Naushad Khan

Naushad Khan



By Naushad Khan

Many people always ask me how do I come up with the ideas for the stories I write and it's a tricky question to ask because the inspiration builds up over a long period and the formulation period from conception takes place at breakneck speed. Race Champ is no exception to the phenomenon that takes place inside my brain.

I was always into cars as most boys are, from the time they are little. Growing up, I always enjoyed movies that involved cars, racing or even epic action-packed car chase scenes. I have watched every single movie in the ever-popular blockbuster franchise film series - The Fast & The Furious and enjoy every single one of them (but make no mistake about it, my stories are not a carbon copy of those stories in that series). To this day, I still enjoy playing racing games on my mobile as I always have, from Need for Speed: Most Wanted to NASCAR to my personal favourite - Asphalt Airbourne. One of my favourite songs is Fast Lane by Eminem. Pile that altogether and you have a recipe for inspiration that would eventually spark my imagination wild with ideas and the idea of Race Champ was born - immediately with a trilogy plan in mind. 

I originally concieved the idea in December 2011 after passing Grade 11 and I spent my entire school holidays writing it with the traditional pen and paper before heading back to finish Grade 12 in 2012. Upon completion, I started a part time job and began what would end up being a long and arduous 8 year journey to get my book published. You can read more about it in my previous blog post.

Sometimes, the ideas I have for stories, even one's I had written at 5 years old when I first began writing are hard to explain how I came up with, since it usually starts with inspiration and sparks my imagination to involuntarily conjure up ideas I then jot down. I get this odd feeling of excitement, jubilation and (for the lack of a better term) a sense of "newness" within me as the ideas start flowing in and a start to finish plan starts brewing and formulating in my mind which I in turn write down on a scrap piece of paper and that particular scrap piece of paper then becomes the plan which I would constantly refer to when writing my story out. 

I wrote out all 3 parts of Race Champ on 3 separate scrap pages and was ready to put ink to paper, which itself brings out yet another set of emotions of enjoyment, excitement, jubilation and again, a sense of "newness" within me. It took me 2 weeks and 98 pages of unused remaining paper which I tore out of one of my high school notebooks to complete Part 1 and then, the Back to School rush and the stress of Matric set in, putting my dreams on temporary hold. 

It is well documented in my previous blog post that I completed the remaining 2 parts while searching for a publisher and as I got a phone, I typed out the remaining 2 parts on to a Documents app on my phone, eventually saving them on a Hard Drive and my Google Drive cloud for secure backup. 

Many of my story ideas undergo the same emotional formation and I probably will undergo the same process in many future stories to come, but it's something I look forward to with great excitement, jubilation and sense of "newness". 

By Naushad Khan

It's funny how while growing up, despite being someone who loved writing and reading, I had only heard of Book Launches in passing, usually in the news, however I never attended one, nor looked into researching it to know exactly what it entales, which is why when it was suggested to me by Empore Publishers shortly after the first few copies of my book were printed and out, I was instantly tossed into the unknown. 

However, staying true to the resolution I made to myself when I turned 25 that I was going to try anything and everything from that point on in my life and try to make something of my life, I replied positively to their suggestion and immediately jumped online to research more about what Book Launches entale, however, as is the norm, when you rush through grasping the concept of anything, you tend to end up not understanding anything at all and thanks must be given to the publishing team who calmed me down to take it one step at a time. 

I did eventually find out what my Book Launch would entale while on a quick call with Sir Mpho of Empore Publishers who gave me a quick rundown of everything I needed to know about a Book Launch, based off their previous experiences as a publishing company that has hosted and attended their various author's Book Launches in the past.

The first thing on my agenda was to find a suitable location for my Book Launch and luckily, I was not too far off from my primary school, Hartley Road Primary School, whom I reached out to and having known the Principal of the School ever since I was a student there, I was allowed use of their Hall. Needless to say, many of the faces that remembered me, including ex-teachers of mine who still taught at the school, were extremely proud of my accomplishment and were more than happy to give me the use of the Hall for the event, as an ex-pupil who has succeeded in his life goals. 

