Joining us today is Edentu Oroso, owner of Mindfield Publishing. The company has been publishing books for American, Australian, British, Ghanaian, and Nigerian authors since 2019. His success is only rivaled by his kindness. I understand there is a flood in your area (which is now receding), but has caused you to lose much of what you had built up in the past four years. We therefore thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, considering your situation. I know this is only a minor setback, and that you will be able to power through this.
Thank you so much for this honour and for all you do for the writing community! I won’t take this for granted. Gracias mi Amigo!
As you rightly pointed out, we’ve been through devastating floods in Nigeria in recent times. I was particularly homeless for about two months. The experience was harrowing to say the least. My house was deep in the flood up to window level. The whole vicinity was overrun by the flood. We were only able to access our houses by canoes.
Thank goodness it has receded and we’ve taken it in our strides as one of those inevitable things in life. It’s not the ravaging floods but our reactions to the experience that truly defines us. Personally, I came out of it stronger, wiser and more resolved to be a better version of myself.
-Edentu, you are a writer in your own right, as you publish an opinion piece in the Nigerian Pilot on a weekly basis. What first attracted you to publishing other authors?
I’ve always been enthralled by the written word since my childhood. Books were my best friends literally while growing up. Fast forward to adult life, that passion hasn’t really waned. It has heightened instead in great degrees.
To answer your question. Yes, I’m a columnist with the Nigerian Pilot newspaper which has national spread. The column is on the back page of the tabloid and comes up every Wednesday. It gives me the fiat to express myself on a number of cogent national and international issues. Sometimes my opinions are scathing, and sometimes they’re sublime. It all depends on my perception and mood swings. But it has essentially helped me to mirror society in its starkness. I guess that’s the primary duty of a writer – to tell it as it is, not minding whose ox is gored.
My debut as a columnist was actually in The Papyrus Monthly Magazine owned by my bosom friend, Chief Hon. Doofan Damsa. Then I had a stint with BoldStep Motivational Magazine as a columnist also. And for over 13 years I had two columns with Kakaaki Magazine and wrote almost all their cover stories till the demise of the publisher Chief Tai Olusoccer last year.
Within the ambit of the premise of contributing my quota to informing, educating, and entertaining people with my literary creativity, I won’t say I’ve fared badly at all. I’ve paid my dues so to say.
My foray into publishing is an accident of history really. Well, I may have had notions of becoming a publisher someday in the past, but that was still at the level of conjecture, if you get my drift. But something happened in early 2019 that changed the texture of those daydreams.
I was in search of literary agents and publishers who’d be interested in signing on my debut novel, Titan Race at the time. Few literary agents asked me to send the first three chapters and the synopsis of my Sci-Fi/Fantasy, plus my brief bio with all the writing credits I’d garnered over the years. These requests were direct responses to my query letters. Well, those responses, as encouraging as they were, didn’t go beyond that. Rejection letters from the agents came in torrents and turned my hopes upside down.
And then I tried to make an inroad directly with some publishers abroad. Luckily enough, a publisher in India and another in the USA got back to me with positive feedback. I thought I was at the verge of getting a traditional publishing contract based on their interests in my book. However, there was a caveat. The clause was a buyback option of my published books, at least, 200 copies – this was from the Indian publisher. The publisher in the USA demanded outright payment for the publishing of my book. I knew from my research that these were vanity publishers and not what I wanted. Besides, the options were way beyond my financial capability at the time.
So my search for a traditional publisher continued until fate played a pleasant trick on me. I met Camellia Morris, a French-Canadian with Jamaican descent, on social media. We met actually on a few Facebook writing groups and became good friends.
Camellia hinted while we were chatting about the publishing industry, its gatekeepers and inherent challenges, that she would love to veer into publishing soonest, at least, to give a voice to budding writers. It stoked my interest and I encouraged her in that direction. When she finally made her mind to start an independent publishing company, she informed and offered me an appointment as the Chief Operations Officer (COO).
I was thrilled but there was a snag in the offer. I’m in Nigeria and she lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Despite the distance which should be a barrier naturally, we leveraged on technology to bridge the gap and everything was seamless from the start. We set to work and published a few authors who signed contracts with her company, Melodicrose Publishing. I got paid for these.
That experience, however, was short-lived. Less than a year down the line, she packed shop due to personal reasons and left me in the lurch. She’d traditionally published three of my books while Melodicrose Publishing lasted - - TITAN RACE - Book One of the Manu Series; RICHER THAN PRIDE – A Collection of Poems; and, STRIDES OF DESTINY – A Biography of the Super Cop Abba Kyari – prior to this.
She said she’d be reverting the publishing rights to me so I can publish them on my own. I pleaded with her not to close the company because we had signed on a number of authors, and there were several others on the queue. But she was adamant. I believe the pressure of publishing took a toll on her emotionally . It was at that point I took my destiny in my hands and started my own publishing company, Mindfield Publishing in late 2019. After all, I’d been the brain behind most of the decisions we took in Melodicrose Publishing.
