by Nomsa Chirisa
If it is worth writing, it is worth publishing! Getting a book into the hands of the reader is a commitment. Congratulations on completing the manuscript and publishing that book!
Publishers, authors and writers will agree that publishing a book is indeed a journey, and it ends when the book is in the hands of the reader. It takes time to nurture the idea, develop it into a concept, create content, revise, rewrite, and finally hand it over to the publisher. That’s bravado. It’s easy, and it’s also possible.
The nonfiction author of the book Leadership for Development, Dr Zachariah Munakamwe says writing and publishing a book is not a walk in the park. You must like writing or have something to drive your agenda to write in order to survive the entire process.
Dr Munakamwe mentions the time aspect and states that the amount of time required to write a manuscript is unbelievable and not many people can commit to it. “Time-poor people cannot be authors. Some people use ghost and angel writers, but I am not a fan of that. I prefer to write for myself so that I develop my skills, and fully own the work confidently and only share the credit with the editor and publisher. This is just my opinion. I know people use ghostwriters for various and valid reasons, I think there is nothing wrong with that,” he said.
Dr Munakamwe’s book Leadership for Development is of the nonfiction genre. The themes brought up include servant leadership, impactful leadership, personal and community development, becoming the best version of yourself, owning means of production, leading by example, self-awareness, conquering adversities, and pursuing happiness.
Having started writing for publication in 2008, Dr Munakamwe has written peer-reviewed journal papers, conference proceeding papers, and scientific magazine articles. He then published his first book in 2020, titled Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development – Toward Poverty Eradication.
Ideas emanate from a wide pool and trigger writers to write. Dr Munakamwe says his writing ideas spring from his career knowledge, work, and life experiences. He further points out some inspirations that stimulate him to develop his idea into a concept and create content. “I read a lot. This is a habit that I developed since I was young. I have substantial work and life experiences that I thought were worth sharing with others. I wanted someone to benefit from my experiences, including my mistakes and successes. I had the desire to contribute to changing society for the better. I also write to motivate, provoke mindset change, challenge, and inspire others to do better things for development.”
Dr Munakamwe gave an account of his writing process and highlighted the writing idea as a solution to an existing problem. “I think of a big idea in line with solving current challenges and develop a book title around that. I mainly focus on areas that I believe I have enough experience and knowledge on, to meaningfully contribute and add to the existing body of knowledge.”
Dr MunKmwe also adds, as with most writers, that he researches and drafts topic chapters and subheadings as a guide/outline. From that, he begins the first draft by randomly writing anything related to the topic and the subheadings, straight from the heart. He says, “I do this in order to be original and to avoid plagiarising and duplicating existing literature and other people’s work” – a major issue affecting and crippling the publishing industry.
“I try to write and revise my work three times before giving it to my partner to review it. After this, she will point out any issues of concern and I revise again two times, before handing my work to the editor. The editor will take me through some tedious and taxing rounds of revision, starting with the manuscript review, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading until the content is ready for design,” Dr Munakamwe said.
“I normally write continuously for at least five hours on each session, with some 10-15 minute breaks in between. Occasionally, I write for 15-hour straight sessions when I am in an optimum writing mood or under pressure, especially on the first draft. When I start writing, I don’t stop until I reach the target that I set for the day. As I write, I include many personal life stories as they are easy to write about. I have days when I am slow but strangely, I rarely experience writer’s block. However, I occasionally get carried away and waffle and this is when my editor yields her huge axe on me. This is because she is a natural coach and mentor! I have since benefited and learnt a lot from her coaching skills and I think I am improving on my writing.”
The journey to publishing a book is vigorous. Dr Munakamwe describes the experience with his publisher as phenomenal. “Besides just editing and publishing, I also get educated and mentored by the team. They are pleasant to work with and we have since developed a sustainable mutual relationship based on friendship, respect, and professionalism.” Dr Munakamwe adds that he enjoys each time he receives a marked-up draft with feedback. “It’s usually 90% red and more than 50% content slashed away. This assures me that someone has thoroughly read my work and understood it, made corrections, suggestions, and improvements. I appreciate such efforts. I also enjoy all feedback – the edits and comments, including the negative as this, adds value to the work. The editor suggests some content to add and, occasionally, they literally write some content for me to consider.”
On the remarkable highs, the author points out the timely production of books. He explains that when he works hard, he is assured the publisher works harder too. The outcome is that the publishing process becomes shorter and relatively less tedious.
Giving an insight into the lows of book publishing, Dr Munakamwe laments a time when he lost a whole consignment of books that had been sent to a printer who did a shoddy job which ended in him losing USD700. “What hurt me most was the emotional stress I suffered through this ordeal. It was one of the few occasions that I literally cried and vowed never to publish again. This affected my family too. I have since moved on due to my unwavering resilience but that experience shattered my dreams as an author that time,” Dr Munakamwe explained.
Due to this, the author expounds that the financial return on investment through writing is roughly not worth the time he spends on it. He believes that one must be established, outstandingly good and extremely lucky to make money from books. Fortunately, he has other motivators to write besides financial gains such as fulfilling his desire and passion to change people’s lives, to be impactful, and to motivate people to reach their maximum potential. Dr Munakamwe also writes for self-actualisation and to leave a legacy.
Dr Munakamwe’s journey into publishing his book has been exciting although he has experienced some challenges and sacrifices such as sleepless nights, countless drafts, 90% content in red and more than 50% of it slashed away, including the tiresome rewrites. While publishing a book has its lows, its highs are considerably worth doing it.
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