Why Ghanaian writers can’t make a living from their work

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Fri, 18 Sep 2015 Source: Newaccra.com

Inside Ghana’s community of authors, it is almost accepted that writing is a side job that has not given anybody a million dollar paycheck yet. This is true for both beginners and big names, and that is why our popular authors double as lecturers, media practitioners, entrepreneurs, business people, professionals and doctors.

But why is this so? Why can’t our writers make enough book sales to live comfortably?

The reasons are complex says Jonathan Adzokpe, CEO of Hetura Books, a publishing company that has released about 30 books this year, including the fast selling Become A Healthier You by Irene Danquah.

First, it appears many of our writers don’t survey the local market to identify what people need. Second, local books tend to be poorly packaged, a big mistake in a business where people judge the product by its cover.

Third, many newer authors put out content that is not closely related to the primary Ghanaian audience, and recently, some newer writers have developed a habit of simply copying and pasting material found using Google.

A fourth reason makes things worse. Many writers never seek training to sharpen their skills, so over time, their style becomes stale and out of fashion. “All these have led to a perception among readers that books published by home-based authors are mediocre”, says Jonathan.

The above four reasons exist against a background perception that Ghanaians don’t read, and a reality that there is no structured industry to boost homegrown publishing. Little wonder therefore that the writers have to do more. In an earlier interview with Newaccra.com, BEFFTA UK nominated author, Gamel Sankarl, explained how challenging it was to self-finance most of his six books. To his credit, he didn’t give up.

So what can authors do to make more sales?

From Hetura’s experience, Jonathan says; “know your target audience, write in a style that suits them, make the book visible online and offline, and get the book to them”.

Jonathan’s advice is like a good prescription, it is easier scribbled than swallowed, and most people will need guidance to successfully perform the needed steps.

Thankfully, the upcoming Hetura Author Training Programme will show authors exactly how to do those specific things that make them more profitable.

Albert Ocran, a popular author, one of Ghana’s most respected CEOs in 2009, and Chairman of Legacy and Legacy, will lead this programme. Albert will teach how to build multiple author platforms. Eric Kumah, Team Lead of Newaccra.com, will lead a practical session on tools authors can use to become more visibile on the internet.

Hetura’s Joel Asare and Allswell Manyo will explain how book cover and interior designs work on customers, and how to build a sales channel that brings consistent and targeted sales respectively.

The Hetura Author Training Programme happens on September 26 at Paloma Hotel, Spintex road. Call (+233) 0244 962 930 or (+233) 0570 948 218 to attend.

Are you a writer? What are your challenges?

Columnist: Newaccra.com