Going Beyond My Encounter at a Book Signing Ceremony


by Paul Chika Emekwulu

According to an online source the United States comes third with the highest number of cellular phone subscribers in the world (372,682,000) with China (1,781,000,000) and India (1,143,000,000) as first and second respectively. It is very likely that the higher the number of subscribers the higher the number of smart phone users. Nigeria is found to be the sixth with 222,225,000 subscribers all according to 2022 estimates.

Despite this alarming number of subscribers, today as we speak Americans still buy books at bookstores, today as we speak Americans still borrow books from different private, school and public libraries, today as we speak Americans still build new libraries and what does that mean? Well, it means that Americans still read and will continue reading despite the fact that bookstores are closing.

That is not to say that the advent of smart phones and similar devices doesnt have any effect on the reading habits of Americans because it does. The truth is that compared to Americans our reading habit here in Nigeria is the worse. It leaves much to be desired.

Yes, Americans are still reading. This is all in addition to their android cellular phones which unfortunately, to most Africans has everything and what does that mean? It means Africans have stopped reading and may not read again.

That is why I have said severally and I will continue to say that the cellular phone is a wonderful thing to have but it is not a wonderful thing to make it your best friend because there are better friends and a book is one of them To an African this is not true but to an American it is a fact. Now this!

“I don’t have the intelligence to get my books into the school system,” a woman (Let’s call her Mary) said to me at a book signing ceremony organized for my book on self-publishing, How You Can Become a $ucceful Self-Publisher in America & Elsewhere by Waldenbooks bookstore in Shawnee, Oklahoma in the United States of America. This was after I told her that one of my books then titled, Magic of Numbers was adopted by the Washington D. C. Public Schools in the District of Columbia, (US).

Now to Mary I said, “No, it is not a matter of intelligence. It is a matter of having a message. In other words, it is a matter of having a viewpoint, a viewpoint you care about, a viewpoint you believe in and of course a viewpoint you want to share with others.” That’s what it is all about, not a matter of intelligence.

In Nigeria, that viewpoint could be a marriage course, that viewpoint could be the rise and fall of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad), that viewpoint could be the Chibok girls, that viewpoint could be the Lagos Calabar coastal highway, that biewpoint could be life lessons embedded in an autobiography or biography or otherwise, that viewpoint could be advantages of creating another state out of Southeast, that viewpoint could be a classroom teaching experience, that viewpoint could be Boko Haram, that viewpoint could be Fulani herdsmen, that viewpoint could be bribery and corruption, that viewpoint could be the continued detention of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Ksnụ, that viewpoint could be road safety, that viewpoint could be family feud, that viewpoint could be a single syllabus item in any of the school subjects,that viewpoint could be open grazing, that viewpoint could be insecurity in the South-East geo-political zone, that viewpoint could be Yahoo boys, that viewpoint could be vandalism on the second Niger Bridge, that viewpoint could also be the Unknown Gunmen etc. You will agree with me that the list is endless.

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By the way book signings are not popular in Nigeria. Why? Because we in Nigeria are too physical. Nigerians are more interested in book launchings or book presentations because they believe that is where the big money is (million, million). In Nigeria at these book launchings and book presentstions rarely will the book be sold at cost price (This idea is always frowned at by the organizers) or signed by the author. Nigerians believe that they have little or less to do with an autographed book (a book with an author’s signature on it) or just anything autographed: Celebrity item, presidential proclamation or letter etc.

Even many years down the road these things have no meaning to us. We should all see that as a very sad situation.

We don’t cherish these things. We dismiss them with a simple wave of the hand and say, “Such are for white people. This is Nigeria.” I have heard this said to me umpteen times. Other things we regard as acting white include being punctual, obeying the lights and being honest among others.

Here is a typical example from the desk of the 39th president of the United States.

On April 22,1977, a letter on White House letterhead signed by President Jimmy Carter of the United States was auctioned for $3,173.00. Similar auctions always take place in other parts of the world especially Europe including of course Great Britain.

Now back to Mary. Of course a lot of people are like Mary. These people never believe they can write a newspaper article. These people never believe they can write an article for a local church newsletter even though people around them believe otherwise, even though strangers believe they can, even though immediate family members believe they have the talent to express their ideas on paper, even though their essays were among the top ten when they were in school. All these notwithstanding, they still doubt their abilities, all these notwithstanding they still believe they don’t have a book in them and therefore can never have a book signing ceremony,

It was Frank Tiger, an editorial cartoonist and columnist at New Jersey (USA) Trenton Times newspaper who said, “Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.” John L. Mason, an American motivational writer and author of An Enemy Called Average comes up in support by saying: “You may succeed if nobody believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.”

Because many people never believed in the relevance of their own ideas many inventions were not made, many dreams were not pursued, and of course many books that would have addressed different issues and problems in the society were not written but they should have been written. Furthermore, many intuitive ideas were regarded as stupid, dumb, irrelevant, outdated, unintelligent and therefore never nurtured and harnessed for the betterment of the individual in particular and the society in general. In Physics for example, Archimedes discovered the principle of floatation while in a public bathtub. One then starts and continues to wonder why this important principle that is so vital in science and the shipping industry has not been discovered until the Greek mathematician, scientist and philosopher stepped his feet into a bathtub. This is so disturbing when thousands, if not millions had been in the bathtub before him including his teachers and his contemporaries.

