He is an engineer turned author. His passion has brought him to the place where it was not easy to reach. He has put his latest book North Pole online for free to spread the awareness of Gujarati Literature.
He belongs to a farmer family. His parents had worked hard so that he could study properly and enough to earn good money and respect. He studied and became an engineer. He also did various jobs to support his family and himself. But earning money had never been his only goal in life. An urge to do something more meaningful in life kept tickling him. And here he is! Jitesh Donga, an author of two novels Vishwamanav and North Pole is here to talk about his journey till the date and his novels.
Tell us something about yourself:
Born in a small village named Sarambhada in Amreli district of Gujarat, I spent most of my childhood in my village helping my farmer parents. After four elder sisters, I being fifth and the youngest child, I was raised in good hands. I completed my SSC in a village school and then went to Rajkot for pursuing Science school. Being a student who always got above 80%, I was guided to take Electrical Engineering. I hated education.
Tell us something about your earlier life and professional background:
Our farming based on rain, I had to earn some regular money for the family. I decided I would never take money from parents. Rather I would help them with my salary. I did not get selected in any college placements. I did not like electrical engineering. As I had to do some job, I started working at a night call centre (with the salary of 5K) after completion of college. I left the job in 2 months, changed 3 other call centres. Then I worked in CCD as a waiter; left it. Then I worked in Electrical Furnace Company as a service engineer. The day when CEO of that company knew that I am a writer and my focus and aim in life are to become a writer, he fired me! So I started a job in Insurance Surveyor Company in Baroda. During that time I was about to complete my first novel Vishwamanav. Again, I got fired as I was not able to focus on work. Then I did random 3-4 jobs, each for month or two just to support myself. In two years after college, I was having total 13 different weird job experiences and some 12K as savings from jobs. I borrowed the rest of 48K from my distant uncle. In 60K I printed 1000 copies of novel Vishwamanav.
When did you think of writing something? And what was your first piece of writing?
It was the fifth semester of Engineering. After small beer party in the night, I was going to college in the morning. I was hanging at the left side of the driver seat in auto-rickshaw. Suddenly the auto crushed one squirrel. Everyone felt it, but at my surprise, nobody actually cared. They thought it's okay to kill a creature in such way. I was too much angry. I went back to the hostel. I opened Facebook and wrote an article named- “Where is our humanity?” After that post, few of my friends told me to write more as they found it interesting. For me, writing that article was sheer happiness. I enjoyed writing! I started blogging then. I had found my passion.
Tell us something about your first novel, ‘Vishwamanav’:
I love travelling. In college days, I went to Dharavi, Mumbai just for roaming here & there. There on road-side I witnessed a small mentally disabled child eating some food from garbage. I thought what would be the world inside his head? That idea grew as a 300-page novel. Vishwamanav is a single story inspired by four true events.
How was the response you got after your first novel?
Vishwamanav became very popular in Gujarati literature. I gave free eBook to people. It was the decision out of rage towards publishing industry not responding to the new fresher author. eBook gave big readership which in turn helped me in selling paperback. I am bringing another edition as well.
Tell us about the difficulties you had to face during writing it and getting it published:
Vishwamanav was a tough book to write. Deep world of emotions! For two years, every night I used to write for four hours. Job and writing life is impossible to balance. So, one affected another all the time.
Getting it published was very hard. Gujarati publishing industry is the darkest place I have ever been. Almost all publishers rejected Vishwamanav as it was a novel by a fresher writer. In the end, I managed for 60K and did self-publishing. Gujarati author Jay Vasavada and Dipak Soliya launched it in Gujarat literature festival.
However, distribution world goes the same. They do not take book until you don’t give them a damn good discount of 50 to 60%. I had to write-print-market the novel and in last had to beg to these distributors for payments. I had to market novel so much that my friends started calling me “Marketing made author!” I used to cry hearing that. No one knew that I had a debt of 48K to pay back to my Uncle.
Tell us something about your latest novel, ‘North Pole’:
North Pole is a modern age fiction. It’s a story of an engineer who wants to find his passion. It’s a story of everyone actually! Centre Question is: ‘What is my purpose here on earth?’ I wanted to write a story which is presenting question of mankind properly. I am not sure about the answer if story gives one.
You have launched it online for free on your website. Tell us something about it:
Hell! Hardest decision of my life! I also had a dream that like all other languages and writers of world literature, my books would also get published in lacs of copies in the first edition. I dreamed of signing them. I wished lacs of Gujarati readers would read it, love it, or criticize it. But how? Gujarati publishing industry does not even dare to print 1000 books! What do I do? Shall I follow footsteps of other writers to prove myself and kill my dream? No. One day I decided I would break the rules. I would give free signed eBook to the online social community and tell them my dream. I launched it as free eBook, and I wrote a letter in starting of book that – “if this story touches you, if the novel changes your world, if after reading the book you think that writer deserves some money only then pay me. Otherwise, don’t. Let the book die as an eBook.” I gave payment options on my site jiteshdonga.com
Where else can people get it from?
Currently, the only eBook is available in PDF, Epub formats. It’s also available on various self-publishing platforms like Pratilipi.com, Matrubharti and Dailyhunt. The hardcopy of North Pole would come only if my dream earns my respect. I also love hardcopy book, but I would love to wait for this dream coming true.
How is the response you are getting from people after putting it online for free?
I dreamed of lacs of Gujarati people reading the story. I haven’t reached it yet, but it’s too soon. I am happy that North Pole has reached to 50K plus people in 15 days. The book is getting big rotation via WhatsApp groups. If the story has its own wings, then it would reach 1 lac in short time. I have earned 20K so far. It is beyond my exactions. I never expected money, I wanted readers. I wished the expenses of proof reading and website design would be covered. So I am done with hopes of payments. Youth is reading it a lot. I am doing video calls with youngsters in hostels and campuses. The book is very bold in beginning but still, many elders are reading it. I am happy.
Tell us about your future plans and ambitions:
Next book would take around four years of research and writing work. It would be most probably science fiction novel based on Mahabharata. However, I am an author who does not know which story would be born inside.
Your message to the world:
"I don’t know! I would become the change I want to see in this world. But yes, I would tell every single child one thing: you born once here. That’s all. Do whatever you wish to do. Make this world a better place. Live a grand story. Dream, Experiment, Change the course of life, and then die. Read a lot. Travel. Question everything, and look for your own answer. And most importantly…Fall in love. There is less time to hate here."
We congratulate Jitesh for his efforts, dedication and achievements. We wish him all the very best for his upcoming challenges.
Readers can also meet him at:
Northpole page: https://www.facebook.
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