Episode 32B – Nosa – Black culture in fantasy

The discussion with Nosa continues as we discuss the growing rise in black culture in fantasy.

Part of this discussion is why it is happening now and what has changed to allow it to happen. It’s interesting to see how we feel that independent publishing has helped bring about this growing diversity and how indie authors can meet these specific niches and still sell books.

Transcript

Stephen 0:50
Alright, so welcome back once again. No, sir. Oh, we’re now going to talk a little bit about some writers stuff. And we’ve got a great topic to discuss. But before we get started with that, tell us what type of software you use what services you use when you’re writing.

Nosa 1:10
So I tend to use I use Word Processor so I use word I just work on Microsoft Word and I use I use Grammarly as a as an add in so that there’s just so that I don’t make too many mistakes while I’m writing, grammar and so on and so forth. So you can get Grammarly for free online. And then that we’ve word dust why tend to work with i get i get a Grammarly premium, which is, which gives you more in depth sort of objects on to your paragraphs and your your sentences and whatnot. So yeah, if I just write one word Really? Yeah.

Stephen 2:00
Okay. And then you just format and upload to the services. I think most of them take Word docs.

Nosa 2:07
Yes, so so what I do is, I write on word. And then I download a template, the template of Amazon. So they’ve got like a template for the sort of for the page size you want to use. So I use nine by six. So our download nine by six is structured with the margins and the page size and some of the gaps and the goal is galis. I think it’s good qualities. And everything there. It’s all formatted. So you just need to make release, copy and paste, pasting from a Word doc. So onto the template, and just format each part of each chapter and all the different sections to make sure they all match and there’s no sort of blank pages and what so Mmm, then why then do is then I change it to PDF. So I save as a PDF. So yeah, swan.

Stephen 3:06
Just you say yeah, I think like Ingram Spark, do you put yours up there for print?

Nosa 3:13
I tend to for print? No, I only only do it on KDP Oh, okay. Currently, on KDP, I might look at Ingram sparks, I don’t quite understand how it works is a little bit more complicated than KDP.

Stephen 3:30
They are simplifying it, I’ll give them that. They’ve got some new elements to help build the book a little better. I went through a whole long process trying to figure it out because I write middle grade fiction, which is still more prevalent in print copy. So I’ve really got to up my game there. So for your book, what are you doing to market and get the word out? Get your book out there.

Nosa 4:00
I think I think this was the most This is the one I’m most observe. We have most learned from obviously, like previous I mentioned, projects I mentioned about some of the market, the target audience and and so on and so forth. We initially I was doing initially was I was using a lot of Facebook ads and stuff. But what I realized is I used Facebook ads, and I was using a lot of not a lot but I was using Amazon ads as well. So user fees when Amazon just two running at the same time. And what I found is that, you know, is better when I sort of get out there, you know, speak to people in different forums. And I have I’ve had a couple of interviews like sort of similar to this one with both like both Both quarters we’ve done the same. But what what I have now is rather than doing my Facebook and in on Facebook and Amazon ads, which I’ve stopped completely. Now I already have a already have a Instagram ad, which is for the promotion of the second book. So I’m literally only promoting the second book. I’m not promoting the first book at all right. But I’m in a lot more sales now than I did when I was promoting Facebook.

Stephen 5:38
So So you think that people are seeing the ad? They’re interested, it’s Book Two? And then they go click on and get book one?

Nosa 5:47
Yes. I think that’s what is happening. Yeah. I think that’s what’s happening. And I think the second book, obviously, you know, the cover, the cover, defense cover is also good. The second book cover I think, is better from my that’s just my opinion, obviously, people have different tastes, but I think is better. And you know, and obviously, I’ve spoken to a lot more people, and a lot more people have bought the book. So that means there’s a lot more word of mouth as well. So, and I almost feel like I when I’m doing my actual ad itself on Instagram, my target audience in the ad is more specific to what I believe is the target audience, if you know what I mean. Whereas at the start of the first book, I was my target audience was a bit more broader, because I didn’t know who exactly was going to like the book. Right? Right now my target audience is more specific. So I’m spending more less money from getting more return because the less money I’m using to market your Instagram is targeting the people who are more likely to buy these

