Doing The Write Thing

by Uche Nworah

I guess you must have heard the good news by now, No; I have not won the UK national lottery although I try out my luck every other week. Chelsea drew the first blood this football season and the special one himself King Jose Mourino was at his best throwing up a five-finger salute to Emperor Abramovich. The Carling Cup is already resting in one of the shelves at Stamford Bridge. One down, three more to go.

What was Arsene Wenger thinking sending out those teenagers? This is no Sunday – Sunday secondary school run-out. My cousin Ifeanyi Nwosu (Aro Igbo) hasn’t yet called me, I am not calling him either, I just want to give him some more time to get over the defeat. He is a gunner (Arsenal fan) and like I keep telling him, if Arsenal plays all that beautiful game (ok, I admit they do) and don’t bring any trophies home, does that count for anything? Ifeanyi himself should know better, after all at Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu, who cares whether the masquerade can dance or not? All that matters is how much the masquerade brings home.

Anyway, back to the book thing, I received this email from a villager, (that’s what we call people who spend their productive days ‘idling’ away at the addictive website – The guy in question (call him Emeka) wants to be an author, he says he already has a book ready and would like to know which option is best for him.

It is different strokes for different folks. As a beginning author like me with zero name recognition in the publishing or author circuits, getting a reputable publisher to sign you on is like asking for Zuma Rock to be relocated to Owerri. I have indeed researched into this publishing thing, spoken to a few authors who shared their experiences with me; I also consulted with publishers who I may count as my friends. My findings convinced me that I was better off going the independent route.

I didn’t want my manuscript to be passed around, only for the publishers to come back to me after a couple of years with a rejection letter. I have no book agent either (that’s not saying that you don’t need one). I run the whole show myself; my wife (uche) serves as my financial adviser and accountant. Because I was operating on a zero budget, I couldn’t afford a book editor and had to edit my book myself (Now you know what I did last Christmas). A very tortuous experience but remember, no pain, no gain.

You can never be too sure in life, every venture is a risk. Emeka is afraid that self-publishing companies rip authors off, as if the established ones don’t. I would advise him to get on with it. Get your book out first and worry about the other details later. But please this advice comes with a caveat: If you think that the journey ends when the book is out, then better look for another vocation, as an independently published author, your journey actually starts when the book is out, you have got to go out there and sell your book.

This is what I have been doing, now speaking about personal selling. You can imagine my anger when a Nigerian brother (an Igbo one for that matter) conned me out of a book the very same week that my book came out. I had gone to New Haven restaurant on Old Kent road to hang out with Innocent Atueyi (Abado)and some of the boys. Sure odeku was also on the cards, and in the whole euphoria of ‘our guy has now joined the Soyinkas and Achebes of this world’, some of the guys present bought copies which I autographed for them. Now there was this particular guy, said his name was Philip who specifically told me what to write in his own autographed copy which I did. Now when it was time to sort me out my kudi, the dude says he needed to get to the Tesco cash point to get some money. I didn’t see him again all through the night’s binge session, I’m not even sure that I will recognise him again if I see him. Imagine, doing a runner with my sweat. I really felt pained not just because of the £10 book he ran away with, but it was the whole manner of it all. Anyway, I’m learning and must admit that I have been blessed.

I have got friends, family and associates investing goodwill on my book project. I attended my town union (Enugwu-Ukwu) meeting and they rushed the book, whether out of sympathy I don’t know but even if it was, a first time author is going to need a lot of that to survive the game. Another lesson I’m learning is that you begin with the knowns (charity begins at home, remember?) and then hope that through word of mouth it spreads.

Now don’t think it’s been all on the up, there have been downtimes as well, especially with some friends who I’m still struggling to collect my money from. They think a complimentary copy is their birth right, only if they knew.

Friends and colleagues too have been buying their own autographed copies. I can not thank them enough, particularly the websites and media houses that have supported me. I wouldn’t mention their names now. I will write their story.

Coupled with the fact that I teach marketing, my skills are being put to good use. I am indeed overdosing on my own medicine but I’m loving it.

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