Archimedes listened to his intuition. You too can do the same. You just have to listen to your inner voice.

Charles Kettering, an American inventor, and social philosopher once said that “every great improvement has some after repeated failures. Virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success” The best of the best is not here yet, so many things yet to be invented, so many things yet to be discovered, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail it doesn’t matter how much negativity around you. Are you an inventor? Can you improve what has already been invented?

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Are you going through rejection from publishers and attracting destructive and discouraging criticisms from friends, family members, co-workers etc on your book idea? Don’t be discouraged, be enciuraged.

When it was first postulated that the earth was round, many people at that time did not believe it. Some scientists at the time were ostracized because of their ways of thinking and investigative spirit.

Your book idea could be rejected by the major players in the book industry.. Does it mean that your book has no place in library bookshelves? Of course, not necessarily. Many books have been initially rejected but eventually accepted and published, some even became bestsellers.

Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen co-authored Chicken Soup for the Soul, a book that was rejected by 144, publishers before it was published. Jack Canfield, in his experience advises us to reject rejection. If he had given up he wouldn’t have been where he is today. Persistence is the key among others.

Today Jack Canfield is the author and co-author of more than 150 books with more than 100 million copies in print in more than 47 languages across the globe. His book SUCCESS PRINCIPLES: How to Get From Where You are to Where You Want to be has been recognized as a classic in self-improvement arena comparable to Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich of the 20th century.

Do not be convinced that all medical teaching strategies have heen exhausted, that all forms of scientific discoveries have been made, that all forms of flying cars have been built, that all conceivable business models have been formulated, that all forms of cancer research have been carried out and concluded and of course do not be contented that all conceivable books in your profession or area of interest bave been written for no knowledge is end to knowledge.

You could be the next thought leader in your field of interest. Your book idea could be what is needed in putting an end to thev detoriating Nigerian economy and other ills in the Nigerian society.

“Do not let other people define your level of achiement,” says the 1990 Miss America Debby Turner. You don’t have to wait for other people’s validation before you pursue your dreams or before you take your idea to the next level, of course this includes your book project. Waiting for other people’s validation is another way of giving up power to others for them to decide for you, your level of achievement.

This is partly because you have the right to be stupid, this is partly because you have the right to be dimb, this is partly because you have the right to attract all kinds of labels because you have decided to venture into an area where no one has tried to and all because you have decided to be different. You don’t have to give up because the world of achievement is for innovators, visionaries, goal setters, possibility thinkers and bug dreamers.

What we are talking about here is that you don’t have to wait for any of your professors in college to start and bring your book idea to fruition. You don’t have to wait for friend’s, co-worker’s, husband’s or wife’s approval before starting and finishing your book project.

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It is reasonable to share your book ideas with people who will encourage you to believe in yourself or people who are working on ideas of their own and therefore want to be successful. Remember some people don’t want you to go beyond their level of achievement. Any scientic invention or great business was once an idea, a dream in someone’s mind. Such ideas and dreams need belief and faith for their completion and not negative predictions and doubts which are all destructive enemies of success. Always remember that every conceivable invention has not been made, always remember that every conceivable mathematical formula has not been invented and of course always remember that every conceivable book has not been written. Always remember that.

The world we live in is a street where men and women have passed through. You need not be told that some of these men and women have made extra-ordinary achievements and contributions in the areas of science, mathematics, medicine, business, economics, technology and philosophy etc. You could be next.

What are you doing today in order to be a part of tomorrow’s history? Do you have an idea for a book? Who or what constitutes your hindrance in pursuing your dream book idea to completion? Is it your parents, is it your husband or your wife, is it your business partner, is it your pastor, is it your high school principal, is it your college professor or best friend in high school or university?

Your book could be that legacy you have been dreaming about. Right at this moment the world needs another book and that book could be the one you have been contemplating to write. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a school book. Your book could be the next book of general interest. Books of general interest have no restricted audience and no restricted content.

A story was told of a 12 year-old girl from Anambra State who, at the advice of a Catholic priest suspended her desire to write a novel until she comes of age. Of course the advise was taken by the mother. Today the novel has not been written and consequently, has not seen the light of the day.

According to Guinness Books of Records, a four year-old boy, Saeed AlMthem from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates is the youngest in the world to publish a book. His children’s book on kindness is titled, The Elephant Saeed and the Bear.

Then, here in Nigeria, a seven year-old youngster, Hafeezat Ademurewa Adegoke from Pacesetters Academy, Abuja is the first in Nigeria and second in Africa to have published a book. The title of his children’s book is The Princess and the Witch.

This should be a wake up call to Nigerian publishers that have been so passive. They should wake up, take the bull by the horns, stop being too passive and stay away from excuses.Their aggressiveness could tremendously assist in improving the deteriorating reading culture.

In conclusion, are you one of those who think that writing a book is about school books that will possibly be used as classroom recommended texts? Well, I am here to tell you that writing a book is not necessarily about what we were taught in school. It doesn’t have to be. At times writing a book is about what should be. Mary, the woman at the book signing ceremony got it all wrong. Please, don’t be another Mary!

What are your thoughts?

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