- Hi, I am Archana Rao a Chartered Accountant by profession, a self actualisation enthusiast by aspiration, and an author by passion!
- For as long as I can remember, I have believed in the power of words. I am convinced that the right words, infused with pure emotion and honesty can change the world.
- In 2019, while working in a hectic job, I decided to move on from writing articles to writing a book!
- Finally, in 2020, I published my first book, “How to be a Lighthouse – the art of letting your light shine”.
- Here is my story … I hope that my journey will empower you to take a leap of faith into your own dreams, whether or not that’s about writing your own book!
Rekindling my writing habit after Qualifying as a CA
My parents tell me that I wrote my first poem when I was 6 years old, in a bit of a trance as I looked at a full moon one starry night.
Even as I worked my way through the 3 levels of the Chartered Accountancy course and the intense phase of articles training, I remember writing poetry to make sense of the world around me.
When I became a Chartered Accountant in 2015, I was overjoyed. I threw myself into work and relished the idea of working as an audit team leader with KPMG.
I knew I wanted to write more, but thus far in my life, I had only ever turned to writing out of necessity…if my thoughts were too cluttered, I wrote to ease my mind.
Writing had been a very private affair and no one else had read anything I had written. However, sometime in 2016, an incident in my personal life inspired me to share my writing with the world.
I had gotten off the phone after having given a pep talk to my close friend who wasn’t able to clear her CA final exams – thankfully, whatever I said to her worked and she made up her mind not to give up.
I remember thinking, “Why not write down what I just said to my friend so that more people can read it? Maybe it’ll bring a smile to their face”. And thus I wrote the very first article of my life for public viewing on – CA Club India.
I was honored to have so many people comment and message me to tell me that the article had helped them immensely…that day, I started to seriously consider writing pieces to help people!
The journey to becoming a consistent writer
Despite the success of my first article and my best intentions, I discovered that I wasn’t quite feeling ready to show the world my deepest thoughts and ideas.
I struggled with self-doubt and was unable to write more consistently.
Eventually, I brought myself to commit to writing one article per month…I wrote mostly about topics close to my heart, such as personal growth and self-improvement!
I published my work on LinkedIn initially and then started to blog on Medium.
I wasn’t sure how well (or how badly) I was faring against other writers on both platforms who wrote full time. Regardless, I felt that I had a duty to keep writing, in my own voice, speaking a truth that only I could speak!
I discovered that the process of writing was very magical and brought me great joy…this was more than enough for me to keep going!
Getting caught up in worrying about the number of likes or comments on a post
I wrote diligently on LinkedIn posting articles and short posts weekly and monthly for 2.5 years.
There were times where I used to get caught up in worrying about the number of likes or comments on a post.
Eventually, I realized that there was a reward in the writing process itself and how my writing would be received was not upto me…I owed it to myself to be authentic and own my words!
Every now and again, my readers would tell me how my words had lifted them up…I felt like I was making a difference in the world, writing seemed to give me some meaning!
Fuelling the dream – the journey to becoming a published author
Around the same time, I saw too many of my peers and even myself, not being able to find our own voice in a world overflowing with opinions and biases.
I wanted to destroy these unhelpful notions and urge my peers to embrace their truest selves.
I wanted to give them tools to craft a life that brings them the most joy…instead of following a template of success created by society or by social media!
In 2019, I decided to stretch my writing goals, and the best way to do this was to move on from writing articles to writing a book!
And that’s how the idea for ‘How to be a Lighthouse’ glowed brilliantly inside my mind.
Writing the book while also working full time at a Big4 firm
The idea of writing a book was thrilling but I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off especially with a hectic job!
I had to balance the demands of work and home alongside writing the book. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and I was prepared to give up a few things to make my dream a reality.
I was determined. I knew deep down that it was time for me to push myself.
From late March 2019, I began to write the manuscript, using all my vacation days from work to brainstorm and draw up outlines for chapters. Even weekends and public holidays in the year were spent in writing and refining what would be the very first manuscript I had ever written.
Writing a book is deeply personal and quite demanding. Despite the exhaustion, the stress, the self-doubt and many other personal challenges that wore me down, I wanted more than anything to pour my heart and soul into the manuscript.
Hiring a publisher and finally bringing the dream to life
Finally, once the first draft was done, I had my close friends review it and give me feedback.
I didn’t go through the traditional publishing route which would require a literary agent or a book deal, neither of which were available to me…instead, I decided to self-publish.
Since this was the first time I was publishing a book, I engaged a publishing house to help me self publish my book and put my book out into the world!
Though this offbeat path seemed slightly expensive…however, given my inexperience in the writing field, I realised this was the best option for me.
I also enlisted the help of an illustrator to draw the art for the book.
The editorial team put my manuscript through 3 more rounds of editing and 4 more rounds of typesetting.
Finally, on 29 Feb 2020, I was delighted when my publisher told me that the paperback version of my book was finally available for purchase online.
The moment I had been waiting for had finally arrived. All those days of struggle had finally paid off!
“How Should I self publish my book?”
For a first time author, self-publishing is a wonderful way to showcase your work.
You can just focus on creating the content and developing the idea for the book while the publisher takes care of the editing, publishing and marketing process seamlessly. There are many avenues for self-publishing.
I recommend checking out Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon, Reedsy.com and Notion Press to get started.
“How did I market my book?”
I advertised my book on my Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to create interest amongst friends and family.
I also spoke about it at book clubs and requested a fellow author to talk about it on their social media.
I was overjoyed when I saw reviews of my book on platforms like Amazon and Goodreads! It’s an exhilarating experience to see that my words had impacted lives in a positive manner.
That said a word of caution about the marketing and monetising process. It is quite difficult to make a great deal of money from book sales – even though I’ve had good sales numbers, the royalty that’s received is not a staggering amount of money per copy of the book. This can be a bit disappointing because I had always imagined writing to be a glamorous profession.
Despite having experienced the non-glamorous reality, I think that there is an innate satisfaction and joy that comes with writing something uplifting and hearing strangers tell you that they felt empowered after reading it.
To me, that is priceless and something money can never come close to. If this resonates with you, I think there is merit in writing a book and sharing it with the world.
It is heartening to know that choosing to share my writing with the world has made a difference to people all over the world.
The journey to becoming a published author has taught me to ‘START’ before I feel ‘ready’ to do something. I know there is a whole lot of work ahead of me, but I can take it one step at a time.
As long as you’re working hard on your craft, it will show up in the results of your work. You owe it to yourself to take that shot!
Archana Rao’s book is available in India in the paperback format on Amazon India, Flipkart and the Notion Press Store. It is also available internationally. Please visit the Amazon UK page if you’re based in the UK and click this link if you’re based outside of India and the UK. The eBook is available on Kindle, Google Play, and Kobo.