Sunday, 29 July 2012

Who’s that girl? In the Indian Olympic Contingent

The morning after the opening ceremony, here I was in London; still high from the emotions the event had evoked in me, moved by its passion, touched by its genuine soul, when my husband chuckled “Have you seen the headlines in the Indian newspapers?” What, what? What could possibly be bigger than that mind-blowing closing ceremony?  But there it was: Mystery woman, parade crasher, limelight stealer, over-excited cast member, a volunteer who was supposed to escort the Indian Olympic team to the edge of the track but who never stopped, the one who had worn electric-blue pants and a long-sleeve red shirt and in effect actually led the team, walking the entire route front and centre beside the Indian flag-bearer, wrestler Sushil Kumar.

Mystery Girl
 And then, twitter exploded, making for vastly entertaining reading, here’s just a selection;
 @samitbasu: “Madhura Honey is obviously her Bond girl name.” Couldn’t agree more. Madhu means honey in Hindi.
@sidin : Too late to get Madhura Honey to box or row or something? You never know?

@taslimanasreen Wanna smack Madhura Honey's fat ass

Meanwhile mainstream media had managed to identify her as a graduate student from Bangalore living in London who had apparently showed off her Olympics pass on her—now deactivated—Facebook  page, while reports claimed that her family was worried about her future.
Typical I thought. The world goes one way, and India goes the other. It really does happen only in the country of my origin. I could only imagine how shocked and concerned her parents must really be, assuming that she hails from a safe, middle-class family who had probably pooled their resources to send their daughter to study in London.
Whatever would possess someone to just seize the opportunity when the world’s cameras are trained on one place and jump right in to claim the limelight? Okay, I probably answered my own question there. We do live in an age of five-minute-blink-and-you-miss it fame. Reality television still rules, and who cares if the athletes in that contingent had spent a lifetime of training for this once-in-a-lifetime event. It was an opportunity to be seized.  Or perhaps she had seen it also as a once-in-a-lifetime-event to be noticed by the world?
So, what happens next? Sure, right now the officials are unhappy, the Indian media frowns upon her, her family is worried & friends are shocked. But already Madhura Honey trends on twitter (hell, I am writing about her). So when this blows over, will she emerge complete with a well known PR guru in tow to do a big reveal, and talk about what led her to lead the Indian contingent on the flag-bearing lap at the opening ceremony? Will there be a love, sex, running-away-from-home, or threat-to-life angle here?  Perhaps she will spark off a new trend for electric-blue trousers? And then after the tearful revelations are over she will emerge—at a specially organised press conference, no doubt—with  a make-over, a new figure, a trendy new hair-style called Honey comb, to launch her new book It’s all about the money, honey; introduce a new line of perfume called Honeyed & finally marry a well known British-Asian millionaire and set up home in London. By then even her parents would have got into the act, professing relief that she has finally settled down?
Or, am I just a cynical middle-aged media-whore? Perhaps there is an innocent explanation to it all? That she didn’t realize what she was doing, and just wanted to accompany her fellow countrymen, and that she really didn’t realise the consequences of her actions, carried away as she was in the excitement of the moment. No, it can’t be that simple, can it?  
Meanwhile, she who is not an athlete nor who can claim any connection to the Indian Olympic team except to be a fellow citizen continues to drive the Indian media into a frenzy of speculation. PKM Raja, India's acting Chef de Mission, summed it up in The Times of India when he fumed: "The Indian contingent was shown for just 10 seconds, and to think this lady hogged all the limelight."

Laxmi Hariharan is a London based author. She is inspired by Indian mythology. Her debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon  Find her at

Letting Go: Indie Marketing Made Easy - David Biddle

So, your beloved novel, your fifth limb so to speak, is suddenly no more; its out there in the real world in front of the general junta, to be read & hopefully liked? But hang on! How do you actually change overnight from being an Author Avatar to pimping your book? I have with me, well-known Indie author David Biddle to help steer you towards finding your inner marketer and feeling good about it! Over to you David:

Being an Indie Writer is quite a lot of work. You need to come up with a manuscript first. Then you need to make it perfect (no typos, grammatical mistakes, or formatting problems, etc.). And then you need to publish the manuscript -- which means it becomes a book and is "out there."

Once your work is "out there," of course, the fun begins. So many Indie writers utterly hate marketing and sales. All the online support websites for Indies talk about the need to establish a platform. They tell you, in essence, that you need to create a fan base. You need a hub website, a blog, some sort of sales link page, sample chapters, maybe giveaways, a calendar for personal appearances, guest blogs, etc., etc. “Oh, my!”

Writers sit in rooms by themselves or shut out the world with ear-buds and music at the coffee shop in order to create their books and stories. Making a big deal out of oneself is not supposed to be part of the job. (If it is, more power to you). 

There’s the other side of the equation, though. You’ve published a book. It’s easy to think of it as your baby. You bore that cute little thing into the world. You want folks to read it...well, you want them at least to buy it. Hopefully they’ll read it. If you don’t get serious about marketing and sales, what’s going to happen to that piece of yourself that you put out there?

This is a painful reality for most of us. We don’t really understand it until we have our first book in the marketplace. We’re so busy writing then producing and publishing that we don’t realize what’s coming until it hits us right square in the gut. “Oh, crap, I gotta make a big deal out of myself!”

This is where you need to ask yourself a question. If your name is on the cover, are you now dangling in the wind hoping people will pay attention to you? Did you really put yourself out there? 

I have writer friends who disagree strongly with me here, but the way I look at it is that I didn't put myself out there. All I did was put a book out there. I busted my butt to make it the best product I could, from conception to finished product. I totally love that book (I also hate it). But somewhere between when I hit enter to log it into the Kindle Store and when I wake up the next morning to see my book has a page of it’s own, that book loses its intimate connection to me. It’s not a part of me. It’s now a part of the world.

If you have told your story with love and compassion for the reader; if you truly think the world wants to know this story you have concocted out of nothing; if you slaved away for an ungodly amount of time to make the reading experience as good as you could, then how can you think what you wrote still belongs to you? It is a gift. Yes, you charge money for it, but you don't own that story anymore. It is owned by the person who buys it and reads it. If you can understand that, then, and only then, are you ready to be an Independent Author. And then, and only then, will the idea of marketing and sales make sense. It won’t be easy, but it will be logical and obvious. 

It’s a good book, right? You want people to buy it. You’ve put it out for them to own. So get to work. Build that platform, start blogging and tweeting like a crazy fool. Give the darn thing away. Raise the price. Lower the price. Talk about yourself. Get a makeover so you look fabulous for the video trailer you’re going to do. Pay a professional photographer for the perfect headshot. 

If you believe that your book is out there and you want people to make it part of their lives – welcome it into the family – then all that primping and posturing, all the sales and marketing work will be worthwhile. Because, after all, none of this was ever about you, was it? It’s about the story. It’s about that idea you had one day long ago. And now it’s out there. You’ve given it to the world. Your job now is to get people to pay attention…and then to start all over again with your next idea and your next draft. And so it goes. Being an Indie couldn't be any easier.

David Biddle is author of Beyond the Will of God: A Jill Simpson Mystery. His new column, "Talking Indie," will be available at the online writers magazine,, beginning this fall. See his website The Formality of Occurrence [].