So, here’s the thing (Let’s brace ourselves for some honest truths)…
My country is not known for its reading culture (I’m sure people are even surprised we have internet here in our glorious forest).
My country is not known for its internet presence (but those few times we did very well on Twitter and thrived in both our wittiness and pettiness made me so proud. Hello there, #LintonLies).
My country is not known for its sticking together (we have been known to prey on our own kind and are unforgiving of people in the spotlight when things go wrong. We’re like… actual wolves. Not even the fun kind).
Seen here: The fun kind of wolf. (Source: Wikipedia)
That we at MyBookCloset want to change a little of that is a tad bit overzealous but let’s just say we all have our faults and this isn’t a bad one to have.
On Zambian reading culture, I do actually believe we have one.
We just aren’t aware of it.
I cannot say how many times I’ve found a person who loves reading, a person who even loves reading the books I love reading and have just completely made a fool out of myself because I was so excited and wanted to make them my best friend, introduce them to my family and propose that we marry and go off into the sunset reading the books we both love (and naming our children Hermione and Daenerys or Locke and Kvothe, and if we suspect they were switched at birth with some kid who can’t behave, Joffrey).
That’s how rare it seemingly is to find a book lover.
With regards to Book publishing, Zambia currently doesn’t stand a chance (note: this is an opinion and should be taken as such).
But… with the glorious internet on our side, we can use it to benefit just as much as others can.
Now if our ISPs would just… (Source: gigaom.com)
So I’m going to share a little of my vision for MyBookCloset with you and people wishing to get involved, partner up or get in touch, can do so.
MyBookCloset seeks to expose, build and exploit (for our own benefit), the Zambian reading culture by marketing these books to the public and marketing the public to the authors.
Many Zambians have Amazon accounts and many Zambians use Kindle (we should really do a poll or something). The online shopping market here is just starting to bloom and it would really be in our best interests to get involved.
For in-country solid purchases, no-doubt the most used version of deliveries across-provinces is the Buses and the most used mediums for these are Facebook and WhatsApp (Feel free to stop me at any point and smack me with some facts and receipts). These purchases could be shoes, clothes, wigs, gadgets, et cetera.
But what about books? Apart from the second-hand books on the streets and the books in stores, do any people buy books?
Anyone? Anyone at all? cue sound of crickets
Just look at him. (Source: clipartbest.com)
Steps on cricket
Well. We do.
But, as with most things, Zambians love free things (This may be true of other countrymen but we will leave them out for now).
Would the Zambian readers who love novels buy Zambian novels if they were free?
Would we judge them as being below-par and boring and not worth our time?
Would we scoff and think of a billion other authors before we would even look at our own?
Maybe so and that may even be a preference of sorts.
Maybe you’d prefer a story about Mwansa Banda as opposed to Matthew Brody.
Maybe you’d prefer a story taking place on the Manhattan Upper East Side as opposed to one on the banks of the Kafue River.
Source: compass.com Source: porini.com
One of these is pretty non-existent in fiction and fantasy…
Maybe you prefer gods like Zeus and Hades to Nyami nyami.
Wouldn’t that all come down to preference? Deciding what to read or what to write?
The fact of the matter is that writing a book for an online audience may demand that you somewhat pander to that audience and not restrict yourself to your home ground.
But wait, you say, Americans don’t have to do that! The British don’t! Australians don’t! The Japanese don’t! (You go on to list every first world region you have memorized from your time in sixth grade social studies).
I’m gonna stop you right there and say these countries already have established and recognized reading cultures.
The last book most people bought here was probably a textbook. Grudgingly.
And they didn’t even finish reading it.
And it was boring.
So. Very. Boring.
Reading isn’t something that should stick to the classroom or the designated homework areas.
Reading is an escape. It is opening up a million worlds and cultures, a millions thoughts and people, to yourself, taking a peek and keeping a little of all that with you.
Reading can save lives (cue dramatic music).
Photography by: Hiroyuki Ito/ Getty
MyBookCloset seeks to build the readership of online books (not just Zambian ones) from young children to the old and ancient.
But, something like what we want to do can be achieved only with people wanting to be involved.
And the truth is… authors will pay a lot of money for recognition and publicity.
MyBookCloset will review authors on a monthly basis, taking five novels from five categories (romance, thriller/mystery, horror, children’s books and fantasy) and guarantee them ten FREE reviews by the time that month is done.
Reviewers not registered with MyBookCloset who submit screenshots of their book reviews can take part in Bi-weekly competitions and win anything from our range of prizes including: free pizzas, books, vouchers, book bags, comforters, outfits, etc.
Reviewers can register only after confirming they have an amazon account or allowing us to make them one, if they wish to register with us.
Reviews can only be submitted to Amazon from an account that has successfully been charged for the purchase of a physical or digital item (Free digital downloads don’t qualify).
To ensure that, we will send the minimum amount for a digital book of the Reviewer’s choice ($0.99) for their purchase and after 48 hours, they may be fully registered.
Only committed reviewers will be registered and failing to submit a review on time (or submitting a false, dishonest, copy-pasted review) will have you deregistered from MyBookCloset.
School leavers who enjoy reading and are in their gap year are encouraged to apply and register.
