I had the fun and exciting job of doing the initial edits and proofreading of Sultan’s first novel, which she is now in the process of publishing. She’s the first in our latest interview series.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself and the book(s) you have written, including the genre you prefer:
I am a foreigner; came to South Africa in 1996, fell in love and adopted SA as my home. Besides working to pay for my living expenses, I am an avid reader, passionate about philosophy, psychology and spiritual lifestyle. I wrote my first book over four years ago. Although it is a biography, in essence, it is also a quest for self-discovery, which invites the readers into a fascinating cosmic journey. The genre of my book is ‘magical realism’.
2. Why did you decide to self-publish? What was the process leading up to this decision?
It was a life-long dream to write. I did not have the commercial mindset or the goal of publishing. After approaching a few publishers, I understood that my novel was not commercial enough to be published. Therefore, I decided to publish it myself. The challenges I faced with publishing houses were mostly that they have a commercial approach rather than aesthetic or depth. Although I have gotten superb feedback on the style and the story, the assumptions were that there was a slim chance to make money. This is my take. However, it is important to go through that process. One learns a lot in doing so.
3. What kind of feedback have you had from your readers and editors?
Interestingly enough, I have only had great feedback. Readers were very enthusiastic and provided feedback that they read through it overnight. I had two editors, both very positive, and both encouraged me to go for publishing.
4. We’d like to know the results of your decision. Would you consider it successful? Why? What does success mean to you?
It has not yet been published, we are in the process of finalising the editing. In a month or two, it will be published, I will be able to provide further feedback then.
5. If you knew then (before embarking on the journey of self-publishing) what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
No matter what publishers say to you, if you believe in your book/story, go ahead and self publish. In the end, it is your journey and your story. Whatever healing that it is supposed to bring, it is supposed to bring it to you and to the reader. So, do it and impact others through your writing/story.
6. Please give us a quick list of pros and cons for the self-publishing route:
Pros: It is a definite avenue that you will be a published author with an IBN number etc… and you can advertise your book on Amazon and at the bookshops.
Cons: It can be a little unstructured and take time. I also found that finding the right editor who grasps your story and is able to edit it is super crucial. I have lost more than a year with the wrong one, and had to find a new one.
7. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Contrary to my beliefs, writing did not turn out to be an entirely creative process. Prerequisites are first: structure, discipline and dedication. Once you have the first three in place, the creative process inside you begins unfolding. The starting point is your will to write a book and to make the necessary time in your calendar to get up and do it. I have spared two to three hours on the weekends for my writing, and it took about four years to complete this while having full-time jobs.
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?
This is a choice. If you are in it for commercial gain, then you have to adapt to what publishing houses are looking for. If you are writing authentically for what you believe and what you want to write, then you have to be original. I chose to be original.
9. When did you first experience the power of literature?
I was 13 years old when I read ‘Follow Where Your Heart Takes You’ by Oriana Fallaci. It was more the title that grabbed me, and then the content of the book, which was a very personal narrative of the author.
10. How much time do you spend writing per day / week?
A few hours per week.
11. What do you tend to edit out of your books after the initial writing?
The syntax and grammar
12. What could you have done as a child or teenager to ensure that you were an even better writer today?
Read more, dream more and write more 🙂 I had an imbalance of the three: I dreamed far more than I read and I never carried a notebook and a pen with me. So, I wish my parents had encouraged me to carry a notebook and a pen and encouraged me to write.
13. How long (on average) does it take you to write a book and how many times do you edit it?
It is a very unique to each author and story. So you can write a book in one year or in four, ten, twenty years! In my case, I had the novel edited three times.
14. What else do you do, if you aren’t a full-time writer?
I own my own business, so most of my time is spent working! However, I have started my second book, which I try to spend a few hours a week on.
*Note: all interviews are published as submitted, and not edited*