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Published On: Mon, Aug 10th, 2015

Government should discourage piracy – Adebiyi


Yemi Adebiyi is a member of Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA. He spoke with Adeola Ogunrinde on the challenges of publishing and why the government must encourage reading
When did you join ANA and why?
I joined ANA because I am a writer and the platform offers opportunities for writers. I started writing on the plane on my way to Amsterdam. That day I saw people reading magazines but Nigerians in that plane were just holding calculators. I went to ask one of them why are they not relaxing with magazines or novels, they told me Nigerian books are not interesting and they don’t like reading foreign authors. I said if these people have this kind of notion, they have not read Chinua Achebe or Wole Soyinka. Inside that plane I started putting down stories because I love literature from the time I was in school.


I put down my first piece ‘Welcome to Shell , goodbye lawer’ and the book is not yet in Nigeria up till today. I published it in Germany. I didn’t use money to publish it, a company published it for me in Germany, and when they sold copies of the novel, they gave me some royalties. After then I wrote ‘Escape from the South’ which has to do with a Corper’s experience. Another novel of mine  ‘The pastors prostitute’ is about the people of Oloribiri , their oil wealth and how people use religion and ethnic sentiment to twist other people’s lives in a way they became enemies of themselves until the civil war came in the Pastor’s prostitute. For now, I have written six but I have published four.

What are the challenges of self- publishing?
I am an old man but a young writer. Publishers don’t like publishing books of people of my calibre, Heinemann, when you send them your works it is rejected. I self- publish in most cases, the cost of self-publishing is expensive because I do it appropriately. I wrote a book ‘Pass on the Baton’ and Lagos State took it in their curriculum last year. I sent the book to a publishing house to republish it because I didn’t have enough copies since I self-published it. They rejected it saying they have enough books in their hands to publish, knowing the novel is an approve text for schools in Lagos State and they know it will sell. I had to go produce more copies with my money. I think why publishers are also refusing books is because of the economy, they are scared investing in books. It is dilemma for writers in this country who self –publish their books. I can’t continue to use my money to publish books and people are not reading?


What is the process of getting your novel approved by Lagos State Government?
It was last year that the Lagos State Ministry asked authors to bring their books to the curriculum section. I took mine there, when the result came out I didn’t know until someone called me and told me that my novel Pass on the Baton was on the list. The story which is about a school community that mirrors the larger community. It is about a teacher who is a repairer, it is now been use by JSS3, 2015/2016, their exam class. Right now many student are asking for more and I think it will sell. What we Authors lack here is the right information and the right exposure, using the press when any of our books is published. Entertainers like PMAN are more expose than we are. If we have the much exposure, Government will know about our books, even Institutions.


What should the government put in place to encourage writing?
I had a chat with someone in the ministry of education on the emphasis of literature and history which is not well taught in our schools. Outside this country, literature is compulsory for secondary schools from Basic 7. The Government is not encouraging a reading habit that is why it is difficult for them to encourage citizens to write. Until the Government encourage the reading culture, there will be challenges in writing, challenges for authors to publish their works. Government must also discourage piracy so that when a writer writes he can earn a living from his works.


Who are your literary models?
Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka


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