By Josfyn Uba and Christine Onwuachumba
Victoria Abraham has a great passion for writing. She has written many books. While six of them have been published in hard copies, eight of them have also been published as e-books. Although the publishing terrain is laden with thorns, she is optimistic that her big payday is around the corner, having paid her dues in the industry.
Abraham tells Daily Sun in this recent interview that she desires a vibrant society, where there are more educated people who can read and write, which would translate to more books being sold. This would benefit writers and help the publishing business to flourish.
Talking about your moments as a writer, how does it feel?
I derive so great pleasure in writing. First, I write as a means of therapy and as a form of blessing to humanity. For the last eight years, I have written for free on the Internet.
Writing brings me immense joy because, through it, I am empowered to have a voice in the world. Writing inspires me and breeds great confidence in me. I write down virtually everything. I also use my writing to capture important events and occurrences in my life. This way, I am able to situate events and keep records of important happenstances in my life.
I write on a weekly basis and even daily, sometimes. There are also times when I do not write at all, which is rare; I have enjoyed every bit of my job as a writer. It has put food on my table for the last nine years since I left paid employment. I am quite optimistic that the future is bright for me because I think I have paid my dues in the industry. It is payback time for me now. My aspiration is to go global with my art and craft.
Where do you draw inspiration to write?
The publishing terrain is not for the lily-livered. It is for those who are determined and courageous. You also need God as your backbone and strength, otherwise, you would certainly not last.
I am inspired by the need to succeed in my profession because publishing and the media industry is predominantly a man’s world. As a woman, there is pressure to succeed so as to prove that whatever a man can do a woman can also do, even better!
Could you talk a bit about your challenges as a writer?
One of the biggest challenges is breaking into new markets because Africans do not necessarily like to read. This is an issue, because you have stock of books that remain unsold for years. I decided to self-publish my books before going into the business of publishing for others. This is not an easy route at all but I wanted the monopoly of owning the rights to my published works. The easy route would be to sign on to well-established publishers and be paid royalty for one’s works.
The other challenge is that, in this early stage of my publishing and media business, I am the writer, publisher, marketer and promoter. I do virtually everything, which is not an easy task.
Other challenges include promotion for one’s work. Promoting anything or brand is expensive. Currently, the nation is going through hard times, economically. This means that people would only spend money on essential goods, which does not usually include books.
This means that only the rich, the discerning and students buy books at the moment. I am determined and committed to my vision to become a global player in the business. I would like to own a publishing company where I can also produce music and movies. I know providence will smile on my business and my dreams will materialise despite these challenges. I will not quit or surrender to the vicissitudes of life.
You sound so optimistic; how do you cope with the ups and downs?
I am a dogged and resolute fighter by nature. I do not give up when I commit to a cause, especially when I am passionate about it. I also have mentors who encourage me when I am down and out.
In order to remain relevant, I keep abreast of changes within the industry so that I am prepared for imminent changes.
Finally, I am optimistic and positive that I will have the last laugh in this quest, if I do not quit.
Who or what do you consider the greatest influence in your life and career?
I read Physics Education at the University of Lagos in the 1980s. Ordinarily, I should be a teacher but I veered into administration and training.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find fulfilment working in the insurance industry, even though I was paid a good salary some years ago. I wanted to do something for myself. I wanted to do great things and leave a legacy in life.
Let us compare when you started writing and now. What has changed?
I started writing in the mid-1990s, though my first published work was in 2011. When I started writing, the era of the Internet had just begun but it was slowly penetrating into Africa.
Comparing the ’90s to the 21st century, there has been tremendous change. Then, books were sold as hard copies. Now, we have e-books. Many people could not publish their works by themselves but now, a lot of people self-publish.
In the ’90s, you could not sell your books online. There are many online channels through which you can sell your books now. As a writer, there are many research tools, including Google, which have made researching easier. Now, you can just search for it; and information is easier and faster to access, compared to the ’90s.
What are some of the changes that you would like to see in the sector?
I would like a situation where writers are greatly celebrated for their works, and not left till when they die. I also want government to help writers harness their gifts by funding publishing companies. I desire a situation where writers are consulted for better governance because writers are great thinkers. Writer help to shape society.
On a more global scale, our education sector needs to be revived because, right now, it is comatose. We need a vibrant society, where there are more educated people who can read and write. This way, there will be more people willing to read and, of course, more books will be sold. This will eventually benefit writers and help the publishing business to flourish.
What are some of your memorable moments as a writer?
The year I wrote four books and published two of the books has remained the most memorable year in my life. Being able to publish my first book after several years of writing, too, was another milestone for me. Finally, between 2011 and 2015, I wrote, published and launched my books. All these, for me, have been wonderful.
Tell us about some of your works.
My first book, Treasures, was written and published in 2011 on Amazon. Since then, I have published other titles, including Hope on the Go, 12 Golden Laws of Success, The Tiny Big First Step, 100 Life’s Little Lessons and In Pursuit of Happiness.
The soon-to-be-published books include Because I Believed, Insightful Nuggets for Living and The Creative Force of Faith. I started with writing and publishing just one title at a time. Subsequently, I have written multiple books every year. This year is no exception.
Though more people on the global scene are going online to purchase their favourite titles because the publishing business is going digital, Africa and Nigeria are yet to catch up with this fad because of the high illiteracy level prevalent in Africa.