Editor’s Note: We often receive queries from writers who live in Nigeria and who feel that their manuscripts are ready for the public saying they need assistance to break into the literary market. Some of these aspiring authors are considering self-publishing while the others want more traditional avenues. Naijastories has gone out to seek providers of author services, who are open to both routes. We are starting with those based in Nigeria as we believe in supporting and promoting home-grown talent. First in the informationals is a 2-part series by the agent behind Phantom House Books NGR. In the opening essay, Tejiri talks about the publishing terrain in Nigeria and what his agency is all about.
Thank you for wanting to interview our publishing house on your website, we appreciate the extra publicity. My name is Tn Odu. It stands for Tejiri Nuvie, Odu. I do some writing, I edit, and have published 9 books. I worked with Trafford Publishing for five years under Bruce Batchelor, who was then CEO, and only started freelancing a year and a half ago, much after the split and trade-off. Trafford Publishing was once a small conventional publishing house formerly in Canada—Now in the US—before it switched to self-publishing its authors at the introduction of the Print-On-Demand publishing by its former CEO.
A little on working as an agent in Nigeria. I would say this has been swell and tough. I focused my attention on Nigeria’s failing literary culture when a cousin of mine beguiled me into accepting an invitation by the then General Manager of NTA international, Ngozi Nssien, and attending an interview by Nwadi. Since then, I have attended many other interviews and been to many literary functions in Abuja and Lagos, and have come to realize we are a country blessed with many literary talents; writers, playwrights, poets, performance poets, even songwriters! I have seen, read, and interacted firsthand with simple people of grander thoughts, gifts and charisma of the highly vaunted and applauded. But, sadly I’m left to ponder why they too haven’t been raised up a pedestal in the very least!
Which brings me to the reason for Phantom House Books and the passion behind introducing this Publishing House and Literary Agency to Nigeria. At first, I would like you to know Phantom House Books NGR is a small self-publishing firm that partners with Amazon’s Createspace Charleston and DHL Nigeria. We just started operations and aren’t a big publishing house—yet. And unlike Cassava Republic, our goal is to focus on the everyday Nigerian writer without the skills or means to get their works out there for others to see. Keeping out of perspective, the challenges we face in economics, polity, and readership. ‘out there’ being the definition of publishing for us.
Another is that the company is an offspring from my dealings with Trafford Publishing. Many of the editors that help us edit and bring our Nigerian works to world class standard were former employees or contacts of Trafford who have once been editors and agents. When I left Trafford, they sought to help as a favor to Phantom House Books and Nigeria in general, and do not do it for the money. Which is great! Similar to what happens when we trade scripts. You can read a little about the other editors who will be reviewing your work on the website. www.phantomhouseafrica.co.cc
Lastly, the Agency arm of the firm I run in Abuja. Linking writers and their published works to book readings, presentations and signings with our partners and various small literary groups; the Abuja Literary Society, the Association of Nigerian Authors, an association I believe, despite being handicapped in reaching out, every Nigerian writer & poet should belong to, the British Council and the Silverbird Group. We don’t go by traditional norms trying to publish and market authors in Nigeria, which is the case of our competitors. Reading Nigeria and her open 150 million powered market makes publishing in Nigeria a fluid business, the outcome of which is highly profitable if we take time analyzing the feedback. A point much buttressed with the firm’s relationship with the British Council, Ogale and Chikodi. Ogale is the Council’s current Art and Project developer, here in Nigeria, while Chikodi is the New Business Manager. Writing is an honorable as well as lucrative practice all around the world, and not the part-time hobby our poor reading culture and economy have bludgeoned it into. The others arms of the Publishing House are only arms of what we do here.
I’d also like you to realize, that there has been a shift in Nigeria when its come to appreciating art. Personally, I believe Nigeria is a country waiting to be heard. She’s loud and bold. The writers here are just itching to leave an impression on the world, despite the fact that Hollywood has taken a certain liking to Nigeria. I am guessing by now you can spot the trend in the swift turn-over of the movie industry, and the music industry. What’s next in line is the book industry, which is important to us as Nigerians, and writers, since the reading culture determines the literacy of a country. I hope this helps.
Ps: For all who care to know, we are currently accepting clients and screening manuscripts for our lists in September. Some will sponsored by Phantom House Books, others wouldn’t be so lucky, which all depends on their proficiency, eligibility, and the marketability of their work by our partners.
Check back soon for the part 2 with an in-depth interview with Tejiri and how you can contact him. You can check out agentquery.com for a more international listing of agents and scribendi.com and elance.com for editors.