Stephen 7:02
who are right there. That’s probably a huge lesson. You know, when a lot of people and me included, especially when you’re starting, like, Who’s this book for? Oh, well, it’s for everybody, everybody. It’s like, no, it really isn’t. Because if you have an eight year old girl, she’s not gonna read the same thing as a 60 year old guy. Somebody from Brazil is not going to be reading the very same book as somebody from China. So I think you’re you’re definitely nailed it right there. You know, you get more sales when you had know your audience, and you focus on getting the book and the word out to them. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Nosa 7:43
That’s, that’s the main lesson learned. And, you know, obviously, you know, I can look back and say, Oh, I spent all this money in court, literal results at the start. But at the end of the day, you know, is, is I’ve learned a lesson. And that lesson is, is benefited me now, and will benefit me in the future. So that’s where you look.

Stephen 8:07
Okay, so, for a topic today for us to discuss, you wanted to talk about the addition of African culture into the fantasy genre. And on the last podcast segment, we talked a little bit about that. But obviously, since you’re from Nigeria, and you write fantasy, based on the culture of that area, that makes sense as a topic, and I love that topic, because when I was talking to somebody else, I’m like, I love seeing this. Because Personally, I love fantasy. It’s my favorite genre, but I’m really tired of all the white guy tokens stuff. I mean, there, it’s all the same, really, when you even George RR Martin, maybe have some political intrigue, and not so much Action Fantasy, but still, it all comes out kind of that same mindset. So what do you see as the state of the African culture into the fantasy genre?

Nosa 9:06
I think it’s only just begun. I mean, like, don’t get me wrong back in, you know, there are fantasy books, like Africans of any fantasy book written in the in the 70s, in the 80s. But like you said, most of the popular books at the time, you know, were mendy, sort of the white guy fantasy, sort of, you know, the arrogance and Jon Snow’s of the world template, it’s like, you have to do this. Exactly. So, I mean, it’s there’s nothing wrong. I mean, obviously, the market was the way it was, you know, because of the people were reading it at all. The majority of the people were reading at a time now. I think people are, you know, like with everything people do get bored after a certain amount of time because people want a bit of variety and people want to, you know, sort of try something a little bit different. I think You know, in the last, I’d say last five, six years, there’s certainly been a, you know, an appetite for African fantasy and Asian fantasy as well. So, because people are just like, you know, let’s let’s let’s read, you know, you know, something different and see how it works with a those combine well or if it doesn’t, you know, and, and there’s been a few books, you know, you’ve had children of blood and bone, you had Rabia Rogers a dozen, you know, an nk jemisin has has, you know, a few books as well, though, they’re not African, but but, you know, just, you know, there’s a bit of diversity, they’re coming into the market. And, you know, this, that, in that, that combined with people trying to understand more African history is before colonial times means that, you know, that element is going to be quite intriguing, because when you think of African history, you know, is the law of the historical elements as reported, after the colonial sort of the globalization happened, and, and so on, and so forth. But when you think before then, you know, people want to know what, what it looks like, you know, it doesn’t have to be a factual historical recount of what happened, but they want a picture in a in a movie, or in a TV show, or more, you know, like, people just want to just, there’s a hunger, there’s a hunger for it. And, you know, fantasy, you know, this fantasy, I’m interested in fantasy, you’re interested in fantasy law, people interested in fantasy. If you combine both together, I can’t see why. Why, you know, you won’t get a market for it. Because people like that sort of stuff. People want black fantasy, and you know, there’s a lot of black people and African people and even white people in Asia and people that want to know, when to read stuff and watch stuff based in Africa, you know, an essential.

Stephen 12:10
I mean, I’m one of them. You know, I mean, I’m not saying, Oh, I’m a white guy, I have to go read black fiction. I just want to go read something different and interesting. Do you think I mean, because obviously, if you’ve seen any of the news over here in the States, the last year or two, the upheaval between racism, black and white, and some of the stuff we’ve been having, it’s almost scary, but in a way, it’s good. It’s it’s getting out there. So do you think that the interest in the black culture in fantasy was its time was now? Or do you think some of the upheaval that’s going on and changes in the world helped spur it a bit? Or is it just with self publishing? You you get a wider choice and more voices? What do you think the big,

