Sitting for days and months to write books is not a major headache for Namibian writers but lack of publishing houses and financing is a big hurdle.
Simson Mario Ochurub, author of an inspirational book distributed freely in PDF format, Your Plan vs Your Life, says writers he meets complain about lack of publishing houses. “There are few publishing entities in Namibia but that makes it difficult for writers to weigh their options that they are offered percentage per book sold,” Ochurub says. Author of Reflections on Modern Damara History, Seth Boois, says financing is a hurdle to overcome as it can hamper research (travelling) and actual publishing as well as proof reading, editing and printing. “This (financing) is perhaps the most difficult part because it involves the finalisation of the whole process and putting the final product on the table so to speak,” says Boois. The author of also Blood Diamonds as well as Taxi in Windhoek says the other big challenge writers have to overcome is possible rejection or even ridicule by publishers. “The topic for the book itself is a challenge because it must be chosen so as to give the writer a wider scope and enough material to present wider information,” advises Boois.
The 27-year-old Ochurub who is currently busy with his second book titled Being a Young Entrepreneur in Modern Namibia, says he does not have sponsorship for it to publish it, which shows that financing is a stumbling block for writers in Namibia. “Writing cost me nothing. It’s the quote that is my headache,” Ochurub says. However, this is no dumber passion for writing. Since Reflections on Modern Damara History is self published, the marketing, advertising and selling is a huge cumbersome process and takes time to measure the rate of success thereof according to Boois. “The number of copies printed depends entirely about what the authors want and in case of a public publisher like Unam, Edumeds and McMillan it depends on them,” Boois says. Public publishers can take over the publishing process but the writer only receives 12 % of the proceeds from the book because of all the risk involved. Thus a private publisher like Boois is saddled with all the risk like the possibility of failing to obtain adequate return on the investment but of only break even.
Boois decided to publish the book himself with the assistance of Gaob //Garoeb Foundation even though Unam Press was interested to take over as a publisher.
On exposure which Ochurub cites as another obstacle, he says he has a Whatsapp group and uses print media for his work to be known. Other obstacle for writers is the small size of the Namibian readers’ market. Boois advises aspiring writers that if they are into writing to make money, then they must forget it. Ochurub says that one must study the market as the country has a poor market for readers as Namibians are lazy readers. Despite the challenges, Boois describes writing as source of self actualisation and about sharing information as well as managing knowledge to inform the world about what is hidden. Ochurub says if it’s a true calling it is something one must enjoys.
If given a one-on-one opportunity with a chief executive officer or head of a publishing company, Ochurub says he will ask for a generous discount and that as the last agents of the creation of books for them to look into giving sponsorships or scholarships to language faculties.