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Hlomu Series queen keeps serving the people

Author Dudu Busani-Dube at her home in Centurion.
Self published author: Dudu Busani-Dube.

Her latest offering, Mess, has her followers in a tail spin. Much like her earlier works, which the way gained her the love she is now enjoying, Dudu Busani-Dube’s work remains spectacular.

“I don’t know if I had always been an in- trovert 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 in- cluding 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 author studied journalism at ML Sultan Technikon, before it became Durban Uni- versity of Technology (DUT).

Immediately after completing her final year she joined Independent Newspapers KZN as an intern.

A year later she moved to Johannesburg. “I had friends who were already there so I arrived at Park Station in March 2005 with a suitcase and a blanket, straight to my friend’s bachelor flat in Hillbrow, CBD with no job. I was hired by Sowetan a couple of weeks later,” she says.

Since then she has worked for Sunday World, Isolezwe, and finally The New Age which was liquidated in 2018.

Inspiration to pen books

Even though she gets the question a lot, she cannot really point out a specific inspi- ration of motivation to write her first book, Hlomu The Wife, she says.

“I was always going to write a book it was just a matter of when. So in 2014 I started and that was it. My characters are people we all know, people in our families and places most of us have been to, so I guess it is safe to say that my stories are inspired by everyday life except for the wealth and private jets and unconditional love that is there.

“When I wrote and finished Hlomu The Wife, I had no plan at all, I thought about getting a publisher but decided against it and eventu- ally I opted to blog the first few chapters of the book to see if people were going to like it. Three of my friends had already read it and the feedback was good, but they are my friends,” said Busani-Dube.

In December 2014, she created a Wordb- press blog, where she asked a few people to check it out and tell their friends about it and the next morning she says it was crazy.

“I stopped blogging when I was left with 10 chapters and decided to sell a PDF copy. “The money I made from selling the PDF I used to print the book and my second book, titled Zandile The Resolute. It was impor- tant to me how the books looked so I got a professional graphic designer to do my cov- ers and I invested in good printing paper,” she said.

The business of books

Busani-Dube says putting the book togeth- er 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-publish- ers 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 gener- ated a lot of interest and brought me more customers,” said Busani-Dube.

She says she was also lucky because eve- ryone was supportive, from her family to col- leagues 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.

Her latest offering is Mess and it’s available in all book stores around country.



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Editor's note

American novelist Louisa May Alcott said it best when she said “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

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