The Principal himself (who was a former teacher of mine when I schooled there) even requested that I give the Grade 7 learners a talk in the new year and was willing to purchase 2 copies of my book for the Library. After securing the venue, I set about sending out emails and straight up cold calling. I was sponsored in terms of bottled water for the guests at the event and the sound system for the hall was sorted out as well. 

While the Hall provided chairs and tables in addition to the venue itself, Empore Publishers was to provide 2 banners and 50 copies of the book for the event as they have done for previous Book Launches. They did inform me that there was another Book Launch taking place in the Eastern Cape province on the same week as mine, but that would not pose a problem as they would be sending a representative through to assist in conducting the event. In addition, they provided a poster designed by their marketing and graphics department which I used to promote my event on various social media platforms. Many of my friends and family that I had on my social media were very happy for my success and ardently supported me and my dream coming true. 

I spent the better part of 2 weeks leading up to the event, cold calling and emailing various libraries, media outlets and bookstores, trying to get as many as possible to attend my event in hopes of gaining marketing and publicity for my book as well as attendance by bookstores and libraries with hopes that they would wish to purchase some copies for their shelves.

While I did receive some rejections and negative responses (which did not faze me one bit as many know my 8 year struggle had me encounter and overcome this many times over), I did however recieve some positive feedback from a couple of media outlets and bookstores and these were, at least in my mind, the ones I was really hoping and banking on to show up, whom RVSP'd. 

Through the Asherville and Musgrave Libraries, I was referred to Mrs. Thobela Ngidi, who as I was made to understand, was the head person to speak to and was in charge of book acquisitions for all the 96 libraries in my locality, which was the KwaZulu-Natal province and a meeting was set-up for the 24th of November with regards to that discussion, however, 2 representatives of the Asherville Library did confirm their RSVP for my Book Launch, in their personal capacity, despite not having the buying power for their particular library. I even received the opportunity to have a Marketing Activation for a Book Signing Session at an Educational Expo at The Atrium, which is a local mall close to my workplace. 

On that Monday, 02 November 2020, just a week before the launch, Empore Publishers informed me that the banners and books would be arriving via PostNet that Wednesday and to expect a call from Sir Mpho, the head of the publishing house, regarding the representative of Empore Publishers who will be in attendance. However, the packages arrived the very next day and I picked them up within 30 minutes - so you could very well tell my excitement. Once at my workplace, we opened the packages and ensured everything was in tip-top shape and I was so proud and happy that everything seemed to be coming together. 

The same evening, Sir Mpho touched base with me again via a call and gave me a basic rundown of what was to happen at the event. By that Thursday, everything was ready to rock and roll as an article about me was featured in the local weekly paper known as "The Weekly Gazette" and by that Friday morning, great excitement had set in. 

I went to the Hall that Friday with my crew to set up the Hall, where I was met by Derick who was a representative of Empore Publishers and would be conducting an on-stage interview with me for my Book Launch. We spent most of that afternoon together setting up the Hall together with my colleague from work, Issa Kabudula and the on-site stay-in maintenance worker of Hartley Road Primary School, Wonderboy. I took Derick back to my office to close the work day and introduced him to my mother who was thrilled for the next day's event. 

Saturday morning, we were up early and made a trip to Makro, where we made a last minute purchase of 3 cheap bales of chips for the guests who would attend the event, at least they would have something to munch on. Once we returned, we ironed our clothes, had something quick to eat to keep us full for the afternoon, before getting dressed and heading to the Hall. 

My parents dropped me off at the Hall to start set-up while they went to the garage to fuel up and buy ice which they would use to put the bottles of water in to keep them cool. In addition, we attained the air conditioning remote as it was a hot day. Mark Cranston of Audio & Visual started setting up and testing the sound at 12:30 as Issa covered the tables in tableclothes while Derick and I went about setting up signs around the school which would direct people to the event.

At 1pm, the Hall was decked out and ready as family and friends began making their way in and assisting in the Hall set-up in any little way they could. Sir Mpho gave me a last minute call for encouragement and everything was set-up for showtime as we calmed our nerves by chatting amongst each other and the guests in the Hall. As I made my way onto the side of the stage for the event, Raihanna Amod of "The Weekly Gazette" showed up to take pictures for the community newspapers and a representative of Adam's Bookstores also showed up.

