Rose Francis: what South Africa needs to learn

409 words

By Liza Smith

Five minutes with romance writer, independent publisher and entrepreneur Rose Francis on the success of her international dependent publishing company, a reading culture and a burning question she wants answered.

Credit photo :

NEWS

March 24 th, 2015

  • Going international

African Perspectives Publishing is now international. Our books are available across the African continent from Ghana and Tanzania to Botswana and South Africa. “I have never been scared of stories even when I am sitting across from a store owner who has never heard of a particular poet or author and I am asking them to make this book available in their store.” The hardest part is competing with the pre-historic notion other countries have of South Africa, and trying to convince them that what this author has to say needs to be heard. This has been a great challenge for me because they do not necessarily know how successful an author is locally in South Africa.

I now no longer concentrate on putting books in mainstream stores. I source alternative ways in which we can sell books. ”I work through trade unions and political parties who buy books from me.” My biggest success has been in gaining the rights to publish about Che Guevara and asking the public to read the Che you do not know through a radio campaign.

  • We have a long way to go

In South Africa we still buy books along racial lines. “In Ghana we have started libraries for over 1600 children with intellectual facilities I have never seen here in South Africa before.”  Children who are 13 years old hold discussions and conversations around serious issues they learn from books. We need to move away from how we buy books to what we do with the knowledge gained from them.

  • My burning question

As an independent publisher I truly want to know how we submit books to the Department of Education (DOE). Their website is void of this information and all we hear is that submission is open three times a year. “This is the biggest kept secret from the public.” It appears that you need to know someone in order to submit your books. I say submissions should be made simple and accessible through the DOE website.

Books from African Perspectives Publishing are available from www.africanperspectives.co.za

Spoken as part of a panel discussion on independent publishing and grassroots literature during the Indie Book Fair held at the Sunnyside Park Hotel in Parktown on 20 March 2015.


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