Let’s get to meet you. Tell us about yourself and your background
I am Odunayo Tobiloba Sonde. I am a self-help book ghostwriter. I help busy individuals, busy individuals and life coaches write their books within a short span of time. I also own an online writing school, Transformed Writing School, and we have trained not less than a hundred writers in mastering their skills and positioning them for impact, influence, and income.
I graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University where I studied linguistics. I am also a certified public speaker, sex educator, and relationship coach. I live in Ogun State, Nigeria.
What inspired you into writing?
I am fond of always saying God threw the writing skill at me during my NYSC because He knows I needed it if my voice will be heard. I have always been a lover of stories and good books. At 13, I could read any kind of book. Though I never saw myself as a writer then. However, the need to impact lives made me venture into writing, first as a hobby then it became my major income stream.
I realized I wanted to become a full-time writer after I saw other people doing well with the same skill I have only been seeing as passion. Also, I know a lot of people who would pay anything to express their ideas effortlessly like I do but are incapacitated in some ways. Hence, I ventured into Ghostwriting. Though I was an accidental ghostwriter. I didn’t know what I was doing is called ghostwriting because I kept writing for people without claiming ownership until I read more about who a ghostwriter is.
I don’t believe anyone should be limited in sharing their stories, experience, or expertise because they don’t have the time or communication skills to write. That is us depriving our world. And that is one thing I don’t ever want; depriving my world.
What kind of challenges did you face before becoming an established writer?
This question! The first challenge I faced was identifying where I fit in. I will call it an identity crisis. I tried a lot of writing styles before I settled for a particular writing style. Though, looking at it now, it is actually a blessing in disguise because I see myself easily switching to my clients’ voices when writing their books.
Another challenge I faced before becoming an established ghostwriter is the way we were being valued. I remember someone asking me to write a full movie script at a peanut price (I don’t write movie scripts again. Self-help is my terrain now). Many people believe writing isn’t difficult and can’t understand why we charge the way we do, especially ghostwriters when in actual fact it is a herculean task.
I will also say putting structures around the things I do was also a challenge. Many of us didn’t understand we are running a business and we end up treating it like one of our hobbies. Writing is business. Writers are entrepreneurs. The moment we understand this, we will know the reason to put structures around what we do. The way you see yourself is the way others will perceive your business. Branding right is important for every writing business.
Time management is one important thing again especially if you are a workaholic like I am. I love getting things done right and that is why I make sure I gain a level of perfection before dropping any book I am writing and this used to eat into my personal time until I learned to work like I am in a corporate world.
People write for different purposes; how would you describe your style of writing?
Since I am a self-help writer, I write basically to help people improve themselves depending on the focus of the topic at the moment be it finance, personal development, family life, relationship, or any self-help-related topic.
Who are those who inspired you into this profession?
Let me quickly say this, being a ghostwriter is fun especially if you don’t mind seeing someone else take credit for the book you wrote. Ideally, the book was never yours because it isn’t your story, knowledge, or expertise you are sharing. It’s your client’s.
Now, back to the question, those that inspired me into the profession are those that find it difficult to have their books written. I came with the determination to be a solution provider to them.
What are the opportunities available for an aspiring writer?
There are amazing opportunities available for writers. Writing has a way of positioning you as an authority figure especially if you have a published asset like books. Your book is your badge of identity.
Also, writing is lucrative if you have a mentor to hold your hands and you don’t have to carry your CV around for long. I have young people in my team and they earn steadily. As a writer, you can work as a Social Media Manager, Book Publishing consultant, Freelancer, Ghostwriter, Editor, Publisher, etc. The good part is the flexibility that comes with the work and you really don’t need capital to start this business except the money spent on yourself.
Every profession has its ethics, which could be the most unethical practice in the writing and publishing industry.
As a ghostwriter, I have understood the number one fear of every client is getting plagiarised work. That looks like the most unethical thing and I frown greatly at it too. Why should you steal other people’s work? That is unprofessional! But the most unethical thing to me is not delivering. If you go to a pharmacy, you will expect that the drugs prescribed should work all things being equal. Why then should a writer or publisher not deliver what he promises? If you say your book will do a particular thing, make sure it does. And don’t ever underdeliver.
In Nigeria, we have a lot of people aspiring to be writers, do you have any initiative that can help guide and direct them in the course of learning?
As I mentioned, I have an online writing school and all we do is to help writers hone their writing skills. The school runs for 6 weeks where we train the writers for impact, influence, and income. A session is already on and another one starts in March 2022.
I also have an initiative for children between 8 and 13 who love to write where I train them for 4 weeks on the basics of writing.
I also offer pieces of training specifically tailored to organizations’ needs. This training runs like a coaching program where I help the organization staff think like writers and dish amazing content consistently.
How would you rate writing in Nigeria? Do we have a good structure in our educational system for up-and-coming writers?
I believe writing in Nigeria has started taking its root. In fact, I know a lot of young people who are doing well in writing though some are underpaid due to our system. Hence, most of us are breaking into the foreign market. I wouldn’t say we have a standard structure in our education system for up-and-coming writers. Most times, my heart bleeds when I see some of these writers finding it difficult to find their footings in the writing industry. I am not sure we even have courses in university that train you to become better writers. That is one reason part of our agenda in Transformed Writing School is to partner with Educational Institutes in training students at all levels in order to provide them with more opportunities when they get out there in the world.