Updated: Apr 20, 2021
The decline of the book industry in Zimbabwe over the past couple of decades, due to the economic challenges the country has faced, has left many authors with a rather bleak horizon with regards to publishing their work. I recently caught up with Selina Zigomo, fellow alum of the Dominican Convent High School in Harare, to discuss self-publishing in Zimbabwe. Selina is the Founder of Ngano Content Creatives Hub - a consulting business that helps Zimbabwean writers seek non-traditional routes to fulfill their dreams of publishing their work in print and online. Selina's passion for cultivating African narratives paves the way forward for voices that would otherwise remain unheard.
TM: Tendai Machingaidze SZ: Selina Zigomo
TM: Tell us about yourself - Where you live? Where you studied? Where you’ve worked?
SZ: My name is Selina Zigomo. I live in Harare, Zimbabwe. I am a writer, editor and consultant for print publications and online platforms. I studied Journalism at Rhodes University specializing in Writing and Editing. I went on to work in the corporate, media, and development sectors for a little over 15 years, – developing and leading the implementation of brand strategies, public relations plans (media, event and online) as well as communication policies for diverse organizations, social movements and people across Southern Africa. I also founded the Ngano Content Creatives Hub during that time. In addition to working as a publishing consultant there, I currently work as the MD of Brandbuilder, a brand development company.
TM: What is Ngano Content Creatives? When did it begin? What is your mission?
SZ: Ngano Content Creatives (Ngano), is a consulting business that offers expert professional advice on how to self-publish. We turn ideas into books and books into viable brands. I established Ngano Hub in 2017 with the aim of helping ordinary people bring their extraordinary stories to life in books, blogs and talks. I have since had the privilege of helping 20 Zimbabwean writers, mostly women, to publish their work both in print and online. We do not only work with individuals but we’ve also supported the work of in-house publications, reports and guides from organizations such as SNV, Stimulus Africa, and Trust Africa.
TM: You are a “Self-Publishing Consultant.” What does your work involve?
SZ: I consider myself as a partner to the writer on their journey from idea to book. My role involves educating them on self-publishing, empowering them with knowledge relevant to their specific needs. Apart from educating them, I provide guidance to the many resources they will need on the journey like design and printing services. Together we then strategize on realistic pathways for their entry into the market as both author and entrepreneur. In a nutshell, I help to catalyze their transformation from writer to author.
I also conduct seminars and masterminds on self-publishing, book marketing, and book writing for budding authors and first time self-publishers in Harare, and will soon be offering an online course.
TM: How widespread is self-publishing in Zimbabwe? What avenues of self-publishing would you recommend for Zimbabwean writers? What advice would you give to those considering publishing their work on their own?
Many writers find that they resort to self-publishing as a last option due to the limited trade publishing opportunities in the country. Most Zimbabwean writers opt for a combination of a small local print run and Amazon publishing as part of their self-publishing strategy. I usually encourage my writers to start there, but I always say that self-publishing is like creating a start-up where your book is the business and the author is the CEO. You have to look for opportunities to get your book in as many customers' hands as you can and you should be prepared to work at it for 3 to 5 years before taking a step back from your marketing, sales, and distribution activities. This inevitably requires authors who self publish to go beyond publishing on Amazon to smaller and diverse e-publishing platforms in the region and to be creative about getting their books available in other markets.
TM: Tell us about The Book of Successful Zimbabwean Women. Why was this work important to you?
SZ: This work is important to me because I am particularly interested in amplifying the volume and reach of women and young people’s voices. The absence of women’s voices and lack of visibility has not only been disempowering, but also marginalizing. I believe that until we amplify the visibility of women and the impact they have made or are making, our identity within our psyche as a people will never be complete, and incomplete identities lack agency and responsibility.
The Book of Successful Zimbabwean Women, Volume 1, 2, and 3 was a series that helped bring this passion and interest to life and create a platform for gender mainstreaming women’s profiles in the public space. We must start giving visibility to women and their success in the everyday mainstream and not simply during certain times of the year like Women’s month.
TM: Tell us about your work with TEDx Harare. What inspired you to take on a role as a Coordinator for TEDx Harare?
SZ: I worked as the production manager and speaker coach for TEDx Harare conference 2014, TEDx Harare Salon- Courage to Imagine 2015, Idealabs GEW 2016, and TEDx Harare What's Next 2019.
I am very passionate about cultivating African narratives through developing enriching and in-depth content – this was my primary reason for taking on the role at TEDx Harare. I always say, our narratives are not only the stories on the page, our narratives are also in the stories we tell through spoken word, and so coordinating these stories on the TEDx platform was much like helping writers to grow into an authors, but only this time for the stage.
Find out more about Selina Zigomo and Ngano Content Creatives here:
Selina Zigomo https://www.linkedin.com/in/selina-zigomozw/
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com