Interview with Ra Ma. Palaniappan, Author of The Zero EMI
Ra Ma. Palaniappan is the author of ‘Zero EMI - Unlock Your Financial Freedom’. He is a keynote speaker with over 15 years of industry experience as a Banker and IT Program Manager. He passionately speaks about attaining Financial Freedom by leading a debt-free life. He has evolved as a powerful speaker, having inspired many professionals through his speaking assignments, workshops, and programs. Palaniappan was awarded as a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), the pinnacle award in Toastmasters International. Ra Ma. Palaniappan is a member of the Professional Speakers Association of India (PSAI) – an association of the Global Speakers Federation. Academically, he holds an MBA in International Business. Please visit www.ramapalaniappan.in to know more.
Ravi: What is your favorite short story?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: There are many. I am a fan of short stories. Especially, I like all the stories in the book Manase Relax Please by Swami Sukhabodhananda.
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan I am so fortunate to get much advice and insights from the expert writers. The one I liked the most is to ‘develop a habit of writing every day’. That changed my entire perspective about writing. Earlier, I wrote my speech scripts when there is a speech due. After receiving this golden advice to write every day, I started writing every day. That has nothing to do with my speaking assignments. I started with 200-300 words a day and now writing anywhere between 500-700 words a day. I think it is a great piece of advice.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan I write for myself. I publish some on my blog page. I just started writing in Medium. In the future, I want to write in leading magazines and dailies to reach more readers. The journey just began, and I am only one book old. There is a long way to go.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Being a Toastmaster, my eyes and ears are always wide open for events, incidents, and stories. I pick up such things and convert them into narratives. I firmly believe that conveying through stories would make a long-lasting impact in the minds of readers. That is why you see a lot of stories in my book to explain personal finance concepts.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Without any doubt, it energizes me. Writing expands the mind. It helps to think 360 degrees about what am writing. Sometimes, you need to add emotions, sometimes not. Unbiased writing to give the pure facts about a particular concept teaches you to look at things from all sides. Writing drives, me to think more about the concepts and pushes me to learn new things. When I read one of my reader’s posts on LinkedIn stating that my Zero EMI book is a masterpiece, it was so encouraging, exciting and energizing.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan Zero EMI is my first book. I started writing for this book, in May 2020 and published in September 2020. Lockdown handed over some hours to spare which otherwise I would have spent on commuting to the office. I made use of those extra hours to write this book and publish it. I do not have any plans to write another book, however, will keep writing in my blogs, Medium and other channels.
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan I would have started reading books at an early age. I learned and experienced that reading books can expand the mind, change perspectives, and uplift the person. The first habit called out in the book ‘9 daily habits of Warren Buffet’ written by Isaac Fox is ‘Reading’. Like investing, reading books is also essential to start early.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: I have not read anything other than the subjects in my childhood. Reading habit is something that I imbibed, after growing up. So, it is hard to say which is my favorite childhood book
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: I read self-help and finance books. In my opinion, self-help books are blessings to those who look for guidance to come up in life. It helps to build confidence, build new habits, and build new skills. 9 daily habits of Warren buffet, The monk who sold his Ferrari, Deep Work are some of my favorites.
