Thursday, 14 June 2007

Prejudice Against Local Authors In South Africa

A letter from T C Southwell
I'm still struggling with the publicity for "Demon Lord", and meeting with excessive resistance from the bookshops now. They say they will order it and then don't, and people are contacting me because they want to buy it and can't find it in the shops, it's ridiculous.

As a South African author, I find the perceived prejudice or at least lack of interest in local authors from local bookstore chains like Exclusive Books to be overwhelming and disheartening. That, on top of the attitude of local magazines that won't review the book or even have their reviewers read it, makes it impossible for a local author to get the kind of exposure they need to promote their work. What is wrong with media people and bookshops in SA?

How is a local author supposed to succeed against those kinds of odds? My agent will be sending my next book overseas, South Africa is just not the place to get ahead as an author, especially for local ones, apparently. Isn't that sad? The sales of my book have been horrible because of this. Must all South African talent be forced to go overseas to find the kind of exposure and appreciation that they deserve? Will South Africa never be able to claim that it has produced good fantasy or science fiction authors because the local media and bookshops appear to be so prejudiced against local authors?

My advice to budding local authors is, don’t waste your time in South Africa, go overseas if you want to succeed.

T C Southwell

3 comments:

Ryan Peter said...

Hi TC

What you are experiencing is the experience of people in most art forms in our country, especially if the art form is not ethnic. What I mean, is that if you're a rock musician (and not Afrikaans) there really isn't a chance you'll succeed in this country (unless you choose to be a cover band, like Mean Mr Mustard.) Being a musician, I've known countless guys in top quality bands making number one hit songs on the radio - but even that has meant no sales. Just Jinger was the only real success, but they have had to go overseas to go any further and ensure better sales.

The truth is, unless you make Afrikaans music, or African music, you're not going to make much money here and therefore you won't find much support.

As a writer myself, I comiserate. I'm still busy on my fantasy novel, but in SA unless you write political or social novels, or Afrikaans stuff, you won't really go very far. There is a huge amount of people that will buy fantasy, but unfortunately Book Stores think that international is better (like in the record industry) and will only punt 'sure-sellers' so they can move more units.

Going overseas is not an option for most of us - especially if we're over 30. I'm 28, but overseas is not an option right now for me at all.

However, be encouraged, you just need to keep pushing. I found your book through the net - use the net more to your advantage. Check out lulu.com to sell to an international audience, and market through the net. It's an amazing tool. Even overseas authors have only managed to sell 700 units, so don't be discouraged! If you've sold 100, you're probably doing well in SA terms (IMHO.) I've managed to sell 60 units of my non-fiction book, through word-of-mouth alone. So, keep at it!! I'm sure you'll get there!!!

Hawk said...

Hi Ryan,

Thank you for your comment and support. I agree with all that you have said, and I am indeed seeking new outlets on the net.

Best regards,
TC Southwell

heatblast said...

i saw someone posting a video in youtube who thinks lulu.com is a rip-off. So i'm asking, do people buy sci-fi fantasy books?