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Five exabytes of content were created between the birth of the world and 2003.

In 2014, the same 5 exabytes+ of content was created, each day.

Every minute of every day
      Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content. Just two years ago that was 684,478 pieces of content every day. Which is quite insane
      Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times.
      Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos.
      YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content.
      Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps.
      Email users send over 200 million messages.
      Amazon generates over $80,000 in online sales.

So when I launched my little 82,000 word-novel, The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer, to join that 5+ Exabyte (equal to one quintillion 1018 bytes) of content out there… Then I knew I had to either  1) hope and pray that someone, somewhere will actually read what I am putting out.   Or 2) Do something a little more proactive about getting the message out.

Which begs the question, why did I embark on the insane task of actually writing a book? 

Well, I didn’t have a choice. Ruby Iyer had a mind of her own. She led and I followed.

I wrote Ruby initially as a weekly web-series. From day one, people responded to her. 

Readers asked me in real time what she was going to do next. This was quite unusual, so I knew there was some traction, interest around her. It spurred me on, to tell her complete story in The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer.
Yet, all the time I was writing the story, the marketer in me continued to watch, and began crafting, the positioning of the novel to the world. What was Ruby’s point of view? What set her apart from the millions of other novels out there. What was I trying to say? Why would people want to read Ruby Iyer’s story?  You could argue I needed to answer these questions while resolving the plot. But it’s almost like there were two of us writing the book. The author in me who was caught up in the antics of this hot-headed, kick-ass-character who had a mind of her own. Ruby led and I followed.

But at the same time the communicator in me kept looking for clues, kept trying to understand the DNA of this brand I was creating. Trying to understand what brand values she (and the book stood for), what would be her single-overriding-communication-objective. What did Ruby really stand for to the world. What did she mean with everything she said and did? It was pretty awesome really. 

Where else does one have the opportunity to both be the content creator and the content amplifier?

So when The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer was ready to launch, well, it was just natural that I was going to put the book out there and wait for people to find it. I had to increase its discoverability, to get in front of the right people. The interested readers.

What do you call someone who creates her own content, then proceeds to market it too. I call it being an Authorprenuer.

In my efforts of getting Ruby Iyer to her readers, I realised I had to treat this entire chain of events I was initiating like a startup. I had to create the platform for my author brand and at the same time, I had to also build the Ruby Iyer brand.

In Ruby’s case is that she was such a strong persona that people automatically expected her to have a voice of her own. They expected her to have an opinion. And so from very early on, even before the book was complete she had her own twitter handle @RubyIyer and her own Facebook page.
It grew from there.

Initially Ruby Iyer quoted from her own life and her book. But as she grew in confidence she began to have an opinion on world events: When the Taliban massacred the children in Peshawar; on #JeSuisCharlie… On these it seemed natural that she wanted to comment, to take a stance.

But more than that, her voice grew to the everyday confusions a eighteen-year-old faces. Surviving social media, getting through a break-up, the angst of falling in love with strangers, her pizza fixation, her frustration with the cheeriness of the festive season, trying to figure out what to do with her life. As readers responded to her, Ruby’s voice amplified, it became larger than the story-arc in the book.

So it was that I found myself with a little marketing machinery in place of my own, PR, social media, editorial guidelines, graphic designer. Looking at how much I was making from sales vs. what I could spend on building the brand. Trying to keep track of the break-even point.

Somewhere along the way I had become a business. An Authorprenuer.

For any author to survive to make sure her book stands out among the 90,000 books published each year in India, and the she will need to do the same. Become an Authorprenuer… Or be resigned to see your book consigned to the post-apocalyptic toilet paper stockpile.

Note: India is one of the few (if at all any) major markets in the world which is still seeing growth in both print and digital publishing. The value of the Indian publishing industry in 2012 was estimated at USD 2 Billion with an overall growth rate of around 15% (conservative estimates) One-fourth of the youth population of India, a staggering figure of 83 million, identify themselves as book readers. About 90,000 titles are published in India every year and India ranks third behind the USA and the UK in the publication of English language books. UK tops chart of publications per million inhabitants (184,000 titles in 2013) by a huge margin, with only China and US publishing more titles in absolute termsIn total I estimate 2.4m books were published last year worldwide.

Thanks to following articles which aided my research

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About the author

Laxmi is the creator of The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer which debuted #1 Hot New Release on Amazon Asian Lit. She has been a journalist with the Independent, and a global marketer with NBCU and MTV during which time she helped launch fifteen TV channels across fifty countries. Laxmi also blogs for Huffington Post among others.
The Many Lives of Ruby is available here 
Download The Ruby Iyer Diaries, free here on Amazon US
Follow Laxmi on Facebook | twitter | Newsletter | Instagram
Laxmi Hariharan - Exhale

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