Ravi: What one thing would you give up becoming a better writer?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Sleep. I am not joking. Early morning hours are the best to bring out the optimal output. It helps your thoughts to flow freely, as there is no noise or disturbance. I think it is a great way to start your day.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: My subject of Personal Finance demands writing about abstract concepts; however I believe in stories. They are wonderful carriers. So, I write short stories. All of them or most of them are real as I am poor in writing something out of my imagination.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Yes, I do at times. As a speaker and an author, I think I must be easily found by my audience and readers. When I myself cannot find me on the web, how come others will? So, I do google myself once in a few months to see if I still exist 😊. It is more about catching up with the current trend. I am also aware that there are so many wonderful people who do not have a web presence. They do exist. They are real legends. In the modern age, I think web presence is a key factor. I ensure that I have a decent web presence and at the same time I do not want to be noisy.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: As a reader, I have gained different perspectives while reading the same book for the second time or for the third time. In my opinion, there is no change in the book that I have already read. But the change is in my mind, in my level of awareness and in my current situation. These changes my takeaway from the book. All of a sudden, I find new hidden secrets in the book, which I did not discover when I read it for the first time. I believe that my book Zero EMI will also give such experiences to my readers. I eagerly wait for my readers to reveal the secrets that they uncovered.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: The book was published in mid-September and there is only 1 review in Amazon thus far. Grateful to see the 5-star rating. Even more encouraging, is the feedback from the reader. Few other readers made posts on LinkedIn and Facebook praising the book. I am glad that the book is useful and can bring changes to the spending pattern of the readers.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: I will start reading some of the fiction books, first. Then, I would be in a better position to answer this question.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: The key aspect in a book or an article or in a speech script is to identify what is not required rather than what is required. I kept removing many word, lines, and paragraphs during the editing rounds. My only aim was to keep it interesting and engaging for the readers. Finally, ended up with 108 pages. Some of my friends asked me to add more words as the book might look thin. I thought that more than the number of words or pages, it is the meaning that those written words convey, matters the most. I do not want the length to dilute the essence of the message. So, I went ahead with 108 pages and I am glad that I did it after seeing the positive responses for the book.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Maximum of 60 minutes a day. After that, I lose focus and momentum. Once lost, I observed that it takes a longer time to write even 1 or 2 lines. So, I wrap up when I get those signals and move on to my other morning routines.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: I am neither a part-time writer nor a full-time writer. Actually, I started writing for my Toastmaster speeches. When I reviewed my speech scripts with my wife, she is the one who told me that I write well. So, I started focusing not only on my speeches but also on writing those speech scripts.
I started speaking about debt-free life and ways to achieve financial freedom. My only intention in writing the book is to spread the message of Zero EMI, wider and not to earn money. When the publisher recommended keeping the MRP for my book at ₹199, I thought for a while. I do not want the cost to be a factor to stop my reader to buy the book. I insisted the publisher to keep the book price at ₹149 so that it does not hurt my reader's wallet. In this way, I was able to give ₹50 flat discounts to all of my readers.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: My first book Zero EMI came out of my own story. I looked deep inside me to bring out the stories in such a way that it is useful to my readers. The whole idea is to bring usefulness from my useless stories.
Ravi: What is the best way to market your books?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Sales and Marketing are not even my distant relatives. 😊 As selling more books and making money out if it is not my primary aim, I did not pursue serious marketing. However, this is very a good question.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Zero. I like the number Zero the most 😊
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: During editing, I learned many things. For example, it helped to identify implied words and avoid them so that the writing becomes sharper.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Saro Velrajan, Kiruba Shankar, Pravin Shekar, Sudhir Rao, Vinay Pushpakaran, Koushik Srinivasan, Sang Sha Sum, Srijata Bhatnagar, Anbarasu Thangavelu, Babu Krishnamoorthy are a few to name. The immense support from each of them in their own unique ways, helped me to shape up this book. They played their role in bringing in discipline into my writing, holding me accountable, helping with their candid feedback, onboarding the best cover designer and whatnot. I am so thankful to these wonderful people.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: I use a lot of real-life stories to convey my message. I believe stories can only make long-lasting impacts. As a child, we were not only fed with food but also with stories. We all grew up hearing stories. In my opinion, the readers want must be met with original writing.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Writing daily is an excellent piece of advice that I received. Everyday writing helped me to come up with the book Zero EMI. I think that is something that worked for me. Similarly, aspiring writers or beginners should also look at the advice that they receive and see what would work and what would not, for them. Pick any one or two pieces of advice and start implementing it.
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Magazines subscription can be for various reasons – to see what others are writing, to understand how others are writing, their style, their choice of words, etc., or even to learn how to write. First, one must determine the objective for a subscription and once done the choices are plenty. Nowadays, magazines are not the only place where people get to read. There are many numbers of websites catering to the different needs of the readers. A lot of reading happens on social media platforms, Medium and so on.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Ra Ma. Palaniappan: Zero EMI-Unlock Your Financial Freedom is a nonfiction book in the personal finance space. Research says that 90% of the people work for EMI and not for anything else. People are stuck in their job because of the EMIs they must pay. If you are one among them and wanting to get rid of your EMIs and if you are looking for ways to achieve Financial Freedom, then it is must-to-read. Zero EMI book will help you control your finances, instead of being controlled by them.
I tried to explain the concepts in simple English with the use of my personal stories. Happy to share few of the feedback from the readers:
It is a masterpiece
The author covered a vast array of topics related to effective debt management
It is mandatory for young professionals to read this book
The stories are so engaging and make the reading easy
The book title ‘Zero EMI’ is very intriguing
Thanks to Ra Ma. Palaniappan for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.