You won’t believe who I have here with me today!! If you have heard me mention PabPub in any of my posts, then you are one step closer to know who it is!
It’s…Paul Anisiji!!!! He’s popularly known as Benjamin Paul and he is one of the founding leaders of PabPub & Fresh Writers Community!!!
It’s such a delight to have him for Author’s Delight. He shared a lot of info on his writing, PabPub & FWC. Read along and enjoyyyyy!
Oreoluwa Eunice: Hello, I’m Oreoluwa from StoryStoryOh. Please introduce yourself.
Benjamin Paul: Hi, Oreoluwa. I am Paul Anisiji, commonly known as Benjamin Paul. I am a writer, developer, coach, business person and apparently more.
Oreoluwa Eunice: It’s a delight having this discussion with you, Paul. You are a lot of things; a writer, a developer, a coach, a business person and even more. Wow. How do you balance all these things?
Benjamin Paul: At the risk of coming off weird (and I do come off weird, a lot) — I do not know. I just keep doing things because there are so many diverse fields in life and I guess I enjoy feeling and tapping into the energy of most of them. It’s like being a lot of persons at once and life is more interesting that way. I’m not a ‘hard worker’ or something, I am just like this as though like this is the most natural thing.
Oreoluwa Eunice: I totally understand what you mean and I don’t believe you are being weird at all.
I would like to believe being a reader is part of the “more” you mentioned. Am I right?
Benjamin Paul: Oh. There is actually a lot more in the ‘more’ and yes, being a reader is part. But sometimes I feel like a liar when I call myself a reader, because most bibliophiles I know have read way more than I have. I tried, but can’t catch up. 😣
Oreoluwa Eunice: Well, I’m of the opinion that reading is the important part of being a reader and not how many books you have read. Reading a lot of books is important but not learning anything is tragic but this isnt discussion for today😁
What are your favourite genres to read and what will you not be caught reading?
Benjamin Paul: I agree with you, especially because I want to.
I like reading works that make me think in a different dimension. That includes mostly thriller, mystery, fantasy, psychological thriller. Like Dan Brown’s works and this is why my favorite book is Angel’s and Demons.
As for works I won’t be found reading…um. I don’t know why but I have not been able to read erotic novels. I tried to force myself once just so I can learn to write such scene, but I failed. There is something oddly uncomfortable with description of erotic scenes in books for me.
Oreoluwa Eunice: I don’t know why this is so funny to me but I’m laughing here. I think people who can write steamy sex scenes in books are actually very good because I don’t wanna believe it’s easy to write. It takes art to write the right words and the right actions that is seen as a acceptable and not cringy or something like that. I also enjoy thrillers, all kinds. There is something about them.
As a writer, which of your books did you enjoy writing the most?
Benjamin Paul: Hmmm. It is hard to pick, but if I must then I’d pick my unpopular work — Christmas is Red. A novella.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Why was it the most enjoyable to write for you?
Benjamin Paul: I guess it was because I wasn’t feeling pressured when I wrote it. At the time I was the head of my writing community — FWC— and with this responsibility came with the pressure to be excellent in my writing. But this book, ‘Christmas is Red’ was supposed to be a short story and my first attempt at horror. I didn’t fully develop the plot before beginning, I didn’t promote it and no one was around waiting for it or pressuring me to finish the book. I just woke up every night for four straight days and focused on conjuring up scary scenes. And laughing in the darkness while imagining the look on the faces of my readers when they will read the book. I ended up writing a novella and I am proud of the work.
Oreoluwa Eunice: I truly believe it now when they say writers are wicked and they enjoy the tears of their readers😂😂 and I’m going to pretend as if I don’t run on these same tears.
Let’s talk about your writing community — FWC. What does it mean? How did it start?
Benjamin Paul: Haha. FWC stands for Fresh Writers Community. It started in October 2017 at a time when, as a Wattpad writer, I felt like I and most ‘fresh’ writers felt sort of lost. There were a few Nigerian writers who seemed to know what they were doing, people I.R. Adams, BlackxBelle, T.J. Martins, 90sbambina, and I thought it would be amazing if there was a platform for such authors to come around and help those of us that are fresh to find their way. So I woke up one morning, created FWC, contacted Yewande Joseph to be the head and she obliged, then I set up the system and it was amazing. In two months, we had surplus writers including me who became automatically transformed in a short time with the guidance of these amazing authors mentioned above whom were invited to come around and coach the fresh writers.
