Over the years, Twitter has grown from just being a social network to a platform bursting with amazing ideas, brilliant opinions and a source for knowledge and learning. We find new perspectives and insights in tweets and threads and the literary sphere is not absent from all of this. Some of the best pieces of literary advice on writing and for writers this year are contained in tweets and threads.
In no particular order, these are 10 pieces of literary advice from Twitter that we can not forget.
1. Roxanne Gay on how to succeed as a writer and the myth of overnight success:
In this thread, one of the most influential writers of the year, Roxanne Gay, articulates her journey as a writer and how much work has gone into getting to where she is today. She reminds writers that the journey may be difficult, but never impossible.
You can read the full thread here
2. J.K Rowling on rules of writing:
When a follower asks J.K Rowling, award winning author of the Harry Potter Series, amongst others what the rules of writing are for writers, she brilliantly replies with a truth writers need to hears – the only rule is what works for you.
Read the rest of the thread here.
3. Akwaeke Emezi on finishing your book manuscript
Starting a book can be relatively easy, but following through to the end is one of the hardest things. Recognising that this is a common struggle for writers, Akwaeke Emezi, author of soon to be released Freshwater (which will be published by Grove Atlantic in the U.S. and Farafina in Nigeria), breaks down her writing process, telling us how she finishes her book manuscripts and completes general goals.
Read full thread here.
4. Matt Haig on reading
If there’s one thing you also are as a writer, it’s that you’re a reader. Before many of us became writers, we were first readers and being a writer shouldn’t change that. Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive and a constant number one best selling author reminds us in one of the most beautiful threads this year on the power of books and the magic in reading.
Read full thread here.
5. Carmen Maria Machado on advice to her younger self
We really can’t overemphasise the importance of reading for writers and Carmen Maria Machado, fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta and elsewhere hammers on this in her tweet. For her, if she could go back in time and advice herself as a young writer, this is what she would say:
See tweet here
6. Abubakar A. Ibrahim on advice to aspiring writers
Abubakar Ibrahim, award winning author of Season of Crimson Blossoms, gives sublime advice to aspiring writers in this tweet. If you’re looking to grow and develop as a writer, hold on to these words.
7. Nnedi Okorafor on reading for pleasure
Still on reading (are you still in doubt of how important it is for you to read as a writer?), Nnedi Okorafor, international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, and author of Zahrah the Windseeker reminds writers of the importance of reading for pleasure and the ability to enjoy writing in this thread.
8. Rae Chang on Filtering
Ever heard of filtering? We too, until we read Rae Chang’s thread on it. She is a young adult political fantasy writer, and editor who breaks down extensively what filtering is and how it affects your writing. If you’re looking to learn a thing or two as a writer or editor, read the full thread here.
9. Nayyirah Waheed on the value of words.
Nayyirah Waheed, poet and author who has been described as one of the most famous poets on Instagram, reminds us in this tweet that our words, no matter how little can be valuable. So just write.
10. Christopher Paolini on writing advice
Christopher Paolini, author of The Inheritance Cycle, sums up major advice for writers in this tweet. Figuring out how to go about writing can be confusing, but Christopher reminds writers to plan ahead, understand and move accordingly. The story will fall into place.
There you have it! Did we miss out anything? What piece literary advice resonated with you this year? What do you wish you learnt earlier as a writer? Let us know.
Writing is an act of self-exploration and submitting your work to a publisher can be the scariest act of your life. As publishers, we are aware of this and sympathetic. In the event that we select your work for publication, we would do our very best to make the process pleasant for the writer.
However, to increase the chances of your manuscript being picked up by a publisher, we advise that you adhere to the rules of grammar, punctuation and submission.
Before You Send Out Your Manuscript
Some mornings, we log into the submissions account and there are hundreds of emails waiting to be read, most of them with manuscript excerpts. Unfortunately, our request for more hours in a day hasn’t been granted (yet), so we can’t afford to waste any of the 24 we get. If you are a writer submitting your work to a publishing house, here’s how you can make our lives (and the lives of other editors and editorial assistants) easier.
