Ayokunle Dominic is the son of Awoleye from Ekiti state Nigeria. He is currently a staff of NB Plc. He is also a writer and is married with Kids.
Ayoukunle is also the owner of Domingobooks. We caught up with him to discuss writing as a business/full-time job, and more. Below is our chat.
Pelleura: Hello Sir. It’s nice to have this chat with you.
Ayokunle: My pleasure.
Pelleura: Please can you share details of your background with us?
Ayokunle: I like to refer to myself as a barrack boy any day. My dad was in the Army and I basically grew up with him. From Benin City where I was born to Sokoto state and to Calabar. We were posted to Lagos from Calabar before finally going to the 82nd Division in Enugu where he retired in the early nineties. I am the third of four siblings and as a teenager, I was seen as the black sheep of the family. I was very stubborn and witty.
Pelleura: Oh, interesting. (wide grin) So what were your dreams like when you were in school?
Ayokunle: Initially I was confused as to what to be in future. I had wanted to walk in my father’s shoes by being a soldier when I grow up, then at some point, I wanted to be a Catholic priest, then I wanted to sing. When I got into secondary school, I wanted to be a Lawyer, but my mother wanted me to be a Medical Doctor. So I opted for the sciences.
I got passes in my science subjects in my SSCE, while my best result was in Literature in English. As a science student then, we had the option of choosing between Literature in English and Geography. I chose Literature in English because I loved to read Novels. I learnt early that reading would help improve your grammar. I really needed to improve my grammar because of the kind of primary school I attended. It was called ‘Akpaukwa Barracks Primary School,’ which later became Army Children School Abakpa today. We spoke pidgin English in school back then.
Pelleura: Are you full time into the writing/book business? Or do you have a day job or other businesses that you run?
Ayokunle: I am a full-time employee with hardly time for anything else, but I create time out of “no time” to feed my passion.
Pelleura: Please tell us what your writing business is like.
Ayokunle: I write Poems, drama and prose. I write movie scripts too. I write real life because I want to tell people of life’s happenings. When you read my book, you see yourself in the book because I write on relatable issues in society. Growing up in the Army barracks is one experience that I can never be tired of having stories to write about.
But taking writing as a business in Nigeria, for now, is not a very profitable venture. Do we read in Nigeria? We would rather watch a movie or listen to music. The days of reading Nigerians are gone! Well without generalizing though, we still have people that read and we hope to convert some more because the reading culture is fast fading.
Pelleura: What prompted you to start Domingobooks?
Ayokunle: I wanted a platform where people can easily get books of their choice to buy and sell online; everyone is going online today so let us open an online store for books. Authors and readers can meet on Domingobooks. We have a few of such platforms already but I am improving on them with Domingobooks.
Pelleura: What’s Domingo Productions about?
Ayokunle: By Domingo productions, I am into other ventures like movie production, hospitality and entertainment businesses etc. Domingobooks is a branch of the Domingo production. There is more to Domingo productions that time will reveal. I love to go into Farming too, animal farming. I have a mini fish pond and poultry but my Job currently does not give me time.
Pelleura: Do you think you’d ever take writing/bookselling as a full-time business?
Ayokunle: No! Writing is a passion but it cannot feed me and my family in Nigeria of today. I am versatile and writing is one of my gifts.
Pelleura: When did you first notice you love to write?
Ayokunle: I noticed I love to tell stories first! I could describe an event so vividly that you would think I was there. My first attempt at writing was in JSS2, I read a Novel titled “The adventures of Souza” by Kola Onadipe. I was inspired and I wrote a mock version of my biography titled “The adventures of Bob Loco” I wrote it in an exercise book and my friends started borrowing it to read until it got lost.
Pelleura: How many books have you written, and what are their titles?
Ayokunle: I have written seven books.
- Thorns in my boots
- The Abandoned child
- Just Wedded
- Another wedding
I am currently working on three manuscripts. They are novels.
Pelleura: What are the obstacles you’ve faced as a writer/publisher and how were you able to overcome them?
Ayokunle: Number one is that I do not have time to hone my craft as a writer. Maybe when I retire, I would have time.
When I made up my mind to publish my first novel, I could not get a good publisher that had my time in Nigeria so I published with Partridge publishers, a US based company and it was very expensive that I could not sell my books in Nigeria because of the Dollar/naira disparity. But it was a good exposure to me. That was in 2016. I had to republish the book in Nigeria this year with an indigenous publisher.
