“I want the world to finally hear African stories told by Africans”– Edirin Edewor
Edirin Edewor is a Multiple Amazon Bestselling Author, an award-winning Entrepreneur, International Speaker, Consultant, Trainer and Coach at the Edirin Edewor Company. She is the founder of the Online Publishers and Entrepreneurs Network (OPEN), a community of over 20,000 Authors, Writers and Entrepreneurs, dedicated to helping Africans tell their original stories from their African perspective, showcasing Africa’s literary skills by helping writers become published as well as profiting from their skills. In 2018 alone, she helped over 250 authors get published, with more than 35 Amazon Bestsellers. Edirin is committed to work that focuses on youth empowerment, women-focused organizations, education, and employment as part of the United nations Sustainable Development Goals. She has collaborated with several NGOs directed at youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, education for the girl child and women equality. In September 2017, she was nominated for Supportive Publisher of the Year by the Mainland TV Fashion Show and Awards and has been profiled by several media outfit. Edrin has spoken at different life changing events both home and abroad. She shares her inspiring story with me in this mind blowing interview
I had a very interesting childhood. We didn’t grow up with any toys. The only things we had were a couple of Children’s Britannica and Encyclopedia than an aunt had brought back from London. It had pictures of places, of British Royal History, dinosaurs and other wonderful things that piqued my interest and curiosity. I became an avid reader and I have been ever since. I learned about journaling and writing stories from one of those books and thus began to write from a very young age.
However, I never imagined it would become a career. I didn’t even think it would become a career as at the beginning of 2017. I had a written my first book in 2016 as a process of self-therapy after I was diagnosed with Early-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis that same year and didn’t really think anything of it, even after it became a bestseller on Amazon. It was a program with Steve Harris, and a nudge from John Obidi, that set me on this course, in May of 2017. It’s been amazing since then.
I always like to say I am a product of grace, because truth be told, I shouldn’t even be alive today. I struggled with Chronic depression from my teens and by the time I was 20, I had gone through 2 suicide attempts. The last one in 2011 was meant to kill me, but somehow, I survived it. I didn’t know what purpose meant at the time, but after that experience, I realized that God had kept me alive because He had something planned for me that I was meant to do.
I graduated at the top of my class from the Department of Fisheries, faculty of Agriculture, University of Benin, in 2012. From my Youth Service year and beyond, I amassed professional certificates more times than I can count. Yet, with my stellar CV. I couldn’t get a job. 502 applications latter, still nothing. I started several businesses to make ends meet and failed in 9 out of 11 of them.
My Jewelry business and Interior Design Company were just beginning to take off and become successful in 2016 – we even won an award for company of the year- when I felt the nudge to shut it down and focus on helping people. I believe that if I wasn’t diagnosed with Early Onset RA, I still wouldn’t have listened to that voice and I would have been miserable. Many times, the things that afflict us are not there to make us suffer, nut to help us pause, reflect and re-adjust course.
Inspiration behind OPEN
OPEN (Online Publishers and Entrepreneurs Network) first began as eBook Profits Mastery. We started out with the vision to help people write, publish and profit from their books; however, as the scope of the vision became clearer and clearer, we realized we could do more for people, besides just writing and publishing books. We could help entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial people leverage their published assets – books, blogs, social media articles, online courses, and all kinds of content – to build influence, visibility and profitability in their industry. This, we rebranded from EBook Profits Mastery to the Online Publishers and Entrepreneurs Network. Since we did that, the community has grown to over 20,000 members in just a little over one and a half years.
Impact of my work
Whew! It’s hard to quantify the impact that my work has had on people. Besides helping people with publishing, content creation, storytelling and business strategy, I also use my story to show people that anything is possible, and that challenges are only stepping stones to success, and not excuses.In the past one and a half years, my book “The A – Z of eBook Publishing” has reached thousands of people. Over 250 of them have personally told me of their newly published books. We shine the spotlight on them on OPEN at no cost at all. Dozens of them have become Bestsellers on Amazon in a time where people still don’t believe Nigerians can self-publish on international platforms. I’ve consulted with big personal and corporate brands on online publishing and using storytelling to drive their marketing ad bottom line. By sharing my story of depression, surviving suicide attempts, abuse, failures and serious health challenges, I am helping youths and women in Africa see themselves as more than their circumstances, and beating the odds to make something remarkable out of themselves. I cannot put an exact number to the lives I have touched, but I hope it’s a lot.
The biggest challenge I face in my work is still the issue of inclusion. For example, it’s still a challenge and a more difficult process for Nigerian and African Authors to go global by publishing their books on international platforms like Amazon. We still find it difficult to get paid royalties from our books because of restrictive payment channels. When we do, all that’s left is little because of heavy taxation. This can be quite discouraging for African authors who want to go international.
Another challenge is copyrights issues. We do not have very strong copyrights laws in this part of the world, so we see a lot of piracy in different forms. This discourages a lot of would-be authors from getting published.Yet another challenge is the access to information. Still a lot of writers think that they have to have a publishing house accept to publish their books before they can get published.
My drive is simple. I want the world to finally hear African stories told by Africans, so they can experience the heart of the people, their passions, their struggles, their victories and the unique blend of cultures that make us who we are. There are a lot of opportunities available to African Writers when we build influence, get discovered and are given a bigger platform.
Other project and activities
I have a number of projects I’ve already begun, and others I’m beginning in 2019. One of the biggest projects we’re planning for 2019 is to host a book fair where authors can showcase their books, bookstores can also exhibit theirs, new publishers can have a platform to launch their books and even have a contest where amazing writers can win publishing deals. I’m also starting a support community for women in Africa, connecting them to power circles via mentorship and accountability programs, so they can break barriers and achieve their business goals.
For me, the biggest reward is hearing someone say, “You showed me what’s possible, and because of what you said or did, I have also done”. Nothing trumps that in my books.
In five years….
I’m not one to tell. I mean, less than 2 years ago, I was on a different trajectory, and here we are today. What I am certain of, is that my purpose will remain the same, but the platforms to fulfill it will definitely be bigger. My purpose is to inspire people to see possibilities in themselves that they never saw before, and help them turn those possibilities into reality.
Recognition for women
I believe more can be done in the area of recognising women in any sector, for their contribution. This not only encourages these women, but gives the younger generation proper role models to aspire to, so that we raise better generations of women who can dare to dream and dare to act on their dreams.
My mum inspires me to be better. Not to sound cliche but she has been my rock and backbone ever since I could remember. She’s sacrificed a lot for me and my sisters to be where we are today. She says I make her proud everyday, but I want to do more. She’s my biggest motivation. I also have a younger sister who is still in her teens and she looks up to me. I want to be the kind of role model for her that I wish I had when I was her age.
Being a Woman of Rubies
What makes me a woman of rubies….my unrelenting passion and drive to leave this world better than I met it.
Advice for female writers and aspiring publishers
I always say that everyone has a book in them. You don’t need permission from anyone to write and publish your work because nobody is going to give it to you. You have to step up and take what you want. You have a book you want to write? Write it. Today.
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