Today I bring to you, Sundari Venkatraman – Amazon bestselling author, who discovered her love for writing pretty late in life, but went on to pursue her dream of being an author. From self-publishing her debut novel – The Malhotra Bride to traditionally publishing her latest – The Madras Affair; from being a newbie author to being an Amazon bestselling author, Sundari has seen quite a bit. Today, she shares some of her insights with us. Over to you, Sundari. 🙂
Hi Shantala, thank you so much for hosting me here, and a ‘Hello’ to all readers of this blog!
If you are aspiring to be an author, then this post is for you. I bring you some important things that you need to keep in mind on your way to becoming a bestselling author.
- Read as much as you can. Read all kinds of books, in the language you plan to write; also the genre you like the best. This really helps one’s imagination take off. Reading and visualizing are the foundation for writing.
- Write regularly. Don’t let it faze you if you don’t see people reading what you write. As you keep writing good, interesting, and well proofed content, you will automatically get a fan following. However busy you are, write at least 500-1000 words every day – article or fiction is for you to decide.
- Ideally, set up a blog. Write on varied topics that you feel passionately about, as well as topics that are trending: like the book that’s got on the bestseller list; the latest movie; or anything that’s close to your heart. It’s excellent practice.
- Once you have your manuscript ready, you should get beta readers to check your work. This should not be your best friends and relatives UNLESS they can be brutally honest. If your brother or sister or aunt tells you your book is excellent, don’t fall for it. Get an honest and unbiased opinion. Maybe your writing skills need honing. This stage is an important stepping stone and you need to be wary of slipping. Nowadays, with self-publishing made so easy, there are a number of people who just write a book and publish. Your first book is the first impression readers are going to have of your work. IF this fails, your writing career is doomed. I don’t want to sound negative, but this is a make or break situation. A bit of patience at this stage can go a long way in setting you up for a lifelong career in writing, because if there are no readers, the author ceases to exist.
- The next step would be to find out details of publishing houses that publish the genre that you excel in. Read the guidelines that the publishers have on their websites and follow those meticulously to present your work for publishing. There are also many reliable literary agents you can present your work to. This may take some time. Don’t get impatient. Consider this a completed project and go on to write your next. Yes, that’s the main job of an author – to write. Everything else is subsidiary.
Warning: Don’t go in for vanity publishing. This might seem like an easy way, but it’s not worth it. You should not pay to be published at any point. Your contribution is your creativity; not money. Save this money for marketing. You will need it then.
- Two other things that I believe are important to the success of your book – an eye-catching cover and a perfect title, that’s as unique as possible. When a reader browses through hundreds of new titles in a bookshop, your cover and title will go a long way in convincing him/her to buy your book.
- Once you are published – congratulations, it’s the best thing that could happen to an author – you have to market yourself and your book. Marketing is the second most important thing that an author needs to do. And it’s the writer’s job more than the publisher’s. Nowadays, with social media, marketing is pretty easy. The more visibility you have as an author, the better chance of selling your books. Be open to doing interviews on websites and blogs. These happen with more ease than newspapers and they have a big reach.
- Do your best to get review copies out to book reviewers who read your genre of books. You can also join author groups where you can find like-minded people and discover ways to promote your book.
At the end of it all, what I have realized is that the content counts the most. How much ever you promote your book, hire the best of marketing agencies, you are a bestselling author when people want to read your work and are eagerly awaiting your next.
Meet – Sundari Venkatraman
Growing up on a heavy dose of fairy tales and comic books, Sundari fell in love with the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end.
Soon, into her teens, Sundari graduated to Mills & Boon romances. And that got her thinking – how about such breezy romances in Indian settings? Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years.
Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! Sundari had just quit her job as a school admin and was taking a break. She was saturated with reading books. That’s when she returned home one evening after her walk, took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like watching a movie that was running in her head – all those years of visualising a perfect Indian romance had to be put into words. The dormant romantic storyteller in her finally found its calling and The Malhotra Bride was born. While she felt disheartened when publishing didn’t happen, it was her husband who encouraged her to keep writing.
In the meanwhile, she landed a job as copy editor with Mumbai Mirror. After working there for two years, she moved to the Network 18 Group and worked with two of their websites over the next six years, as content editor.
Despite her work schedule, she continued writing novels and short stories and had them published in her blogs. She also started blogging voraciously, writing on many different topics – travel, book reviews, film reviews, restaurant reviews, spirituality, alternative health and more.
Her first eBook Double Jeopardy – a romance novella – was published by Indireads and has been very well received by readers of romance.
In 2014, Sundari published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition); Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven (a collection of romantic short stories) in form of ebooks.
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