Hello writer, here’s another INTERVIEW with an amazing writer we want you to see.
IWU JEFF is an amazing playwright and the Author of the book- the Verdict of the Gods.
Here’s how it went. Enjoy!
Kindly introduce yourself.
My name is Iwu Jeff ( Iwuchukwu Jephta) and I’m from Imo state, Nigeria. I was born in Aba, Abia State but I grew up in Niger state where I have spent most of my life. I’m a trained teacher; a holder of Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) in English (Double major) from Federal College of Education, Kontagora, and a Bachelor of Arts in Education (B.A Ed, English) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. I’m still observing my national assignment as a corps member (NYSC) at Federal Government College, Brinin Yauri, Kebbi state. I’m the author of the book, Verdict of the Gods (a play).
As a published author tell us about the publishing journey of the Verdict of the Gods.
It’s a popular belief that nothing good comes easy. The journey into the publication of Verdict of the Gods wasn’t smooth at all. I started writing the book towards the end of 2012; then I was a first year student at Federal College of Education, Kontagora. After making my research and gathering information, travelling to know my settings and asking questions that formed my characters, the journey started.
I made different drafts for the play. Before I gave it out to my first reader, I had written about three to four different drafts. By 2015, I started making attempt to send to publishers—some were popular publishers in the country and some foreign publishers.
Not surprised, I got rejections. I got acceptances too, with ridiculous and unfavourable conditions. Then I had no resources to sponsor the publication, so what I needed was a traditional publishing contract.
A publisher had asked me to send my work for assessment which I did but, he later sent a rejection with the claim that they don’t publish plays.
A particular publisher had after assessment, asked me to sign an outright sale contract with them.
I made consultations and concluded on not selling my manuscript to any publisher. I wasn’t in a hurry to publish it, so I kept my work, working and improving on it with other works I had at hand. I discovered that none of the foreign publishers I sent to, rejected my work; rather I rejected their publishing contracts due to the conditions attached to their contracts. This gave me courage; the acceptances were more than the rejections.
One of my happy moments was when I submitted two of my works for a literary contest in 2017; a novel I just finished working on and this play, Verdict of the Gods. That was during the 2017 Green Author Prize (GAP) organised by the Abuja based Words, Rhyme and Rhythm Publishers (WRR). In 2018, I was announced to have won in the two categories I submitted for— the novel and play categories.
The novel, Files of the Heart was published as an EBook, but the play, Verdict of the Gods, wasn’t published. I became stronger and courageous, the more I read the manuscript in my laptop, the more I improved on it. I kept working on it until I became ready to sponsor my publication and now it’s finally published with Transconventional Publishers, Abuja.
How did you find readers who left you reviews before the book launch?
Before the release or launching of the Verdict of the Gods, there were reviews already. Yes. Good publishing is effective only when there’s an interaction between an intending author and the publisher—a strong bond is expected to be in existence between these two entities. The publisher should know what a prospective author wants and how to give it to them.
After the submission of my manuscript to my publisher, it was assessed and found worthy of publication. That served as the opening ground into getting marketing or promotional reviews, as no good writer would append his or her name in a substandard work.
Writers value their names.
A writer shouldn’t exist as a lonely tree in a desert. A writer is expected to walk with or lean on other writers (who have gone before them) for survival. I have some literary parents I connected with through the social media and so, I depended on them.
I sought counsel from them too. Having known what I needed to be part of my publication, the responsibility or challenge of getting reviews was shared between my publisher and I.
The publisher sent the work out for some reviews and I sent out to some writers too.
It was really tasking, but what we needed was patience in following these great people because they definitely had their own tight schedules.
How did you plan your time from pre-launch stage to launch and even after it?
An author has a lot of work to do. Apart from the writing, the main work starts during and after the publication process.
The publishing process—before launching or release— could be regarded as the toughest time.
Why? One becomes nervous at this stage, juggling up work and other responsibilities with the writing or publication business.
Before the release of Verdict of the Gods, I dedicated my time to putting finishing touches to the book as well as promoting it daily so as to arouse and retain consciousness in the mind of the would-be readers.
Since the release, I have intensified in my work of promotion— there’s more work now than before. We can’t just stop promoting it. Friends and fellow writers have been helpful too.
How did the networking for the book go?
Well, we’re in a modern world where it is demanded that we use what is available in getting what is not yet available. I mean, our needs and wants. As I said before, an author has a lot of work to do. A high population of people use the social media, youths especially.
The networking for my book was made possible using the social media.
Through the social media, one builds relationships with people from any part of the world.
A writer needs to follow the right people (in and out of social media) and use any opportunity to sell what he or she does.
You can’t have the wrong people around you and expect to see yourself in the right place.
My book networking was primarily made possible using the social media. I connected with my publisher on social media.