It turned out a blessing in a number of ways. Some of the authors we were supposed to publish under the Melodicrose Publishing imprint signed up with Mindfield Publishing. That’s how it all began for me as a publisher. So far, so good. No regrets whatsoever.
Publishing has given me the opportunity to help lots of people whose voices ordinarily may not have been heard around the world due to the vagaries of the industry’s gatekeepers who are mostly interested in signing on established writers. We’ve published relatively unknown names traditionally.
We have done a number of hybrid publishing deals also for clients in Nigeria because of the peculiarity of the publishing industry here. Nigeria operates a publishing industry that’s mainly hybrid in nature; authors pay to get published instead of the other way around. But this is understandable due to the poor reading culture here, and publishers’ first considerations are return on investments. So the hybrid system is excusable.
We have published authors from Australia, USA, UK, Ghana, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, etc., and many more coming onboard in 2023 under the Mindfield Publishing imprint. A dream that wouldn’t have seen the light of day if not for that accident of history in 2019.
-Growing up, which authors made you fall in love with the literary world?
I was exposed to a lot of European literature quite early in life. I read Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Round the World in Eighty Days by Ryder Haggard, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, King Solomon’s Mines, and a few other books while in primary school.
In secondary school (High School), I’d graduated from children literature to reading the paranormal, the esoteric, crime thrillers, romance, and literary fiction.
I read several of James Hadly Chase novels and found the pacing and plot twists of his crime related themes interesting. Nick Carter’s novels were a bit too out of place for me at the time, but I read them too. Harold Robbins’ The Dream Merchant was thrilling. Clive Cussler’s Raise the Titan made me desire to be a writer. Louis L’armour’s The Lonesome Gods stirred my sense of imagination. Agatha Christie’s crime thrillers were favorites too. Roots by Alex Haley was an emotional roller coaster ride for me. It opened my mind to the gory details of slavery as a teenager. It left lasting impressions on me on man’s inhumanity to man.
There was also The Pacesetters series in Nigeria. I read so many of them. In the romance genre, the Mills and Boon series had my fancy.
I was so curious as a child. I often refer to it as a morbid kind of curiosity – always wanting to know what lies beyond this sphere or plane of existence; after this life, what next? Yes, I asked those questions quite early in life. So i dabbled into reading books on mysticism, the esoteric, the paranormal.
Opening of the Third Eye by Dr Douglas Baker; Practical Candle Burning – I can’t remember the name of the author now; Carlos Castaneda’s The Fire Within, and Journey to X Land alongside Lobsang Rampas’ books such as Doctor from Lhasa; The Third Eye; and The Tibetan Lama, etc, opened a new vista of understanding for me at a tender age. At a point, I even read Rosicrucian (Amorc) pamphlets out of curiosity. I learned a lot from all these books.
I’d say I’m an eclectic when it comes to books and writing. I read across board – all genres of literature interests me.
-When choosing a book to publish, what does your process look like?
The norm in the publishing industry is for the author to send a query letter to a literary agent or publisher first and then wait for feedback on his query. If accepted, the author is given a publishing contract. Our process in Mindfield Publishing may not strictly adhere to this norm, but follow a similar trajectory.
An author either sends a query letter directly to us via our official email address email@example.com with the first three chapters and synopsis of the book, plus a brief bio, or gets in touch with any of our staff in relation to his or her book. If the book meets our criteria in terms of quality, genre and theme, we respond appropriately with a publishing contract.
Sometimes it doesn’t follow this path. Our process all depends on what we are looking for at any given point in time.
Every country has its peculiar challenges with book publishing as I hinted earlier. While the traditional route is the in-thing overseas, in Nigeria it is a different ballgame. What obtains is mainly what is referred to in the industry as vanity press. We do both traditional and hybrid publishing depending on the need and our author’s preference.
-From first manuscript to finished product, can you walk us through the steps needed to make a book come to fruition?
The first step in book publishing is getting the manuscript ready. This entails having a draft copy, editing and re-editing, which includes developmental editing where necessary, copy-editing, and proofreading.
Once the manuscript has been professionally edited and proofread, it goes to the book interior/book cover designers. While this is on, we apply for an ISBN from the National Library of Nigeria with the copyright in the name of the author. We also use free ISBN or ASIN number assigned by Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) and other Print-On-Demand platforms where applicable.
The next step is to get the PDF file of the book ready for a proof copy, which enables us look critically at the design layout for possible errors and corrections. Afterwards, the book goes to press.
-What is your idea of misery?
Hmm, this is an interesting question. There are a scattering of the diverse shades of misery on the canvass of time. You’ll see the colours of pain, anguish, despair, abject poverty, diseases, ecological despoliation, famine, draught, political brigandage, terrorism, etc., on every conceivable space on the earth that you care to look at. If these aren’t anyone's notion of misery, then I wonder what else is.
We are daily inundated by the deliberate actions of those in positions of authority who perpetually enslave the rest of the citizenry by their callous and self-conceited handling of the social contract. Public trust is continually raped via corruption, nepotism, and disrespect for the rule of law. Wanton terror grips the shuddering poor masses like a firm vice. Tell me if these are not the colours of misery.
