Author Sushmita Das must-read story before you approach a publisher. An Eye-opener for sure!
A brief about author Sushmita Das
Sushmita Das – Born and brought up in Kolkata and presently based in Odisha. Sushmita, besides being an educator in English, has multifarious interests especially in the creative field. Her greatest passion is to play with words and has a collection of poems to her credit. She romances the nuances of nature, believes in simplicity and regards reciprocity.
Her first novel The Foreplay of Providence was published in 2015. Her second novel The Tough Gets Going was published in 2017. Since her husband was the pivot of the second novel, so a few words about him. The story and visualization is by Simanta Das, born to a bureaucratic and renowned family of Cuttack, Odisha, an adept sportsperson, a tennis freak, has a highly creative mind.
How long did it take to get your first novel / book published?
I always had a passion for writing poems. I had never dreamt that I would be an author one day. When my friends and relatives read my poems, they sort of pressed me to try my hands at writing a full-fledged book or novel.
As I sat down to write, I was obviously in deep troubled waters. I was clueless and could not fathom what to write. It then struck me that whatever I write should include some of my poems in it. Thus it all started. My first book ‘The Foreplay of Providence’, with two short stories, which has some of my poems, took a year to complete.
My tribulations did not end there as I did not know what to do next. One day I saw the post of a self-publishing company, Patridge India. I contacted them with a lot of apprehension, but to my surprise they showed interest, quite obvious since I would be paying for the printing. But that really did not bother me. I just wanted my book to be released. It took three months for me to hold my book physically. The book was released in 2014.
What mistakes did you make with the publishing of your first book which you try not to repeat?
Excitement knew no bounds when I held my first book in my hand. It was an overdose of joy and excitement. But soon the harsh reality crept in. What would I do with the book unless it reaches the reader? The marketing aspect was not included in the package apart from being available on Flipkart and Amazon that too print on demand and I had no knowledge how to go about it.
This disappointed me a lot. When I contacted my publisher they informed that marketing could be done but on a separate package. That meant I would have to pump more money in, for which I was not really ready. So whatever I could do, I did.
So how did you take this further?
I had to personally tap to make my book known to the people through personal contact and Facebook page to reach out to readers. I organised a launch in Bhubaneswar @ Oxford Bookstore and a book reading session @ Kolkata. But unfortunately it was not enough to establish my effort. I was completely shattered and decided not to go into all this anymore.
A year later something strange happened. Out of the blue I remembered the story my husband had told me almost two decades back. The storyline had really touched me then. But nothing came out as it remained a thought only and was soon forgotten by both of us.
But this sudden remembrance, gave me the urge to write and my second book came into existence. It took me two long years to complete my second novel ‘The Tough gets Going’ as I had to go according to the storyline provided by my husband.
This time I decided to change the publisher. I came across Bluerose Publishers. I had learnt from my mistakes so this time I had a better agreement with my publisher who provided me a greater platform and a more effective one with press release, seminars, website, a trailer video, book launch and book reading sessions. The book was displayed in various book fairs and the Oxford bookstore, Delhi besides being available on Amazon.
Can you focus on working on two books or stories at the same time?
As I am otherwise committed to a very demanding profession, it is not always possible to devote time to myself. Unless one has the proper frame of mind, it’s difficult to think and express it. So, for me this is simply not possible.
Is there a modus operandi you follow and formulate before you actually start writing your next book?
For me, there is no fixed modus operandi. I write what my heart tells me to write. I have no set rules, I follow no specific format. My creation is a spontaneous overflow of my feelings and my visualisations. But of course I make a flowchart of my storyline to guide me. Characters shape up automatically as the story develops.
Does the writer’s block actually exist? Any tips you would give to come out of it.
I truly believe that there is writer’s block. I often become a victim of this which makes me completely helpless. The smooth flow of words gets choked, imagination gets clogged and leaves me totally defocused, mentally foggy, stressed and frustrated.
In such times, I go through my own writings to remind me that I can still write; read the book that has inspired me over the years; or wait patiently for some rambling thoughts to throng my fatigued mind.
What was the book that most influenced your life, and why?
The complete works of Khalil Gibran, that’s my source of inspiration. Whenever I go through the pages of this book something within me churns up and I feel an incredible urge to express.
How often do you read other novels? Who are your favourite authors?
Literature reflects life, a kind of instructive mimesis. It makes us lead more than one life making our imagination livelier, our thoughts deeper. We revel every moment as we fathom the unfathomed embarrassment of riches – enchanting nonsense, humour, sensuousness, anguish or heartbreak. So it is extremely necessary to read to help you develop a style of writing and to give wings to your imagination.
My favourite authors: Khalil Gibran (my inspiration), Pablo Coelho, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Ashwin Sanghi, Preeti Shenoy, and the wonderful Romantic poets Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, the list is never ending. My choices are varied as per the mood.