BOOK REVIEW: Two wealthy authors who write to change lives
Entrepreneurs Albert van Wyk and Mpho Dagada on why impact counts more than sales, writes Lungile Sojini
Get-rich-quick literature has avid readers in SA, where many people believe that there is a recipe they can follow to earn a million bucks. Local authors are now capitalising on this trend.
One of the reasons entrepreneur Albert van Wyk wrote and published his book Millionaire at 22 is that he believes if people have ambitions to be millionaires, "they need to learn from a millionaire". "I felt that I know how to become a millionaire and that it is my responsibility to share this knowledge with the rest of SA," he says.
"Most people don’t get this knowledge from their parents, school or university. If you want to become a millionaire, you need to learn from a millionaire," Van Wyk says.
This is Van Wyk’s first book. He recorded his ideas as they came to him and organised them into the first draft of his manuscript. He then filled in missing details, "to give the book more substance", he says.
"I would write certain pieces and concepts that came to me over a period of a year. Then I took all of these pieces and combined them into an initial draft. From there, I read the book over and over and then I wrote the pieces in between to give the book more substance."
It took him two years to write the book, with many "early mornings and late nights".
According to publishing industry statistics, an average sale for a book in SA is about 2,000 copies. Van Wyk says his book has sold more than 1,000 copies since its launch in 2017.
Following his success in trading cryptocurrency, entrepreneur Mpho Dagada compiled his book Mr Bitcoin: How I Became a Millionaire at 21. Dagada says he grew up believing that people who wrote books had an effect on others.
After making a success in the much-hyped but little understood world of cryptocurrency, Dagada believed it was his turn to make an impact in the world.
"While growing up I realised that people who write books are always knowledgeable. They seem to want to make an impact in the world," he says. "Writers don’t write books to make money, because there isn’t that much money to be made by the author. I felt I had a good story to tell. So I wrote it down to educate the world about cryptocurrency."
Dagada says he wanted to write a book that would be relevant for current and future generations; and one that would represent Africa on the economic world stage. "It took me about two years to write the book. It was my first book and I wanted to make sure it was perfect — a book that would last throughout the ages and throughout history," he says.
"I want it to be known that there is this gentleman from Africa who wrote about how cryptocurrency changes lives."
His approach was similar to Van Wyk’s: he recorded material on "whatever gadget I had at the time" and added to his thoughts until he had written something substantial.
Dagada remembers the editing process the most from his writing journey. It was the hardest part of the endeavour. "As you know in SA, we had a few situations where well-known people released books that contained errors," he says.
When Mpho presented his pitch to our annual From Pitch to Publication team, we knew right away that this one was a winnerBridget Impey
"I was so paranoid about that, it made me want my book to be perfect. I probably combed through the book more than 10 times looking for mistakes.
"That will be something I’ll never forget. That’s the hardest part about writing."
Dagada caught Jacana’s attention when he entered the publisher’s competition From Pitch to Publication, in August 2017 in which 20 wannabe authors vied for five publishing contracts.
Jacana director Bridget Impey says Dagada’s "it" factor sealed the deal. "Sometimes a publisher can just tell when an author has the ‘it’ factor.
"When Mpho presented his pitch to our annual From Pitch to Publication team, we knew right away that this one was a winner," says Impey.
"Mpho is driven and dedicated to the success of the book. And we know that aspirational books on how to make our lives more successful, do very well in SA."
Dagada says he has sold copies "in the thousands", adding that people should judge a book by its impact and not how many copies are sold.
What inspires him more than the money he might make from book sales are the people whom he says the book has touched and "revived some part of their dreams".
Van Wyk says the testimonials from people who have read his book have been amazing. "I have received so many testimonials from people saying that the book has changed their lives."