-What is your idea of happiness?
My definition of happiness is when you’re certain that tomorrow’s experience of the leash of life won’t be denied you either by a draconian system or the forces from the axis of evil. Central to the idea of happiness is the premise of fundamental freedoms.
I’m also aware that happiness is first and foremost an internal reality. Contentment is key to the joy that emanates from within. We are largely to blame for the lack of happiness in our individual lives due to our excessive quest for the temporal things of the world. Moderation in everything we do is essential to lasting peace of mind.
-If not yourself, which historical person would you be?
While it is a given that I admire a lot of people in various fields of life for their sterling achievements and role model statuses, I’d rather be me. There can be no two Edentu Oroso in the whole world. We’re differently created with different destinies or assignments here on earth. So, wanting to be someone else is a misplaced priority. I’m uniquely me.
-Where would you like to live?
There’s no place like home. I love everything about Nigeria despite her teething problems of insecurity and bad governance. The poverty index is high, nevertheless, I love this country.
However, I’d love to visit Dubai, Maldives, Jamaica, Canada, USA, UK, Australia, China, South Africa, Egypt, and a few other countries soonest.
-What is the main advantage of being behind the publishing desk as opposed to the writing desk?
I’ve had both experiences with profound outcomes. Being behind the driver’s seat as a publisher makes you play God with writers who want their works to be read or want to express their literary creativity to the rest of the world.
The publisher is the writer’s fiat to global audiences. But the writer is the one who feeds those audiences with his creative energy. The audience is fed on the writer’s creative impulses, without which there’s no publisher. So there’s a convergence of meaning between a publisher and a writer. They both need each other to grow.
By virtue of my being a publisher, the voices of so many people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be heard globally, have been mainstreamed. That is a beautiful thing by my estimation. Yet, as a writer, there are so many stories in my head brimming to come to the fore. I need to birth them, and I can’t do that without me writing. There lies the little hurdle to cross.
-What do you consider is necessary to achieve a good story?
A good story is essentially one that carries a message, whether sublime or ridiculous. It must be plot driven, fast-paced, enthralling, evocative, and should be able to give the reader something to ponder on.
A good story is a simple story with twists and turns - one that truly reflects or has some of the elements contained in Joseph Campbell’s 'the hero’s journey.’
These elements of the ‘hero’s journey' are evident even in ordinary folktales or tales by moonlight common with the African cosmogony. Weaving these elements of the call to adventure, the mystical boon, surprise, suspense, etc., into a story makes it highly engaging and worth the read.
-What types of books do you have slated for the coming year?
We hope to publish in 2023 sci-fi, fantasy, literary fiction, poetry, memoirs, inspirational, biographies, romance, thrillers, short stories on diverse themes, etc. We are not genre specific.
-Who do you usually tap to make your covers?
As Mary Baker Eddy of the Christ Scientist Church once said, “Man does not possess an intelligence of his own but reflects that which his creator has made.”
Let me borrow a leaf from this statement. No one creates in a vacuum. Our environment, the things we smell, see, feel, touch, and hear provide ample material for any creative. We follow the same path.
At times, our authors suggest what they actually want on their book covers. At other times, the central theme(s) in a story provides us with an idea of a cover concept. Where we lack the requisite artistic impression for a book cover, our in-house designers search the Internet for both free and premium stock images, which we use on our book covers. That’s how we roll.
-What philosophy do you adhere to?
My philosophy of life is to be the best I can possibly be. Love is at the core of that philosophy; to be a channel of blessings to others.
-Who are your heroes/heroines in fiction?
None. I read all genres of literature and try as much as possible to navigate the sea of life via the varied compasses proffered by the characters I come across in so many books. I choose what I want to learn and leave what I consider irrelevant to my growth process.
-What sort of projects would you like to work on in the future?
I’ll like to complete the four or five books in the Manu Series and delve into literary fiction with themes revolving around topical issues. The second book in the series titled LOST PRINCESS is in the making. It should be out by the first quarter of 2023.
Another genre close to my heart is poetry. I’m working on my second poetry collection. And I’ll work on two biographies I’d earlier published – re-edit and republish these.
-What is your main fault?
My inability to say no when necessary, I believe, is a fault. Trying to please everyone at one's own detriment is a great character weakness. In the end, one is the worst for it.
-What are your main restrictions in publishing?
None so far. We grow with the nature of the turf.
-Where do you see your company in ten years?
At the topmost top in Nigeria and Africa by God’s grace! We have achieved so much in just a little over two years. So it’s only natural that we’ll go a notch higher than where we are at the moment.
-If someone were to wish to contact you to submit a manuscript, how would they go about doing that?
They should send their submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with a query letter, three sample chapters (first three chapters), synopsis, and a brief bio stating writing credits. We can be reached by phone and WhatsApp via +234-803-931-7850 and +223-701-290-5484. Follow us on Facebook: www.//http:facebook.com/mindfielpublishing/
-Thank you for joining me today. It was an honour to have you with here. I wish you good luck in all your endeavours.
The pleasure is mine! I’m grateful that you found me worthy of this interview. May God reward you richly.