I received your email. Thank you for wanting to interview our publishing house on your website, we appreciate the extra publicity. My name is Tn Odu. It stands for Tejiri Nuvie, Odu. I do some writing, I edit, and have published 9 books. I worked with Trafford Publishing for five years under Bruce Batchelor, who was then CEO, and only started freelancing a year and a half ago, much after the split and trade-off. Trafford Publishing was once a small conventional publishing house formerly in Canada—Now in the US—before it switched to self-publishing its authors at the introduction of the Print-On-Demand publishing by its former CEO.
A little on working as an agent in Nigeria. I would say this has been swell and tough. I focused my attention on Nigeria’s failing literary culture when a cousin of mine beguiled me into accepting an invitation by the then General Manager of NTA international, Ngozi Nssien, and attending an interview by Nwadi. Since then, I have attended many other interviews and been to many literary functions in Abuja and Lagos, and have come to realize we are a country blessed with many literary talents; writers, playwrights, poets, performance poets, even songwriters! I have seen, read, and interacted firsthand with simple people of grander thoughts, gifts and charisma of the highly vaunted and applauded. But, sadly I’m left to ponder why they too haven’t been raised up a pedestal in the very least!
Which brings me to the reason for Phantom House Books and the passion behind introducing this Publishing House and Literary Agency to Nigeria. At first, I would like you to know Phantom House Books NGR is a small self-publishing firm that partners with Amazon’s Createspace Charleston and DHL Nigeria. We just started operations and aren’t a big publishing house—yet. And unlike Cassava Republic, our goal is to focus on the everyday Nigerian writer without the skills or means to get their works out there for others to see. Keeping out of perspective, the challenges we face in economics, polity, and readership. ‘out there’ being the definition of publishing for us.
Another is that the company is an offspring from my dealings with Trafford Publishing. Many of the editors that help us edit and bring our Nigerian works to world class standard were former employees or contacts of Trafford who have once been editors and agents. When I left Trafford, they sought to help as a favor to Phantom House Books and Nigeria in general, and do not do it for the money. Which is great! Similar to what happens when we trade scripts. You can read a little about the other editors who will be reviewing your work on the website. http://www.phantomhouseafrica.co.cc
Lastly, the Agency arm of the firm I run in Abuja. Linking writers and their published works to book readings, presentations and signings with our partners and various small literary groups; the Abuja Literary Society, the Association of Nigerian Authors, an association I believe, despite being handicapped in reaching out, every Nigerian writer & poet should belong to, the British Council and the Silverbird Group. We don’t go by traditional norms trying to publish and market authors in Nigeria, which is the case of our competitors. Reading Nigeria and her open 150 million powered market makes publishing in Nigeria a fluid business, the outcome of which is highly profitable if we take time analyzing the feedback. A point much buttressed with the firm’s relationship with the British Council, Ogale and Chikodi. Ogale is the Council’s current Art and Project developer, here in Nigeria, while Chikodi is the New Business Manager. Writing is an honorable as well as lucrative practice all around the world, and not the part-time hobby our poor reading culture and economy have bludgeoned it into. The others arms of the Publishing House are only arms of what we do here.
I’d also like you to realize, Myne, that there has been a shift in Nigeria when its come to appreciating art. Personally, I believe Nigeria is a country waiting to be heard. She’s loud and bold. The writers here are just itching to leave an impression on the world, despite the fact that Hollywood has taken a certain liking to Nigeria. I am guessing by now you can spot the trend in the swift turn-over of the movie industry, and the music industry. What’s next in line is the book industry, which is important to us as Nigerians, and writers, since the reading culture determines the literacy of a country. I hope this helps.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Ms. Myne. I have also answered your questions. Contact us anytime. We appreciate the publicity.
Ps: For all who care to know, we are currently accepting clients and screening manuscripts for our lists in September. Some will sponsored by Phantom House Books, others wouldn’t be so lucky, which all depends on their proficiency, eligibility, and the marketability of their work by our partners.
For Phantom House Books, NGR
House L, National Assembly Quarters,
Life Camp, Abuja. Nigeria.
1. What Genres do you represent?
Actually different editors, different genres. I prefer fiction, from commercial fiction all the way to experimental fiction. I also do poetry. The last piece I finished up was Inspirational/Religious. But, Phantom House Books covers all genres.
