Hlomu series queen - on life, books and self publishing

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

Author, Dudu Busani-Dube

By Ntombi Nkosi

Arriving at the Centurion home of internationally acclaimed author, journalist and entrepreneur, DuduBusani-Dube, the Ignited Woman crew cannot help but feel welcome.

Immediately she makes refreshments available and the pre-ordered lunch arrives.

This is going to be a much longer afternoon than anyone anticipated it looks.

The calm Busani-Dube is the author and self-publisher of four books titled Hlomu The Wife, Zandile The Resolute, Naledi His Love and Zulu Wedding, which is based on a film production with the same name.

It is the runaway success of these four books that has brought us to her door step. Interestingly her life story also tells like a book.

Love for books

After attending a Catholic primary schools where she was once slapped by a nun in Standard 4 (grade six) for reading a book during bible scripture class, Busani-Dube had to adjust to a new kind of education when she started high school in 1994 at Vukuzakhe high school.

This was a boarding school where the principal walked around with a sjambok and with it beat the sense out of any learner who misbehaved.

“I don't know if I had always been an introvert but I know that my early teens was when I got to understand my personality,” Busani-Dube said.

Her love for reading dates as far back as she can remember, if she found a book, she would read it.

“It was in high school where I really started burying myself in books. There was a library at my school and it had those Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew books, that's what I read. I was also going through a lot of stages and books kind of helped me escape,” She says.

It was her English teacher teacher Miss Fulela who discovered her writing talent and encouraged her to focus on it.

Busani-Dube recalls the book ‘To Kill A Man's Pride’ which is a collection of short stories from the Drum era with writers including Nat Nakasa and Can Themba.

“I don't know how many times I read those stories. There was something about how descriptive the writers were, most of them were journalists. I felt like they were able to capture everything about the era they lived in by just writing those stories and using the language they spoke at that time. They were my favourite writers,” said Busani-Dube.

The business of books

Busani-Dube says putting the book together was doable, but then she had to sell it and the demand was huge.

“Book-stores would not take my books, they were not prepared to work with self-publishers at that time so I had to find other ways.

“I sold the books from the boot of my car and I remember sometimes I’d have to drive long distances just to deliver the books. I once drove to Witbank in Mpumalanga with my friend just to deliver eight books I think. I knew it did not make financial sense but for me to succeed I had to make some sacrifices because everyone I met to hand a book, I’d take pictures with and they’d post them on social media, which generated a lot of interest and brought me more customers,” said Busani-Dube.

She says she was also lucky because everyone wassupportive, from her family to colleagues and even strangers.

Her former boss would sometimes meet up with people who lived around his area to give them the books.

“I did a lot of pop-up sales too until eventually bookstores started calling,” she said.

Busani-Dube said that she would not really encourage people to self-publish, especially if they are not patient and do not have the means to raise the funds required for it.

“My biggest challenge was distribution, particularly because my books were in demand and I couldn’t meet it,” said Busani-Dube.

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