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“I was concerned that it might end my career,” said Chetan Bhagat

There was a lot of audience members who had “bunked” work to see author Chetan Bhagat, whose books Half Girlfriend, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, and Five Point Someone have all become bestsellers in spite of negative reviews. The venue was filled. In fact, a little child traveled from Kalaburagi to the Bengaluru launch of his most recent book, 11 Rules For Life: Secrets to Level Up (HarperCollins India; Rs 250), only to meet his “favourite” author, who he likened to internationally acclaimed novelist James Clear. “That’s not a fair comparison since Clear’s Atomic Habits is one of the highest-read non-fiction books in the world,” an obviously embarrassed Bhagat said.

Hopefully, the praise allayed his concerns about branching out into a genre other than his comfort zone. The author acknowledges that creating a self-help book such as 11 Rules For Life made him anxious. I was very anxious about it because I thought it may ruin my career. I still went through with it, however, for three reasons.

I think there is just too much entertainment, at its core. However, there isn’t enough advice on how to live. I am catering to a large number of self-help readers in India. Bhagat said, “Thirdly, my book is set in the Indian context with local Indian examples and characters. They are the ones who will pick it up.”

Currently in its third printing, Bhagat describes the book as “part memoir, part self-help, and part fiction.” It can be bought in bookshops in the self-help area.

Even with readers’ attention spans and attention spans being shorter, Bhagat claims he has analyzed his audience to know what would work. “I am aware of my readers; these are the people who watch Insta reels but never pick up a book. He jokes, “They’re not readers, but they’re Chetan Bhagat readers.”

For this novel, Bhagat is ready for fewer people to be interested, but he was willing to take the chance. I’m glad about my conscience now that I’ve reached a point where I care about my performance. The certain solution would have been to create another fiction piece, but since this is what he wanted to accomplish at the moment, it would have left him feeling hollow,” he ends.

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