March 17, 2015

My bit of sky--the experience so far...

The journey of a book never ends. It only gets more interesting as time goes by...

I have always been an avid reader. I still am one. However 2014 brought along with it an opportunity to view the world from the other side of the book, to peep at the reader and talk to him through printed words on bound pages that would turn yellow with time and yet stand testimony to something I once spilled my soul debut novel 'Twists Of Fate'.

I started writing 'Twists Of Fate'  as a dedication to the beautiful bond of friendship. Ironically, I had kept this a secret from my friends until the very end. I wanted it to be a surprise. It was on 3rd August (Yes, Friendship Day) last year that I created this page on Facebook. I was nervous, anxious and excited all at the same time. Nervous because I was doubtful they wouldn't take it too well (me keeping such a big secret from them), anxious because I was eager to know their reaction, and excited because I knew that the ones who mattered would be too happy celebrating the news rather than dwell on the fact that they were not privy to it. Thus started the journey of 'Twists Of Fate'...

As expected, it was just a small bunch of people who 'liked' the page. The social exile I had been on would be taking its toll. Acquaintances I hadn't stayed in touch with were going to act pricey...ignore me...pretend I was dead. But who could blame them? I hadn't been Ms Congeniality myself. I was guilty of not having commented on my favorite blogs, not 'like'ing updates on facebook walls, and hardly even calling up friends, leave alone hanging out with them in the preceding months. So it was get-back time. Besides I was promoting something that wasn't even out then, to a bunch of people who had stopped liking me. Figure the odds!
Yet, some out of general curiosity and some for old times sake decided to tag along. With regular updates on the page, there begun a tiny trickle of followers. A few old friends got over the initial surprise  and showed extra enthusiasm, thus making up for the meager number of likes.

The days that followed were filled with trepidation. I kept worrying my publishers, like it was the first book they were going to publish. I kept checking on the progress of the process. I had promised people it would be out soon. How soon did 'soon' mean? Close friends and family (who were apparently the only ones I could see by my side) wanted to know from me. I wanted to know from my publishers. Besides I kept waking up in cold sweat with nightmares of me being the laughing stock amidst jealous ex-batchmates (C'mon, who are we kidding? We all have those!) for not having lived up to my word and having created much ado about nothing. Thankfully, Mahaveer Publishers did not let me down. The book was out was promised to me and as I had promised to no one in particular and yet everyone in general.

'Twists Of Fate' finally saw the light of day on the bright and auspicious occasion of Diwali (23rd September 2014). As boxes of copies were dispatched to be delivered to those who pre-ordered, I was hoping that my efforts would be appreciated. That is when I realized how much a book actually means to an author. I felt like I was putting my baby out there, from the safe confines of a protected and pampered environment into one where it would be subjected to the sharp and critical eye of the non-biased bibliophile.
As the book made its way to the readers, I waited...for some sort of reaction, review, feedback. Luckily , I did not have to wait long. While my best friends were competing with each other to finish reading the book, they were blissfully unaware that a complete stranger who was gobbling it up at break neck speed would race them to it. For me, however, it was an exhilarating feeling when my first review came as an email from the stranger who had found her way to my page and pre-ordered the book on a whim. It was one of the happiest moments of my life when she emailed to tell me she loved the book. She wrote that 'Twists Of Fate' had tugged at her heart strings, more because of a personal situation she was herself going through..
The journey there onwards continued in baby steps, with reviews, ratings, and feedback coming in from readers all over.
Book reviews are like precious gems that an author holds very dear. An author can speak to his reader through his book.But it's rather unfortunate that there is no way to know what is going on in the readers mind, unless the reader lays his thoughts before you. Be it bouquets or brickbats, any kind of feedback is welcome. Of course, the bouquets make you happy and the brickbats hurt as hell. But we can always remember the bouquets and learn from the brickbats, can't we? Until now, the readers have been kind. (Knock on wood). Most have appreciated and acknowledged my humble effort, for which I  am grateful.
Honestly, no one wants negative criticism. Positive words have a soothing effect, especially on the panic stricken nerves of a debutante . However, I know I must keep improving, because that's what an author is meant to do. An author is supposed to keep getting better...he owes the reader that much.

Realizations are a part of every journey. One essential thing I learned during my journey is patience. Good news comes to those who wait. I learned that people are going to read your book not when you ask them to but when (and if) they want to.  I have also learned that overnight success is hardly ever possible. I have realized that a lot of people whom I had considered readers DO NOT read at all. I have learned that people are often ready to spend three hundred bucks for a coffee, but think twice before spending less than half that amount on a book. I have even met people who think buying books is the obligation you have towards the author only if he/she throws a big launch party and invites you. (No! There was no party to launch my book. Consider it a way to sort out the actual 'readers', who will be invited to the mega launch of my next book, from the 'pretenders' who will obviously be not.). I have been approached by a fellow blogger who made me answer an ultra lengthy and boring list of interview questions, send photographs and other details, and was then irresponsible enough to indefinitely postpone posting it on his blog. (It's been months now, and I have a very good mind to disclose all about it in a separate post...Hah!)

But like every scenario, this journey has a beautiful bright side too. A few wonderful friendships have been discovered along the way. I have received amazing feedback, thanks to which I now know whom to choose as my beta readers the next time around. I am now socially more active on Twitter and Facebook,which tell me that for every two utterly ridiculous and foolishly stubborn bigots, there are twenty-five extremely creative and highly progressive minds tweeting away their opinions in the hope that it will bring about a change some day.
I had a lovely time answering questions for interviews at Godyears, Readomania, Sruti's Book Corner etc.
With all these refreshing experiences, I soon learned to enjoy the positives and ignore the negative aspects of the journey. I decided to focus less on the cloud, and concentrate more on the silver lining. It wasn't long before I decided to throw out the road map. I was going to dive in hook, line and sinker.

I am not sure if life really works out best when unplanned. But what I know for sure is that when you plan out things and they don't work like the way you want them to, you are disappointed. Taking one day at a time always helps. I learned to keep my expectations at bay. Good news was starting to slowly pour in. 'Twists Of Fate' got ranked in the first 100 Amazon bestseller list for a while. I was stopped by a stranger on the airport and asked to autograph his copy of the book. These are probably small things to a lot of authors. But to me, they made my day. I'd be grinning like a Cheshire cat every time someone complimented 'Twists Of Fate', when someone told me they were ordering extra copies to gift their friends. My baby was being acknowledged.
Cut to present day. The icing on the cake..yours truly is nominated in the category of 'Literary Diva' for the Author's Ink Literary Awards 2015.  Check out my interview here.
The results depend on 50% judges decision and 50% voting. 
Voting ends 18th March (tomorrow) midnight. So please hurry and cast your votes now. All you have to do is click on the link here and vote for one nominee in each listing until you reach mine...i.e 'Literary Diva (best writer female)'. Once you are there, find my name (Priyanka Naik) and vote. Err...Simple, isn't it? *blush*

On a more serious note,
If you believe in friendship and have friends you cannot imagine life without...
If life has ever made you wonder about fate and its conspiracies...
AND if you think you can trust my word and give my debut attempt a chance to prove itself, then please do pick up this book :)

Twists Of Fate' is available at Amazon and Flipkart.

Yes, the journey of a book never ends, and I hope to meet you somewhere along the way...

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