To paint a great picture, by the following January, I went from not understanding third person POV to writing Chasing Annabelle, a novel written within a month and is opined by many to be among the best works around.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Wow, that’s awesome. Where does PabPub come into all these?
Benjamin Paul: Okay so after Yewande Joseph left us in FWC, we had taken off pretty well. I too had metamorphosed into an amazing writer and leader in the FWC. And this gave rise to an amazing era in the community where too many authors were transformed in FWC and they steadily released amazing works. In the energy of that era, T.J. Martins released like 4 big books and others release between 1 to 3. You could imagine the number of books lying around and they were just there, and the authors wanted to do more with them. They wanted these books published. So towards the ending of that year, we started of this “Phoenix Award” thing, a title giving to books that have been written well to professional standard. And then I thought we should have a platform, like a website for show casing and promoting such books. We considered helping authors get self published in platforms like Okadabooks, Amazon, Kobo and the rest. We were sort of supposed to be more of a distribution and promotional platform, for authors with “Phoenix Award” books to get there work out there and hopefully reach potential publishers. But eventually people had this mindset that PabPub is sort of superior to publishing on platforms like Wattpad and Okadabooks due to the high quality control methods PabPub uses to ensure quality—they wanted to publish exclusively. This pushed my team and I to do more, to become a fully established publisher named PabPub — Phoenix Award Books Publications.
Oreoluwa Eunice: I’m actually very impressed. PabPub is doing very well. Apart from the amazing work you and your team have been doing so far, what milestone do you hope to get to on PabPub in the nearest future?
Benjamin Paul: Hmm. In the nearest future, we hope to be able to pay our authors something tangible on monthly basis to an extent that they can be able to at least live off of it. This is when we will feel like we have arrived as a publisher. I won’t pretend, we all know and understand how hard it can be to get to sell books by unpopular authors. Most publishers aren’t even willing to give any attention to authors who don’t have a name recognized in the market yet, even if the book is amazing. Meanwhile we are focused on promoting fresh authors and we are competing against many platforms, especially the ones from which people get pirated bestselling copies for free. So you can imagine the hurdle we face and what it would mean as soon as we cross it.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Rooting for PabPub!
Moving on, what would you say as been the most difficult time in the journey of creating PabPub?
Benjamin Paul: Thank you. Um…that would be the beginning. To be honest, it is one of those things that everyone likes the idea, and want to be part of without actually wanting to make any input or sacrifices to it. The attitude of most people towards back then was a bit like, “We like it o, we are excited, aroused even, by the idea, the dream. But do it first, do all the heavy work, and when that dream starts becoming reality that’s when we will come and join.” Don’t get me wrong, this was not everyone’s attitude. If it was so, PabPub would not have been birthed. It required too much money, time and dedication and this stage was passed with the help of a few persons who PabPub will forever owe everything.
It is a hybrid of experiences commonly associated with self-publishing and submission for traditional publishing. Typically, an author visits publish.pabpub.com, creates an account and uses the available form to fill in details of the book just like we do on wattpad. However, there is an extra field for writing a query letter when necessary and another choosing the desired contract type. The next stage allows an author to upload a cover if they have one upload their manuscript as an epub file. Alternatively, they can use the option to write on the app like we do on wattpad. Lastly, they submit and wait a few hours to days to get approved.
Usually, if the author has chosen an exclusive contract type, we will then have to go into another stage of making covers and promoting the author and their book after approval.
Oh and I might add that once in a year, we host the Phoenix Quill Writing Festival/Contest. It is a period of a few months in which authors join, write, publish directly without approval as part of the contest. Their works will then be evaluated by the readers and judges. At the end, those who are well rated are published/signed officially and the authors are rewarded usually. This year, we are giving out a total sum of N100,000 as royalty advances and more prizes.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Wow. This is super awesome. Well done, Paul. Kudos to you and your team.
Moving on, what four books do you consider your all time favorites?
Benjamin Paul: Thank you. My books included?
If yes, then Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, My Chasing Annabelle, T.J. Martins’ Rebellion and Ezeodili Paul’s Like Déjà Vú.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Interesting choices
What do you foresee for the future of publishing in Nigeria and Africa at large?
Benjamin Paul: Hmm. This is huge. I am thinking that e-publishing is and should be the future to a large extent. Print publishing is really costly and the books typically cost about 12 dollars or more. While this not too much for Americans and Europeans, it is not affordable for a large majority of Africans. I think ebooks are our next best option. A lot of people have access to smart phones and ebooks could be sold a lot cheaper. In PabPub for example, books are about 5 times cheaper than if they were in prints and yet a PabPub author typically can earn more money per sold copy than they would for a sold print copy, because the production of ebooks is really cheap.
