Writings of the general word's body

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

see me see trouble-o!

I just got the mail below from a certain Mfonobong Nsehe (mfonobong@storyafrica.com)....

Dear Lara,

Greetings. My name is Mfonobong Nsehe and I am the founder and editor of StoryAfrica. StoryAfrica is a literary project founded by lovers of African literature at Daystar University, Kenya. Our aim is to sell the best of Africans literature to the rest of the world, and to promote African writers to American and European readers.

We made an error in publishing one of your stellar pieces, 'The Beaten Track' in the first edition of our quarterly anthology, 'Africa's Best Stories,' without your permission. A lady who was part of the StoryAfrica team, and who was charged with the responsibility of getting permissions from authors apparently lied to us that she got permissions from several writers whose works were featured to use their stories. After complaints from writers, we discovered that we did not have permission to publish many of the stories we did publish.

Even though the harm has been done, 'Africa's Best Stories' has been published, and your story is in it. I know it is really late, but I would like to use this opportunity to request for the permission to use your story. You will be paid a royalty for your story as soon as sales pick up. But even more importantly, in the book, we have provided a byline to help promote you and your books.

We are really sorry for the misunderstanding. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Mfonobong Nsehe


My reply...

Dear Mfonobong,

Please note that my name is not 'Lara' - it's Molara.

This must rank as the highest piss-take 'literary' email I've ever received. What makes you think I'd be impressed by your offer of 'royalty... as soon as sales pick up' (when, in 2050?)?

And how condescending of you to think you've done me a favour by providing a byline to "promote [me] and [my] books." Did I ask for your promotion? Do you know how many bylines I've earned in my writing career, in how many reputable publications?

Bottomline is: you had no right to take my story - without permission - and publish it in any anthology, I don't care if it's the Best Universe Stories. You have a nerve to purport to inform me of the sacrilege after the fact. I'm completely flabbergasted and outraged. This is intellectual theft at its most blatant. Your behaviour is a complete negation of everything I stand for.

Remove my story from your anthology or you'll hear from my lawyers.

Molara Wood


Writerdelic said...

Wow Molara, I have been to the Book SA website and it is just unbelievable, and downright infuriating, and disgraceful! And the nerve of this Nsehe chap to defend his fraudulent actions. I hope he gets what's coming to him, this is just unacceptable.

AM-C said...

And the plot thickens.

The story just gets worse and worse. Since the damage has been done and the anthology already published, your best legal recourse might be (a) an application to stop them selling the anthology bearing your work (as well as a recall of any of the books already sent out and/or sold); and (b) Damages.

Anonymous said...

The cheek of such a letter from a supposedly publishing house. This reminds me of the weird wording of a letter from a certain 'reputable' yet badly managed media house in Nigeria which downsized and told affected ex-staff that their outstanding salaries will be paid 'as soon as the company's cash flow improves'. Seems whether in Kenya or Nigeria, African publishers are really something else and dem dey take 'intellectual rights' make yeye!

stanleyonjezanikenani said...

What a bad experience!

Wordsbody said...

Beyond infuriating. Beggars belief. They want to 'promote' African writing by stealing the writers' stories.
And all the scam lies about endorsement by Oprah?!
The folly of the whole enterprise, for me, is shown up in the revelation that StoryAfrica was only formed in April and yet in May there was a book on Amazon. Is that how sane publishing ventures work? I think not.

No way is this guy going to trade on a story of mine acquired by such unacceptable means.
And if he indeed has the names advertised in his book - Adichie, Osondu, Chika - with the kind of agency representation those writers have, they'll ensure Mfonobong never eats lunch in this town again.
Unfortunately for him, the 'town' in this case, is the World Wide Web.

You can say that again!

Unknown said...

Molara Molara!

One of the things you lawyer should demand is that he says this name 1 Million times over until he gets it into his head how not to tell an "AfricanStory"!

paige said...

Wow Molara,I am so sorry you've been put through this. This guy is such a piece of work. Here's hoping this devious fraudster gets his comeuppance somehow. his behaviour is unacceptable!

tiah said...

Ugh. I hope Amazon takes the book down, soon.

Lauri said...

Molara I'm sorry you've got pulled into all of this. I saw the announcement of the book on FB posted by Jude who also has a story in there. I was excited that Oprah had picked it up. Then the next day I saw the whole scam on SA Books. Shocking! And earning royalties once the book starts making money- that's rich. What an ass! I hope he knows his days in publishing are over.

Chuma Nwokolo said...

MW is standing in the gap for anyone who has ever toiled in the small hours to string words together.

It is a little rich for anyone to prescribe just how much outrage to feel on discovering a robbery.

The one talent that anyone involved in this egregious project should cultivate is The Grovelling Apology.

To follow it up with an anti-Molara campaign is beyond belief.

Here's hoping they find good counsel - and their knees - in short order.