Savi Sharma - the author of Everyone Has a Story and This is Not a Story writes ‘inspiring fiction’ that according to her, makes her books commercially viable.
She calls herself ‘a simple girl from Surat’ who quit her Chartered Accountancy studies to become a story-teller. The 24-year-old joined the ranks of best-selling authors in India when her book Everyone Has a Story touched the magical 100,000 number.
What’s surprising is that Savi Sharma opted to self-publish the book, before it was picked up by publishers, because as she puts it, ‘I knew I had a good story to show the world’.
In an interview with HerStory, she talks about being a best-selling author, the writing process, pulp-fiction and the role of marketing in publishing.
HerStory: What prompted you to become a writer?
Savi Sharma: The stories around and in my life were the inspiration for my writing. I was pursuing CA and had to clear just the finals. But the story of Meera and Vivaan had me take a break. The more I got involved in the entire process, the more I found the ‘true me’. Finally, I let go of my studies to become a writer. I realised I didn’t want to deal with numbers but stories. Writing is something which gives me clarity of thought. I wanted to discover myself yet live different lives in one lifetime.
HS: The Indian literary world is calling you a phenomenon. Hundred thousand copies of your book Everyone Has a Story were sold in 100 days. How do you feel?
SS: I feel very special. More than the numbers, I feel very happy to read the reviews my readers write on online sites and on my social media handles. It motivates me to do better.
It feels wonderful to know that my words have the power to touch people’s hearts and souls, inspire them, heal them and help them to be better people. I receive hundreds of emails and messages every day from my readers, sharing their stories, and how Everyone Has A Story and This Is Not Your Story has become an inseparable part of their lives.
For me, success is happiness and contentment. A 17-year-old boy e-mailed me that he had lost all hope in life and wanted to commit suicide, but after he read my book, it gave him a reason to live. It inspired him to follow his dreams. That was the moment I felt successful. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
HS: Your first book Everyone Has a Story was self-published before it was taken up by other publishers. Were you confident that the book would do well?
SS: I was pretty sure I would self-publish it. If I had gone the traditional way, I would have had to wait for months to get it published. I didn’t want to wait; I knew I had a good story to show to the world. I simply believed in my story and the power of social media and internet to promote the book on my own.
HS: Can you tell us more about your books, the premise, and the characters?
SS: My first book Everyone Has a Story is an inspirational story of friendship, dreams, and life with a flavour of love and romance. It’s the story of Meera, a fledgling writer who is in search of a story that can touch millions of lives; Vivaan, an assistant branch manager at a bank who dreams of travelling the world; Kabir, a café manager who desires something of his own, and Nisha, a despondent customer of the café who keeps secrets of her own. Everyone has their own story yet their lives are interwoven. Together they explore friendship and love, writing their own pages of life, from the cosy café to the ends of the world.
My second book This Is Not Your Story is a tale of courage, hope, and self-discovery. It’s the story of Shaurya, a CA student who wants to follow his dreams. It’s the story of Miraya, an interior designer who starts believing in love and Anubhav, an aspiring entrepreneur who needs to give life another chance. The book is about realising that we all have the power to rewrite our own stories.
HS: Can you tell us about the writing process?
SS: I decide the soul, and the message of my book before I start writing. It took me around 4-5 months to finalise the plots of my books. And then I spent another month on writing the first draft. I draw inspiration from real life experiences and by observing people around me. Each character has shades of different stories that I came across in life.
While penning the story, the most difficult part was to wake up every day and motivate myself, “Savi, you can do it.”
HS: Is this the age of pulp fiction in India and why we have best-selling authors?
SS: Even with more than a billion people in India, it’s not possible to sell even a million copies of a book. Indian youth doesn’t read much literature or fiction. Now with social media and other free content available on the internet, the industry is finding it even hard to grow or maintain readership in India.
Pulp fiction is playing a big role in steadily growing that reader base. Most of my readers are first-time readers and are slowly developing reading habits.
HS: Did marketing play a great role in the sales of the book?
SS: Digital marketing played a huge role in the sales and success of my book. When I self-published my book, I picked up the best content from my book and posted it creatively on various social media sites which went viral. People started loving the excerpts and lines from the book. I ran some Facebook ads to reach more people online and it worked wonders. That’s how my book landed up #1 on Amazon and other online sites.
HS: What would you say to critics who deride the quality of current Indian writing?
SS: I would suggest they provide constructive criticism rather than bashing a book just to satisfy their own egos. I also strongly suggest they write books rather than criticise them as it would really help to grow readership in India.