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Author 2020 Series: Ritu Bhathal

This Author 2020 blog series is for fiction and nonfiction indie authors who have either already published, or are due to publish, a book in 2020!

As well as showcasing their amazing writing achievement, every featured author answered ten questions to give aspiring fiction and nonfiction indie authors a behind-the-scenes insight into the self publishing process.

This blog post features author Ritu Bhathal sharing her experiences of writing and publishing her new romantic comedy novel ‘Marriage Unarranged’.

1. Tell me about your book in 25 words or less!

A cultural journey through love, infidelity and not conforming to ideas you’ve always lived with, peppered with Indian spice along the way. (That was hard!)

2. How long did your book take to write?

Once I was focussed on writing it (see answer below!), I’d say it was a good six months of making time to write, to get the bulk of it down.

3. How long did the whole process take – from initial idea to publication?

That’s a whole post in itself! I started writing this book in 2000, around the time I was in the midst of my own wedding preparations. Life happened and the book got lost along the way, but blogging brought it back to life. I finished my first draft in 2018 and, after revisions and edits, it was finally published in February 2020.

Author 2020 blog series: Ritu Bhathal

4. What have you learnt about the process of writing a book that might help other fiction and nonfiction indie authors?

A big thing – that there is no one process! I realised, after meeting with and reading about other authors, that there isn’t a right or wrong way to write a book.

Some can just start, and a story flows. Some have an idea and then they need to plot meticulously, knowing what is going to happen and who is involved before even setting word to screen (or pen to paper, if you’re old skool!).

For me, I worked out that I need an idea, to start with, then I let the characters begin to tell the story. After a while, I created a basic plan, showing where I wanted it to end, but I let the characters make the journey for me.

5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently, or would do differently with your next book?

I would put doubt aside and just start writing sooner. You need a thick skin as a writer because not everyone will like what you write, but if you have belief in yourself then you can overcome the doubt and get that possible bestseller out there, faster.

6. How much did it cost to get your book to market?

Between £501 – £1,000. Most of my costs were on editing, to be honest. I was lucky to have a fantastic editor recommended to me, who understood and believed in my story. Developmental edits and proofreading were £600 (this is an 86K beauty so that is a really good rate!).

The cover cost £70 from a designer who I would definitely want to design the covers for the next two books I have planned.

I think I spent around £100 on marketing, ads and promo.

As an active blogger and member of groups, I was able to rustle up beta readers and even get copy editing done free, in exchange for my own input into other people’s projects.

And I arranged my blog tour myself so that involved no costs, though I gave copies of the book away.

I did invest in software too, but I won’t add that to this book’s costs as it will be a tool for all my writing.

7. Do you have any plans to write another/any more books in the future? If so, would you like to share any details about it/them?

Absolutely! Initially, I thought that maybe this novel was my one book, that they say we all have in us. But the other characters in the story were crying out for more to be written, so there are two more books planned, concentrating on two different pairs of characters from Marriage Unarranged. Both books will concentrate on different stigmas attached to situations within the Indian community. I am about a third into the second one right now!

And I have at least three other ideas sketched out for further novels, but I need to get these two stories written first.

8. Do you want to give a public shout out to anyone who helped you produce your book?

There are a lot of people who helped with getting my book baby out into the world. Lucy Mitchell for reading the first ever draft, and believing in me, giving me suggestions, and championing me all the way through. Esther Newton for being an absolutely amazing editor. And Kirsty McManus for the beautiful cover. There are so many others, but these are my three key peeps!

9. Please share an excerpt of your book below.

Sure! This from the first chapter:

Marriage Unarranged by Ritu Bhathal

Every time she closed her eyes, Aashi saw herself in different bridal outfits, and each time, she felt like a princess.

With those pictures in mind, Aashi drove to Ravi’s place, singing along to one of her Hindi film soundtrack tapes. Excitement fizzed inside her, rendering her incapable of sitting still in her seat. In a few hours, their honeymoon destination would be finalised. Soon I’m going to be Mrs Grewal. Mrs Ravi Grewal!

