NewZNew (Chandigarh) : Ritoban Chakrabarti, a UIET alumni, launched his debut novel titled ‘When She Smiled’ at Chandigarh Press Club, on Friday. Ritoban is an entrepreneur who started an internet marketing company after graduating from UIET, Sector 25, Chandigarh. After being awarded the Youngest Entrepreneur of the Year award by TiE, he opened offices in Mohali and Noida, and it currently residing in Bangalore where he plans to open his newest office.
When She Smiled is a romance fiction novel about a young teenager who falls in love for the first time in his life and battles through his family’s expectations, peer pressures, academic goals, and in the process discovers his destiny – all in the course of a tumultuous year.
Set among the scenic Shivalik hills of Shimla when mobile phones and internet were non-existent, this is a story of an average teenager’s self-discovery.
At a little over 200 pages, it’s a short one-day read and has received several positive reviews from book critics – both in India and internationally. BookGeeks, one of the top book critics in India said “This book is written in a fresh and honest voice. The characters feel truly alive. It is beautiful, simple, and funny. It is sweet and touching but not overly melodramatic.”
BlogAdda, the largest blog directory in India wrote on their blog, “We’re sure this book will bring back memories of your teenage years and first love!”
The book’s Kindle edition was released in December 2014, and instantly became an Amazon bestseller in India. The paperback edition is being published by NotionPress and is currently available on all major
e-commerce stores like Flipkart, Amazon, Infibeam, and PayTM.
When asked why he wrote the book, he said, “When I first created my dream board, publishing a novel was one of my goals. I hadn’t given it much thought until then. I have written several non-fiction aka marketing related documents. A couple of ebooks and a lot of training material. But that was all business. When She Smiled is a product of passion. I wanted to tell a story about a simple guy dealing with simple teen issues. After reading JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, I decided to write a little fiction book myself, and all it took was a couple of months of focus to finish the first draft.”
Ritoban followed a unique marketing plan for promoting his book because according to him, “Over 3000 new books are launched every single day on the planet. You need to do something to stand out, otherwise you’re just a random face in the crowd.” He launched a video book trailer on Youtube, got hundreds of book bloggers to read and review his book, gave interviews on several blogs,
campaigned on the largest social network for book lovers – Goodreads.com, launched a website dedicated to the book, and did several social media promotions.
When asked about his writing style and how he wrote his book, he said, “I literally had to take a flight to Maldives and sit in a cafe overlooking the Indian Ocean to write the book. The most critical part is the initial stage when you have to write a basic plot summary, scene by scene description, and character sketches. Once you’ve done that, the writing part becomes easy. But not that easy. First off, before even considering writing a novel, you have to promise yourself that you will see it to the end. Next, you have to completely focus and drown out all the background noise. As in, other people’s opinions, social media, self doubt, and expectations. Once you’ve done that, then start writing.
And don’t stop.”
Ritoban was inspired to write this story from his own experience living in Shimla. According to him, Shimla is a very different place compared to the metros and cities of India. The people, their behaviour, and overall lifestyle is completely different in the capital of Himachal Pradesh.
An advocate of self-publishing, Ritoban pursued the path of going from a nobody to a published author by researching online, finding publishers who helped debut authors, and then finally found a connection with NotionPress, a Chennai based publishing house that helps debut authors publish their books.
When She Smiled is also being featured at the New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan till 22nd February which is a prestigious event held annually and attracts thousands of readers, publishers, libraries, and school representatives.
When asked about how he decided the title ‘When She Smiled’ and the cover concept, he said, “I wrote the entire novel ‘Untitled’. The first draft document stored in my laptop still has the filename: book.docx. After writing the novel, it became more and more apparent that the title had to do something with the girl Mrityunjoy falls in love with. He was obsessed about her smile. He adored those twitching muscles that made her lips wide and jaw stretch. I wrote down ten possible title variations, surveyed my friends and family, and one title stood out. That was: When She Smiled. Being a graphic designer, I wanted to design the cover myself. The story is set in Shimla, and that setting had a very important role to play, so there had to be mountains. And of course, we had to have a girl on the cover. The cover shows twilight in the horizon and it gets darker as you come closer to the girl’s face. It has an apparent hidden meaning. The gradual increase of color and shadow intensity also symbolises Mrityunjoy’s journey as he comes to terms with his destiny.”
Ritoban is currently working on two projects. A non-fiction book about Email Marketing and how it has completely changed his business, financial position, and perspective. A music video which is a cover of the Main Tenu Samjhawan Ki song sung by him. He plans on releasing several music videos this year.