Ms. Venkatraman is the author of 20 contemporary Indian romance novels including the bestsellers The Malhotra Bride, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Smitten Husband, The Madras Affair, and all the three books of The Bansal Legacy Series (Simha International, Rose Garden International, and Maharaja International). She has written back to back several bestsellers and is known for creating strong women characters and desirable alpha males who are dominant yet caring and sensitive to their ladies.
Before writing she had a successful career as a content manager. She has worked with the biggies of the media and publishing world including Network 18, Bennett and Coleman, Infomedia 18, and burrp.com
Writing bug bit her in her 40s, and she started writing just as an outlet for her thoughts. There was no looking back for Sundari as she wrote. She kept on writing and within 6 months, she had 5 novels ready to be published.
Like all other writers, she had to shelf her books on her computer and get back to work as she didn’t find a publisher.
But today, she is one of the top-notch indie authors of India. Her books are not only published but become bestsellers one after another. She’s truly an inspiration for all the budding writers out there.
She has several achievements under her belt, the one being in the judging panel of the pentopublish2017 contest, an Amazon India initiative.
I felt privileged when I got a chance to interact with her and talk to her about her passion for writing. In my interview with her, she gets candid about her writing and publishing journey, the ups and downs of a writer’s life, and the future of independent publishing in India.
Here are the Excerpts of her interview with me:
Me: How did you take a plunge into the self-publishing world when there was very little awareness about independent publishing in India?
Sundari Venkatraman: Talk of being in the right place at the right time. I believe a lot in destiny.
I began writing at the end of the year 2000. Even before I thought of publishing, I had completed three manuscripts in the span of five months. After that, I kept submitting the synopses and sample chapters to many publishers around the world, via snail mail, mind you, since that was the only option available. I have many rejection letters for those publishers.
I went back to full time work and gave up writing. But it seemed that writing didn’t give up on me. I again wanted to tell stories and yes, I wanted people to read them. That’s when I began to blog my novels as weekly series on my blog. This also motivated me to write more and I was into my fifth book by now.
Reading a couple of chapters from one of my books, my friend Rubina Ramesh pointed me in the direction of Amazon KDP. I thought it may be complicated. But after reading Rasana Atreya’s blog on self-publishing—Rasana is a forerunner in indie publishing—I got my first book beta read, proofed, had a professional cover made and became a published author in the span of two weeks.
Me: From where did you get the inspiration for your books?
Sundari Venkatraman: I get my inspiration from reading. I read voraciously, especially books from the romance genre. Whenever I read a Nora Roberts, Georgette Heyer or a Janet Dailey, I visualise similar situations in India. And our country does offer so many premises with its rich cultural heritage and traditions while a family set up plays a huge role in people’s lives. News snippets about the world we live in, gossip columns, snippets on TV serials—anything and everything inspires me to tell stories.
Me: After writing several bestsellers back to back, how do you define success? Is it becoming rich and famous or is it all about self-satisfaction?
Sundari Venkatraman: It is both. I love being rich and famous and I am getting there, a step at a time. As for self-satisfaction, nothing to beat that one. I love weaving tales and I especially enjoy publishing my books at my pace. Like I complete my manuscript and the book is out within a maximum period of 10 days—the time taken for beta reading, proofing, formatting and getting the cover made. It’s immensely satisfying indeed.
Oh yeah, success. It is there in all these for sure. But what I like the most are when I see the number of pages actually being read of my books on my dashboard. Even when ebooks and paperbacks are sold, it does not guarantee that people actually read them. I have many books in my kindle and my bookshelf that I haven’t yet read. But Kindle Unlimited is proof that people read one’s books. Now, that’s the ultimate success for me.
Me: What is the future of self-publishing in India, especially publishing ebooks, when most of the Indians prefer reading mass market paperbacks?
Sundari Venkatraman: Self-publishing is here to stay. There are those screaming their lungs off saying that it’s shameful and that only authors who have been rejected by publishers take to it. That scenario has definitely changed and I am glad that I am one of the forerunners in removing that stigma. It feels good when traditional publishers chase me with their resumes, inviting me to work with them.
That said, we have enough audience for both ebooks as well as paperbacks. Kindle is best for carrying around, with thousands of books that could be stored in it. But yeah, both industries can definitely survive side by side with a bit of give and take.
Me: What Indians prefer to read – An entertaining and fun read or a Preachy lnspirational book?
Sundari Venkatraman: Your question reminds me of this woman I met during my recent trip to Chennai. My sister introduced the two of us and I told her that I write romance novels. She said that she would have bought my book in a jiffy only if they were preachy and inspirational. But alas, she couldn’t because they weren’t. I am guilty of mentally thumbing my nose at her because I felt she need not have told me what she did.
We can’t make a sweeping statement of all Indians in one breath. There is an audience for all kinds of books that are well written and presented professionally. I, for one, love to read books that entertain.
At the end of it all, didn’t the bard write for the same reason?
In the meanwhile, I also love to read Deepak Chopra, Devdutt Pattanaik, Neale Donald Walsch, to mention a few famous authors who write to inspire their audience.
So, we have an audience for all kinds of writing, for sure. One thing though, never turn preachy through fiction. I can’t stand it as many people out there who dislike it too.
She signs off…
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