Do Not Show Off
Contrary to what your friends and family members might have told you, you’re not the best writer since Shakespeare or Soyinka. But even if you are extremely talented, we won’t read your manuscript unless your email contains a synopsis of your novel and an excerpt of reasonable length (we suggest three chapters). We do not want to read a list of every award you’ve won since Primary School. We know every book we’ve published; don’t list them in your email or tell us that your work is better than those of seasoned authors. Allow us to judge that.
The moment we see emails like the one below, we know we won’t download or read the submission.
“If kachifo would like peharps, a demonstration, i would e-mail them my worst poem and they will be bewildered by beauty and admiration my stock of quality can give. I do not beg because i know writers like me would catapault the industry. My goal: to exceed Ngozi Adichi, ECHEBE, WOLE SOYINKA and to messure above SHAKESPARE and MILTON. Please e-mail me! (Sic)”
Do Not Send Your First Draft
Do as much work as you can in cleaning up your manuscript before sending it in. Does your story flow? If we can’t make sense of it, we won’t read past the first paragraph or chapter. Spell check! It doesn’t say much about your commitment to the written word if your manuscript is riddled with grammatical errors.
Send a Synopsis
Besides doing all the work you can on your manuscript, do even more on your synopsis – it often determines if your manuscript will be read or not. We rarely spend more than a minute on each email. In that minute, we read the synopsis and decide if we should download the manuscript excerpt or not. Do not send your manuscript without a synopsis, and do not send your synopsis without a manuscript. Both are important! And please, do not send a link to your blog, telling us to read your works there. We can, but we will not.
Often, submission guidelines request that you send in a synopsis, and attach an excerpt from your work to the email. Your synopsis can be sent in the body of the email (we prefer this), but do not send your sample chapters in the body of the email. We don’t have the time or inclination to copy text from the body of an email into a Word document for offline reading. If we can’t download the excerpt for offline reading, we’ll forget about it. Save your excerpt as a Microsoft Word document and send it as an attachment to the mail. However, do not assume this is all a publisher will ask for. Every publisher is different. Find out the guidelines of the publisher you want to send your manuscript to and follow the guide to the letter! If you will not dedicate time to reading and following the guidelines, the editor will not dedicate time to reading your work.
Copy Editor vs. Fairy God Editor
We are copy editors, not fairy god editors. There are no fairy god editors waiting in the wings, dedicated to turning ALL writers’ rags into fine cloth. We won’t edit your story and send it back to you “even if it won’t be published.” Also, it’s very unlikely that we’ll to send you an email when we are done reading your excerpt just to tell you what we didn’t like about it… jeez. There are simply too many submissions and like we said, there aren’t enough hours in the day.
So if you don’t get a response within 8 weeks, it means Kachifo will not be publishing your work under our Farafina imprint but we wish you all the best.
Here are our submissions guidelines:
To have your work considered for publication by Kachifo Limited, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, including a strong excerpt of about three chapters or 10,000 words saved in Microsoft Word, a one-page synopsis of the work, and a short author bio. (Note that a synopsis is not the same as a blurb or a teaser. A synopsis should contain ‘spoilers’, and should give a summary of the entire story, including and especially how it ends.)
The sample of the manuscript should be properly formatted (double-spaced, left-justified only, 12pt Serif font). Our preferred font is Courier New.
Introduce yourself and your work in the query letter in the body of the email. The subject of your email should be the title of your manuscript followed by the word “Submission”. Your submission will be acknowledged and assessed by our editors. We will respond within eight weeks if we are provisionally interested in publishing your work.
At this time, Kachifo Limited is not accepting unsolicited poetry or non-fiction submissions. The submissions window will be re-opened on the 31st of December, 2017.
Please note that we only accept submissions via email to email@example.com. We do not accept hard copy submissions.
Unsolicited submissions sent to other Kachifo email addresses may be overlooked. Hard copy submissions will not be acknowledged or returned.
If you would like to know more about Prestige, our publishing services imprint, visit www.prestige.ng
All the best!
Calling all book (and food) lovers! There’s something in store for you this Saturday, August 27. Come join us at #BookandGrill for a delicious and insightful time. There will be:
– Spoken word performances
– Grilled food to eat
– Free drinks
– A book auction for charity
– Farafina titles available for sale
Date: Saturday, 27 August 2016
Time: 3 PM – 7 PM
Venue: The Rooftop, CC Hub, 294 Herbert Macaulay Road Yaba, Lagos
Tickets: N1,500 (individuals), N6,000 (group of five)
See you there!
