Ayodeji Ajagbe has achieved the level most young writers aspire to, becoming a bestseller and an award-winning author.
23-year-old writer from Ibadan Oyo State, has published two books; ‘Reflection: Rulers and Spoils and ‘What Happened to Helen’. Both of these earned him his awards.
The young author spoke to PREMIUM TIMES about his life as a writer and his achievements.
PT: Why do you describe yourself as a best-selling and award-winning author?
Ayodeji: Because of my achievements, society, people and my audience, in turn, value me in recognizing and recognizing my efforts in the writing community. I believe in my audience, which positions me as an award-winning and best-selling author because I strive to give my best in everything I do.
Litireso Africa, an African content distribution platform, named my book, ‘Reflection: Rulers and Preys’ as one of the best books of 2020.
Bambooks, a renowned digital library, named my book, ‘What Happened to Helen’ as a bestseller. A few days after my book became a bestseller, the National Association of Life Sciences Students (NALSS) presented me with an award for my achievements as an author.
I also get some tips and recommendations from home and abroad.
PT: How did the city of Ibadan influence your writing career?
Ayodeji: Living in Ibadan has had a great impact on my writing career. I wrote my first book, ‘Reflection: Rulers and Preys’ when I was still living in Ibadan, and although I am quite proud of it, there is quite a difference between that book and ‘What Happened to Helen,’ which is set in Lagos. state My books are based on writing “big city” romances where the women wear high heels, the men are in suits, and cocktails are fancy. I write about that world because that is my world.
PT: Tell us about some of your published work
Ayodeji: For Reflection: Rulers and Prey, I let my readers explore the challenges of student politics in a world of 24-hour news and social media, as well as the conflict between political ambition and staying true to who you are.
The main character, Comrade Oluwatimileyin Turner, the Chief Whip, is a cynical and manipulative politician determined to become president. He’s willing to use every secret he knows, every pressure point he can find, and every dirty trick in the book to ensure his rise to power, and in the process, he confirms all the dark and terrible things you thought you knew about politics. .
I wrote about my extensive real-life experience in student politics for the book. The result is an electrifying insight into how violent government can be behind closed doors.
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There are many stories about what happened to Helen all over the world, but only a few are heard. So I wrote a book to be a voice for all those stories. What Happened To Helen is a book of anecdotes published as a work of fiction. It includes stories of love, pain and betrayal. Everyone has different walks of life, but most are unheard, unspoken or ignored. So I wrote What Happened to Helen to present the lives and untold stories of ordinary people. We are all broken somewhere inside and lost in the darkness, but our will and hope for a better tomorrow gives us the strength to face this darkness and makes our life beautiful. What Happened To Helen is not just my book. It is the book of millions of people who live with hope.
PT: How would you describe your writing style?
Ayodeji: I’m a bookworm, which means I don’t have a particular outline for my books. I start writing. I have a general idea of what the plot of the story would be, but I don’t know when I start or how it will arrive or end. I create the characters and then get out of their way and let them tell the story. Sometimes they even surprise me.
Oddly enough, I design the book cover first and then start writing. I write in the past tense and third person and let the characters feed their senses of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. If I don’t feel it, I don’t think the reader will either.
PT: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry in Nigeria, and are you self-published?
Ayodeji: Vanity publishing has been a menace running through the writing community since ancient times. In this practice, publishers or publishing houses approach writers with a juicy offer to publish their books. When an agreement is reached between them, the publisher refuses the contract, not passing on the royalties to the writers, extracting them from the fruits of their labor. Yes, I am a self-published author.
PT: Are you bothered by piracy activities, and have you been mistreated by pirates?
Ayodeji: Yes, piracy activities bother me, and pirates have treated me badly. Another example is the high level of plagiarism prevalent in the writing industry, where plagiarized and fraudulent books are sold by writers without the authors’ consent or permission.
I have had some unpleasant and unpleasant experiences in this regard, where some unauthorized platforms put my books up for sale at ridiculous prices without my permission.
It cheats writers out of the profits of their hard work and intellectual effort.
PT: Is it possible to become “rich” as a Nigerian writer?
In other words, how can a Nigerian writer grow wealth, or do you think writing is a passion project and not a means of making money?
Ayodeji: Yes, writing is a passion project; people make money writing books, but it is worth noting that money is also spent writing books.
We have notable writers who have made a fortune from writing, such as JK Rowlings, the author of the famous “Harry Potter” series, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Identifying your target audience is also very crucial to focus your writing. Writing is a passion project. But it also depends on your paper field and your target audience.
PT: Who are your influences in your industry?
Ayodeji: Dr. AH Mohammed was my greatest inspiration, and he is still my greatest inspiration. I always look up to him for his wealth of creativity and his consistently entertaining books. One fascinating thing about him was how he managed to make his readers cry and smile at the same time. He is a legend.
PT: Do you think the advent of social media is hindering Nigerian writers like you?
Ayodeji: No, I don’t think so. Social media has benefited me and my writing career as I have been able to distribute and market my books and sell them to a larger audience in many parts of the world thanks to the advent of social media. Social media has also helped me make beautiful connections, and I was able to connect with the model I’ve been wanting to meet for a long time, AH Mohammed, on social media.
PT: How did publishing your first book change your process?
Ayodeji: I was only a Wattpad story writer, but my positive transformation began after I published my first book, Reflection: Rulers and Preys. I felt a sense of accomplishment, even though I knew it was the beginning of a journey that has been beautiful so far. It is a learning process, as well as a growing process. I am learning new things, and unlearning actions that are not beneficial, as well as growing and evolving every day.
PT: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Ayodeji: I have an unpublished book called “Vendetta” that will be released by January 2023. I teamed up with Mutiat Mustapha to write the book.
PT: What do you consider literary success?
Ayodeji: In my crazy fantasy, Netflix is making a movie based on one of my books. More realistically, I’d love to see people carry around a copy of my book. I will feel successful when I can make a living from writing.
PT: What is the best way to market your books?
Ayodeji: No individual marketing. But I think the best way so far is digital marketing, and I thank God for the different social media we have now. With Facebook, Twitter and Google, I’ve reached more audiences.
PT: If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Ayodeji: My passion is writing. But if I wasn’t a writer, I would be an actor like my uncle Bigvai Jokotoye. He is my inspiration.
PT: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or the good?
Ayodeji: Yes, I read my book reviews, especially the first ones I get when I publish a book. They are essential to me. I deal with bad feedback by adjusting and making sure that the next version will be better. I take bad reviews as a challenge to improve, so I’m not offended.
PT: How long does it take you, on average, to write a book?
Ayodeji: It takes me five months to write a book. It could be more than five months, though. Although the publishing process takes more time, as it will have to go through the editor and other procedures before it is finally ready to hit the market.
PT: Do you believe in writer’s block?
Ayodeji: Yes, I believe in writer’s block. I usually find that writer’s block procrastination gets out of hand when I spend too much time reading irrelevant stuff online instead of getting to work. I imagine I’m particularly prone to doing this when I’m particularly worried about what I’m working on that day, but it’s a recurring problem.
The most important thing is not to beat yourself up too much and remember to start each day with a blank slate.
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