Sanjay Sonawani, a Successful Freelance Writer
Internet has given me a lot of great friends. I came into their contacts through groups, forums and social networking sites, and eventually the virtual meetings lead to actual meetings in many of the cases.
One of such friends of mine is Sanjay Sonawani, who is a great author, thinker, activist, blogger, public speaker and publisher from Pune. I had been hearing and reading his name for many years as a writer and a publisher, but it was facebook, where I found him a couple of years ago and added him to my list of friends. Then I met him in a literary function at Pune.
I admit that he has changed my views on the social issues in India.
Sanjay Sonawani in Brief
Sanjay Sonawani was born on 14th August 1964 at Jalgaon in North Maharashtra of India. His first article was published when he was 11. He started his career as a crime journalist in a Hindi daily newspaper published from Pune. Until now, he has penned 89 books and above 500 articles. His articles appear frequently in leading dailies and other periodicals, especially of Marathi language. He writes on a verity of subjects including history, social issues, philosophy, suspense, biographies etc.
Some of Sanjay Sonawani's Books
An Interview with Sanjay Sonawani
Here is an interview with Sanjay Sonawani. I asked him some questions related to his career as a writer, as well as freelance writing. His answers are very useful for new writers.
Me: When did you start to write? What was your first article? Where it was published?
Sanjay: I started writing when I was 11 years old. The first written book was a Marathi play titled as “Phituri”. Thensafter my several poems were published in various magazines. My first published article was “Praachin Aryanche Dharmavishayak siddhaant” (based on my Thesis Ancient Aryans Thought on Religion) in the year 1985 in the magazine Gudhavidya.
Me: What was your first book? Who was the Publisher?
Sanjay: My first published book was Narabhakshakancya Betavar Vijay, a Marathi novelette for adolescent children. It was published by Mehta Book House in the year 1986.
Me: What was your first book published in English?
Sanjay: My first published book in English was a novel Yashovarman in the year 1996. The same novel was later published under changed Title as The Jungle.
Me: Did you make any money from your writing activities?
Sanjay: Not that much which could support my life but I earned approx. Over 3 Millions of Rupees during my writing career of 25 years.
Me: What benefits other than monetary one you got from your writing activities?
Sanjay: One is growing and loving readership. Enjoyment of creation. Name and respect.
Me: Any bad experiences with publishers?
Sanjay: One publisher lost my manuscript, a novel that could have been famous. I don’t like to rewrite anything that once I have already written, so I just left that plot and started another novel with new one. Publisher shouldn’t have been that careless. Except this I never had any bad experience with publishers. And since I started my own publishing house, I needn’t go to other publishers, though occasionally I have parted with my new books for publication with other publishers.
Me: Which is your best seller book? I mean In terms of editions, reprints, translations, revenue etc.
Sanjay: In Marathi my bestseller novel stands Cleopatra, over 55000 copies sold...a record in Marathi language books. It earned me over 1 Million Rupees.
Me: How much time you give to your writing related activities?
Sanjay: Not easy to tell. Sometimes I devote whole time to writing or sometimes I take gap of several years. (For Novels or other books). For articles I have to catch time…as many a times they are on contemporary issues and one has to opine before the issue is dead.
Me: You made your English books available in USA and few other countries. How did you managed this?
Sanjay: All my English Novels were published from India but for sole distribution in USA, UK and Australia I appointed a US based distributor. Being ourselves a pulishers, India's first public limited we had decided to have English publication division as well in an order to be global. We did't publish my English books, but did publish books written by US authors such as Sandra Sanchez, Dr. Sumnar David etc. and also published biography of Bal Thackray, and novel of Mr. raj Supe in English. We found distributor through internet. The distributor did nice job, sold almost two editions of each book.
Me: Did anybody copy your work? If yes, what action did you take?
Sanjay: To my knowledge, No one copied my work, though they used, adapted my style, especially of thriller genre.
Me: Is it possible to live on writing?
Sanjay: In Marathi, no. Readership is too small even for the famous authors. The royalty per book is not that attractive. People prefer public or private libraries for books…they hardly buy the books. The book culture is too poor in Maharashtra.
Me: If there is no scope for writing in Marathi, should new writers from Maharashtra write in Hindi or English?
Sanjay: First I oppose writing for money. I think writing is for self satisfaction, to express inner self, ideas and thoughts. None of the past masters of writing wrote for money, they wrote to awaken the people. I think one should keep writing in his or her mother tongue, no matter whether you earn or lose money. Writing for money makes writer a slave of public demand. Such writing never ever can be fundamental. Writing for expression is the best way that makes a writer an author.
Me: I have heard that some of your books made controversies. How you dealt with the situation?
Sanjay: My several books and novels caused cntroversy. "Savyasachi" and "Kalki" caused controversy amongst Hindu fundamentalists. "Goodby Primeminister" caused controversy amongst Congress party....copies were publicly burnt. My office was vandalized, posters were burnt by Brahmanical fanatists when my book Brahman Ka Jhodapale jatat? (Why Brahmins are thrashed?) was published. I took all attacks very casually, didn't apologise or reacted in equal vigor. Luckily none of my book ever attracted legal action, as I don't write anything without substantial proofs. .
Me: What are your suggestions to new writers?
Sanjay: New writers only should write if they really have something new to tell. First they should be good readers, observers, analysts and creative thinkers. They should have their own style to express. They should not be copy-cats…in style or in plots, the way many Marathi authors (even famous) stole their plots from western authors. One has to be strictly original otherwise they should restrain themselves from writing.
You may reach Sanjay Sonawani at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now he is on Hubpages also. Please have a look at: http://sanjay-sonawani.hubpages.com/
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