Following the event, I signed copies of the book for and took numerous photos with family and friends, as Issa and Derick went about cleaning up the Hall. After all guests had left, Mark Cranston came and took down the sound system while we had completed cleaning up the Hall. Issa and Derick left with one of my friends, Uzayr Chilipa and after Mark had down the final takedown, my mum, dad and I took our belongings and left the Hall together. All in all, the event was a raving success and many of the attendees, more especially family & friends were impressed at how well I co-ordinated the Book Launch and spoke at the event.

However, just as Race Champ - Part 1: The Oval Tar is just the beginning of Jason Woods' journey to being a world class pro racer, this Book Launch was merely but the beginning of my journey as a published author. I still had a meeting on the 24th and a Book Signing Session at an Expo to look forward to and plan towards. 

By Naushad Khan

I have not been shy about the 8 year journey and struggle, all the trials and tribulations I went through to get my first book, Race Champ - Part 1: The Oval Tar finally published. But I feel the need to reiterate and pen it here in my blog for all of you who are not familiar with the story to read. 

It all began in December 2011, during my school holidays (between Grade 11 and Grade 12) when I came up with the idea for and wrote Race Champ - Part 1: The Oval Tar. I had originally planned it to be a trilogy and each part idea was penned down by me on some scrap pieces of paper. 

After completing Matric in 2012 and while working, I began my long and arduous search for publishers. I also continued to write the other 2 parts and contacted various publishers, whom I will not name for legal reasons. There were a couple of publishers I worked alongside with for some years with hopes of getting my first book published, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be as for years on end I felt as if I was being stringed along with no results. 

I went through the PASA (Publishers Association of South Africa) catalog and was told by about 20 different publishers that they don't cover my type of work; they do not publish fiction; while some simply told me they were backlogged and no longer openly accepting manuscripts from authors, especially one with no history in the game - which is surprising, because if you think about it, if you do not give someone a chance, how do you expect them to show you that they have the ability to be a best seller and make you profit as well?

Some publishing companies who accepted to have a look at my work even told me that my story will not sell; that I needed to tweak my story; and even told me how horrible my cover design idea was - which was a crushing blow, someone telling you to change everything about your story that makes it original and makes it reflect you as an author and as a person. 

I attended free writing seminars and felt like I was the only one asking the question of how to get published and not getting a satisfactory answer. Some suggested I go the self-publishing route, however my financial situation would not allow for it to happen. 

I had my moments of doubt and questioning, moments where I thought it was never going to happen, moments where thought that maybe it wasn't meant for me to be successful or achieve my goals and yes, moments where I even thought about giving up, but I refused to quit. The fire inside me burned bright and did not allow me to kill my dreams.

I pushed and persevered and I made a promise to myself that no matter what happens in 2020, come hell or high water, I was going to take the bull by the horns and take my life to where I want it to be. I was going to shoot my shot at everything and not go down without a fight. 

So I stumbled upon a site called Snupit in January 2020, where you could seek out professionals or freelancers for any job you required. I submitted my request for a Publisher and was contacted shortly after by the CEO of Empore Publishers, Sir Mpho. He spoke with me over the phone for almost 20 minutes where I related my story to him and he agreed to publish me at no cost to myself. I was suprised that after all these years I was finally seeing a glimmer of hope. 

I was in constant back and forth emails with the admin team and after signing the contract, they began work on my project. And just as before, things looked like they were picking up steam when we hit a roadblock known as the global lockdown/quarantine period. My country of origin and residence, South Africa experienced a Hard Lockdown with a slow and gradual return to normality via 5 Alert Levels. Thankfully, patience and perseverance paid off and by Level 2, Empore Publishers were back on the ball getting my book into final print stage. On Friday, September 25 2020, my book was officially printed and released to the world. 

One thing the 8 year long journey of getting my first book published has taught me is that Patience truly is a virtue. Patience, perseverance and persistence eventually pays off in the end. No matter your situation or what you are experiencing, keep pushing forward for your goals and eventually you will achieve if you believe.

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