Celebrated Ghanaian writer, Ayesha Harruna Attah has implored young writers to do what it takes to get their books to their audience.
Recounting her experience, ‘The Hundred Wells of Salaga’ author said the road to recognition as a writer could be long and torturous, requiring sacrifice.
She disclosed this at the Speakers’ Durbar during the 2018 Accra International Book Festival held last Saturday at the Ghana Wildlife Society’s Swiss Hall.
Other writers who participated in the Durbar included Boakyewaa Glover, Manasseh Azure Awuni, Empi Baryeh, Ruby Goka, and Nana Awere Damoah.
“Your book is your baby [and] you know how best to push it,” she said, adding, “if you are a self-publisher you go everywhere with your books.”
The author of three highly rated books recounted her 10-year personal journey to recognition as a writer.
She disclosed her first book ‘Harmattan Rain’ published in 2009 by a small company in Senegal sold 50 to 100 copies after it was launched in the U.S.
But the hunger to get her books out there compelled her to combine forces with another Ghanaian writer, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond to embark on an expedition to introduce her books to strangers.
“I put the books in a suitcase and went and knocked on anybody’s door,” she said. But that did not drive sales, she narrated.
Her second book, ‘Saturday’s Shadows’ published in the Netherlands in 2015 did not do well but that did not dampen her spirit.
But after 10 years of struggle and sacrifice, her books are now courting the attention of readers and literary experts across the world.
“For the first time in my life I just get to sit down and somebody else is doing the running around,” she said of her partnership with Nigeria’s Cassava Republic, publishers of her latest novel ‘The Hundred Wells of Salaga.’
“But it doesn’t stop me from reaching out to bloggers and readers,” she said.
Seek the kingdom of writing
On his part, investigative journalist and author, Manasseh Azure Awuni cautioned aspiring writers to resist the temptation of making money their sole motivation for writing.
“Start writing [but] the money shouldn’t be the motivation. If you are writing because of money you will get frustrated,” he said.
Mr Azure Awuni advised young writers to “Seek ye first the kingdom of writing and the money will follow you.”