WHY DO I WRITE?
We all remember the first book we wrote. For some, it was an experience that motivated to write more. For some, it was an experience that catapulted them to international glory. However, there are a lot of them… including me for whom it was more than just a forgettable experience, it was like a bad dream that we just want to forget.
I was 23 years old when I published my first book titled SANDHYA. It had a unique story line, perhaps the only thing that I am proud about in this book (which is also the reason why I want to remake it and will surely do in future).
This is the summary – A scientist working for an Indian space research centre invents a wonder machine named ‘SANDHYA’ that could provide electricity to over 1000 villages through the principle of solar energy. Goga, a conman hunted by the defense force of India for over 20 years plans to steal it. Goga has been successful in stealing many secrets of top organizations all over the world and he has succeeded with the help of a vast network whose location no one has unraveled even with the help of advanced tracking technologies.
Four army officers are assigned the daunting task of finding and capturing Goga before he steals the wonder machine which is now a pride of the nation and should not fall into the wrong hands. Can they succeed? Can they complete the mission where others have failed? They have just 3 months and time is already running out!
Well, it goes without saying that I am highly influenced by Bollywood and of course, Hollywood but Bollywood is my first love. I am talking about the 2000s when Bollywood was busy delivering rom-coms and some occasional action movies that got shrouded under the ‘fearsome’ rom-coms that was minting money at the box office. My love for action movies resulted in this ‘masterpiece’ that I so wanted to be made into a movie.
It was my 3rd year as a customer support rep in a well-known BPO and I must say, I was earning quite well for someone of my age at that time. However, the young blood in me craved for more. I did receive support especially from mom (and she still supports my passion, whatever I am today is no doubt because of her… however, my English is good thanks to my father. He he) but support is something that is always available. I needed a guide but sadly, my young blood was dead against it.
That brings to the starting point of my bad dream – the name of the book. Everyone kept asking – why I named the book ‘SANDHYA’? My answer, it is referencing the giant satellite in my book that had the power to give electricity to a 1000 villages and the scientist had named it after his dead wife (Ok, yeah, I am… no, not lying, I had a friend back in college of the same name and we are still best friends. She was kinda happy that there is a book out there with her name but sadly, the book is no more in production. Why? I am coming to that.)
Everyone told me to change it, the ‘whole planet’ was dead against it but my young blood was not listening to anyone. Rebellious as it was, it had a list of justifications for using that name. Anyway, the story was complete and now I needed to send this baby out with a bang. Now, if you are thinking that Google came to my ‘rescue’, you are not totally wrong but the fact there are a ‘million’ (you heard that right) publishers out there was also not a helpful enough statistic to be happy about.
It is during this time that I got to know that the publishing industry was divided in a ‘multiple’ way allowing the most ‘horrendous’ of writers to approach any kind of publishing that they feel comfortable with. Indeed, experience is experience… to the extent that a friend of mine asked me to write a guest blog on his site about the 2 types of publishing. To make a long story short, there are 2 types – Traditional and Self-publishing.
Traditional publishers are those who fall in love with your book and crosses the seas, the oceans, the milky way galaxy, the andromeda galaxy, to the heavens… to see to it that your book is top ranked in every damned list that exists on this planet or in this universe. However, self-publishing (and I am proud to be a self-published author) is where you invest in your book and cross the seas, the oceans, the…. you know!
However, you cannot blame a traditional publisher for looking for the next best thing. Needless to say, you cannot blame anyone who is searching for nothing but the best. Quite like the not-so-hot looking lady dreaming about marrying a handsome hunk when her true love is sitting right next to her, and has all the qualities except for a 6 pack or god-like biceps.
What’s more, the time that a traditional publisher takes to evaluate your work which is nothing but a drop of the ocean. They answer only if they have found their ‘true love’, otherwise, no answer for 6 months, consider it rejected but if you do deliver something that can make the earth shake… you are all set to be on top of the world.
Self-publishing is the other way around. The publishing house is not looking for the next best thing, they want you to feel that you are creating something that can make the earth shake, make the sky fall to the ground… and for that, they encourage you to make a small time investment. However, this is where the controversy begins… and my bad dream too.
I fell into the hands of a vanity publisher. The young blood in me failed to realize at that time that while my future was in some way secured thanks to my job, the company’s future was within a few years going down the drains. – RAIDER PUBLISHING INTERNATIONAL (the owner filed for bankruptcy chap. 13 in 2013… not sure what happened after that). You check Google again and you will find numerous complaints about this company which were seemingly less when I got to know about it. Not that I did not try other publishers but you know, the young blood in me… was over-confident that I had written the next best thing.
I believe in positive thinking and the power of gratitude, and if I have any bit of gratitude for this company at present, it is only related to the fact that they not only helped this amateur writer realize his dreams but also, in a way hurt the ego of the young blood in me… and in time, the young blood in me toned down giving birth to a new self that was ready to continue with his passion even if a few people in this world recognized me as a writer.
Coming back to the book ‘SANDHYA’, the publisher charged an exorbitant amount which was unheard of during 2009. Indeed, a lot of people were under the impression that a writer usually gets an advance if the book is selected for publishing but a writer paying to get his book published… kinda strange that no one heard of a self-publishing company. Perhaps, there wasn’t many at that time in India… but I may be wrong.
My mom and I still went ahead. I even took a loan (which went into collection later because I forgot there was one payment remaining. Damn!) and paid it. The contract was signed, my manuscript was sent and thus, began the long wait for the book to be published. This was… and is still one of the complaints that the company gets. My recent books took 1-2 months to get edited and published but RAIDER PUBLISHING took a year to get my book published.
All my dreams of delivering the next best thing came crashing down when the book released. My story was childish in all ways… and I know it when I read it today but that was just the tip of the icicle. It was badly edited, was highly priced… worse than that, for some reason, my book was actually doing well and I got to know this when I searched Google for my book and found a few people actually talking amazing things about it.
Yet, when the sales figure was sent to me, it stated that around 50 books were sold. My mom was sad but it was different for me. I had kept my writing alive and was ready with another story but the performance of my first book led to depression. I was angry, devastated… I decided to not pursue my passion. My own story started and ended with a blink of an eye (and I am not exaggerating).