What advice do you have for authors who are undecided about who to do their edits, blurbs, preface, or forewords?
I see editing as writing. I see it as the first ingredient of writing.
A writer who has made up his or her mind to publish a work should be ready for the task and he or she should strive towards achieving excellence.
Every writer needs his or her work to be free from errors. That is, close to perfection, if not perfection.
Every writer dreams to have his or her work edited by the best editor(s). A writer that knows what he or she really wants prepares his or her work to become the best version of it before going to the press. Our rough stories need a merciless comb to straighten their roughness.
However, the best of editors out there are expensive and most young writers who are still struggling can’t afford them.
For the blurbs, prefaces or forwards, before a good writer writes you a blurb, preface or forward, he or she needs to ascertain the quality of your work. He or she needs to know that it is good, well edited and worthy of their name.
Let me repeat this: writers value their names. This is why most writers don’t give blurbs or write forwards these days.
Are there specific marketing strategies and promotional methods you can suggest for intending authors?
There’s no specific marketing strategy and promotional methods that’s cheap out there. Everything is so expensive. Book marketing and promotion are sometimes more expensive than the main cost of publishing and printing. I would suggest a ‘do it yourself strategy’ for authors.
Intending authors need to wake up, learn a lot, be creative and then do most of the promotions themselves because they may not have the money for heavy promotions.
There’s no money anywhere.
Young writers need to be patient. They need to know that book publication goes beyond just printing a book.
An author needs his or her book to go to where it matters, where it is to be valued and where it is to be recognised.
To me, one shouldn’t wait until a book is released before you can start promoting it.
Presently, one of the strongest ways young writers can promote their works is the use of the social media. It makes it easier promoting a work now compared to the days of our founding literary parents.
Do you have to make the book you are publishing align with your career or life goals? Like how does the book fit into your goals?
As a teacher, the purpose of education is to bring positive and permanent change(s) in the lives of individuals. That is my career goal.
I believe a close relationship exists between teaching and writing. I think the two are interdependent, let me say a symbiotic relationship.
Writing should be geared towards teaching.
Writing should alert the populace, it should sensitise the society to be consciously aware of the happenings around us.
It should also ask for positive and permanent change(s) in attitudes that derail our social polity.
This is what I stand for; this is what education should achieve.
So, my publication is made to go in line with my career goals, which is achieving social change.
How did you make your book stand out in the sea of new releases?
The first thing should be the strategies put in place in making this play to stand out.
A writer is a reader. And a creative writer is a creative reader.
Being a student of English, I read many books and did many analysis— themes, characters and style adopted by different writers in making their works unique— with concentration on what I want to do and how I want my book to be.
I kept working on my play; I kept bringing into it all I learned in order to make it unique.
Having a community of writers around me was helpful. I asked many questions— questions on book promotion and marketing. I sought counsel about what to do before and after the release; I believe in writers helping writers.
I think the awareness created by my publisher and me through constant social media posts and blogs made the book to be recorded in the mind of readers as a new release.
What book publishing options are available for platforms where you published?
There are many publishing options in Transconventional. It all depends on the financial strength or capacity of an intending author.
There’s traditional publishing, but this is so competitive just as it is with other publishing firms.
This is how it operates: out of the numerous submissions or entries being received yearly, the publisher picks only two prose works in a year, one play and one poetry manuscripts because of the market situation.
One’s book might not be the editor’s choice.
Another is the self-publishing option.
Here, an author pays for his or her work to be published. He or she pays for printing, transportation, promotion and distribution of the published work.
There are also many interviews, radios, newspapers and television features. This is expensive and not a child’s play.
A writer who needs to publish needs to be physically and psychologically ready.
Why? The truth is, sometimes a writer may not get all he or she hoped for.
Things don’t always work just as we plan.
Therefore, a young author needs to be ready. A young author needs to push it alone and then be ready to accept success or failure.
Briefly tell us, from your experience the basic budget of publishing basically on your publishing platform?
Publishing budget changes and varies. It all depends on the pocket of an author. It could be four hundred thousand, five hundred thousand, six hundred thousand, one million and more. It also depends on the quality and quantity an author wants. My friend, Umar Yogiza Jr, a partner at Transconventional heard my cry and decided to work with my little budget. During the pandemic, my budget changed drastically, this almost made me abandon the project. Thank God, today the work is successfully done and success stories are being told.
Finally, where can readers find your book, contact or follow you?
Verdict of the Gods can be delivered to readers wherever they are. The author and publisher are accessible. It’s available at Book Sellers’ Bookshop, Garki 2, Abuja. Soon the book would be made available in major bookstores within and outside the country. The author can be contacted through these:
Phone or Whatsap number: +2348163173051
The publisher can also be contacted through their Facebook page @ Transconventional Publishers or through email: email@example.com
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