If there’s only one thing you must give Chetan Bhagat credit for, it has to be his self-awareness. Someone – he himself? – told him to engage in a dialogue with his fans, so he went right ahead and did precisely that. His FB status on August 7 read:

Feedback time. What can I do better? 
What kind of story should I write? Any other advice you have for me? Be civil. Be polite. Thanks. Much appreciated.

Brace yourself. The request got more than 18,000 likes and over 6,000 replies. He asked, the nation responded. The larger questions for some are ‘who cares’ and also ‘why am I reading this’. All legit questions, but you can’t deny the curiosity to know maybe just a little more. And so this comprehensive summary of what Bhagat’s fan nation has to say about his work.

If you haven’t being paying attention, we are currently between two much talked-about books: Half-Girlfriend (don’t ask) and Bhagat’s forthcoming political non-fiction book, titled Making India Awesome (I wish I had made that last title up). Besides the fact that Bhagat's timing is impeccable (new book!), what good writer in the digital age doesn’t use data analytics to inform their next influential book? The feedback and advice can be neatly divided into four categories, and we’re going to get right into them.

The opportunists

Nada on the feedback. The country’s most popular writer is opening up a conversation and everyone has got dibs, including the budding brights who place their replies like a gold chip on a roulette table.

“As a budding writer, I seek your feedback. Where can I share my work with you for guidance and support?” asks one optimistic fellow. One fast track to fame would to trash the process of writing and get by on a “Chetan workshopped my book” on the front cover. Hey, I am with this guy on this plan.

Another lady uses this space to follow up with CB asking him if he had received her letter that had meticulous notes on his last book. And yet another daring one asks him to please write her life story (of course he would have to personally follow up with her to get said story). Oh and there were the few unkind souls who asked Bhagat to refund the money they spent wasting their time reading his books.

The earnest advisors

Personally I wouldn’t mess with CB, for his true fans possess enough power and enthusiasm to surpass the Minions at a banana festival. Like any good fan, they want the best for their hero, and come up with earnest answers to his questions straight from the heart. They tell him that he should follow his dreams, that his style is unmatched, whatever he writes will be good.

They tell him to write more romance, maybe experiment with tragedy, and even to write from a woman’s perspective. They criticise constructively, asking him to add some edginess and to get more involved with the issues of the country. This spells one truth: the nation is ready to be inspired, to be moved, to be motivated – and, tragically, have only  one dude they can dump this duty on. Oh crap, you can almost hear CB think, this was supposed to be just a fun “engagement” post.

The light disciplinarians 

Ah, now time for some knuckle raps on CB’s last book. Here’s your data analytics, Chetan sir. No one was impressed with Half Girlfriend. You got called out on your “North-Indians can’t-speak-English” stereotyping and most were not a fan of the Bollywoodesque plot.

Some even tried to educate Bhagat on the difference between a book and a movie. (CB, take note: you don’t want those nasty producers buying your stories, stripping them of their literary nuance and merits and reducing them to hip-thrusting dance moves.)

Speaking of dancing, many weren’t pleased with his judging capabilities on the reality dance show Naach Baliye, because A) You don’t dance and B) You are an author. I thought that was pretty straight up advice, Chetan-babu, although you’re more than an author, you’re a national figure, and national figures have historically done whatever the blue-fish they want.

The crowd with an agenda 

Ah, now come the fans with motive. They’ve thought them through, ladies and gentlemen, and were just waiting for a chance to get CB to be and write what they want. “We want Chetan the writer not Chetan the choreographer or politician,” says one fan, but leaves out the part about how to be a writer.

Another one doesn’t liked CB’s sexual content, especially of the erotic variety – it’s too “old-fashioned”, he thinks. Yet another wants Bhagat to tackle the reservation “problem” in the country

And the brightest of them all? The guy who swears he’s not at all communal but needs CB to write a book on the greatness of Hinduism in order to “unify” the Hindus – because of the Islamic onslaught. He also apologises for the fact that he has never read a book by CB, but hey, that’s good news right CB? You instil the faith that you can write about anything - even about unifying the Hindus!

There you have it, a neat little summary of responses to how CB should write and what he can do better. So what did he need to write about again? My shoddy FB statistical calculations come to 50% asking for fantasy/adventure/ mystery, 30% saying stick to romance, 10% demanding political stuff, and a party-pooping 10% pleading, don’t write any more.

Want a more IIT/IIM type analysis? Here.