Naijastories – Beyond Writing to Community Building

Naijastories – Beyond Writing to Community Building

naijastories(2)

The decision to self-publish my first book, A Heart to Mend, arose naturally from sharing excerpts of it on my blog. Subscribers loved the story, connected with the characters, and offered genuine feedback. They wanted more, and so I gave them the complete book. Some critics of self-publishing for profit have said that I could have provided a freely downloadable document, but by then, I had so many ideas that went beyond writing, and since I am a big believer in sustainability, I wanted these plans to pay their own way.

The blog itself was an idea mooted at the writer’s group I belonged to at the time, and though I wasn’t new to websites and online forums, I had never considered a blog as a means of sharing my writing. At the beginning, the blog had the subtitle of “my journey to print”, and I did not know then that I would self-publish. I was editing the manuscript, which though complete was still in drafts, according the guidelines of the publishers I hoped would publish it. I pursued traditional publication of that manuscript, A Heart to Mend, for about six months before choosing to self-publish.

I had gotten some rejections along the way that made it clear my writing did not fit the mould of any particular genre. From some editors, there were more details of the kind of changes I might have to make to get traditionally published, but I couldn’t see myself making some of those changes. So I did the necessary research into self-publishing and decided to go ahead. By choosing self-publishing instead of tailoring my writings to fit a pattern specified by traditional publishers, I knew I was making a choice to go beyond my personal goals.

True, I wanted my writing to remain undiluted – and this is in no way a dig at other Nigerian authors traditionally published in the West – but I also saw an opportunity to realise other dreams, like being a sort of mentor to like-minded writers. However, this was not totally altruistic. As a publisher, I had to acknowledge the poor reading and book-buying culture among those who identified with my stories – mostly Nigerians – and I knew that if my book was to be read as widely as I wanted, I would personally have to be part of building up such readers and book buyers.

A Heart to Mend was published in December 2009 in the United States, and released to good reviews in Nigeria in March 2010. When I won the Nigerian Blog Awards, my visibility increased exponentially among online Nigerians. Followership of my blog, Facebook and Twitter platform climbed to over 3,000 people, and I guessed it was time to put some of my earlier ideas into action. From my experience of blogging, publishing and promoting AHTM, I knew that it was essential to have an online space where the community I planned would feel comfortable.

This idea of an online space was validated by a collaborative fiction web-series I had successfully hosted on my blog. There were also the myriad of emails and Facebook messages I received in the wake of releasing AHTM. A lot of such emails were from aspiring Nigerian writers who wanted me to critique their writings, or act as their agents to traditional publishers in the United States. Some wanted me to publish them or help them find agents and/or publishers. I realized that a lot of them were quite talented, but unaware of the required processes in getting published.

That was how NaijaStories.com; launched in April 2010 as the premier community for those who read, write, or love Nigerian writing. I had found there were no social networks that promoted Nigerian books even as more and more Nigerians were using social media. NaijaStories.com showcases Nigerian writing, and combines elements of a writing critique website as well as a social networking site. This makes it versatile, allowing the writers to offer criticism of each other’s work as well as attracting those who are interested in reading our kind of stories.

Through the website, now with over 2000 members, we hope to build an army of people who will read and buy Nigerian books. It is also act as a central point where a global audience can read in one place, authentic stories written by Nigerians and about Nigerians. Recently, we have begun to attract traditional publishers and agents seeking writing talent or wanting to promote their books, and we also support writers who wish to self-publish. Having achieved one of our goals to establish a publishing company, the next steps involve continuing to release select works as anthologies and then begin to edit and put up short stories for sale as well as commission full-length novels.

Comments

comments


19 thoughts on “Naijastories – Beyond Writing to Community Building” by Myne (@Myne)

  1. Profile photo of howyoudey
    howyoudey (@howyoudey): Head Wordsmith - 99402 pts

    @myne, you go, girl! You already know how I feel about this site. I contribute mainly to promote it. Like the Hip Hop phenomenom (not gangster rap!), this site is a lesson to being proactive and visionary, a couple of things in short supply amongst our people and leaders today. More grease to your elbow!

  2. Profile photo of Eletrika
    Eletrika (@babyada): Wordsmith - 36851 pts

    Well done, lady. You’re doing really good.

  3. Profile photo of Myne
    Myne (@Myne): Senior Scribe - 29759 pts

    Thanks @howyoudey and @babyada.

  4. Profile photo of Carlobasi
    Carlobasi (@Carlobasi): Writer - 7804 pts

    @Myne….your contribution to Nigerian literature is visionary…and it sure has its charismatic appeal. More garlands await you. Cheers. I still remember you reading at the Infusion in Abuja…it sure was a wonderful evening

  5. Profile photo of yahayamadu
    yahayamadu (@yahayamadu): Junior Writer - 4141 pts

    @myne You have done a great thing for nigerian literature. More ink to your quil ( or your computer keypad as the case may be). Any ideas on marketing and destroying piracy?

  6. Profile photo of Raymond
    Raymond (@raymond): Head Wordsmith - 48215 pts

    I stumbled upon NaijaStories sometime in October 2010, but school work and a bit of scepticism kept me away from it until December when I decided to look for the website once again during the holidays. Best decision I’d ever taken in a long time, I must say. After reading the stories, I decided to join the community and then I published my first work, Part 1 of the CHECKPOINT series, which can be read here:
    http://www.naijastories.com/2011/01/checkpoint-1/

    The rest has been history in the making (yes, I coined that; worry much o_O?)

    @Myne, you are a big part in my development as a writer, because this site gave me a challenge; be different while polishing and retaining your signature style. You have inspired me to ALWAYS produce something better than the last, and in addition to this you have given me wonderful friends, brothers and sisters, and I am immensely indebted to you. I will continue to do my part for this community as well. Seriously looking forward to the day when we will both sit down and parley. God bless you, you of the golden heart and the iron will. God bless you.

    1. Profile photo of Seun-Odukoya
      Seun-Odukoya (@Seun-Odukoya): Head Wordsmith - 104220 pts

      @raymond

      I can echo your story word for word…except I did not stumble on the site by accident. I was invited by a special friend. And the rest, as they say na history.

      @Myne…you are a big deal to a lot of us. Apart from giving us all free-schooling by establishing this site, your support on other platforms asides here is immeasurable. You are a blessing.

      I’m grateful for you, and keep going strong. God bless you twice over.

      Thank you.

  7. Profile photo of Da Writing Engineer
    Da Writing Engineer (@banky): Wordsmith - 33093 pts

    I do not think the guy who brought me here ever posted a thing on here! hehehehehehehehe. But he did me a whole lot of good. I submitted my first post expecting the worst but I apparently surprised myself. The story ended up making the first anthology…
    The confidence the site has given me has helped me so much. From joining the site, I have made huge leaps in my writing and I am still looking forward to better stuffs from me (Note to muse: Hope you dey hear?)
    God bless @myne, God bless the earliest members (where is @emmanuellanduonofit?!) who gave me the belief and the friends i’ve made on NS. NS is now family. *smiles*

  8. Profile photo of Ellie
    Ellie (@elly): Writer - 9257 pts

    @Myne, you have done a great job of building a platform for an army of readers and writers, over 2,000 like minded (as regards reading/writing) people on NS says a lot. I am glad I stumbled on NS and I will continue to promote NS.

  9. Profile photo of Salliness
    Salliness (@Salliness): Writer - 6686 pts

    The amount of talent on this site is so enormous, that I keep wondering ‘why didn’t anyone think of this before now?’. @Myne, you have provided a great platform here which will last forever.

  10. Profile photo of Myne
    Myne (@Myne): Senior Scribe - 29759 pts

    OK, I’m lost for words, thank you all so much!

  11. Profile photo of Basit-Jamiu
    Basit-Jamiu (@basittjamiu): Senior Scribe - 24271 pts

    @myne, and I say words are immeasurable to describe this exclusive boomerang that has inspired thousands. I am beggining to second the qoute that says ” what a man can do a woman can do better” if a proudly 9ja woman can do this, while our 9ja men did’nt, then my new version of the qoute will be ” what a man can do, a woman can do over-better” thanks myne for changing my life.

  12. Profile photo of ablyguy
    ablyguy (@francis): Senior Scribe - 21768 pts

    I know where I was and where I’m now. A short period of time here has seen me improve enormously in my writing. I’ll forever be grateful ma’am. Thank you.

    1. Profile photo of Sueddie Agema
      Sueddie Agema (@sueddie): Head Wordsmith - 48574 pts

      @francis: You are a testimony man! I hail all you’ve become in terms of might and writing plus all. I hail you plenty. I hail you man…

      1. Profile photo of ablyguy
        ablyguy (@francis): Senior Scribe - 21768 pts

        @Sueddie, no be small testimony oh my brother! No hail me too much. Remain the one wey I go use hail you nah, cos you’re one of those that helped sharpen my skills. I won’t forget you guys lie lie lie…

  13. Profile photo of Efadel
    Efadel (@febidel): Senior Scribe - 26578 pts

    Really, Myne, you are giving back enormously. Thank you for creating this platform.

  14. Profile photo of Sueddie Agema
    Sueddie Agema (@sueddie): Head Wordsmith - 48574 pts

    Now we could all start a testimony run here… and it would be full of interesting tales – and truths. :)
    Myles Ojabo (what’s his handle?) got me to become fully active. Nice guy that one. Have made great friends here.
    Well, no one’s perfect and yes, people might have their complaints but Naija stories has brought something really different to the literary game and there’s Myne to thank for it all.
    Things would smile for you, Myne. Keep the spirit and keep recruiting your army. The Generals would stand by to guard them on. @seun-odukoya, @chemokopi, @sibbylwhyte @petunia007@many others: Do I hear an ‘Amen’!!

  15. Profile photo of EXCELLENCY
    EXCELLENCY (@excellency): Scribe - 13195 pts

    I was introduced to NS at a GCLF workshop & when I first discovered that NS was the brainchild of a woman, I was pleasantly suprised, maybe because I’ve never come across a woman expressing such passion for writing. With the understanding of your vision for the site, I so much admire your purpose driven efforts. Such noble intentions deserve a diamond trophy! @Myne, bravo ma’am, more beautiful children to ur brain! Respect!
    Long live NS…

  16. Profile photo of sambright
    sambright (@sambrightomo): Head Wordsmith - 96943 pts

    I think I am here not by chance.No not by chance at all.Why? It is because I have been blessed in all ramifications.I have been inspired by so many here.I am still on the improve lane.Thank you for fulfilling your destiny @myne.GOD BLESS YOU SO MUCH

Leave a Reply