WRITER’S MISERIES AND NIGHTMARES: FINANCE
Finance is one of the nightmares of every writer out there. Every writer encounters the problem of finance whenever he or she tries pushing his or her book out there for publication. It is a major thing in every writer’s life especially these days when we no longer have traditional publishers or rather this era where traditional publishers are going into extinction; some writers have to finance their own book by themselves, they have to work hard to make sure that they gather money to push their books to print. There is nothing as joyful as a writer holding a published copy of his or her book in his or her hand and show it to his/her people.
It gives great joy and accomplishment on the side of the writer. He/she now sees him/herself as a writer, fulfilled. But in a situation where the writer has no financial back up, he/ she is doomed. This may even make some of all these writers to give up on their quest to become a published Author. Meanwhile, the dream of every writer out there is to get published someday by a publishing house but if this dream is not achieved, he / she become restless and frustrated. All praise to the internet, internet has made some of these things easy, and some of us can be heard in one way or the other without necessarily being published on a hard copy or paperback.
In 2011, when I was roaming the street of Lagos looking for publishers who could accept my work for publication, I had no money; there was no phone as much as we have them now, so I used my legs to do the walking from Mushin to Onipanu, from Onipanu to Ikeja, from Ikeja to Palmgroove. I just finished secondary school about two years ago then. What I was doing was that I would go to the market and buy some books written by Nigerians. I would pick up the phone numbers of the management or the publishing house. Sometimes they would book an appointment with me and getting to meet them, the whole story would revolved around money. I was told by many of them that I have to pay for them to publish my book. They were afraid of running into losses. They were afraid that the book would not sell at all and they would be at loss but I had no money then.
I was just restless. I was just a restless new boy in the street trying to change his narrative. From these quests, I was able to meet and know the likes of Learnrites publishers, Oceanic books, Human Change Communication Company (H3C), Evans books, university Press, Mainstream, Lantern Books, Rasmed Publishers, Shalom Publishers, Atlantic and many others. None of them accepted my book back then in 2011 and 2012. Some said I was not as good as they want, some of them never returned my email or my calls. Some said my book was weak and could not be published. Towards the end of 2012, that was when I saw a book from one publisher and I read the book and wrote down his numbers and called him the next day. He answered me and we fixed appointment. I was naïve, I was nervous; I had it in mind that he would reject my book just like others did. That day, I presented two manuscripts written with Biro and inside a hard cover booklet. He glanced through the manuscripts and told me frankly that he won’t be able to publish the books. He said I should write a shorter story which I later did.
I wrote the book within a week and took it to him the following week. He read it and said that I have to finance the book myself. He practically told me that he would not invest into the book because he could not tell if the book will sell or not. I was helpless but I gathered courage and asked him how much it would cost me for the book to be published. He said I have to pay one hundred and twenty thousand. I had to finance for the publication of my first book; Good Mama. I paid the money and the book was published later in April, 2013. I was very happy the first day I held that piece of book in my hand glancing through it.
I was happy to tell all my neighbours that I have now become an Author. I was happy that day to call my mother and brothers and sisters to tell them that my book had been published in as much as they did not understand the science behind book publishing and the stress I had to pass through to see that the book was published. It was a dream, I had it in my mind for days, weeks, months and years; it doesn’t matter to me if they don’t really understood what it means to get a book published especially in Nigeria.
None of them asked of the book or how It was fairing in the market but the truth of the matter is that I have a book published and it was been sold in schools in Lagos, Ogun, Imo, Port Harcourt and so many other places in Nigeria.
My second book Hard Times was also financed by me in 2015 and the third book; For Boys of Tomorrow was also single handedly sponsored and financed by me in 2018. Perhaps I am saying all these things so that you would understand that to publish your book, you need a financial back up from anywhere. It could either be from your parents or someone else; you need a sponsorer, you can’t do it alone on your own. Although we still have some traditional publishers who still sign writers and sponsor or publish their books themselves in Nigeria but they are not much. They are not many like we have in the USA, Canada and some European countries.
I always advice writers to look for another source of income, something that will give them money to sponsor and push their writings; something that will put food on their tables, something tangible and lucrative. You need this money as a writer, you need to live above poverty level. You need make your family smile also and make them appreciate what you choose to do.
Lack of money would frustrate you in this field and if care is not taking, you may quit before you start. I could remember that I sold many of my manuscripts just to make sure that I get one published. Writing is indeed not a child’s play.
©John Chizoba Vincent