Author and publisher David Davidar said that aspiring writers should throw all caution to the winds and should be willing to take risks to come up with spectacular works.
Mr. Davidar, who was discussing “A life in books” with writer Namita Gokhale at the Hay Festival on Saturday, said that debut writers must be well prepared and also aware of the publishing scene.
“It is important to do your homework. You need to have read enough and try and figure out how books work. You also need to figure out what kind of publishers to approach because most publishing houses have a distinctive profile,” he said.
He said that writers need not get dejected by rejection adding that his own first book was abjectly rejected by the publisher. “The writer needs to trust the editor. If the publisher is telling what is wrong with your book it is better that you listen,” said Mr. Davidar who has authoredHouse of Blue Mangoes,The Solitude EmperorsandIthaca.
Mr. Davidar said that it is often the debut writer, and not the established writer, who often is very insecure and are very protective of every comma and every full stop.
“Vikram Seth is one of my closest friends. But as an author he is also a perfectionist. At one point during the work he actually moved into my house during the editing ofA Suitable Boy. We lost hundreds of pages while editing the book which went on to be one of his best works,” he said.
Mr. Davidar said that he got into the business of publishing accidently while studying in the United States.
“Penguin India started off from a three bedroom flat in New Delhi. The launch of Peguin India coincided with the works of some of the greatest writers of our country like Arundhati Roy and Vikram Seth. Today we have grown into a giant publishing company with millions of books ,” he said.
Mr. Davidar also added that there is a new found confidence among writers in India today when there is a happy balance between different genres of writers and publishers.