6th April was the day to discuss the art of juggling writing, publishing, and consulting with author Sutapa Basu in our Live session on Facebook. Sutapa is not only an author but a poet too and has even written musicals, articles, and short stories while working as a publishing consultant.
With an experience of working in all the major channels of a publishing industry and observing it closely, Sutapa spills some unknown insights. She begins by saying that it is imperative a publisher wins the confidence of the author and that whatever they’ll do will be in the best interest of the book. Once this is established, it becomes easy to guide the author to write, keeping his voice intact, to help have a wide readership.
On the other side, the author too must have faith in the publisher because, in the end, both the author and the publisher have the same goal, to bring out the best book.
On being asked how can one choose between traditional publishing and digital media, Sutapa says that in India, unfortunately, standards are not maintained in terms of writing, publishing, and editing and hence digital publishing is equated to poor publishing. Plus, here people still prefer reading print books over ebooks. Nevertheless, digital publishing in India is picking up as a self-publishing option through various online platforms.
Though Sutapa has her hands full with many writing genres she personally loves writing short stories because of the speed with which the story moves and the challenges it brings while writing in terms of the plot and setting in a restricted word count. She adds that writing short stories is a great way to improve and hone your writing skills in a minimum number of words.
Do writing and editing impact each other? Does the editor in her dominate the story while she writes it? Writing and editing complement each other as per Sutapa. When she is writing she is subconsciously editing too. However, despite being an editor and editing her manuscript while writing she never lets her first draft go over to a beta reader unless she has edited it herself after finishing writing. In fact, Sutapa believes in getting her work run through by an editor at the publishing house as well.
Next we asked her about the dreaded first draft. For Sutapa the first draft only concentrates on the plot, the setting, and the character. In all she writes three drafts: one for the story, the second for polishing, and the last draft she keeps for language refining. She says that if you want the reader to interpret what you’ve written the way you want them to, it’s your responsibility how you write the story.
It is important to be open to feedback and we asked Sutapa how she deals with that. She says as an editor, it is a dance between telling the author what they have done well and how they can improve something. She never tells anyone outright that something is bad or that the author is wrong. When saying ‘you are wrong’ she says you’re intruding on the author’s voice and that is something you do not want to do.
When asked what is the best way to hone your writing craft, she said signing up for writing courses and workshops teach you the techniques of writing.
Further, she insisted that every manuscript must go through beta-reading. An author might not be able to notice the flaw in his story and here beta-reading helps you with a new set of eyes, and a fresh perspective. An author can be very subjective of their own manuscript. The story maybe clear in their head but to know if it has translated that well onto paper is a question a beta reader can answer.
But, there is no denying that writing every day is the utmost important thing to becoming a successful author. To see the rest of the chat, click here.
Juggling publishing consulting and writing Facebook Live with Sutapa Basu was one of our sessions at Blogchatter Writing Festival. We have many more different author-sessions planned ahead under this. You can screenshot the below schedule: