Shilpa Sheetal, a self-confessed bibliophile, has just finished reading her first book of 2020. An Extreme Love of Coffee is a fiction novel about a couple, a treasure hunt, and coffee.

What’s interesting is that she stumbled upon it, not in a bookstore, but while scrolling through her LinkedIn feed. And that book is authored, not by a typical romance novelist, but by Harish Bhat, brand custodian at Tata Sons.

Odd? Not really.

Increasingly, top executives of large organisations are turning authors. And, as in the case of Bhat’s latest book—his first book was Tata Log, a book about his company—not all write management books either.

If industry veterans are to be believed, while bestselling commercial fiction continues to rake in initial print runs of more than 100,000 copies in India, less than 10% of published titles sell more than 2,000 copies. Non-fiction, meanwhile, is growing faster than fiction as a genre, and business and management books, in particular, get the top shelf.

Publishing has historically been about selling books. But it’s also a veritable, even if subliminal, marketing tool. One top executives have caught on to.

It helps to be seen as an author, especially when you’re selling a cycle that feeds into the system. Write a book to express yourself. Weave the company in. Let the book supplement company reputation. Build a personal brand in the process. 

While on one hand these books creatively satisfy the writers—helping them distill ideas on the domains they are experts in—they also aid them in cohesively projecting their thought leadership. And to market?

“Everyone does look at it as a marketing tool to some extent because they aren’t writing these books anonymously,” admits Anish Chandy, founder of Labyrinth, a literary agency.

Big books, bigger names

Bhat’s novel, due to the name of the author, sits in a precarious place between his background in business and fiction. And while Bhat may have online clout (as well as the usual avenues like lit fests, etc.), it’s not a comfortable spot for every such author. 

It’s non-fiction that does well, because these books are coming from a domain expert, says Chandy. “Most of them will sell above 7,000 copies, the same people writing fiction don’t sell as much.”

So, how do you market a CEO or upper management-authored book in a consumable manner? Enter soft-business genre books, which come with certain set patterns.

Either they have been against-all-odds accounts of family businesses or life-affirming chronicles of founders and CEOs of successful enterprises. In January 2020, titles like The Making of Hero by Hero MotoCorp founder promoter Sunil Kant Munjal, and Excellence Has No Borders—authored by Dr BS Ajai Kumar, founder-CEO of cancer care provider HealthCare Global Enterprises—have come out.

AUTHOR

Vipin Nair

Vipin is a marketing and retail professional with over 12 years of experience. When he is not saving the world (his own, mostly), he writes on business and takes his creative license more seriously than warranted.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?

MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500

Subscribe
MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20

Subscribe

Questions?

What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at support@the-ken.com detailing the error or queries.