The Hungry Have No Pleasure For Books – Nyana Kakoma, CEO, Sooo Many Stories
Welcome to the #SyncityNGLLL show! Today’s guest is Nyana Kakoma. She is the founder of Sooo Many Stories! Before venturing into fiction writing, she worked as a reporter for The New Vision and later joined The Daily Monitor. She has been published in The Suubi Collection (online publication), The Caine Prize Anthology (2013) and Jalada. She is a member of Uganda Women Writers Association (Femrite) and one of the founding members of Jalada, a PanAfrican collective of writers.
Ladies and gentlemen, a resounding round of applause for @NyanaKakoma ! Welcome to the show once again.
Thank you for having me.
Let’s begin. @SoooManyStories is a force to reckon with in the Ugandan literary scene. How did the journey begin?
Hard to know where exactly to say it started but it began with my love for reading. When I look back now, the simple love for books led me.
So, book lover to scribbler to blogger to news reporter to sub-editor to magazine editor and Publications Manager to publisher.
Wow. All in 3 years? We want to know how you did it! How has the world of publishing treated someone with no prior experience?
I did all that before opening the publishing house. It’s been tough but I feel I have finally found the one that I love and can work to be really good at. Some of the challenges have nothing to do with experience though.
Has there been any doubt of your publishing prowess because of your gender? What are some of problems you face?
Because of my gender? Not that I know of. The problems I face though are:
– poor literacy levels
– the fact that even people who know how to read do not read for pleasure
– in our economy, books, while important, do not do well on a list where people are in dire need of things as basic as food.
You make a solid point. A hungry man has little time to read. Would you say publishing in Uganda is profitable at the moment?
For some books such as text books, yes. I’ve also heard of a few self-published authors (usually self-help) who say they have made profits.
What does it take to publish a work? What are some of the works you have published?
We also publish short stories and poetry on our website. All by Ugandans.
Ugandans only? So not fair!
The vision has always been about Ugandan writing for me. Always.
Let’s talk about @SoooManyStories. What are some of the ways this platform has helped literature from Africa?
By adding Ugandan voices/stories to “African Literature”.
What advice do you have for a lot of African writers struggling to get validation from the West? How does your platform help?
Sometimes, the West actually comes with money that all writers need. You can’t write when you are worrying about rent. The West sometimes also comes with exposure so we can’t say it’s a bad thing to want. We should however work hard at cultivating the market here.
Alright! It’s that time of the show when we take in questions from the audience.
@SlateTabAfrica : What are the technicalities involved in publishing one’s book and how do you handle marketing?
I should have said from the very beginning that if you are self-publishing, invest in a really good editor. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether the book is good/not. You may fool some with a poorly written and edited book for a while but not for long.
Then, start with what is free or low cost. Social media comes under that. Do some bomb fliers and ask everyone you know to help you forward. Don’t be afraid to self-promote; you have to convince me to buy your book so do it with your chest!
So if the publishing house is doing all the work, they edit, design, print, and market at their cost. If you are self-publishing, you do all that at your cost.
Marketing for a self-published author: get some experts in the field you’re writing in to write shout-outs and reviews.
@mystiquesynn : What are some of the responsibilities @sooomanystories as a publisher owes her authors?
– clarify their voice (during editing). Just to make sure that the author says what they want to say as clearly as possible
– publicity (reviews, appearances, shout-outs, interviews etc)
– accessibility to their work
and eventually, money
Alright! We have come to the end of the show. Special thanks to all who tuned in tonight and to our guest.
Thank you @SynCityNG for having me. What you Nigerians have done with the arts (music, film and literature), is very admirable! Send us all the notes please.
And now that we are all here, this is an s.o.s. Add your voices to #FreeBobiWine.
Thank you all for tonight. Thanks to our guest. It was such an amazing session!
This interview originally happened on Twitter. Follow the #SyncityNGLLL every Monday to be a part of the conversation.