Last year, Savi Sharma self published her book on “Friendship Day”. Impatient to get her story out, she’d decided to opt out of the conventional, mainstream publishing route. “I had faith in my story, and the trust that people would love it. I just wanted to publish the book, I was very excited.” So, with the help of a friend, she approached Thompson Press with her manuscript. The process was quick, and soon, Savi’s first book, “Everyone has a Story”, was launched. Within a month, it had sold approximately 5000 copies via Amazon, and its Facebook page had accumulated an impressive number of followers. Soon, Savi’s inbox was flooded with mails not just from fans, but also established publishing houses. In less than a year, “Everyone has a Story” had found not just its readers, but also a new publisher — Westland. The publishing house recently signed a two-book deal with this 26-year-old author from Surat, beginning with a reprint of her first this June.
Savi, who is the co-founder of the motivational media blog ‘Life & People’ and also of www.storytellerdiaries.com, explains that “Everyone has a Story” isn’t really her first novel, just her first published one. “Before this, I wrote a book I titled ‘Silent Love’, but I thought it was immature, and not really ready for publishing. A friend advised me to write about something more personal, from the heart.” Looking for inspiration, Savi decided to turn to herself, and the result was a book populated by characters carrying parts of herself. “From the idea of writing about myself comes a character looking for her first story — Meera, another one who has the urge to travel the world — Vivaan, and someone who wants to open a café — Kabir. All of them are part of me.” The book follows the story of these characters, as their lives entwine and common threads emerge.
Perhaps due to the relatable, simple approach Savi brings to the book, one that carries the fragments of its writers own story, she managed to immediately draw her readers in. “To begin with, my friends read the book and loved it. They’d point out specific lines to me that had really touched them, that they’d found inspiring.” Promoting her book almost entirely on Facebook, Savi began to use these lines as promotional campaigns, putting them up as statuses and captions — lines such as “I guessed having stories stuck in my own soul was the reason and the need to hear other people’s stories. But I didn’t just want to hear stories; my heart was aching to tell a beautiful story which would change people’s lives or at least mine”, or “You are not just one, you are an infinity. An infinity of love, care, trust, respect, understanding. A universe of inspirations, aspirations, hope and happiness. Maybe you are the universe out there which I explore. Or the universe in me that I seek.”
Soon, word spread, and now Savi’s book was being bought by not just friends, family and acquaintances, but also strangers. Pages for the book on sites like Amazon and Goodreads were stacking up rave reviews, and “Everyone has a Story” had become India’s first successful self-published novel by a female author.
Before Westland, Savi would use Facebook to promote her book, and sell it exclusively via Amazon. Within her hometown of Surat, she visited a couple of bookstores with requests to stock copies of her book and left a few of them at coffee shops, but outside, her reach was via the virtual world. Now, she is happy about the reach the book will get through mainstream publishing. “As a short term plan, self-publishing is good, but conventional publishing gets you long term benefits, even in terms of royalties.” When Savi first published her book, she’d had access to limited funds as a student. “I’d had to borrow from my parents, because just the first print run of 1000-1500 copies was expensive. After that, I’d reinvest the royalties for further print runs.”
Apart from benefits like better reach and long term results, Savi is also happy to be working with established editors. “Before this, I’d edited it myself. Now I get to work with editors who have so much experience. This reprint just means that the book gets better.”