Author, journalist and motivational speaker Wendy Coakley-Thompson, of Bahamian ancestry herself, launched Duho Books in September to bring the underrepresented authors and stories of the Bahamas to the world stage.
Nicole had a conversation with Wendy where they discussed why she started a publishing company that only publishes stories written by Bahamian writers, how her company operates and what her long term goals are for Duho Books.
Nicole: What kind of stories do the writers you publish tell that you think people cannot find elsewhere?
WCT: The simple answer to this question is the link to the Bahamas, Bahamian people, and Bahamian culture. This may include, but may not be limited to an exploration of the experiences and residual aspects of The Bahamas having been a British colony, now searching to find its own voice as an independent nation; Bahamian culture at large, for example, Junkanoo music, folk tales, and the spiritual realm; and stories written in Bahamian dialect. Duho Books hopes to examine such elements of Bahamian literature in its future offerings. We’re doing our part to dial up the volume on the culture by showing its many facets! via the written word.
Nicole: Where will these books be available for purchase?
WCT: The books are available now on Amazon.com in electronic and paperback form. Your local bookstores can also order the paperback books.
Nicole: What is your selection process for the books that you choose to publish?
WCT: Once I establish that the author has talent, I look for unique ways in which their work tangibly represents aspects of The Bahamas and / or Bahamians and Bahamian culture.
Nicole: How big is your team at Duho Books and what is the breakdown?
WCT: As the President of the company, I am the constant of the Duho team. I keep Duho lean by leveraging freelancers for the editorial and administrative duties.
Nicole: What was your career before you decided to go into publishing?
WCT: I am an author of four books, two of which were published by Kensington Books. See www.wendycoakley-thompson.com. I started Duho, because I saw a terminal lack of books by, for, and about Bahamians and the Bahamas. As a person of Bahamian descent and later, specifically as a writer, I got sick of having to correct people when they’d say, “Wendy’s from Barbuda.” Or “Wendy’s from Barbados.” Or—egad!—“Wendy’s from Jamaica.” I wondered if the Bahamas had not left e! nough of an impression on people’s psyches to warrant enough recognition beyond being relegated to just islands beginning with the letter B. Or associated with Jamaica, the titan of the anglophone Caribbean.
Nicole: Are you only looking to publish books by Bahamians or are you open to other Caribbean authors?
WCT: At this time, Duho Books is only looking for work for, by, and about The Bahamas and Bahamians, because I believe that the vibrant culture and history of the nation and its people have been underrepresented in published fiction and nonfiction.
Nicole: What is the correct way for a writer to submit their book for review without having to worry about their work being stolen?
WCT: Authors of work for, by, and about The Bahamas and Bahamians can submit their work at Submissions@DuhoBooks.com. Submitting work in print form is a vestige of the past. If authors have worries of their work being stolen, they can take steps to protect themselves, e.g., copyrighting their work, etc.
Nicole: How much revision do you do to selected books? Also, how do authors usually respond to this?
WCT: On the front end, we strive to accept books that do not need extensive revisions (e.g., those with grammatical challenges, huge plot holes, poorly constructed characters, etc.). This helps the editorial process to go smoother on the back end. The response from authors has been positive. They are eager to produce work that represents them in the best light and that has the potential to draw a solid, loyal fan base.
Nicole: What is the publish time frame from the time a book is selected by your publishing company?
WCT: Our time frame from acceptance to publishing is fairly quick. For example, N.A. Cash submitted the manuscript for the paranormal novel “My Name Is Karma” in early May of this year. Duho published the book on September 22. Of course, this is atypical. The Duho schedule is set out to Winter 2018. We publish three titles four times a year.
Nicole: What has been the most challenging part of starting and running a publishing company?
WCT: Getting the work larger exposure has been the major challenge. Publishing the books, I believe, was the easier part. Now it’s time to get the word out so that people may find them and read them. That has been an uphill struggle, particularly—irony of ironies—getting the books into Bahamian bookstores! I’m constantly looking for new ways to reach beyond bookstores and get directly to readers who are curious to learn about new cultures.
Nicole: What is your overall goal for Duho Books?
WCT: I see Duho Books as being a vehicle for stories of us—the Bahamas and Bahamians—for the preservation for Bahamian children, as well as for the education of those with whom we share this world. I expect that Duho will grow, at a sensible rate, and share the fruits of that growth with the people who inform the stories Duho publishes. I anticipate that Duho’s future offerings will be as diverse as N.A. Cash’s paranormal story “My Name is Karma”and Marin Frederique’s “The Lights of Home”, because Bahamian culture is diverse. It melds the influences of Conchy Joes (i.e., Bahamian whites), Haitian Bahamians, Cuban Bahamians, expats, Bahamian Greeks, and Black folks from every island in the archipelago and folks from other parts of the Caribbean.
Nicole: Where did the name for your Publishing company come from and what does it mean?
WCT: I love duhos and what they represent. First and foremost, they are artifacts from a time that predates Christopher Columbus and the misery he brought to the land we now call The Bahamas. They represent the Arawak and Lucayan people who had a so-called “civilization” long before Europeans intruded on the land. Specifically, duhos represent a throne on which a chief, commonly called a cacique, is elevated. I see the elevation of the Bahamian experience to its own metaphorical throne ! once more for generations present and future. So, the duho is a nod to The Bahamas’s pre-European past and a representation of the hope for the future of Bahamian culture.
I would just like to thank Wendy-Coakley Thompson for taking the time to interview with The Oh Hell No Podcast. Below is a list of books that are currently available for purchase.
Back to Life (15th Anniversary Edition)
Release date: September 23, 2017
My Name is Karma
Release date: September 22, 2017
The Lights of Home
Release date: September 22, 2017