Join us on Sunday, 31 July as #FarafinaReads with award-winning writers A. Igoni Barrett and Efe Paul Azino. The authors will be reading from and discussing their work, including their latest books, Blackass (by A. Igoni Barrett) and For Broken Men Who Cross Often (by Efe Paul Azino). There will be conversations, question-and-answer and spoken word performances.
Date: Sunday, 31 July 2016
Time: 3.00 PM
Venue: Bar Enclave, 1 Adeola Adeleye Street, off Coker Road, Ilupeju, Lagos
Entry is free, so bring a friend.
See you there!
To buy copies of Blackass or For Broken Men Who Cross Often, please visit our Konga page or call 0807 736 4217.
Farafina author, Obari Gomba, will be hosting an evening of poetry and mentoring – tagged ‘Obari Gomba and Friends’ – for aspiring poets and poetry lovers in the city of Port Harcourt. The event will feature poetry readings by the author, as well as light refreshments and discussions on creative writing (particularly poetry), getting published and literary prizes.
Date: Sunday, 10 January 2016
Time: 4.30 PM
Venue: Witty E-Cafe, 25 Nnewi Street, Mile I, Port Harcourt
Obari Gomba (PhD) teaches Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Port Harcourt. His poetry collection, Length of Eyes, was listed by the jury of the Nigeria Prize for Literature as one of the best eleven poetry books in 2013. His poetry collection, Thunder Protocol, was published by Farafina Kamsi in 2015.
A. Igoni Barrett, author of Love Is Power or Something Like That, in his essay titled ‘Whom Do We Write For?’ gives a thought-provoking response to Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s New York Times piece, ‘African Books for Western Eyes’. Please read an excerpt from Barrett’s essay below:
I published my first book in Nigeria in 2005. It was a collection of stories edited by my father and released by his one-man company. The day the printer delivered the books was memorable: imagine my eagerness as I grasped my first-ever copy, then stared at it in disappointment: dreadfully designed, atrociously typeset, abominably printed – it is still the ugliest book I’ve ever touched.
Over the next two years I distributed the books myself; hence, I know that less than one hundred copies were sold. The left-over nine hundred were handed out to anyone who didn’t refuse the gift.
In the beginning, I was convinced I could make a living from my sales. Nigeria had a population of more than one hundred million, and so one thousand books, even ones as unattractive as mine, would sell quickly. Like many self-published authors before me, I figured wrong.
By 2007 I was disenchanted enough with DIY publishing to take up a job with a traditional publisher, where I spent the next two years learning everything about why my book had failed.
I republished the book in 2008. My father supplied the money to print one thousand copies, but it was my employer that supplied the publishing manpower, albeit unofficially.
When the printer made the delivery, I was astonished that the same book could look so different. While the first edition had never found a place on my bookshelf, this one would. Even better, it would sell. I had it all figured out; I would use my employer’s distribution network.
Lagos had a population of about twenty million, and so one thousand books, especially ones as attractive as mine, would sell quickly. I did more than hope this time: I invested in publicising the book. I pitched myself to newspapers as an interview subject; I went on a book tour; I organised monthly book readings at the largest bookstore chain in Nigeria; and, finally, I resigned my job in publishing and began writing again.
The second edition of my book sold out in 2011, three years after publication. Logistical expenses guaranteed a commercial loss, exacerbated by systemic hindrances, the most infuriating being the booksellers who cheat publishers out of their sales earnings – a common practice in Nigeria.
By this time I had realised that I wanted to be a full-time writer, not a part-time publisher or a half-hearted book promoter.
What worried me was my future as a writer in Nigeria. If I’d learned anything since 2005, it was that it was impracticable for any investor to turn a profit from selling literary fiction in a market as difficult as Nigeria. All those hardscrabble years spent as a local talent had confirmed to me that success for most writers in English – whether African or Australasian or Asian – depends on the publishing powerhouses of the West, mainly in New York and London.
I knew where to go if I wanted success.
Please click here to read the full essay.