The yearly Lagos Book And Art Festival (LABAF) rounded off last Sunday, but the echoes left on its trail will continue to resonate in the minds of participants.
The festival established in 1999 to call attention to the importance of literacy is organised by the Committee For Relevant Art (CORA). The events go beyond books, as it includes other aspects of the art.
With theme, ‘The Terror Of Knowledge,’ this year’s edition, the 18th addressed rising cases of extremism, which are against acquisition of knowledge and the development of the mind.
Dedicated to Prof. Femi Osofisan, the four-day event featured readings and conversation around books, art and craft display, kiddies art workshops and reading sessions, book exhibitions, live music and theatre performance, capacity building workshops, and critical seminars for different sectors of the creative industries.
It started with a one-week pre-event, which featured exhibition of crafts and artworks, book trek, performance, while the main event kicked off on Thursday, with Publishers’ Forum that had ‘Raising Standards: Rights, Distribution And Talent In The Publishing Industry,’ as theme.
Speaking on Digital Publishing And Distribution via Skype, Seb Doubinsky, a writer and digital publisher, said e-book is gradually gaining ground across the globe. Encouraging publishers and writers to put their works in this new platform, he disclosed that e-books are cheaper, have global outreach and enjoy the privilege of link marketing.
Advising writers who may want to go into self-publishing to open website for their works, Doubinsky noted that this will enable them have critiques, feedbacks and reach out to wider readers, adding that websites give publishers greater visibility.
Stressing the importance of websites against other social media, he said Facebook is not ideal for reaching out to wide readers because it limits publishers to only their circle of friends, adding that besides the use of social media, publishers should attend book fairs to showcase their books and meet people who are interested in books.
Disclosing that success in self-publishing is subject to luck, the digital writer urged aspiring self-publishers to properly edit their works, as poor editing could put-off readers and reduce income.
Explaining that one’s motive for coming into the business would determine how he/she runs it, he said before going full time in the business, a writer should ask him/herself if he/she wants fame or money. He disclosed that if anyone is keen at making money, he/she should go for promotion and marketing research, stressing that the most important thing is having a platform to express oneself and be heard.
Encouraging stakeholders not to entertain fears when sending their manuscripts to foreign publishing firms, Paul Kalu, who took the stage after Doubinsky, said, though publishers there could be cases of impropriety, he urged them to take a leap of fate and give foreign publishers a trial, as there are genuine publishing firms, some with representatives in the country.
TAKING on the topic, Increasing Visibility Getting Concessions From Traditional Media, a panel comprising Mazi Chiagozie Nwonwu, Kunle Kasimu, Ayo Arowolo and moderated by Isabella Akinseye, revealed that publishers and writers need readers as much as readers need them. Members of the panel agreed that sometimes editors in the various media houses do not have enough materials to publish and as such need people to write, provide them with quality content that would enrich their platform. According to the speakers, writing for media houses would expose writers; make them know what it entails to write good and publishable materials.
Calling on publishers to strengthen their marketing and distribution networks, Kasimu said apart from sales platforms, publishers should build strong relationship with media houses for reviews, advice and advertisements.
Stressing the need to do a perfect job on any material before publishing, Nwonwu noted that if any publisher wants to make money from the business, he/she should hire the right people to clean up copies and be involved in the marketing plan, adding that content is very important.
Arowolo enjoined publishers to come up with books that are relevant to society, address the needs of the people.Taking on the editors, a panel moderated by Adebola Rayo and had Azafi Ogosi, Eghosa Imasuen, Adewale Maja Pearse and Ibiso Graham Douglas handled the topic, Nurturing Editorial Talent: Raising Standard And Continuous Education. Opening the discourse, Douglas said the challenges facing Nigerian publishers include, professionalism, delivering on time and keeping to house style. According to her, majority of her works are done outside the country because they come out better and sometimes cheaper, adding that editing job has been revolutionised in the country. She noted that editors midwife books giving to them for editing, which has made some to self-edit and publish.
REINFORCING Douglas’ views, Ogosi noted that some writers do not know that their books need to be edited and instead of giving them to professionals to do, they go strength to publish. She noted that Nigeria has a good number of editors and one should take time to search for them. She also noted that the Nigeria style of writing and speaking English language has encroached into writings and editors should always update themselves, so that, they do not lose track of the standard English if they want their works to be globally accepted.
For Pearse, language is living and evolves with time. Stressing the importance of using standard English language, he said, Nigerian English should be explored to make readers understand their uniqueness and know how to use them. He disclosed that there are two types of editors –– one that enters a writer’s work and improves on it and the other that just rewrite manuscripts. He called for Nigerian editors to come together to publish a handbook, which would make editors use standard English.
Commenting on reasons Nigerian publishers cannot publish up to 700,000 books a year, Douglas said until Nigerians indigenise English language local writers would continue to struggle with standard English. She disclosed that Nigerian artistes have made good success in music and the movies using the localised English. She also called on editors to continue learning to improve on themselves and to always come out good.