After parking her car, Aashi grabbed the bulging carrier bag filled with travel brochures from the passenger seat next to her. She quickly checked her reflection in the mirror and smoothed an unruly lock of hair down before getting out. She hummed as she bounced up the garden path and rang the doorbell. A minute passed. No answer. She pressed it again. Where is Ravi? He knows I’m coming. A blurry image through the frosted glass showed someone approaching. That isn’t him…

The door opened to reveal a tall, attractive woman: Nishi, Ravi’s work colleague. She towered over Aashi’s 5’ 5” frame. Flicking her long, wavy hair backwards, she smiled at Aashi, her full lips shining with what looked like freshly applied gloss. “Oh, Aashi! Hi there. Ravi didn’t mention you were coming over. He must’ve forgotten.”

“Nishi? Hi!” What’s she doing here? Haven’t they done enough work at the office all week? Aashi entered what was going to be her own home soon, stepping past Nishi.

As she headed towards the living room, Ravi sauntered down the stairs. Aashi’s heart melted a little, looking at him with his usually groomed hair sticking up in all directions.

“I’m going to have to love you and leave you both. See you around, Aashi, see you later, Ravi.” Nishi walked out the door, shutting it behind her.

“How are you, honey? Did you forget I was coming today?” Aashi gave Ravi a big hug and a quick peck on the cheek.

“Er, no, of course I didn’t forget. How could I? Do you want a cup of tea?” Ravi hurried into the kitchen.

Aashi followed him. “Here, let me make it.” Putting her bag down, she reached over and flicked on the kettle. “What was Nishi doing here so early? And on a Saturday? Surely not work?” As usual, the kitchen was a complete tip. Her nose wrinkled as a variety of stale scents assaulted her nostrils. Grabbing a cloth, she cringed as an unknown substance oozed between her fingers. She felt the need to tidy up whenever she came around. Ravi is so lucky!

“Nothing, I mean, she needed to deliver an important file to me, so I could finish a project this weekend. Anyway, what are we discussing today?”

“You haven’t forgotten already, have you? The honeymoon.” Aashi took the cups of tea to the living room. She carefully placed them on the small coffee table and perched herself on the edge of the sofa. Once comfortable, she proceeded to take the brochures out of her bag. “So, any bright ideas? I thought about Goa, or maybe the Maldives?”

Sitting down near her, Ravi took a sip of his tea. God, he looks a mess. But a cute one. Aashi watched him sink back into the sofa and close his eyes for a moment. She took a minute to savour the profile of her fiancé. Ravi’s black hair, though tousled right now, would usually be neatly gelled back. A straight nose tapered off into a perfect point. His eyelashes were so long, they touched his cheeks when his eyes were closed, and those lips were full and inviting. Oh, I could kiss him now! But I can’t. That would be way too forward of me. Aashi stood up quickly, embarrassed at her thoughts. “I’ll be back in a sec.” She nipped up the stairs.

“Aashi! Where are you going? Aashi?”

“I’m only going to the loo. I’ll be down in a sec.”

The bathroom was also a mess. Toilet seat up. Typical. Toothpaste tube uncapped. A towel casually dropped on the floor, as if it belonged there, not on the towel rail. Aashi went into her automatic cleaning mode, hanging up the towel, placing dirty clothes in the clothes basket, picking up random tissues from the floor-

“Noooooo!” Her scream filled the air. It can’t be… OMG! It is! Aashi closed her eyes. Perhaps when she opened them again, she’d see something different.

Footsteps thumped up the stairs, followed by frantic knocking on the bathroom door.

“Aashi, what’s the matter? Let me in.”

Taking a deep breath, Aashi opened the door an inch. She then flung it wide and stood there with her arm extended, and her palm turned upwards. Her eyes searched Ravi’s face. In her trembling hands lay a piece of tissue. Inside it was… a condom wrapper.

10. Where can readers buy your book (and any other books you have written)?

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format:

I’ve also written a poetry book, Poetic RITUals, also available on Amazon:

Connect with me on the following platforms:

Thank you for participating in this Author 2020 blog series Ritu!

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