Sizwile is a vibrant young South African author, and I’m thrilled to have her be part of the interview series.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and the book(s) you have written, including the genre you prefer:
I am an accountant by profession but I love reading. I read all types of books, and particularly like inspirational books and romance novels. I have only published one book so far, and it is novel. I would classify it as a romantic drama, if such a thing exists!
The novel is called “Good Girl” and follows the journey of a young woman navigating life away from the safety of home, and going through heartbreak and some very bad decisions. Anyone who has studied at a tertiary institution will most likely identify with some of the behaviors and challenges.
2. Why did you decide to self-publish? What was the process leading up to this decision?
I realized that it would be difficult to get a publisher to publish my book, because it does not fit any mold of what has been previously published by publishing houses. I am not a celebrity or public figure, and I had nothing to sell myself with. I did not have the money to use a self publishing service, so when I say I self published, I mean I did everything myself, including ISBN, editing, formatting etc.
3. What kind of feedback have you had from your readers and editors?
I have received an overwhelming feedback from readers. I sent out a sample of the book before publishing it, and the readers immediately requested information on how to purchase the full version. I then published an e-version on Kindle, but I still got a significant amount of requests from people who want the hard copy. I realise that Kindle is not as common as I thought, and am researching other e book platforms that could work in South Africa.
4. We’d like to know the results of your decision. Would you consider it successful? Why? What does success mean to you?
I think this has been a success. I am motivated to publish more of the stories I have written. The social media feedback suggests that readers are hungry for the hard copy of the book.
5. If you knew then (before embarking on the journey of self-publishing) what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
Do what I do best, and leave the rest to professionals, in particular issues to do with design. I attempted to design my own book cover and ended up with a cover that looked like a manual. I then approached an inexpensive service provider who did a sterling job. Next time I will not even attempt to do that. Also, I would be kinder to myself, because with this novel I second guessed myself a lot and even though people love the book I am still second guessing myself.
6. Please give us a quick list of pros and cons for the self-publishing route:
Pros: Control of your own work, ownership of the rights, no publisher deadlines and demands, no heart break of being rejected by a publishing house
Cons: Having to pay for everything from your own pocket, no marketing support
7. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I don’t feel qualified to give advice, but I would say don’t be in a hurry to publish, take your time, and be happy with your own work before putting it out there. Also, be prepared for negative feedback and don’t take it personally. I was a little hurt when a few people close to me disapproved of the novel as they felt it clashed with my Christian faith, but had to quickly recover and remind myself that they were saying it from a place of love.
Let professionals do the work, where you can afford it. In future, if I afford it, I will engage an editor to deal with all those little grammar mistakes etc
I would also say research extensively for service providers, you will be surprised at the price variations for the same quality. My book cover cost me R70 on fiverr, but I had quotes of up to R450 per hour.
Then, just some fun questions:
8. Do you try to be as original as possible? Or do you prefer to stick to what you know readers / publishing houses are looking for?
I try to be original. I don’t want people to start thinking ” what’s so different about this book?”
9. When did you first experience the power of literature?
Probably at about 7 years of age when I started writing (with Dad’s help) public speaking speeches for school competitions.
10. How much time do you spend writing per day / week?
I have no set time. I can go for a whole week without writing, or write everyday for hours!
11. What do you tend to edit out of your books after the initial writing?
Dates and times, I worry if they do not make sense for the story line.
12. What are the hardest scenes for you to write?
Scenes to do with the loss of a child. I cry my eyes out!
13. What could you have done as a child or teenager to ensure that you were an even better writer today?
14. How long (on average) does it take you to write a book and how many times do you edit it?
I wrote my first book in a week but I did not publish it. It left me emotionally drained. It took me a month to write the second one, which I published, but I lost count of the number of times I edited it.
15. What else do you do, if you aren’t a full-time writer?
I run a kids cooking club called iCook Kids Club. I’m also an accountant.
Keep in touch with Sizwile via Facebook.
*Note: all interviews are published as submitted, and not edited*