Word count: 1,000 words.
“Abey . . . you can’t commit suicide jumping from the third floor. Try the seven story building next door,” someone shouted on seeing Akshay attempt suicide from the top of a Government office building on a bright Monday afternoon. Akshay was standing on the terrace wall with his head bent down. It was just two months since he met the Sales Head of the Vanity Publishing House. Little did he anticipate the events that followed.
* * *
Two Months Back:
“I thought I’d meet the Chief Editor. But your designation reads Sales Head?” Akshay asked. He had just walked into Srini’s office at the Vanity Publishing House and shook hands with him.
Asking him to take his seat, Srini replied: “Actually, Sales is the thing that makes or breaks a book. Everything else is secondary, don’t you think?” After a brief pause, he added: “The Chief Editor reports to me, by the way.”
Akshay smiled in satisfaction as he sat down. “Great. I want to submit my manuscript to your Vanity Publishing House. I hope you consider it for publication,” He said and handed over his manuscript.
“Is this your first novel? How many words does it total up to?” Srini asked.
“Yes. The word count is around 80k,” Akshay said in a matter-of-fact tone that bordered on boastfulness. “You know what, I completed the book in seven days.” He had a tinge of a smile on is lips.
“What? You wrote 80,000 words in just 7 days?” Srini almost shouted.
Akshay confidently nodded in agreement. Srini smiled once again and asked, “How long did it take for rewriting, editing-“
“Oh, I just finished writing the novel yesterday,” Akshay said. Srini’s shoulders and jaw dropped as Akshay added, “I think the manuscript is perfect in its current form. There is no scope for rewriting or editing, really.”
“Maybe you could opt for our in-house editing service,” Srini suggested in an earnest tone.
“Nah, that will not be required.” Akshay said while he looked at Srini with razor sharp vision. He pointed towards the manuscript on the table and said, “When I said my first draft is PERFECT, I mean it is P.E.R.F.E.C.T.” Akshay said spelling out each letter. Srini’s jaw dropped even more. “I’d prefer to invest my time and money in marketing. Not in silly things like rewriting and editing,” Akshay said.
Srini relaxed a bit and said, “That’s a great idea. We have three types of marketing options: Newspaper ads & paid reviews, sponsored radio programs, and TV reality-“
“I want all of them,” Akshay interrupted. “I want to get the maximum exposure for my book. I want to become the next bestselling author of India at ANY COST,” he said as he banged on the table with his fist and looked at the Sales Head with fiery red eyes that spewed wildfire.
Srini smiled. He knew his bonus was assured.
* * *
Akshay looked down, towards the crowd. There were some 30 – 35 eager people waiting for him to jump. They were all holding their cell phone cameras up, not wanting to miss even a bit of the action, when it happens. He had hoped that the press, TV channels and news websites would have arrived in huge numbers, but there was no one with a professional camera in sight.
All this could have been avoided had he not spent 50 Lakhs of his father’s hard earned money for his book marketing. His returns from book sales was around 0.1% of his expenditure – not a good Return On Investment by any calculation! Now he not only wanted all his money back, but he also wanted to become a famous author overnight. The suicide drama was his master plan to achieve all this without spending another rupee.
The heat of May was making it impossible to stand there any longer. He looked at the five rows of empty card-board cartons arranged on the top of one another, in the shape of a cube, directly below. He had arranged it on the previous night to ensure his safety when he jumped. But he didn’t have time to test it. Would the cushioning system, generally used for people performing stunts in movie sets, work if he jumped? Would he survive?
He took a deep breadth. Closed his eyes. And jumped.
* * *
He woke up in the hospital after a few hours. He was informed by his friends that the attempted suicide cell-phone videos had gone viral in social media. Since they had informed people standing below that lack of book sales was the reason for his attempted suicide, that information too spread quickly. His book had already started selling like hot cakes. The Amazon server that hosted his eBook had crashed unable to handle the traffic. Flipkart and Amazon.in were planning a ‘flash sales’ for his book.
When Akshay was contemplating if his drama worked and if he had indeed become the best selling author, he got a call from the Chief editor of EastLand Books, a popular publisher.
“I am not selling the rights to my Best Selling book to anyone,” he rejected the offer before it was even given. It was his way of negotiating the best deal.
“No son. We cannot associate our brand with the crappiest piece of literature ever written,” the Chief Editor replied promptly.
“Why did you call me, then?” Akshay asked.
“We want you to become the head of our marketing department. Our authors and books could benefit with all that buzz you managed to create,” the Chief Editor said.
“Do you want me to jump from a building every time you release a book?” Akshay asked.
“Well, there are other ways to attempt suicide. We can brainstorm more ideas,” the Chief Editor said and offered Akshay a hefty package. Akshay thought it was not a bad deal, especially since he liked the job profile. Perhaps he had realized his life’s calling . . . 🙂
PS: I don’t know if the story was actually humorous, but this is just an attempt 🙂