2. What plans do you have for marketing the work of your clients?
Like I mentioned earlier, the business is fluid. We strongly believe the new audio book technology will work in Nigeria, but do not believe solely in one way to break into the market here. We’ve began talks with the British Council and ETF Nigeria to kick off diverse projects as well. Everyone of our clients is entitled to having their audio works generated, but we’ll see how far that goes. The Agency intends to amass the published creative works of many aspiring writers, so when the British Council writer-mentorship program comes again, their works will be reviewed and selected works will be pushed on to grander publishers or distributors. But the important thing to us, is getting these writers ‘out there’, and having all the relevant bodies know they are out there. So, if you strongly believe in your manuscript, previously published or unpublished, no matter who you are or where you hail from, query us. We’ll probably publish it for you and make it easily accessible to these organizations. DO NOTE; we only sponsor really, really, and I can’t fail to stress the word, ‘really’ good manuscripts. So, I suggest you do a lot of editing and hire a pair of eyes before you submit to us. Although we get lots of queries and manuscripts everyday, we always go through them honestly. If you’re Nigerian and you have a good script. We can never turn our eyes from it. I know I can’t.
3. How much do you charge? Do you charge for expenses? How much is your commission?
Concerning how much we charge, it depends. $0 or N0 for sponsored manuscripts, which is inclusive of editing and production expenses. All other manuscripts go for $10 per manuscript for editing, and $100 dollars for our book ‘n’ print package. Concerning literary representation, you’d have to sign our contractual agreement, which comes default for all who use for our book ‘n’ print package. Else, you’d have to contact a Phantom House agent for already published material, and your publishers as well to know if you have the full privilege of signing your work to us. We take 15% (not a kobo more, and not a kobo less) off whatever deals we make on your book’s behalf.
4. How many publishers will you send manuscripts to? How will you send it, individually or as a batch job with others? Will it be to only Nigerian publishers or also international ones?
Local and foreign. Batch.
PN: Phantom House Book Award consideration package submits to foreign agencies and programs for award consideration.
5. What sort of agency agreement do you have? Written? Oral? What is the duration of the contract?
A written contract. The duration of the contract is flexible, but at first signing lasts a year. The author has the choice to renew the contract after a year, and set the duration between the span of 1 to 3 years (max.) The contract is binding on both sides, but also comes with an exit clause. The author reserves the right to terminate the agency’s contract within 1-72 hours after it was signed. We use digital signatures. For more on this, and its use, visit our blog site, phantomhouse.wordpress.com
6. What happens to the unsold rights after the contract is terminated. Does the agent retain control, or do they revert back to the author?
Here at Phantom House Books, you own a 100% of the copyright. Hence, you reserve all rights save on the life expectancy of agency deals, where we maintain a steady 15%.
7. Are you the only agent for the Phantom House Publishing in Nigeria, or will writers have to work with other agents too?
No. Nigerian writers deserve the best and my fellow editors and I will do our best to bring it to them. Thank you.
8. If you feel the manuscript or proposal needs edits before you begin pitching the book to publishers, what will be the next step? Will the writer have to pay for edits?
If sponsored, no. otherwise, probably. Depending on how much work needs to be done. But I can’t reiterate how important it is for you to lend another pair of eyes to review your manuscript before submitting to us, and avoid editing fees. See our blog post on how to do a D.A.R.E review | a simple guide to a professional review. No pitching is done, until your manuscript is ready for print.
9. How can people contact you? Do you have a website, and what is your email address?
You have my private email. I don’t disclose it. The agency and Phantom House Books has a centralized mailing system and a mailing list. All emails are automatically forwarded to every agent. To contact the agency, use the submission procedures on the website. After that, Phantom House Books Africa will contact you. To visit the official website or blog site go to http://www.phantomhouseafrica.co.cc or phantomhouse.wordpress.com
10. How many authors do you currently represent? How many of your current clients are published?
In total, Phantom House Books represents a little over 200. For Phantom House Books, Ngr, the number is 25 and counting. In the meantime only 2 authors are through finalizing their contracts. One in Lagos. the other in Abuja.
11. What are your expectations of your potential clients?
We get flooded with lots of work, so we expect our clients to put a lot of work into their manuscripts before submitting. I’d suggest joining a critique group or a literary society. Everyone loves a talented musician, but people prefer a talented musician whose gone to music school. Work on your manuscript!
12. Do you have a list of Do’s and Don’ts for your clients that will enable our members decide if they want to contact you?
Do not submit unedited work. Edit your work, in the least do three sweeps.
Always lend a pair of eyes. It saves us time. It saves you money.
Have a good history with a literary organization or group (online forums help a lot). Believe me, it tells on your adeptness.
Respect the art and write for the beauty of it. Not just to increase your money earning power. Money is secondary and tails good artwork. It also makes it easier for us to represent your work.
I hope this helps and thank you. We do our best.