Nsununguli Mbo is the author of six novels: The 5 Lt Container, The Basketball School, A Crisis of the Heart, The Missing Corpse, The Village Doctor, and The Wrong Turn, all set in Botswana.
His novels cover many of the problems plaguing rural areas in the country including unemployment, crime, and witchcraft.
A few are set in the fictional village of Tsebeyatonki where things tend to go wrong.
All of his novels can be found at Amazon and other online outlets as ebooks, and some paper books are available at Exclusive Books in Gaborone.
Mbo is training as a psychiatrist in Australia.
I asked him if that impacts on his writing and if he ever is inspired to write stories about his work.
“Working in psychiatry makes you a very observant person because you have to “read” the body language most of the time, which may give you an idea of what may be going on inside someone’s mind.
You also have to do a lot of describing.
To write fiction, you have to show/describe the characters’ emotions and stuff, and sometimes describing emotions that you have never personally experienced in your life.
So if you have observed body language over time, it then becomes easier to describe associated emotions, even in fiction.”
I asked Mbo why he decided to go the self publishing route instead of getting his books published traditionally.
“I have tried to find a traditional publisher for one or two of my books, but after a few rejections I decided that trying to find one was not only like pulling teeth, but it required a lot of time, dedication, and patience, which I can’t afford due to the demands of my career.”
Plus, I don’t really expect to make money from the writing; it’s just a hobby and I like sharing my fictional stories, so there isn’t enough motivation to keep trying to find a publisher.
That being said, if I do make reasonable money out of writing that would be a welcome side-effect.
Also, the author retains the rights to the manuscript of a self-published book.”
As I’ve discussed before in this column, you can self publish your book yourself at Amazon and Smashwords and many other places, but Mbo has used some publishing services and I wondered how they worked for him.
“Authors On Line is helpful in that it provides proofreading services for “free.” Otherwise, like any other vanity press, it’s a good way of paying money for something you could do yourself.
Promises get made to lure you into publishing with (a) vanity press, but none of them ever get kept.
On the other hand, Createspace is a real self-publishing company; you can do everything yourself using the guides that are available for free, without having to spend even a cent.
However, if you’re not so computer savvy, you can pay for some services including formatting, cover, editorial services ,etc., and doing so is certainly worth it.
Createspace’s customer service is excellent, as well as their turnaround time.”
The biggest challenge for many self published authors is the marketing of the book- how to get people to find and buy the book in the flood of titles available.
Mbo has made book trailers which can be found at YouTube for a few of his books as part of his marketing effort. I asked him about them.
“As for the trailers, the voiceovers/jingles were done by an American DJ/music producer (he is based somewhere in the USA) whom I met via Google back in the days when I had my own online radio station. …
I usually send him a pitch of my book, and he does the voiceover thing, either using one of the tracks I composed back in the days, or one of his own tunes.
I then use the jingle to make the trailers, thanks to my rudimentary video-creation skills.”
But marketing is still a time consuming job.
“Like I said earlier, I don’t expect to make money from writing; hence I don’t actively do much marketing.
I do have a Facebook fan page which is where I do most of my advertising/marketing, but I’m aware that there are “serial likers” who “like” every Facebook fan page out there, not because they really like it or are interested in it and its contents.
That being said, the page has resulted in some sales and has attracted curiosity and positive attention, which ultimately resulted in more exposure.
For instance, I believe Loretta Mekgwe of Gabz FM learnt about my books through the page and as a result offered/arranged for me to have an interview with Osego Garebamono.”
And what does the future hold for Dr Mbo and his passion for writing?
“I doubt if I’ll ever stop writing. I do take long breaks of course, but when I’m in the right environment, I go into a routine of writing.
I get inspired more by quiet places with natural beauty.
Rural Australia is perfect for that.
I haven’t written in a while because I’m currently living in noisy and busy Sydney, and there is always something going on somewhere, thus depriving me of time to write even if the mood kicks in.”