Indie Interview: Geetanjali Mukherjee

Indie Interview: Geetanjali Mukherjee


A few months ago I had the big pleasure to read and review Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades by Geetanjali Mukherjee (Review). As a student myself I was excited especially about the “How to Beat Procrastination” part, and of course about all the newest tecniques applied to neuroscience to reduce stress and reach your full potential.

Ms. Mukherjee is a young self-published author, with six books published and a very promising career. For the Indie Interview she tells us about her work, her audience, cover designing, book marketing and how to overcome the fear of failure.

1. First a little about you. Who is Geetanjali Mukherjee?

Wow, difficult question right off the bat! I am not sure how to answer philosophically, but in practical terms, I am the author of six books of varying lengths, all non­fiction at the moment, hoping to use my love of books and writing to create books that touch readers and in some small way, make their lives a little better. I also have an academic research background, with degrees in law and public policy.

2. Your book “Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades” is a guide meant to help students. What moved you to write a self-­help guide for that audience?

I actually wanted to write a book for students since I was in high school. I was always a good student, but I went through this phase where I really struggled in school. And when I turned that time around, eventually getting the highest grades that year, I wanted to share the lessons I had learnt, especially because I saw many students who did poorly adopt this attitude of “I am just not smart enough”.

The reason I finally sat down and wrote this book last year was because I had been reading a lot of books on how the brain works and how we learn, and I was fascinated by the idea that anyone can learn anything if they approach it in the right way, and inherent “intelligence” or “ability” play a much smaller role than we usually ascribe to it.

3.Cover design can be tough for a lot of authors, and while getting it done by professionals may be the easiest option, it can also be quite expensive. You designed your own cover, what lead you to choose the colours, the font etc…?

Yes, cover design is quite difficult, and I am constantly trying to learn and improve. The current version of the cover is my second major redesign actually. I knew that I wanted a bright color, and somehow I wanted to include yellow in some form from the beginning. Other than that I researched other covers in my genre, tried many different options, and then finally something clicked and I finalized this cover. The advantage of indie publishing of course is that you get to change things, so I might change this again in the future, but for now I am happy with it.


4.Do you proofread your own book or do you get someone to do that for you?

I actually have done editing and proofreading professionally, for organizations and also as a freelancer, so I have a fair bit of experience. I am one of those people who read newspapers or books published by major publishers and find all the typos, which then ruins my reading experience! I do most of my proofreading myself, but then I get some family members to read through and point out any errors.


5. You have your book ready, now it’s time for marketing. How do you get the attention you need?

I think marketing is an ongoing endeavor, and it is never quite done. My main strategy is to get reviews, and get people to discover the book and the message. I also believe in content marketing, and have recently launched a blog dedicated to the ideas from this book. I have also done several promotions, with different levels of success. Earlier this year my book hit the #1 spot on Amazon for its genre, albeit only for a few days. The book has also been on 7 other bestseller lists on Amazon. However, it doesn’t get any easier, and one month it could be doing well, and the next month nothing happens.


6.Social Media for marketing. Does it work for you? Which social is the best?

I heard somewhere that you should pick the social media site that you like and focus on that. I am not sure how helpful that is, but I believe in that. My own favorite isTwitter, mainly because I enjoy it, there are lots of writers on there, and it doesn’t feel so intimidating to me. I don’t really know if it sells books, but it has other advantages. I think Facebook is obviously the big one for everyone, but it can be tricky and I think I have a lot more to learn. I have recently fallen majorly in love with Pinterest, and again, I don’t know if it helps me with my marketing, but it is a way for me to show my personality and share my own interests with others, and hopefully engage genuinely with potential readers.



7.Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? One is better than no one or are you picky about who you ask to review your work?

Well in some ways I am not very picky, in that anyone who wants to review my work is welcome. But I am choosy about who I reach out to, mainly because I try to focus my energy on asking those who are more inclined to read my type of book. I like reaching out to bloggers mainly because although they are swamped and it can take some time to get a review, they are always thoughtful and comprehensive and I think readers trust book bloggers more than someone who just may be a friend of the author.

I believe in the elbow grease method, and I have reached out to many, many more reviewers than have responded or shown interest, and then a smaller subset of that number have actually written reviews. This is definitely a game for the patient and perseverant. In terms of specifics, I reached out to the top reviewers on Amazon, as well as those on Indieview and The Book Blogger List.