Another challenge is the avenue to sell books. I published a thousand copies thinking the publisher would help out in sales but I realized I was on my own as per the sales of my books. One of my publishers actually tried with marketing and promotion of the book online and radio interview. I am referring to Parresia publishers. But it didn’t help much. I need to do more marketing by myself if I must make money from the books I published.
Pelleura: In a country like ours, do you think the government has put in place structures that helps small business/ full-time writers survive?
Ayokunle: No! Not to my knowledge. Apart from issuing ISBN which you pay for and a copy of your book that goes to the National Library, you are on your own. Our government seems too busy tackling more salient issues bedevilling her that interest in literature is the least of her concern.
Pelleura: So what do you think can be done to further help small businesses owners and full-time writers?
Ayokunle: We need platforms that have the genuine interest of creative minds at heart. If corporate bodies can as part of their CSR focus on writers and promote quality works to encourage us in Nigeria.
Today youth are following the sound of music and entertainment because that is where the money is. All corporate endorsements go to musicians. How many literary minds are brands ambassadors in Nigeria? Literature is not rewarded here. Our youth today are finding it difficult to spell words correctly not to talk of constructing good sentences. This is because the culture of reading and writing is being eroded over time.
If you want to take writing as a full-time job then you have to burn your candle at both ends. You exploit all available online bookstores, you ensure your books get to as many Bookshops as possible, you follow celebrities online and advertise yourself on their wall, and you should have a very active website or blog. As a matter of fact, life as an author in Nigeria does not pay. You need to augment it to survive.
Pelleura: I will disagree with your last two statements because there are authors out there making a full-time living off thier books. But of course, we will discuss that later.
Pelleura: So presently, what are those achievements you’ve made and what future goals are you aiming for?
Ayokunle: The first achievement I made as a writer was when one of my stories “Thorns in my boots” won me the writer of the month on Nairaland Literature forum. I was so happy. Also, four of my stories made front page on Nairaland at four different times. These achievements gave me the impetus to forge ahead because of the fans I got and their comments made me know that I have got something to offer.
What gives me joy today is that I can easily go back and read comments of readers about my write-ups and their comments melt any clog in my mind. If I am sad today, I go to Nairaland and read readers comment on my works.
That feeling of beholding my own books in print is one that I will always cherish. When I received the first shipment of my books from Partridge publishing limited I could not sleep that night.
Two months ago I was on air at Classic FM 93.7 in Lagos with Benjamin as host on my book “Thorns in my Boots” it was my first visit to a radio station.
I have my books on Amazon, smash words and Okadabooks, Bambooks, Myrewin and smash words. But are they selling as expected? No!
My future goal is to own a Lucrative Bookshop at a good spot in the City and have a Library where people can come read, rent or buy books. I also want to take Domingobooks to a global standard. We are currently upgrading the site and we might change the name to Dasabooks and Dasa productions ltd in due course.
Pelleura: How have you used social media to your advantage?
Ayokunle: I am amassing followership on my facebook page. I have over two thousand five hundred friends there so far. My website is linked to my facebook page and my twitter handle so I am coming up gradually but I know I could do better if I have time.
Pelleura: What’s the most important social media activity you engage in daily
Ayokunle: Instagram. I waste a lot of data on Instagram reading other peoples post and helping them make money. I also have a Facebook page where I post my stories for my fans to keep them engaged.
Pelleura: If you were to do it all over again, what will you change about Domingobooks?
Ayokunle: Change is constant! Innovation is key. So I try to move with trend and tide, even the name Domingobooks will change after the upgrade we are working on. We want to make access to the books very fast and convenient on the platform. We are creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders. The Author, the reader and the service provider.
Pelleura: What advice do you have for other writers running a small business/job?
Ayokunle: I have always been an advocate of having multiple sources of income and not putting all one’s eggs in a basket. If you are a scholar, I mean someone working as an academia, fine, you can keep writing. But if you are a hustler with a flair for writing, I advise you go get a steady job or learn a trade while you continue churning out stories. If you are not earning an income, how do you even publish your book? I mean hard copy? That is self-publishing.
Pelleura: Awesome! Thanks so, so much for your time, Sir.
Ayokunle: Thank you Pelluera, for having me.
So, you guys have read from Mr Ayokunle Dominic. We’ll appreciate your feedback on our interview. Meanwhile, please connect with Ayokunle via any of his below social links.