BESTSELLING AUTHOR Savi Sharma is riding high on the mammoth success of her debut novel Everyone Has a Story. A self-published book, it sold one lakh copies in 100 days on the back of an ambitious social media campaign. Now, out with her second book, This is Not Your Story, 23-year-old Sharma tells Namrata Rao what led her to self-publish her first book and the huge role social media plays in a writer’s life today. Edited excerpts:
Tell us about your new book This is Not Your Story.
With my first book Everyone Has a Story, I wanted to inspire people. For my second book, I wanted my story to not just inspire, but compel people to take a step to change their lives. Only inspiration isn’t enough. So I have tried to convey that message through my characters.
Tell us about the genesis of your first book, Everyone Has a Story.
It was while I was in the first year of college that I decided to write professionally. Our results were supposed to come out in 10 days’ time and I was very tense. To divert my mind, I started reading novels for the first time in my life. I read Chetan Bhagat, Ravinder Singh, etc. In those 10 days, I read 12 novels. And that’s when I decided that I wanted to become an author. I started writing my first novel shortly thereafter. It took me around four years to write it, but I wasn’t satisfied with it. I thought if someone is reading my book, he/she should get something in return. They should be inspired by it. So I decided not to publish that one and write another story. That’s when I started writing Everyone Has a Story in 2015. It took me around five months to finish it.
Which publishers did you go to and what were their reactions?
I didn’t approach any publisher because I knew that if I went the traditional way, it would take a lot of time. I was very confident about my book and that it would connect with readers, so I decided to self-publish. The book was published in August 2015.
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How did you go about self-publishing?
Once I had finished writing Everyone Has a Story, I got it edited by a college professor and a friend. After that, I researched to see where all big publishing houses got their books printed, got in touch with one of the printers and got 2,000 copies printed. Then, I opened a seller account on Amazon.in and sent my books to the website’s warehouse. After that, we started promoting the book on Facebook. My initial readers—friends and family—had told me that the book had some beautiful inspirational quotes, so I made a list of these and made creative images with them to be shared on Facebook. People started sharing those quotes widely. Thanks to that exposure, we were able to sell 5,000 copies in one month. Once the initial 2,000 copies were sold, we ordered another 3,000. Soon, I was getting calls from publishing houses to re-publish my book with them.
How important do you think is the opportunity of self-publishing for a fledgling writer today?
In the past years, people used to say self-publishing is a bad choice, as you can’t sell more books through it. But today, it’s a great opportunity. You can sell books if you know how to go through the entire process. But yes, you need to learn many things like how to connect with the audience, etc. If you do it effectively, you can be successful.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The pros are that you don’t have to wait for publishing houses. You can publish your book yourself. The cons are that it’s a costly affair. Initially, you need to invest something. Also, you need to learn how to market and distribute your book. It’s hard work.
What role does social media play in an author’s life today?
In my case, it’s only social media that has helped me reach where I am today. It is something which, if used effectively, can take you places. You can connect with your audience… your content can be seen by people who are your target audience. And they can connect with you as well.