8.Back to your book. One of my favourite chapters is called “Adopting the Right Attitude”, where you talk about the importance of developing the right mindset. What’s your inspiration? What keeps you positive?

Thanks, that’s actually my favorite chapter too, because I think it’s the advice I need personally the most. I often think that we write what we need to learn ourselves. Here’s the thing ­ it’s not possible to stay positive all the time, and I have had my share of feeling overwhelmed and defeated at many different junctures. I guess my coping strategy is to have a lot of different ways to inspire and pick myself up, so I try not to wallow in those negative feelings for too long.

I read a lot of self­help and motivation books; I have been reading self­help books since I was 9 or 10 years old, and I love those movies where the team wins the trophy at the end. I love the idea of going from failure to success. I am lucky in that my parents are very supportive, always there to give me a pep talk if I need one. Some of the advice in the book in fact came from things they told me over the years.

My biggest inspiration is my mentor in life, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, who is a Buddhist, philosopher and educator. He has written a lot about character, and success, and especially given a lot of advice to young people, and I try to follow his advice and share it with others. In fact, I just read this quote this morning: “Simply deciding from the outset that you’re just not good enough, without making any effort, is nothing but escapism. Each of us is different, but we are all alike in that we possess tremendous potential. The truth is, you can do almost anything if you set your mind to it. The worst thing is to lose confidence in yourself and limit your own potential.”

When I feel defeated or negative, I read his guidance ­ there is always something that helps me to look at my problem or challenge in a positive or hopeful manner. That, and my daily practice of Buddhism keeps me positive and inspired.


9.A big obstacle ­for both students and writers­ is searching for perfection, or “fear of failure”. How do you ­as a young writer­ overcome that?

This is actually a huge issue for me, and lately I have been really trying to work on this. My need for perfectionism actually permeates every aspect of my life, and is far more insidious than I realize. I don’t have any magic solutions, but there are a few things I try to do to minimize its effects.

Firstly, I use deadlines to ensure that things get done and sent out. Anyone Can Get An A+ was actually on pre­order and I knew there would be real consequences to my not completing it (I was days away from the deadline and still needed to finalize a couple of chapters). I just had to get it done and sent off, and actually the chapters that I had to rush turned out to be my favorite ones.

I also try to remind myself that if I don’t get it done, I won’t be able to move on and work on the next project. Earlier I would just abandon one project and go on to the next shiny one, or if I was feeling stuck just let it sit for months on end (who am I kidding, I still do that sometimes!) But nowadays, more often, I just decide that I will complete this project and put it out there, and so I have to complete it, no matter how much I want to stall. I can be pretty stubborn, so I try to channel my obstinacy towards finishing something and not getting stuck in trying to be perfect.

Finally, I surround myself with inspiration. I go to bookshops and libraries and see the rows of books and try to remind myself that if all these authors could finish their book, so can I. I also listen to podcasts and read blogs of successful authors, who are usually very pragmatic about how they view their work. If nothing works, I read bits from some of my favorite writing books. A combination of the above usually does the trick, at least for that day. And the next day or week or month, I go through the whole cycle again!



Geetanjali Mukherjee grew up in India, spending her early years in Kolkata, and then attending high school in New Delhi. She attended the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, to read law as an undergraduate. She went on to earn a Masters’ in Public Administration with a concentration in human rights and social justice from Cornell University, USA.

Geetanjali is the author of six books, and currently lives in Singapore. Her latest book Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades is available at all major retailers. In her spare time, she reads as many books as possible, watches romantic mystery movies and tries to avoid cooking.


You can find Geetanjali here:


Twitter: @geetumuk

Google+: Geetanjali Mukherjee

Pinterest: @geetumuk

Goodreads: Author’s Page



Thank you Geetanjali for taking the time to answer these questions and for giving us the chance to enter your creative space! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

Check out Geetanjali’s book review at Study Struggles: Strategies That Work and College Starter Kit.





Summer Trivia

Summer Trivia

1123 Hard to Believe Facts, by  Nayden Kostov

Thank you, Mr. Nayden Kostov! Thanks to 1123 Hard to Believe Facts, this summer I am gonna ace the trivia games!! Yeah, I am that geek. But I love quizzes!

It could be the dopamine hitting in the brain coming with the right answer, or maybe proving to yourself and others that you know things -still, trivia is THE game! and I can’t remember one single summer without it.

