A Conversation with Rev. James Nyemah, author of ESTABLISH ME, BORN TO TAKE CHARGE and WHERE IS GOD?
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am Rev. James Nyemah, the founder and senior of Africa Faith Expressions and President of Missions Liberia (ml). I am a pastor, leader and author. I am the first grandson of the late Ma Phebe Nyemah of Gbiso, a great woman of God from Maryland County in Liberia. I was born in Monrovia, but grew up in Maryland County. I spent several years in Tabou, Ivory Coast, as a refugee; but relocated to Phoenix, Arizona – USA. I spent few years serving in different ministry positions at Restoration Assemblies of God in Phoenix, Arizona between June 2001 and December 2005. I got my first degree in May 2005, a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Canyon University. Meanwhile, in December
2005, a new church, Africa Faith Expressions, that reaches out to the African immigrants, opened its doors for ministry. Between 2005 to 2010, I spent most of my time assisting fellow African refugees, especially Liberians, integrate in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. In 2008, I made my first missions trip to Liberia and started two churches in Pleebo and Zwedru in Liberia. Today, we have another church in Harper and we have two church building projects underway. In 2011 December to September 2013, I spent most of my time in Liberia running Missions Liberia (ml), an organization dedicated to Leadership Training and Community Development. Through the Leadership Conferences, we trained and inspired more than 5500 pastors and community leaders in Monrovia, Zwedru, Pleebo and Harper. I wrote my first book, “Where is God?”, in May 2014 to deal with the harsh realities of life that make people wonder about the place of God in this world. In June 2015, my second book “Born To Take Charge”, a book about Leadership, Discovery and Purpose, was released. Just last month, in June of this year, I published my recent book, “Establish Me”,
this book shows us how to navigate the narrow passages of life to be successful.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
At first, I had an idea I wanted others to know, something that would help people; then it turned into trying to become a published author. But now, it is more! I want people everywhere to develop the passion to read; and of course, read my books too. I want to work with my colleagues and fellow African and Liberian authors to promote literacy back home in Liberia and write our own story, instead others always telling half-stories about us. Not only do I want to be a point of reference, and a prolific author, but I want to become a publisher and print books and other literature in Liberia. In 5 years from now on, I want one in every ten books read in Liberia, to be my book!
What inspire you to tell your story to the world?
During my first missions trip to Liberia in 2008, seeing the gravity of human suffering, the effects of a senseless war, and other evils that happened around the world, I wanted to try to answer a question about the place of God in this
world, something people are asking everywhere. From that desire, I felt compelled to attempt to give answers to real life issues that affect people. My authorship is about giving people something that will help have information, direction, empowerment and live the good life. Whether through non-fiction or even fiction, I want to write in simple ways for people to understand and make decisions that will push them forward in life. And besides this, I realized earlier on, that knowledge today, for the most part, is hidden in books; so I want to give it to people in an easy way.
Where can we buy or see your books? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)
All my books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many other sites online, including my own site, especially for anyone who needs autographed copies, www.jamesnyemah.com. I have worked with my publisher and reduced the books prices from $24.95 to $14.99. We are currently working on e-books across all platforms, translations in French and Spanish, and perhaps audio CDs as well. Besides all this, I am
working with all the platforms, to see how to do giveaways, starting with Amazon.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on a title called “SHINE”, it deals with all the stuff that wants to block our stars from shining and teaches us how to polish our stars, regardless of the opposition. “SHINE” is a book that will keep you glued in your seat as you go through the pages until you finish.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
From the way I processed things when writing my first book “Where is God?” and how I put things in my second book, “Born To Take Charge”, there is a graduation. My presentation and mannerism is elevating accordingly; but yet I try to keep it simple. I am poised to get into reality-fiction mix in the book called “DUPLICITY”. It will dig into church politics, double-standard in news reporting, community justice and much more. I believe this one will make it in movie theaters!
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Time! I don’t seem to have enough time in the
day to do what I want to do. Between family, church here and in Liberia, and other leadership roles, time flees faster than I want. I fight hard to focus on the little time I have and maximize every given opportunity, if not creating some, to write whenever and wherever I can.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
I spill out ideas without second thought. I don’t beg for ideas, ideas run after me. I can write or transcribe on anything just by jotting things here and there that I can put in order later. I enjoy sitting in front of my computer to give the world something that has the potential to transform the lives of people everywhere.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
Yes, I read a lot. Dr. John Maxwell is my most read author. I now focus on getting books from my fellow Liberian authors. I want to share in their passion.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I just completed the “Undefeated Generation” by my Congolese brother Yvan Yenda Ilunga. You can get it on Amazon.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
For my newest book, “ESTABLISH ME”, I wanted something elevating and eye-catching; and I think we accomplish that. For “Born To Take Charge”, I wanted something that is bold; that’s why I placed my photo right smacked in the middle. For “Where is God?”, I wanted something that gives direction, and or, asks questions. Looking at the cover art for all three books, I believe we did that. I had the idea, and together, with a team of design artists, we brought that to live.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
I know people have said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”; but as an author, I know quite well that that is far from the truth. The cover of a book, when it is attractive, becomes a magnet that draws people to see, pick it up, or pass by it or purchase it, even before they can ever have the chance to read it. So to answer your question, yes, the cover plays a vital role in the buying process of any book. Unless you are some big best seller, people still need something that catches the eye.