Nosa 13:04
I think, is a combination of all of these things? You know, I think it is a good point there. But he is, he has packed it, he has added fuel to the fire. But it’s not what ignited it. I think he just added more fuel to it. What was currently happening now, when you look at like, for instance, I wrote when I started writing the book, The first book was in 2017, that was before any of the sort of racial upheaval kicked in to that element. So he is definitely not because of that I decided to write. And when you look at all the people who read in their books in the last five years, they’ve written it before any of this time, but the difference was, is that when you give people always retain African fantasy, right, the only difference is that they they work when they published, or the big sort of publishing houses were interested in publishing. Right, right. Because it felt like didn’t know the demand the target audience for it. Right? Because it’s not very obvious what a target audience is. Right? I found that myself, right. So today when big publishing houses when when interested not because I don’t think it’s because they wish they thought, Oh, we don’t care about black people, African people, it’s just they just didn’t know how to market to audiences, they were scared of it. They were gonna put a lot of money into no get much in return. Now, what’s happened is in the last couple of years now is one thing has happened, which is self publishing has become a lot more bigger than traditional. Well, obviously, it’s not bigger than traditional publishing, but it’s become a lot more of a force where people are starting to take notice of books that are well self published, like well done, and self published, right? We can tell that the auditor or the small publishing houses spent a lot of money or a lot of effort into publishing a good book. And those books, those little books that are self publish will look like they do well. Right. Right. So the big publishing houses, I’ve noticed that. And they’ve also noticed that the appetite of the audience, and the whole political sort of landscape is changing in a way where people are starting to read are starting to ask for more diverse books. And then they’re thinking, Okay, actually, if everyone is asking for more diverse books, maybe we should give this a try. Because if we don’t make a move, now, we may be left behind. You understand? So because because people are beginning to understand law voters understand that if I don’t give published, and I think my book is good enough, I would spend my own money, and have your self published, and probably end up being successful as if I was judged and published. Right. Right. So you know, that’s, that’s basically where we are.

Stephen 16:10
And that goes back again to the whole, finding your target audience, the big publishers, you know, they’ve got a lot of overhead, they put a lot of risk, like you said, into a public getting an author and getting a book published. And so they don’t want to just sell that book to 100,000. People, they want to sell that book to 5 million people. So they have to say, Well, you know, what’s the common denominator? What’s the biggest book? And I don’t think that is, has always been totally accurate. I think it’s just how it’s been. And now, like you said, with self publishing, you don’t have to sell it to 5 million people sell it to 100,000 and make a good living. And if you have several books, and all 100,000 people buy it, that’s pretty good. Yeah. So and it goes right back again, like you said, you got to know your target audience. And, you know, the things. I mean, I can imagine 1020 years ago, if you were trying to pitch this book, to a publisher or an agent, you know, okay, it’s, it’s got some black culture, history, African religion and politics, and oh, we’ve got some sex in it. And it’s like, yeah, nobody would touch that. No, it’s, it’s, like I said, you know, there you go. That sounds like a much more interesting book, then, oh, I’ve got a token clone. You know?

Nosa 17:40
Yeah. Yeah, that’s because the landscape has changed. Now, you know, that that’s where you know that, but I think this wouldn’t have happened. If we didn’t have so I wouldn’t be published. If it was a self published, would I, you know, because I don’t think any, I personally did submit the book to any sort of publishers, because we will we obviously, because of the elements we had in the book, and we didn’t want it to be so affected sort of deviate due to any reason, you know, a big publisher saying they don’t want to say that we try to go self publishing. Like, initially, that was just something we just decided to do. Right off the bat. So we didn’t submit it to any any publishers, you know, I don’t know what the results would have been if we did. But we did submit to any of them. So we published it straight away, using self publishing. Now, now you get to a point where you’re thinking, you know, there are a lot of books now out there that are either self published or done by a really small publisher, which are also doing the same thing. And I think, and then they can then sort of come back and say, I guess it’s almost a case of trying to find out who likes the book, at this point, I think is people below below small publishers are publishing these books, to find it a risk appetite, and how much appetite there is for these sort of stories. And how to market to and, and recently, you have noticed is that there is a lot of smaller publishers that are connected to to some of the big publishers. So I would feel like the bigger publishers in order to fight the the rise of Self Publishers or self publishing or, or small publish publishers publishing, they’ve kind of created their own sort of small companies do it here and there. And these little small companies they’re using to publish these smaller these books of African founders in stuff. I think they using the tools of find the target audience and do their own sort of market research in a way, and kind of understand what the risk versus reward is of going in that direction.