Did you know that Centralia, Pennsylvania (USA) has been burning for the last 54 years? There is a coal mine just underneath the town that caught fire in 1962 and yet shows no sign of abating-2

Everybody loves it. And it’s not a coincidence if one of the most popular apps in the world is a trivia game, with more than 20 million daily active users. (Trivia Crack) I bet you do have it downloaded on your phone right now.

The word Trivia is fairly recent (1920), the first known documented labeling of this casual parlor game as “Trivia” was in a Columbia Daily Spectator column published on February 5, 1965. The authors, Ed Goodgold and Dan Carlinsky, then started the first organized “trivia contests”.  Less than 20 years later, the famous board game Trivial Pursuit was released (1982) and was a craze in the U.S. for several years thereafter.*(source Wikipedia)

Following the success of his website, Mr. Kostov decided to compile some of the most interesting facts in an e-book, a collection of the best gems of breath-taking trivia facts, result of years of sifting through history and reference books on a myriad of subjec51rGsHQBR+L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgts as well as searching the Internt and paying attention to the news.

Six chapters:

  • Unbelievable facts about virtually everything
  • People and animals are awesome
  • Disturbing facts about our world
  • Facts about human and animal sexuality
  • You have been warned – don’t try this at home!
  • Debunked myths or unsubstantiated urban legend

packed with interesting, funny and educational hard to believe facts.


This book will provide you with never-ending intellectual ammunition for a lifetime of dinner parties. You will amaze your friends and family by recounting to them that the greatest Chinese pirate of all times was a woman, or that in the USA, vending machines kill more than sharks do!



Get your own copy now! On (eBook)

It’s All About The Girls

It’s All About The Girls

The Girls, by Emma Cline

If you haunt bookstores you sure have seen this book, Emma Cline‘s debut novel The Girls showing beautifully on the most visible shelves. It could be the “magnetic” cover -with that combination of red and blue that warps your mind (you genius cover designer!)- or probably just the fact that everyone is talking about it. Named the Summer’s hottest novel by WMagazine and PublisherWeekly, No. 3 on The New York Times bestseller list,  The Girls is on everyone’s lips.

Not to mention that Cline’s editorial debut fetched a $2 million advance and immediately got the attention of  Scott Rudin -film producer known for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Zoolander (2001) and The Truman Show (1998), to name a few-  who bought film rights just before the sale.

cover80098-mediumNorthern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon.

Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted.

As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

The story -based loosely on the Manson murders– is told from one acolyte’s point of view, but is definitely not what you would expect from a book “inspired” by what was probably the most famous counterculture cult that eventually ended with the infamous Labianca-Tate killing spree in August of 1969. Maybe it’s just me, but I was expecting a bit more than some subtle psychological insight and a profound perceptiveness of a 14-years-old’s mind. Nonetheless, beside some stylistic annoying choices -as it the “present chapters”- that kinda ruined the mojo, I have to admit that Emma Cline owns the literary finesse of building suspense and keeping the reader’s eyes glued to the pages.

Reviews of The Girls have been enthusiastically positive except for a few high-profile demurrals -most notably (and my personal favourite) by Dwight Garner in the New York Timesbut I am caught in the middle; I can’t say this book was afwul, nor I can say it was my best summer read, but somehow I devoured it in 2 hours straight.

Get your own copy now! On (Book) – (eBook)

The Simple Life Comes At A Cost

The Simple Life Comes At A Cost

My Million Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid to Live Simply, by Ginny East

Feeling stuck is a sign that it’s time to make a change. And that’s exactly what Ginny and her husband Mark did. One day they both decided to cash in their life and reinvent their world; packing up their three kids and a dog, they said goodbye to a successful dance studio business, and moved to 50 acres of land in northwest Georgia.


In My Million-Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid for Wanting to Live Simply, Ginny honestly—with both the optimism of the inexperienced and the wisdom of the exhausted—recounts the four years she and her family gave to their incredibly complex attempt to forge a life that would lead to more poignant and heartfelt relationships with the environment, community and, most importantly, one another. 
Eventually, Ginny and Mark are forced to deal with an even more difficult challenge: will the dream of simple living drive them apart?

Today Ginny is the director of Heartwood Retreat Center and the founder of the Heartwood Writers and Artists collective, a community and school that offers retreats, trainings and writing opportunities for ongoing growth and development of writers. After the divorce she set to the work of reinventing herself, and armed with the lessons of the birds, the bees and her million dollar donkey to guide the way, she dedicated to her own artistic passions, and her strong desire to be of service to others.