Honestly, earlier today I was day-dreaming about a large ebook library/cafe. People would walk in, pick up a tab on their table and start reading while waiting for coffee. Lol. If I may, I want to add that ebooks also save a lot of trees. They are environmentally friendly.
Oreoluwa Eunice: This is interesting but you do know that nothing beats holding a physical book? I’m all for e-books, in fact, I read e-books a lot but pleasure of holding a physical copy is astounding.
Moving on, are you ready to answer some fun questions?
Benjamin Paul: I agree. I just think e-books make everything easier.
Lol. Sure. Hit me.
Oreoluwa Eunice: e-books surely make everything easier.
What was the last book you read that left an extraordinary impact on you?
Benjamin Paul: Hmm…That would be Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games
Oreoluwa Eunice: What book do you have an intense dislike for?
Benjamin Paul: Lol. I will have to think really hard for this
Oreoluwa Eunice: if you have to think really hard, then I suppose there is none…
Benjamin Paul: I guess you are right. If I ever picked up a book and hated it, I would have dropped it so quickly and forgotten about it.
Oreoluwa Eunice: What is your favorite color?
Benjamin Paul: That would be burgundy, I believe. You can never go wrong with burgundy
Benjamin Paul: This is why FWC’s theme color is Burgundy
Oreoluwa Eunice: It’s one of mine too!
If you were to describe this color to a blind person, how would you describe it?
Benjamin Paul: Oh my God. 😂😂😂 How can that be done? If you have any ideas please give me. Otherwise I would say that it is the color red wine and tell them that the color is as soothing as red wine, soothing and yet vibrant and intoxicating. I would employ every tool in purple prose and make it all sound poetic.
Oreoluwa Eunice: 😂😂
Oreoluwa Eunice: What book do you wish you can read for the first time again?
Benjamin Paul: That would be… CNA’s Purple Hibiscus. It was what fully introduced me to reading and it was such a nice experience that can only be explained as similar to a first kiss.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Do you follow a writing schedule?
Benjamin Paul: Sort of, but I don’t know if I should call it a schedule. Basically I do this thing where when I start writing, I just write consistently till I finish, taking breaks only for settling other needs. If something breaks that consistency, that book might not be touched again for months.
Oreoluwa Eunice: If there’s any book you wish you could rewrite how it ends, what book will it be?
Benjamin Paul: Hmm…🤔
I do not have any. That thought rarely comes to mind.
Oreoluwa Eunice: To die for a cause or to kill for a cause, which?
Benjamin Paul: It would be the right to live freely, speak freely. It’s unfortunate that there are a lot of places in our country that we can’t go to and feel safe to make a home or speak up our opinions without putting our lives in danger.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Any final words for those who want to hope to publish their works soon, especially on PabPub?
Benjamin Paul: Books are beautiful and for making one, so are you. I hope that all your dreams come true, I hope we could be friends too. I hope we can make magic together. Perhaps we should try it this September. And if it is ever meant to be, then let it be now.
I’m not great at poetry so I will stop now. LOL.
September is the most amazing time to join PabPub. Because of the Phoenix Quill Writing Contest, the energy is always high. Good luck. Never fear failure or rejection. By finishing a book, you’ve already conquered and lorded an entire world. And that’s the best part of the whole process.
Oreoluwa Eunice: Love this! Thank you so much, Paul. It’s been absolutely awesome having this interesting and long conversation with you.
Benjamin Paul: I am very sure that the pleasure was mostly mine. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I am grateful.
To read Chasing Annabelle by Benjamin Paul:
“This book is an intellectual classic … It is not for the shallow minded” — Gillian Asiedu-Danso
Annabelle shone like the moon, about her aura was a pearly glow.
Somtoo was dim like a fatigued lantern—void of spark, and a regular bland student like a grain of rice amongst many. He wanted Anabelle to himself and was ready to do anything, even succumb to Honors inhumane strategies.
Honor was an eccentric entity, an expert manipulator of the human mind, a god, according to popular opinions.
It was to him Somtoo submitted and surrendered to as a sovereign entity, disregarding the consequences of bowing to a new god and the fact that there was no turning back.
To Read Christmas Is Red by Benjamin Paul:
Adjusting her glasses, she cleared her throat and said to them; “never underestimate the quiet ones who sit silently by the corner and watch you through dark shades. They see you, but you don’t see them…and I don’t know about you, but there is nothing scarier than that.”