Stephen 20:14
So a question that popped in my head is, in your opinion, your thoughts? Do you think that the fantasy genre is I guess, more quickly open or accepting to something like this? And that it is going to bleed out more into other genres? Or do you think it’s across the board with more acceptance of different races, different colors, different countries, different religions?

Nosa 20:42
I think I think more books nowadays, more general is definitely more journals are having more sort of diverse elements in them. And some a bit will be more force than others. But I am a big fan of, and I think the fancy journal doors are set having a African or, you know, so black influence into it. Because the main reason, you know, like we discussed before, the main reason, the font fancy benefits from it is, we found to see you can create a whole new world entirely. And award could be based in Africa. In that sense, you’re not just putting two or three black characters into a European sort of world, right? You’re creating an entire world, which is immersive for the reader. So the person who’s reading it can can is not reading a black Aragorn, for instance, or black, Jon Snow, right. They they take taking the imagination, to Africa, right, or to whatever fantastical new world that’s different to anything they’ve read before. Right? So we see a whole new experience. Right? Do you understand one? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, experience, you know, and you’re enjoying something that’s completely different. You know, you could like it. You could you mean, like it, you may not like it, but the point is, is different. So it gives you that chance, that opportunity to experience something new. Right? And that’s where I think it makes the fancy journal better. Now, we’re at the beginning stage. Now, I don’t know if the front is a fantasy as a genre, I would take it and embrace it, and it will become like a staple of fantasy. I hope it does. It does look like a will be from what I can tell. It looks like he’s going to be, but I hope he does. Right? I really do, though. Absolutely.

Stephen 22:47
I mean, like I said, I love the diversity. And I’m not saying diversity in the sense that, oh, it’s got to be a black or a white story. I like the difference. I like all the things that have changed. And, you know, it would be I think sci fi probably has been a little ahead here. And not necessarily because they’re using African culture or anything like that. It’s just that when you write sci fi, you’re writing about people or aliens, creatures on other worlds that are completely different, completely different worlds. You know, I mean, that’s one of the things I always know, people are talking about, oh, we need more of this. And the other thing, I’m like, Well, folks, you should have been watching sci fi all this time. I mean, we’ve had diversity in science fiction forever, or, you know, so it’s just, it makes me laugh a little bit, because I personally, don’t view it as separate things. But I do realize that there hasn’t been as much choice in other cultures. Other other thinking, like you said, Yeah, sorry. I appreciate. Now I get more to read, of course, the the, that is also, you know, the best thing and the worst thing because now there’s more to read.

Nosa 24:08
But, you know, there’s always, you know, there’s always different ways of reading or audiobooks. So, yeah, ebooks and stuff, and then there’s more time isn’t a you can always I think people complain, is this too many sort of types of books? I mean, you should only complain if you’re reading the same type of book. Yes. I mean, but in terms of if you’re, if you’re changing from one type of book to the other, then I don’t think there’s a lot of them. You know, there might

Stephen 24:37
be a good problem.

Nosa 24:39
Yeah, exactly. You know, there might be 100 different types of Lord of the Rings, you know, type of story. But when you go from you know, Lord of the Rings or Christ award to, you know, Game of Thrones that there isn’t really, you know, a lot, you know, that are different from each other. No, I

Stephen 25:00
mean, right, but Okay,

Nosa 25:02
so I do think there’s no, there’s no, there’s never too many books. I think

Stephen 25:08
that’s a good point. Good point. So no. So do you have any advice for new authors? What you would tell somebody who’s just getting started?

Nosa 25:18
I think I think we were, we were no to just write in a story. I think the goal, okay, the goal is to write a story. Yeah. But you shouldn’t, it shouldn’t just be, oh, I need to put pen to paper today. It should be, you should be asking yourself, why you’ll want to write that story. Right? That should be the first question, why you want to write a story. And who would enjoy that story? You know, apart from your first reader the story, right? Because you’re the one writing the first question, you write it for yourself. And then obviously, more people who you’re who you want to also read our story. But the most important question is, what is why you’re writing our story, what the story is about? And why are you passionate about our story. And then when you’re writing that, then you then pour in that passion, you will what passion you feel about it, you know, into that story or into your writing, and it will shine through. And you will find people that will enjoy you know what you’ve written. If you’ve if you’ve written it with a lot of passion and a lot of interest? Well, you’re not going to find that until you know why your rights and our story, you know, don’t even know I mean,

