Writing is a tough way to make a living. Book sales are minimal nowadays. The pay rate for freelancing is laughable. To add insult to quite painful injury, everyone thinks writing is a hobby a person should do for free. Itís not. Good writing is not an accident; it happens after years of hard work. Do you feel bad for writers? Have you ever wondered how you could help them?
Here are 10 ways you can support a struggling writer in Botswana.
Buy locally written books
I know local books are often hard to find. If a local book you want is not at the bookstore, ask the manager to order it. If you can’t get books written by Batswana, at least buy books written by other African writers. This continent has some of the best writers in the world- get to know them!
Invite a writer to speak or read at your school, university, or public event and pay them
Many guests would love to hear writers read from their work. They might be keen to ask questions and get their books signed. Make sure if you invite a writer, you have funds for their traveling expenses and their time.
Don’t use the word exposure...ever!
Writers get paid by writing. They do not have fairy godmothers. If you want a writer to write in you magazine or newspaper, do not pay them in exposure. Exposure does not pay the water bill. Choppies does not accept exposure as one of their forms of currency to buy bread. Pay writers at least P1/word; that is the bare minimum.
Pick local books for your book club
There are quite a few book clubs in the country. How about picking a local book for your next club read? And after your club reads the book, use social media to talk about it. Books sell because of hype; hype is created when people who love a book talk about it.
Don’t ask a writer to read and edit your work
Writers are not editors. If you need an editor, hire one.
Review local books
I see reviews all of the time for foreign books. If I see reviews for local books, they are invariably for self-published books. Where are the reviews for traditionally published books written
Do not ask writers to publish your work or to find a publisher for you
Writers are not publishers. A large amount of a writer’s time goes into researching and submitting to publishers and agents. Don’t undermine that important part of a professional writer’s work by asking them to find you a publisher.
Sell local books in your shop
Most villages don’t have bookstores. Why can’t other types of shops step in? I’ve heard that Choppies has in the past stocked local books- what an excellent way to support local writers! I encourage them to expand that line and to even sell our Botswana books in their shops in other countries. Where are the other shop owners who want to support local writers? I’ve got books-drop me an email!
Attend book launches and buy books
If you want to support local writers, attend their book launches. When you do, make sure you mark your attendance on social media- tell people where you are, let’s make book launches the coolest places to be. And don’t leave without buying a book and getting it signed by the author.
Buy books as presents
When you’re thinking about presents for birthdays and other occasions (like the soon to arrive Valentine’s day) why not buy your loved one a book?
There are so many fabulous books covering nearly every topic you can think of: self-help, cookbooks, spy novels, literary fiction, humorous books, books on how to play an instrument, romances, historical books, photo books ...the list is endless.
A considered book purchase will be appreciated by the receiver and it will show that you have paid close attention to where the person’s interests lie and that’s a lovely thing.