Reviewers who are also writers or aspiring authors, may submit their own books for possible publishing. If their books are great, interesting and of good quality, we will handle publishing and promotion for free.
Reviewers will have a three-month probation before confirmation and registration with MyBookCloset.
Video reviews will be submitted by groups or teams selected to handle a book after each individual has submitted their review.
These reviews will be open discussions where they give the pros, cons, likes and dislikes of the books as well as any other thoughts they have on the matter.
Teams may also be pitted against each other in MyBookCloset challenges that may range from speed-reading, timed book races to find a particular book in a store to quizzes and games on authors and books that have been read and reviewed by MyBookCloset.
Animators wishing to create their reviews using their skills may do so.
Children’s Video Reviews
Children of younger ages who are read to and have permission of their parents may take part in video reviews for children’s books and may state what they personally thought of the books, themselves.
CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEWS
Parents willing to have their children take part can register with us and have accounts set up for their children.
We will seek a minimum of 20 reviews per book and parents and teachers can go over them first to select the books they want their children to read.
Reviews can be given by parents and by the children, explaining what they like or did not like about the book and rating the books based on what they thought about them.
Books will be taken according to age and grade level.
MYBOOKCLOSET CLOSET DEALS
The “Closet” in Book Closet has its origins from a stuffed closet full of books, Narnia, clothes and shoes. But mostly clothes and shoes (#theDream).
MyBookCloset will offer: Outfits, Personal shopper style advice as well as Personal shopping service for anyone wishing to participate in Thrifting.
Authors wishing to take part in the MyBookCloset Closet deals will let us design or put together outfits and assorted paraphernalia from their books and sell them on any online platform (e.g. Etsy, Facebook, etc).
Closet deals may also be stand-alone and not related to authors or books.
All designers, tailors, artists and creators will be Zambian and this will showcase our local talent and generate income.
However, all purchases will be within Zambia until such a time as international demand can meet the cost of supplying outside the country (or we strike a deal with the Courier services here).
MyBookCloset #DressMeUp: Three people will be given K100 each and sent to the Wonderful World of Salaula to buy and make three outfits for a reviewer and votes will be made on the Facebook page for which outfit is best. The maker of the winning outfit gets to choose their prize of the ones up for grabs.
The passion for fashion (and books) is quite real.
All clothes not bought from the Closet Deals will be donated to the orphanages of our choice or reviewers’ choice in addition to any second hand children’s books collected during that time.
MyBookCloset will be hosting Book-themed events which may be “come-as-your-favourite-character” from any book or themed events based on any of our Books of the month (from any of the chosen genres).
People may enter only after having reviewed the books (if they have not finished the books and are still reading, they may state as much in their reviews) and showing us screenshots of their reviews to get tickets to enter for free. Entrance will be free for Amazon reviews and half-price for Goodreads reviews.
‘Fifty Shades Darker’-inspired Dress-up event
All books obtained for the MyBookCloset program will be free books from independent authors at no charge.
The books must be submitted at least 3 weeks in advance for their Free Kindle promotion (or other platform as long as the book is also found on amazon and reviews can be left there) or the books must be sent for honest reviews by the authors. (We encourage the Free Promotions so readers may be able to get the books for free and read them as well).
When we meet our registered reviewer target of 50 people (10 per category to do both written and video reviews), we will be able to charge the authors for the service (of marketing and publicity) and pay the registered reviewers and interns for their work.
MYBOOKCLOSET CHARITY SPEED-READING COMPETITIONS
MyBookCloset will have speed-reading and review competitions for primary school children from local government schools in order to encourage and breed reading from a young age.
The winner will take away K1000 and the schools will receive the books to start and build local lending libraries for the children.
In addition, we will be hosting competitions in schools for works of fiction from children and adults to be published online in collections of works for which we will handle marketing.
The selected authors will be paid according to sales for their stories (or if novel-length, for their books).
Once the reviewer number has been registered and established, random reviewers of each category will receive coupons for books from the local book stores as well as a voucher for a data plan to be able to download their Kindle books.
This will be funded by the international author payments made to the MyBookCloset marketing done by the Zambian citizens.
THE MBC TEAM
Noni (CEO): Reads everything except non-fiction. Makes exceptions for cookbooks and some self-help books. Writes books as well (romance and fantasy) on Amazon.
Anita (Vice-CEO): Reads romance and erotica and is highly judgmental but is willing to read other books. Beware. (She also writes erotica).
Abraham (The IT douchebag): Reads whatever we tell him to read. Fancies himself a ladies’ man. Uses romance novels as self-help books. (He teaches children in his spare time).
Likando (Buys the coffee): Has no known limitations in his reading. Notices typos and grammatical errors and teases you about them. (He aids in the nation’s loadshedding schedule to keep us on our toes).
Chris (Drinks the coffee): Reads anything including between the lines. Will inform you of deep psychological issues the characters have that the author had no idea even existed. (Also a practicing IT douchebag).
Chayt (Sips tea as he waters down the coffee): A permanent resident of The Void and sunflower child. Also our resident graphic designer. Most judgmental of us all but only in his mind. (Favourite colour is red but he denies this).