There is a lot about My Million Dollar Donkey that I particularly enjoyed:  the   writing style -fluid and engaging- but mostly Ginny’s candor and honesty about her experience. This book is splendid and carries a message so powerful that’s impossible to ignore: Ginny’s story is about love, family, faith and resilience. Because even if sometimes new beginnings can feel like endings and life seldom offers smooth and simple paths -in the end- you don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward and become the best version of yourself.

My Million Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid For Wanting To Live Simply is the ultimate journey of a woman who wasn’t afraid to try, fail and try again: a wonderful read that I wholeheartedly recommend to anybody.

Follow Ginny’s lovely blog

Get your own copy now! On (Book) – (eBook)

YA to Die For

YA to Die For

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies, by Laura Stampler

Take a dream internship at a magazine in NYC, an eccentric Aunt and a fancy Upper East Side apartment, a nice girl that struggles to be one of the “cool girls” that cool guys would want to date and there you have it … a splendid debut novel by Laura Stampler.

Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb.  Already rcover86767-medium-1.pngesigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days.

There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. Will the house of lies Harper has built around her dream job collapse all around her, or will she be able to fake it until she makes it in the big city?

Finally a YA that worth the title.  Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies is fresh, funny and entertaining. One of the best YA of the summer!

Get your own copy now! On (Book) – (eBook)

The Indie Corner: How To Approach Book Bloggers

The Indie Corner: How To Approach Book Bloggers




Getting a review for your book is one of the most effective ways of publicizing your work and yourself. Because of their “editorial content” book reviews are even more believable than classic “advertising”.

Nonetheless, most book reviewers are reluctant to review books from self publishers and Indies because of the prejudice that all self-published books are ill-conceived and poorly produced. Unfortunately this is not always far from the truth. (Next on The Indie Corner)

Joanna Penn –New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as owner of– brilliantly sums up in just a few words the entire concept of book marketing.  In her Successful self-publishing. How to self publish and market your book Ms. Penn says: “Writing is about you. Publishing is about the book. Marketing is about the reader“. Marketing means connecting with a bigger network of people; building an author platform, using social media and book bloggers will give you a big help promoting your work, but you need to be savvy about how to create interest. Here some tips and tricks on how to approach book bloggers as an Indie.


Be smart and do your homeworks! Do not send a review request without doing your research online first. Take time to browse the website and read reviews, spend a few minutes to make a personal connection. Don’t forget to check the policy page, if you ask a question easily answered on the review request policy page, you’ll create the impression that you are lazy or that you don’t care enough.

Learn about the reviewer, look for serious and professional reviewers and query those you think would be a good match for your book- don’t just query the ones with big followings.  Remember: Quality rather than Quantity.


Email etiquette is a must.. Your email alias, your subject line and your content all have to be clear and appear appropriate to your recipient. Failure to do this can get your email ignored and/or deleted as junk or spam. Using “Howdy“, “Cheerio” and “See ya ’round” are an excellent way never to be taken seriously or viewed as professional.

Linking is essential, if you know how to make a good use of it. Always link to your contacts (blog, website, socials), remember to link the words that describe the topic and avoid those long strings. (Author’s Page rather than


Once you are certain you have a top-notch product you should be proud to send it to reviewers. A well structured email can get you faster responses : a blurb of the book and a short bio are essentials, keep it simple and avoid super long emails. A good way to incorporate all the infos the book blogger might use (book cover, synopsis, author’s bio, etc) is to work on a tip sheet or a press kit . (Next on The Indie Corner)

If you want a sustainable career as an author you will need to build your own email list of bloggers/readers who like your books. Taking the time to build your own network of trusty reviewers will pay off in term of book exposure. Plus you will have your personal cheer squad!


Always ask if the blogger would consider reading and reviewing your book, beware the “attachment madness” and do not attach it right away. It’s a bit presumptuous and most book bloggers see that as a rude imposition.

A lot of bloggers consider demands quite annoying too. “Post your review here, here and here” can sound a bit pushy, and for many is a big show-stopper. Once again, be sure to read the request policy page where usually those infos are (or should be) provided.

Same with time frame. I am not offended by a time frame, as long as it is reasonable. A good/professional book blogger should always provide -if not the exact date when the post will be up, at least a waiting list. Always keep track of all your queries, and make sure that  bloggers who agree to write and post a review actually do that. Pure and simple work ethic.

