Your Book Is Your Legacy

March 3, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Johnson Grace Maganja

If you have watched the romantic drama film ‘The Words‘, written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal then you know how it feels when an aspiring writer’s first book is rejected repeatedly by publishers.

Believe you me; many young aspiring writers in Uganda have gone through a similar scenario. Today in Uganda there are hardly any recognizable literary agents! Traditional publishing houses have taken over their role by marketing the manuscript and legal representation.

Young aspiring writers have urged that their efforts have been frustrated by some traditional publishing houses because they are money minded. Traditional publishing houses have justified this in the name of the costing they undergo in editing, designing and layout, printing and marketing. However, if truth be told the work still remains the author’s. This reminds one of the phrase ‘Good Wine needs No bush’. If truth be told most traditional publishing houses in Uganda prefer dealing with already established authors. This leaves little or no room for young aspiring writers. One would urge that enrolling in book clubs would be the way to go.

Michael,[Not real name] an aspiring writer, once approached one of the leading publishing houses in Kampala with his manuscript for publishing and he was told to pay 1.2million shillings for just a dummy sample of the book. When he tried to negotiate for more copies the costs increased, he revealed.

In Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: ‘How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book’, he says not everybody who authors a book can publish. Publishing is business! Perhaps this is one thing Michael ought to have known!

Michael isn’t alone. Martin, [Not real name] another aspiring writer, good at art work, decided to teach other people about developing their art skills through writing a book. The ministry of education approved his work which was going to be developed into a text book for training secondary school students about art. He contacted a leading publishing house in town about publishing the text book and an agreement to publish the text book was signed. Strange but true, it’s taken years to publish his book to date. When he contacted the publishing house again he was told they have too much work load at the moment! Now this is how frustrating it can sometimes be for aspiring writers.

This is one reason many young aspiring writers have resorted to self publishing because of the advantages associated with it, like taking all the profits and being in control of one’s own work, although one has to do the donkey work of marketing their own book. Most self published writers also find it difficult to distribute their books to bookstores. Some stores claim they prefer dealing with already established publishing houses. Few self publishers can afford to launch their books successfully. There are also limited chances for their books to be reviewed in the print media because of media policy, laments Timothy Ayebale a University student and aspiring young writer.

However, Dr. Judith Briles, an author and publishing expert, coach and founder of Author U, warns that some authors fail to sell their books because they rush to publish and fail to support the book after it’s born. One of her quotes reads “If a book is not alive in the writer’s mind, it is as dead as year old horse shit.”

Many a time aspiring writers have big dreams of their books becoming best sellers, just in case their manuscripts are accepted by traditional publishers. However, some associate the best selling concept with books by international writers, and traditional publishers haven’t even bothered to explain what and how a book becomes a best seller.

Steve Harrison, an author and publishing expert, explains that a book becoming a best seller isn’t one that sold most in New York that week in America but it’s only a list of books sold through specific book stores that report to the New York Times list. There are different types of best sellers; Best seller on Amazon for a few hours. Wall street Journal for one or two weeks and Business Week.

If that holds true, how many traditional publishing houses in Uganda have taken an effort to inform their clients about the bestselling books in their bookstores?

Book publishing is competitive like any other business. However, what aspiring authors should also have in mind is never to give up because if a book affects one person’s life, it’s worth it, says Steve Harrison.

The clique commonly spread in the public that Ugandans have poor reading shouldn’t stop aspiring authors from keeping their dreams alive. Steve explains that poor authors expect to make money from royalties alone but rich authors expect most of their money to come from bulk sales and other revenue streams that the book makes possible, such as speaking at training sessions and consultations. Your book is your legacy.







Johnson Grace Maganja

Johnson Grace Maganja

Mr. Johnson Grace Maganja is a Journalist, Author and Teacher, in Kampala-Uganda. He holds a Diploma in Journalism and has worked with several advertising agencies and media houses in Kampala-Uganda. He has authored: ‘100 quotes through life’, ‘Passage to Destiny’ and ‘The Adventures of Maganjo’. He currently works with Capital radio in Kampala as a Field Research Assistant. He can be contacted at [email protected] or via facebook.


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