Farafna Books

An independent Nigerian publishing house, Kachifo Limited was set up in 2004. They are the publishers of Farafina Books who publish Nigerian editions of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels. Praxis speaks to its Chief Operations Officer, Eghosa Imasuen.  

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We talk about establishing cordial relationships between young unpublished writers and their prospective publishers…

I would agree that it might seem like the industry is lagging behind this new wave of enthusiasm for writing. So many writers, so many publishing houses ignoring them. But this is only a superficial, and unfair, assessment of the observable phenomena. What I think is actually happening is this: publishing houses are, in most cases, for-profit organisations. They must make the best they can with limited resources. From my experience running Kachifo Limited, I can explain what we have done. Initially, we had a submissions policy: a dedicated email address, an editor to look through the submissions—the slush pile—as it is called. But when you find that 80% of your effort is going into what amounts to only 20% of results, you have to cut back. We do not have the buffer of an agency system, where literary agents sieve through the rough looking for diamonds.

What we do at Kachifo Limited is promise to reply to every submission we get. We ask for 8 weeks to access and respond to submissions. But, understandably, many writers are impatient to get feedback about their work. So what can be done? Some effort into setting up a submissions algorithm; a literary agency system (this will need a critical mass of writing, and anticipated revenue, for it to even happen); and some patience on the part of writers (reading can be as hard as writing, especially if the end result is that the publisher will invest revenue into producing your big Nigerian novel.)

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On exploring strategies favourable to other African countries in sourcing writers, stories and even marketers, Eghosa says…

We focus on the Nigerian market. This is what our logistics allow for. In other markets, if we own rights to a book, we hope the interest in large enough that local publishers therein obtain these rights and publish for their markets. As for sourcing for contents from other African countries, if you send us a manuscript because you liked the work we did, we will publish it. For the Nigerian market, primarily.

Eghosa does not agree that Farafina publishes mainly works from already-known or western-published writers…

I think this question is the product of an unfortunate assumption. We publish what we think is good fiction, not from already-known and western-published writers.

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Hear what it takes to be published with Farafina…

Write true and honest. Everything comes from there. Skill is aplenty. Write your truth. Honestly.

On the poor quality of African-published books and solution…

This industry is recovering from near-death. And there really is no arbiter of what makes it to the market. So there is a din in the market, a multiplicity of voices. The market will decide, and those who are left will improve. There is no process to this. Those who do good work will continue to do so, and the books will improve.

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Eghosa talks about the helplessness of publishers when it comes to book distribution…

I do not know. Really I do not know what can be done. These issues go beyond books. What can be done to ensure that African-produced goods are available all over African countries? You see? It is a question for presidents and Central Bank governors. Not publishers. We just try to survive the pirates.

On the seeming death of print and the digital engagement of readers…

Print is not dead. This is not an “either or” situation; it is an “and” situation. E-books will do their part, as will printed books. Publishers will follow the money and make their content available on digital platforms, and when those platforms makes money, they will publish more.

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Striving to remain profitable in the business…

We try to diversify our business. We have branched out into educational books, and have run a publishing services imprint for the past few years. These make the money. Money that allows us follow our heart and publish art.

Thank you for reading. Louise of Huza Press, Rwanda will be up shortly 🙂

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