The industry expert as an author

The industry expert as an author 31

What has publishing got to with the industry expert? The answer being that as an industry expert on whatever sector you are in, your insights, knowledge and experience is a goldmine that needs to be condensed into a book to benefit others. Let’s do an example.

Meet Joe. Joe is 64 years old, married, drives an old model Volvo sedan and lives in the suburbs in his own house. Joe is a retired banker, which is not to say that Joe was born a banker. Born in the dusty plains of Ilmuriat, Joe spent his childhood grazing his father’s cattle in the morning and attending the local missionary school in the afternoon. He then joined the secondary school wing of the missionary school for his O-levels. From there, he proceeded to Alliance High School for his A-levels. From Alliance High School, he went to the University of Nairobi where he graduated with a degree in finance.

Right there are six or seven stories. By virtue of his age – 64 years – right there is an autobiography or a biography waiting to happen and which will document his life story. Joe has been married for the last 34 years to one wife and they have been blessed with three children. The last born cleared university last year. Which is to say that Joe is well positioned to author a self-help book on marriage and family life. As a retired banker, he has tonnes and tonnes of information to do with finances. And were he to be prodded further, he could develop a booklet on owning and maintaining a house.

There is a problem, though. Joe’s forte is crunching numbers and words tire him out. He is well read and can churn out a speech to rival Barack Obama’s. Still, asking him to do a full autobiography – 80,000 words – is asking for too much. He is not as vibrant as he once was in his youth. So, are we to lose this wealth that has been a full life?

Enter the diligent publisher. By happenstance, he gets to make acquaintance with Joe’s son, who happens to say – in passing – of his father’s wish to do an autobiography. One thing leads to another and a fortnight later, the two are doing coffee at Joe’s place. In true African spirit, they talk of many other things – the weather, their families, stories from Joe’s past – before Joe’s son raises the subject: his father’s wish to do an autobiography. Aha! You said that your friend is a publisher – Joe talking.

In the publisher’s mind, Joe’s books have a ready market. His family, friends, acquaintances – Joe is well known across diverse sectors in the region. As the man with the money, his path crossed with industrialists, educators, government officials, members of the civil society, developers, ordinary wananchi… his career high being the thousands of students who got college education courtesy of the scholarship drive that was his initiative. Again, in the publisher’s mind – three chapters taken care of in Joe’s autobiography that is this scholarship drive.

And at the end of the meeting, they agree that they can start off with two publications. Joe’s memoir as a banker and a self-help finance book. To generate content, they agree on weekly interviews centred on this during which Joe will be recorded and then transcribed. From the transcriptions, Joe will then add further material and so on. On his part, the publisher is already designing a book cover in his mind.

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