The title of his new book is Bankerupt, but author Ravi Subramanian could well give you tips on how not to go bankrupt. Straddling the best of both corporate and literary worlds, he is showing business acumen in his bookish pursuits as well. Not content being a writer in the Indian market alone, he has tied up with multinational publishing company Penguin to broaden the market scope of his books. What’s more, he has managed to get Penguin to shell out a whopping R1.25 crore advance for a two-book deal, the highest Penguin has offered any author in India.
The strategy also extends to the books he dishes out—an average of one every year. Looking to impress global readers, his characters now spend more time in Boston than Bandra, the strongest character in his latest book is a woman and he no longer writes rupees crore, but dollar millions.
And like every company would incorporate feedback from its consumers, Subramanian has found nothing wrong in heeding the advise of his readers to change his writing style. He says he received negative feedback on three points after his first book, If God Was a Banker—cut down on the sleaze, to avoid black and white characters and to present women in better light—which he has taken very seriously.
In fact, throw him the suggestion of a book set in a women’s bank (set to be a reality soon), and he laps up the idea enthusiastically as a potential element to be included in his future books.
“Bankerupt is a book that will certainly appeal to readers worldwide. I have tried to broadbase everything, from geographical locations and characters to the context and issues like firearm possession in the United States,” he says.
But talk about competition (from other Indian writers writing popular fiction in English), and there’s no sense of rivalry there. “All of us write in different genres. Amish Tripathi writes mythology, Ashwin Sanghi writes thrillers, Chetan Bhagat and Ravinder Singh write romantic stories. There’s space for us all. In fact, we are all good friends. I catch up with Ravinder Singh regularly and Ashwin Sanghi is also a good friend.”
Back in business mode again, he adds that the emergence of good writers actually helps the whole club, as one good book creates a positive market sentiment for other writers too. Maybe for this reason, he’s worried about