Stephen 26:40
yeah. Oh, yeah. So let me ask you this, and I’m not trying to be whatever I’m really interested in. I think a lot of others are, too. What would you say for an author? Because I’m white, it’s easy for me to write a character in a culture that I kind of grew up in, or I know, you know, you definitely grew up in a different culture environment. So I would imagine for either one of us to write a character, that is the opposite. If I was trying to write a black character, you were trying to write a white character, it might be difficult. So what would you say to an author that’s trying to do that, that says, You know, I love this culture? I love the characters, like you did? And I’m trying to write something like that. What would you tell them? give them advice to doing something that’s not them? Yeah,

Nosa 27:39
I would say I would say be truthful to the character you’re writing. Right? So if I was going to write a white guy, you know, maybe, maybe I was going to write a character in the light of maybe one of the, so a white guy I went to school with, for instance, right? Now, the import is very important that when I’m writing that character, you know, I’m writing from that person’s point of view, I’m not writing it from my own point of view, right? Because my point of view may be skewed to, you know, to what the way I grew up, and the way I see the world, I need to see the world from that person’s point of view, right? So, like, do you in the work you need to do is to be able to do enough research, right? And enough, you know, enough, sort of speaking to him, maybe speaking to people, he may be speaking to people who are similar to that person, you know, you may be watching videos or reading books, but you must be able to be able to be able to put your own mind in that person’s body and see the world through that person’s eyes. Right? So that when you’re writing that person, writing that that character, you’re, you’re you’re not making a character seem like a sterile not stereotype, not a stereotype, but like a, just a representation of a quarter of, of whatever you believe them to be.

Stephen 29:14
Right. And I think that’s, you know, exactly what I was kind of looking for. Because if I read your book, I don’t want to read like you said, I don’t want to read a black Aragorn. You know, that. That’s may it may be a good book, maybe a good character. What I want a different character. I want a different story. I want a different book. And I know not everybody really does want that. You know, like people that read romance. They want the same type of thing quite often. And there’s a lot of fantasy readers, but have you read any books where you felt the characters weren’t true to if it was like a black character or African culture Anything like that, that the characters weren’t true to what the character actually would be like in real life? It couldn’t be a harsh to keep it general. Yeah, I have I have. Okay. I do what? Do I have to mention the book? No, no, no, let’s not do that, because we don’t need to get angry people hitting up either one of us.

Nosa 30:32
I have, I have read. I have read African fantasies where the characters have not acted in, you know, have not acted like, like in like, a black person. You know, yeah, basically,

Stephen 30:50
it’s not, you know, it doesn’t even really have to just be that it’s a topic that comes up, you know, I’ve talked other authors, middle aged men, saying, I’m writing about a 12 year old girl. You know, that’s probably very difficult to write for. But it’s really, you know, you want to be authentic. Sorry, you want to be authentic and make the voice sound right and get the character right. And I think doing that is very difficult, which again, the diversity we’re getting is nice, because you can read and get, I guess, the feel a little bit more just from reading other other people’s books, which is definitely a benefit to doing all this. You know, there’s probably some mother out there. That’s writing a fantasy book with a 12 year old girl hero, because she’s got a 12 year old daughter, and she’d loosely based it off her daughter’s real life. Right. So I think self publishing in all the diversity of the doubt there is beneficial for everybody. Let us know, it’s really a small world. Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. All right. So, no, this has really been great. Do you have any last words for authors?

Nosa 32:07
Oh, um, the last word I would say is, is kind of encouraging words. I think every, you know, like, if you’re an auditor, I think it can get quite daunting. Your you will have days where you feel like you can’t do it. And you know, you get sort of down. And I think everyone needs to remember that, you know, you know, do you just need to keep going, you know, don’t kill yourself, but just just just keep going one paragraph at a time and, you know, just keep writing and, you know, you know, you’ll get there in the end. Great. Lesson. That’s what I have to say.

Stephen 32:47
Okay, great. Well, this has been really great talking to you. I look forward to seeing your next book come out. No problem finds very much incentive.

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