Nigerian Writers, Publishers Debate Future of Publishing in Age of Social Media

Digital Content

Nigeria ranks 35th worldwide in number of Facebook users and is the third-largest generator of tweets in Africa. Meanwhile, the Nigerian publishing industry struggles to find readers. Nigerian publishers and authors gathered in Lagos during Social Media Week last month to explore the benefits and challenges of social media in the publishing industry.

LAGOS, NIGERIA – Writer Chiagozie Nwonwu says that social media has helped him to advance his career.

“Social media has been very positive for my work,” he says.

He joined Facebook in 2008 and then joined Twitter.

Based in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria, he frequently contributes to publications such as Daily Times Nigeria, a news website. He also writes fiction. He uses social media to find platforms for his work.

He is currently in talks with a publishing company about printing a collection of short stories. He saw the company’s call for submissions on Facebook.

“AfroSF,” promoted as the first African anthology of science fiction, recently featured one of his pieces, “Masquerade Stories.” He first saw the anthology’s call for submissions through his social media networks. Nwonwu submitted his manuscript, and the anthology included it in its e-book, published in December 2012.

“That book generated a lot of buzz, more than any other book that was published in Africa last year,” Nwonwu says.

“Social media helped me as a writer by providing access to materials to improve my craft and also communities that boosted my confidence and helped to critique my work. It gave me an opportunity to publish and promote my work. ”
-- Nkem Akinsoto, author and founder of Naija Stories

The editor of the anthology also tags him on social media so he can see reviews of his work.

“All the reviews are online,” he says. “I see them on social media.”

He seeks feedback using social media on his other work as well. Soon after joining Facebook, Nwonwu began posting his writing on the website and tagging friends in the posts to solicit criticism.

He says this helped him to gain confidence.

“As a writer, you need others, people with like minds, who do what you are doing,” he says. “Facebook is the place that you can interact with them.”

As social media soars in Nigeria, publishers say they are using it to connect with an expanded pool of readers and writers. Writers are also using social media to market their work and to gather feedback. But some publishers caution that an increase in writers using social media has not resulted in an increase in writing quality. Others debate social media’s effectiveness in boosting sales and whether its dominance in Nigeria will affect long-form writing styles.

There are nearly 5.4 million Nigerians on Facebook, according to Socialbakers, a company that monitors and tracks social networks. Nigeria ranks 35 th in a worldwide list of the number of Facebook users by country.

A 2011 survey conducted jointly by Tweetminster, a U.K.-based team of Twitter analysts, and Portland Communications, an international communications consultancy, analyzed 11.5 million geolocated tweets throughout Africa during a three-month span. Their findings revealed that Nigeria is the third-highest generator of tweets on the continent.

This represents a huge population of Nigerians that the publishing sector can reach out to, publisher Gbenro Adegbola says. Adegbola is the CEO of First Veritas, a publisher of educational content with a major interest in digital publishing, including e-books and online distribution.

Adegbola foresees digital and social media providing an avenue for publishers to extend their reach.

“It will bridge a huge gap in terms of access to content,” he says.

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Source: Global Press Journal