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Enter, the Rowling-ers!



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Oct. 9--JK Rowling isn't alone. Indian writers are laughing all the way to the bank, as publishers dole out mega advances for books' rights.

Vikram Chandra is very excited these days. After all it is not every day that your forthcoming book, a yet-to-be-titled 1,225-page epic, is picked up for almost $ 1 million. Fact is, millionaire writers are growing in numbers.

Vikram Seth. Arundhati Roy. Hari Kunzru. Salman Rushdie. VS Naipaul. Jhumpha Lahri. The list of millionaire authors is steadily growing and so are their advances.

Is there big money in the business of writing? "Yes," says Ashok Chopra, CEO, Harper Collins, India. "Publishers are aware of the effort that goes into producing a good book. Vikram Chandra took almost 7 years to write this book. It's only fair the writers are finally getting their due."

Here's a list of Indian authors, who've just been given mega advances for their yet-to-be released books for 2006. There's Thrity Umrigar, whose book Space Between, is expected to be an international bestseller, Kiran Nagarkar, author of Ravan and Eddie, has been given the highest amount ever paid by HarperCollins for his forthcoming book, God's Own Soldier.

Meanwhile, UK-based publishing house, Faber and Faber has given author Manju Kapur a huge amount for her to-be-released book, Home.

In fact, Penguin also has a list of "high advance" authors for the first-half of 2006: Sudha Murthy for her book, Old Man and His God, Upamanyu Chatterjee for Weight Loss, Ashok Banker for The Ramayana Series, first-time author Edna Fernandes for Big Warriors: The Battle for India and Vishwanathan Anand for his autobiography, The Champion Next Door.

The mathematics of writing is complicated. For instance, a "good" writer who sells 20,000 copies, gets a first cheque of about Rs 14 lakh. Says author Ashok Banker, "Don't let the big figures fool you. What we finally get in hand is often much less that expected."

Here are Banker's tips for making big money in writing: write a unique book, don't follow the formula. Secondly, don't write the full book. Get a good agent. Finally, never expect to get paid a big amount again.

However, the big success stories of the literary world always get big bucks. Says Thomas Abraham, President, Penguin Group, India: "Good authors like Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth, always got great advances. There has been money in writing."

The commercial potential of the literary word is being exploited by mega marketing minds. Says author Shobhaa De, "Writing has brilliant monetary benefits. I've been getting a good amount, because I've created by own distinct identity."

Most authors feel, it's time they get their dues. London-based writer, Hari Kunzru received $ 1.2 million for Impressionist. He says, "I wouldn't be writing if there wasn't big money in it. People are often shocked that literary writers can demand high prices. Writing is not leisure." Right said, Kunzru!

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