publisherSouthern Cross article - December 3rd, 2017

Meet the Publisher of Priests

Everybody, it is said, has a book in them. Frank Nunan’s task is to get these books into print. Here he tells us how.

A South African “publishing facilitator” has just published his seventh book by or about a priest in the past 12 months.

Frank Nunan, who is based in St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape, operates two publishing imprints: SA Catholic Online and Write-on Publishing.

The latest offering, “Collared & Content – Perspectives @40” is by Fr S’milo Mngadi was launched in Johannesburg in mid-November. Southern cross editor Günther Simmermacher wrote the foreword.

The other books by priests – and one about a priest – published over the past year are:

• “Township God”, by Fr Patrick Noonan OFM,

• “Christianity in a Cosmopolitan City”, by Fr Jean-Marie Did’ho

• “Transformation in Black & White”, by Fr Linda Zwane,

• “The First Dominican Friars in Boksburg, Brakpan & Springs”, by Fr Joseph Falkiner OP,

• “St Mark’s Gospel”, by Fr Billy Barnes.

• “Fr Paul Fahy – Called to be an Apostle”. is a tribute to Fr Paul Fahy of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, who died recently after celebrating the Jubilee of his priesthood.

The latter, an A4 sized book was compiled, edited and produced by Mr Nunan, in close co-operation with Fr Paul, who was his parish priest. A labour of love, it contains numerous tributes, reflections and anecdotes about Fr Paul’s 50 years of ministry in the Eastern Cape, as well as a brief biography. Produced in full colour, it contains nearly 300 photographs and other graphics.

The two imprints Mr Nunan runs are not traditional book publishers and he insists he is a publishing facilitator, not a publisher
“The advent of digital printing, which in turn has led to the development of Print on Demand technologies which allow for low cost, short-run printing - as well the growth of online sales and distribution facilities such as Amazon - has put self-publishing within reach of the multitudes,” Mr Nunan said.

“This has enabled would-be authors, who previously would have had little chance of getting their work published through traditional publishing channels, to get their work out there at very little financial risk,” he said.

“This phenomenon has in turn given rise to a “new” breed of publisher, or more correctly, publishing facilitator, whose function it is to assist these authors in the production of their books.”

And that is the role he plays in getting the writings of people into print.

“The publishing facilitator, while still putting books out there under various imprints, differs from the traditional publisher in as much as he or she works for a fee, does not take ownership of the rights to the book, does not pay advances and, importantly, often does not get involved in the actual marketing and distribution of the books, beyond making them available on a Print-on-demand basis on various online media,” he explained.

“Previously, it would have been unheard of for a small, one-man publishing house to produce seven books in a year,” he said.

Actually it is closer to 10, with three other books by secular authors also coming out this year. Two of these books were private projects, not for public consumption. 

A new way of publishing

That is something that is also gaining popularity. “For example, one can write a book about the family history and have it produced just for the family at relatively low cost,” Mr Nunan said.

“I offer a one-stop-shop service, which includes proofing of the manuscript, editing it, typesetting, layout and cover design, as well as the actual printing of the book. I will also make the book available on a print-on-demand basis on local and international platforms such as Amazon. Finally, if required, I will produce an ebook version of the book for sale on Amazon Kindle and other platforms,” he said

“The fact that I seem to have tapped into a wellspring of priestly authors is probably due to a number of factors: there are many priests out there who wish to share their experiences, thoughts and ideas beyond their immediate communities, traditional publishing is probably well out of reach for most of them, and possibly, the prices I charge make writing a book an affordable and achievable goal for priests.”

The SA Catholic Online imprint is for those books which are specifically intended for a Catholic audience, and Write-on Publishing imprint is for those books and authors who may aspire to a wider, more secular audience.”

There are two more “priestly” books in the pipeline: “My Dog is a Racist” by Fr Noonan, and “The Trial of African Solidarity” by Fr Did’ho.

Fr Noonan, who serves in Boksburg, praises his near-namesake’s “sheer enthusiasm”:

“He put Township God together from the first draft. He told me the story moved him. He believed in me enormously. He paved the way graciously.”

Fr Mngadi said Mr Nunan “let the book be my book, even if found some of the content hair-raising.

" I felt like mine was his only project. This is the greatest advantage of working with a small publisher; you are not just a number or an account,” Fr Mngadi said.

The pastor of St Alberts in Vosloorus noted that Mr Nunan didn’t let the double personal loss of his mother and his friend Fr Fahy did affect the publishing project.

Fr Zwane of Witbank Diocese was also full of praise:

“Frank assisted me with proofreading, typesetting, cover design and with the eventual publication of the book. He was always available. He would make suggestions and comments and be open to my input,” said Fr Zwane.

“Working with him brought to me absolute peace of mind. He has a reassuring presence which takes away anxiety."

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