Chetan Bhagat seals big deal with Amazon-Westland

Five-book, multi-million dollar deal to be announced on April 27

April 18, 2018 11:05 pm | Updated 11:05 pm IST - New Delhi

NEW DELHI, 19/08/2015: Author and motivational speaker Chetan Bhagat,  in New Delhi.  
Photo: V. Sudershan

NEW DELHI, 19/08/2015: Author and motivational speaker Chetan Bhagat, in New Delhi. Photo: V. Sudershan

Ordinary mortals who sign a book contract with an Indian publisher would be satisfied with an advance that doesn’t seem like an outright insult. But Chetan Bhagat is no mere mortal, which probably explains his ability to swing a multi-million dollar deal that, according to industry sources, is the highest signing amount ever given to an Indian fiction writer.

Bhagat’s deal with Westland Publications, an Amazon-owned publishing firm, is for five books, three of which are to be novels. When contacted, Amazon said it could not make any official statement. The writer and publisher are, however, expected to make an announcement by April 27. Bhagat, too, who is currently in Singapore, said he would be available to speak only after this date.

A source close to the author revealed that the deal will be signed in Singapore. Bhagat’s family is also settled there, with the author himself shuttling between Singapore and Mumbai.

The author’s shift to Westland will effectively end his 14-year association with Rupa & Co, which published his seven novels and two collections of essays. He is considered to be the publishing firm’s highest selling author, and sources say that Rupa did make a counter offer to retain Bhagat. The writer’s website says his books, translated into 15 languages, have sold 11 million copies.

Westland, which has only recently made a foray into literary fiction with its new imprint Context, concentrates 70% of its list on commercial fiction and popular non-fiction titles, according to CEO Gautam Padmanabhan. Amish, author of the ‘Shiva’ trilogy, has been their most bankable writer till now, selling 4 million units.

Bhagat became a publishing phenomenon with his very first book, which Rupa published after he was rejected by a number of other publishing houses. There have been five movie adaptations of his books featuring top-billed stars, including 2 States , Kai Po Che , 3 Idiots and Half Girlfriend , with one more in the works.

Westland stays away from selling movie rights of books unless it can play a decisive role in the deal, Mr. Padmanabhan said. When signing a writer, though, it does look towards acquiring rights to translate their work, a practice it started with Amish.

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