It is really that simple; be smart, professional, efficient and always polite! The book bloggers community is a great resource, choose wisely and build worthy connections.

If you are either a writer or a book blogger, I would love to hear your thoughts down in the comments.


What Happens When People Care

What Happens When People Care

I Wish My Teacher Knew. How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids, by Kyle Schwartz

One day, the third-grade teacher at Dull Elementary in DenverKyle Schwartz, asked her students to “fill in the blank” in a very simple sentence:

“I wish my teacher knew _____.”

She asked all for he children to write down one thing they wanted to tell her, but wouldn’t normally in the classroom situation. The first note that Schwartz shared on Twitter was from a student who said they didn’t have pencils at home to do their homework.

Some of the answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking –all were profoundly moving and enlightening, and opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the cover87909-medium.pngunique realities their students face everyday. It all started with one simple exercise: Ms. Schwartz asked a question…and she listened for the answer.

In a culture of distraction -where we are increasingly disconnected from the people and events around us, often unable to empathize with the realities people face- it’s easy to ignore that our schools are more segregated by race and socioeconomic status than they were before the civil rights movements.

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to the latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The Southern Education Foundation reports that more than half of the children in our nation’s schools qualify to receive special education services. Today poverty and education are inextricably linked, and educators cannot shy away from this.

What would happen if we just ask -even the simplest question- and actually take the time to listen? What would happen if educators actively build communities and meaningful relationships with students?

Like Ms. Erin Gruwell -the Woodrow Wilson Classical High School teacher known for her unique teaching method, which led to the publication of The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them (1999) and also inspired the 2007 film Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton and Patrick Dempsey. images.jpeg

When she was assigned low-performing students in the school, Ms. Gruwell had to face a class  that seemed determined to make her life miserable. But behind those tough faces, she realized there was a burning need to be heard. By giving them composition books to record their diaries -in which they talk about their experiences of being abused, seeing their friends die, and being evicted- she gradually begins to earn their trust, and her students started to behave with respect.

The Freedom Writers journey began in 1994  in Long Beach, CA. With the use of Gruwell’s engaging teaching techniques, 100% of her students graduated from high school, and exceeded expectations by pursuing higher education and advanced degrees. In order to replicate the success she had with her students, Gruwell founded The Freedom Writers Foundation.

When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon.  All teachers want to support their students, and #iwishmyteacherknew was a powerful way to do that.

I Wish My Teacher Knew is a touching portrayal of a teacher who brings inspirations to the lives of students, and cares to build meaningful relationships by giving them a voice in her classroom. Because all it takes is someone who really cares!

They say I gotta learn, but nobody’s here to teach me.

If they can’t understand it, how can they reach me?

I guess they can’t, I guess they won’t, I guess they front.

That’s why I know my life is out of luck, fool!

∼ Gangsta Paradise, Coolio ∼

Get your own copy now! On (Book) – (eBook)


All Lives Matter

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

So it goes.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

∼ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ∼


Dogs Know Stuff

Dogs Know Stuff

Jonathan Unleashed, by Meg Rosoff

My dog knows stuff! I am pretty sure now that behind those puppy eyes she is hiding a whole lot more about life that I will ever understand. Maybe Confucius was right by saying that life is really simple, but somehow we insist on making it complicated. And every time I look at my dog I know that she knows that I know I don’t really know what to be when I grow up, or even how on earth to get there.

Meg Rosoff delivers a splendid story set in Manhattan about a young New Yorker searching for happiness, and the two dogs who help him find it.

cover84285-mediumJonathan Trefoil’s boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling, and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him—only richer and with a different sense of humor. He doesn’t remember life being this confusing, back before everyone expected him to act like a grown-up.

When his brother asks him to look after his dogs, Jonathan’s world view begins to shift. Could a border collie and a cocker spaniel hold the key to life, the universe, and everything? Their sly maneuvering on daily walks and visits to the alluring vet suggest that human emotional intelligence may not be top dog after all.

This book is just perfect. I loved how Jonathan’s life changed because of the dogs. I loved how New York looked like a whole different city just because it wasn’t zooming past Jonathan’s peripheral vision. I loved how he learned to slow down and simple things.

Splendid! Jonathan Unleashed is a funny, romantic story of tangled relationships, friendships and dogs so well written that just made sense of my entire life.

Maybe -just maybe- this is what is all about; slowing down and stop worrying about that picture in our heads of how life is supposed to be.

Get your own copy now! On (Book) – (eBook)