Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My first: a story that must be told

In August of 2009, I signed my first, meaningful book contract. It was for my chapbook of poems, “Kaleidoscope: An Asian Journey of Colors,” with Modern History Press.

I was a newbie in the publishing world then sending out query letters to publishing houses. Quite a few of them got back to me and several didn’t. A significant number of editors expressed interest in my project but with a few hiccups. Poetry is difficult to sell, as there are fewer people reading it compared to fiction or nonfiction. Plus, I don’t really use the race-card in writing, so it was difficult to “categorize” me.

But I didn’t give up. I had faith in both my work and kismet connection (No, not the terrible Hindi movie). I knew when my book did get an offer, it would be from the right publishing house. A company that would accept my work & me as a writer for what I bring to the table, not my ethnicity or religion or other politically suave-markers.

I am into yoga, reiki, and meditation or as my brother and hubby tease me, “All crazy stuff.” Good energy and gut feeling influence the path I walk on and the decisions that I make. I cannot ignore that voice. Whether it’s buying a house, accepting a job, eating at a restaurant, talking to a doctor, or interacting with a publisher, I have to have that conviction at the pit of my stomach or else I walk away.

I am almost incapable of business-type, one-time gratification. The loyalist in me believes in building relationships. Opportunities come and go; people stay. I am also a realist apart from being an artist. I know that with my attitude, I will never have a lot of money. But that’s okay with me. I am my Dad’s daughter after all. Though I feel sorry for my husband; his desire of retiring before forty and going fishing/golfing while I earn the big bucks will remain a distant dream.:-)

I digress but what’s new, right?:-) I was talking about Kaleidoscope and how it found its home. Anyways, I heard back from Victor Volkman, publisher of Modern History press, in less than twenty-four hours of me sending the query letter. He’d liked my samples and wanted to see the entire manuscript. I sent him all the material towards late afternoon, met up a friend for drinks after work, and went back home. When I reached home, I saw it—there was an email from Victor. He wanted to sign me on. In fact, he’d already sent me a contract to look over. Victor, I don’t know if you remember, but I sent you an email asking what your note meant. :-)

When my husband returned from work later that evening, I showed him Victor’s email. He jumped with ecstasy. I just held him and cried. And I am not a crier by any standards. We called up our near and dear ones and wrote to a few friends. Everybody either screamed or shed tears of joy. After all, poetry and fairytales are never uttered in the same sentence.

This was around the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan where the sister prays for her brother’s long life and ties him a thread (rakhi). And the brother blesses the sister and gives her a gift. I remember telling my brother, “Bhaiya, this contract is the best rakhi gift, ever.” See, his good wishes travelled from Singapore to NYC. At least in my heart it did. Thus began the journey of my first chapbook of poems.

I have heard horror stories where writers had no say in what their book’s cover looked like. It’s like telling a woman she can’t name her newborn. But Victor gave me artistic liberty in terms of images for the cover. He was open to suggestions and feedback. It doesn’t mean we had the same vision all the time. But we respected each other’s strengths. We debated a lot, but we never lost sight of what was important—the book.

My Facebook family has been so supportive with providing feedback on the cover. Few reviewers have written to me that they loved the bowls of color on the front cover. Thank you to all of you for taking out the time for commenting, suggesting, supporting, and encouraging.

The needful is done and thirteen months later, the book is all ready. The release date is set for Thursday, September 9, 2010.

I want to take this moment today to say that throughout this journey, Victor has been as dedicated and committed to the project as I have. I wasn’t just another author or a mere number to him. Of course, he has a business to run, and I have bills to pay. But humanity and professionalism hold a big place in our rapport.

Thank you, Mr. Victor Volkman, for your faith and friendship. I hope to work with you on many more projects.

Dear readers, if you are fascinated by colors, philosophy, simple poetry, this book is for you.

If you’d like to stay updated on my upcoming book releases, bookmark my new blog cum website (http://www.booksbysweta.com). For all other information (including but not limited to book releases), you know where to find me: www.swetavikram.com

More until next time,


Copyright © 09.07.2010

“To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.” Charles Caleb Colton


Anonymous said...

unfortunately , i have more or less given up on (a happy) life but i do feel that not continuing on some parts of it wd b doing injustice to people such as you who deserve a lot of credit. of course, a lot of it is pure selfishness ! and you ARE doing wonderfully well.

this is just so that u KNOW - u r blessed !!!
ol' timers - u know - do count ............
stay well. keep up the spirit .
and God bless !

Nick Purdon said...

Interesting to read! As a poet having just signed with Victor, I hope things go as smoothly for me. It does inspire confidence anyway!

Ernest Dempsey said...

Sweta, you are a wonderful person and a writer with a voice to share. It goes without saying that you are a valuable addition to Loving Healing writers - in all its spirit.

Wishing you great success and joy!


S said...

Hey Sweta,

I really like the way you write...... your blogs are so real and heartfelt
wish u the best of luck for all times to come

R said...

Hi Sweta,

Just read your blog. Wow it gave me positive wibes (though it is about your journey) about the problem I have at my work place. Now, I know how to slove it by reading your blog. Your words were magic for me. Thanks a lot...

J said...

Wow, Sweta. Fabulous. Loved your story :)
Hearty congratulations. Gosh this one brought tears to my eyes. I am sure you have worked very hard for the success you have achieved.
Wishing you a lot more success in the future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sweta,

The article "My first-a story that must be told" spake with warmth and inspiration personified.

Many congratulations on your chapbook of poems! Hope to read "Kaleidoscope: An Asian journey of colors" soon.

Best wishes :-)

rb said...

Thank you. This is inspiring .