How do you market your books?
I do special promotions through the publisher, my church, my website, social media, speaking engagements, and print media. I am working on attending book fairs too and lining up radio and TV interviews. Oh before I forget, I chasing every blogger I can find to blog about my books; I am glad I got you. The process is not easy; it is expensive but quite worthy.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Don’t just depend on the publisher to market your books, even if you pay for the best promotion and marketing packages. You have to market your books to your family, friends, neighbors and then the general public. You have to make efforts to negotiate with bookstores and libraries, coffee shops, when possible, and other venues to carry your books. See yourself as an authority on the subject you have written about, and that you have something to help others; then go with the heart to help and do not focus on money. When your heart is in the right place, money will come!
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?Starting from the time I send my book to edit, I start the marketing. That’s what I did for all three books. But I feel I need to start a little earlier when I type-set the book, even before it goes to editing. Once I have the real cover art of the book, then boost my marketing.
What do you do to get book reviews?I encourage my readers to give me reviews online, especially on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Though it is a challenge to get reviews, especially from people that buy from my website or from a meeting, yet I really encourage all my readers to give me reviews. So if you get chance to read my books, please go on Amazon and give a review; just a line or two.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?I visited some family members; and discussion about the books came up, especially about “Born To Take Charge”. My cousin’s 9-year-old daughter told me that she and her 4-year old brother wanted to do a promotional video holding the book in their hands. I was surprised at that; but when the two little cute kids insisted, I took my phone and recorded a heart-warming 1.30 minutes video. It was very cute. I had also had a lady who boarded the train for 30 minutes to buy the books and t-shirt, but also so that we could take pictures for her to put it on Facebook and tell all her friends to get their copies.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
It’s a great platform for marketing, when used properly. Though the amount of views does not necessarily match clicks on the link to purchase items. And, clicks on links are less in comparison to purchases. But when things are done correctly, including free advertisement and paid ads, “likes” and “shares” help to push things forward. I think a lot of people nowadays take leads from social media for products. I love that!
Which social network worked best for you?
Facebook and Twitter, most especially Facebook.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“With God above all things, life is but what one makes it.” Though this is my philosophy for life, it really pushes me to go above and beyond to do things, instead of complaining or quitting.
What is your favorite positive saying?
“Keep on trying.” Though, this is a title of a song from the 80s, yet the message is strong enough to remind me that I should not give up but to keep on trying and things will work out.
What is your favorite book and why?
My all-time favorite book is the Holy Bible. It contains all I need for life, vision, family and the world. Though a religious book, but when its principles are honored, every soul that heeds to it, always do better in life.
What is your favorite film and why?
Saving Private Ryan! It shows courage, agility and sacrifice. It also shows that some traitors can appear loyal at times, so we need to be careful.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years I will be a millionaire; so you better make sure that we are still friends! I want to establish myself as a point of reference for Leadership Training and Community Development. As an author, I would have already published about 30 books! My church, Africa Faith Expressions, will cover many parts of Liberia and the world, establish schools, youth programs and micro-finance projects to help single moms and other small business owners. In 5 years, I want 1 in every 10 books read in Liberia to be my book!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Find your purpose and pursue it without looking back! Believe in yourself, trust God and dream big. Don’t let youthful passions delay or destroy your life. Take charge of your life. If you do not do that, I am sorry no one will do it for you. Quite interestingly, people, including your family and friends, are working on their own stuff.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Luther King, Jr, because he used his position as a minister to stand for justice and paid the ultimate prize, instead of just talking about it without lifting a finger like many other pastors or politicians do.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
We, as Africans, need to put forth our creativity and give our best to the world, tell our own stories, whether in music, art or writing. Instead of letting others tell us what they think our stories are. And, when they do, they make money and gain notoriety, while we just sit around to complain and criticize, especially in a place no one listens to us. Let us give our best to the world in music, art and writing.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I encourage readers to follow me on social media.
Facebook – Twitter – LinkedIn – Pinterest – Google Plus - YouTube
I encourage everyone to get on my mailing list and communicate with me and check on book sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and much more. Many times, I post videos of my teaching on YouTube; and that’s one unique way to get a deeper sense of what the message is in the books.