Every author will be able to put a note on what they would normally charge for such an interaction. The advantage is that the school can pick an author who they can afford,” adds Sesh. “The objective of this portal is that it is not a onetime interaction, but we want to promote follow up visits and interactions with the authors. It shouldn’t be just a onetime event. We want to bring back the author to the student for review, discussions, debates, inspiration etc.”
Talking about their promotions, Sesh shared, “We have a database of 75,000 schools across India. We will do email campaigns and even put up posters. We will also participate in book events, while we will also engage via personal calling. There will be a lot of effort to ensure Author Connect is well advertised and people are made aware of such a platform.”
The social media support…
According to Sunny Jindal, in the phase one, they will focus on the author and school connect. “With the help of social media and once our portal launches, our objective is to make it much more vibrant and attractive. To amplify the reach, we will be using all the social media networks to provide the right kind of exposure and interaction. We will use live video on Instagram and Facebook as student communities are active here. Post launch we will be looking at social media marketing as a serious way to increase the reach,” adds Daksh Sharma.
How children will benefit?
“It will give children a choice of what they want to read – as they will have much more exposure to authors. They will be able to choose a book and get to see the creators behind it, which will be very motivating for them. We might have more young authors joining in, as children have started writing from a very young age. So, we will get to see a growth in that as well,” replies Sanjita.
“Young authors today are planning the entire promotions themselves. They are not just writing the book but also designing it. They get their friends to edit it and have a whole promotion plan of a book launch & follow it through all themselves – It is quite amazing how they do it,” she adds.
“It’s interesting to see the motivation level at such a young age as I see it a trend that children like to gift their own self-published book. One such book I saw was by a fourteen-year-old girl, the book was called ‘Abstract Thoughts’ and I was quite intrigued that today students are so motivated at such an early age. I was quite taken aback too when she sold me the book for Rs 125. She was determined to recover the cost of publishing — which I thought was fantastic!” adds Daksh Sharma.
“Maybe in near future, we can help children to publish on our platform by tying up with self-publishing companies. Children will love to read and write — a perfect way of engaging them,” concludes Sesh.