Interview with Ufuomaee
Page Bloom: Please let’s meet you
Ufuomaee: Hi, my full name is Ufuoma Emerhor-Ashogbon, but I go by the penname, Ufuomaee. I am writer of Christian fiction and literature and started as a Blogger, sharing my insights from the Bible and lessons about life on my blog, Grace and Truth – https://ufuomee.blog.
Page Bloom: When did you start writing and what influenced the genre of your books?
Ufuomaee: I’ve been writing since I was a child, and telling stories since I was little. I decided to open a blog in 2012 when I saw that I could publish my writings online by myself, and it was also a way to save them (as I had lost so much!). Writing was also therapy for me, so I wrote about things I didn’t know how to speak about. Later on, as God took control, writing became ministry. And that’s what influences my genre. I am not so much a fiction writer or a poet. I write about life and Faith, to the glory of God, using any and all means; blogs, poetry, fictional and true stories too.
Page Bloom: Do you think the genre of a book affects its level of sales? Do you think books of certain genres have larger audience compared to others?
Ufuomaee: Yes, I do. I think there are not many people willing to read, let alone buy, books that are tagged ‘Christian’ or ‘Religious’. However, there are lots of people, even among Christians and other religious people, who are keen to read other genres of fiction (crime, romance, erotica, thriller, fantasy etc). So, your audience is limited already due to your genre, and even among that genre, there’s fierce competition. People who do read religious matter are also very selective to read only what agrees with them, or doesn’t challenge their beliefs too much. With other genres, the only issues are whether the people are interested, if the book is entertaining or insightful and if it is affordable.
Page Bloom: You write articles on issues around the Christian faith; Do you ever get called out for sharing certain opinions? How do you handle such comments?
Ufuomaee: Yes, I have been called out before by my followers or readers who disagree with me or with the way I communicated my perspective. I usually engage them by asking them why they disagree and how better they feel I could have made my point, if they thought I was offensive. At times, if I agree, I will acknowledge and apologise for what I said or how I went about it. At other times, when I disagree, I stand by my perspective, while understanding that they are entitled to their own views. Sometimes, such comments or challenges inspire me to dig deeper on the matter and write more about the issue. At other times, it can be frustrating- especially when I feel I have done all I can to make people understand what I am saying – and limiting, because people just switch off when they do not want to change their minds. At such times, all I can do is keep on following God. Even Jesus was rejected and called a heretic.
Page Bloom: When you are not writing, what do you do?
Ufuomaee: I am usually reading or resting my brain by sleeping or watching TV. I also do other work for my charity, Fair Life Africa, and my own business, Ufuomaee Business Solutions. In addition to creating and maintaining websites, I also edit and format books, design book covers, create social media campaigns and publish reviews on my blog. I am also a mother and a wife, so I’m never jobless. There’s always something to do, and I usually have a backlog. I’m trying to catch up and stabilise and get into a routine that makes me happy – while prospering 🙂
Page Bloom: What can you say about the literary space in Nigeria? What would you consider as the struggles of a writer/author and how do you think they can be addressed?
Ufuomaee: I think the literary space is thriving and growing. A lot more people are choosing self-publishing platforms, like personal blogs, popular blogs, ebook publishing sites like Okadabooks and Bambooks to get their content out there. People are also reading more. Maybe I see all these because this is my industry, cos I didn’t notice it when I wasn’t really in the game. Yes, it is easy to publish, but it is hard to sell. Creating awareness about your works is very challenging. Even if you successfully create awareness, if you stop pushing, your sales take a nose-dive. It’s as if you are the only one who believes in yourself. There’s so many new writers and books coming out all the time, that it may be hard for you and the readers you are trying to get to buy and read AND review your book to keep up. I don’t really know the answer to this market issue, because that’s what it is. We can’t try to control the market, we just have the left the market play out, and those who remain and stand out will be those who believed in themselves and persevered. Occasionally, competitions for writers will give many hope of being discovered, but after the winners are announced, and you didn’t win, will you simply wait for the next competition? Writers don’t wait for people to give them a platform. They take it. That’s what I’m doing, and I’ve self-published 20 titles and counting, and even though sales are slow, I’m strategically positioned to excel when opportunity comes.