Where to Sell or Share your Complete Story in East Africa

The one thing writers all need no matter the level of their creative journey is feedback from readers.  Readers who will dive into your work and get back to you with legitimate feedback on what they think/thought about your work. Feedback will help you grow as a writer, and gaining readership will allow you to discover what else you can do with your work.

This post compiles a list of options to use as an author based in East Africa and hoping to grow your readership.  From sites to post free content for immediate feedback to e-book and printed book distribution websites to aid in your book sales.

Here are platforms that offer authors options on what do with their work:

Five Free Reading/Writing Sites:

These sites allow you to post your work in chapters or episodes.  You can publish the entirety of your work in one go, or post from week to week to gain followers and readers.

  1. ebonystory.com

Ebonystory.com is branded as the Home of Interesting African Stories.  It is quite easy to create an account and start posting your chapters.  You’ll be in the company of fellow African writers and a very diverse readership ready to consume your content. They offer you a slew of story genres you can choose to write for.

2. Wattpad.com

Wattpad brands itself as ‘…the world’s most-loved social storytelling platform, where new voices write and share, and readers connect with the stories they love.’ Writers can create an account and start posting their story chapters right away.  Readers access books on the web or using the Wattpad App.  It is a highly competitive environment for authors.  You need to do a bit of work and social sharing to get your work read.  If you’re hoping to get feedback right away, you’ll need to be proactive in directing readers to your page and your stories. Wattpad.com offers authors different types of opportunities like Wattpad Stars, Ambassadors, and chances to get books in awards like the #Wattys.  They also offer paid stories and authors may apply to join this program depending on content and readership base. ( It is important to note that Wattpad is a platform still finding its footing in the African Continent and they have yet to trickle down these opportunities to African Authors, if it has, it is happening in a slow trickle.) This aside, Wattpad allows you to have a platform to share your work for free at no cost and you can gain readership with some hard work.

3. Inkitt.com

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors.  This platform is similar to Wattpad, in that they allow you to create an account and you can publish your stories chapter to chapter to gain readership.  The more popular your work, the more likely you are to get published by Inkitt’s unique publishing system.  It is worth a try if you’re hoping to gain readership and build on your body of work.

4. Webnovel.com

Web Novel's Inkstone platform
Web Novel’s Inkstone

Webnovel.com – Webnovel is a Chinese-owned publishing platform. They brand themselves as >>>Webnovel is a global online reading platform for all kinds of marvelous novels and comics. It daily updates serialized content, dedicating to micro-transactions and in-game-purchase mode, defining new trends in the online publishing industry. They mostly publish stories translated to English from Chinese or Korean.  However, they do offer a platform named Inkstone that allows you to share your work chapter by chapter.  Webnovel’s author platform takes a bit of work to understand.  Their library of stories is full of Chinese/Korean translated works.  If you do decide to delve into this platform, you may choose to create the same types of stories or create your own brand. Either way, it’s a great way to introduce your work to new readers.  My only tip would be to read more about Webnovel before you decide to publish. Read more about them.

5. . Dreame Storiesstarywriting.com

To write for Dreame Stories is to write for Stary Writing, which offers the platform.  They offer the opportunity to become an exclusive stary writer and get paid an income.  Dreame Stories does have a large readership base. As always, work does fall to the author to direct readership to the page and gain a following to reach paid status.  Please read up on the requirements at starywriting.com so that you know what kind of content they accept, and what they expect of their writers.

Ebook Distribution Platforms

Okada Books (Nigerian-based)

This platform allows you to become a published author in less than 5 minutes, their quote not mine.  You can showcase your books to a massive African readership base.  Check them out if you’re hoping to get your ebook before more African readers. They allow you to distribute both free and paid ebooks.

Smashwords.com / Draft2Digital

I’m a longtime fan of Smashwords.  It offers authors a great service in distributing books to various ebook stores like kobo/ Barnes and Nobles / Sony / Scribd and Amazon among others.  Smashwords.com also has its own store that allows the purchase and download of ebooks. 

To note: Smashwords.com has recently merged with Draft2Digital.com.  I hope it remains as amazing as it has been.  You can publish both free and paid ebooks.

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

This is a great platform to get your e-books published.  You can bring your work to a global audience as Amazon’s Kindle is worldwide.  Their only downside is payment for Kenyans.  Kenyans can only receive $100 checks in their mailbox. Which is very old-fashioned in a world of digital money. Hahaha. Amazon’s payment offer for Kenyans is still wanting.  They do not allow us to use PayPal/or our banks. (This might be different for authors with bank accounts and addresses abroad) You can however showcase your books on Amazon for anyone in the globe who might purchase your books. Your payment comes when you manage $100 in sales in the form of a cheque to your mailbox.

Printed Book Distribution Platforms

Rafu Books in Kenya (Printed Books)

Rafu Books has a platform called Rafu Merchant Services.  This platform allows authors, publishers, and others to partner with Rafu, who sell printed books through their website platform.  The platform offers a backend that allows you to manage stock and offer same-day delivery in Nairobi or the next-day delivery of your books to other parts of Kenya. Register for an account and follow their directions to get your books distributed.

Litireso in Nigeria (Printed Books)

Litireso is most similar to Amazon’s KDP.  They allow you to publish an ebook or printed book, or both.  They also offer shipping across the globe.  I would advise reading up on their offers, requirements, and system information before you get started.

Jumia.co.ke (Seller Account)

Interesting is that if you have a seller account on Jumia, you can sell your printed books as long as they have an ISBN barcode on the back cover.  All you would need to do is follow Jumia’s seller account guidelines and make sure your book is well stocked to meet Jumia’s delivery demands.

International Book Printing Platforms

  1. Lulu.com
  2. Ingramspark.com
  3. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

These three international platforms have long-established guidelines on how you can sell e-books and get your books printed.  If you’re in Kenya /East Africa, each of these three will require that you contend with fluctuating global shipping rates.  If these shipping rates are doable for you, then these platforms are a great resource to tap into and get your books to a wider audience.

Please Note: The platforms listed above allow you as a writer/author to sign up with minimal fuss.  You register an account, follow guidelines as specified on each website, then do your best to market yourself. Registration is free for all of them, with no money required for membership/or to get your book or work listed. All you need is your own work/ebook, a reliable computer or mobile phone, and internet access.

Happy Writing and Selling.


Zevs Afrotheria - Fiction

Check out Zev’s Afrotheria

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

About Zev’s Afrotheria:

Also, find it here: Zevs Afrotheria – Wattpad


Afrotheria is facing a crisis. The magma vents in the Njaro Mountains have released deadly creatures called Ghost Wraiths. Afrotheria's Sable Council orders the recruit of every able man to fight and protect the citizens, creating the Protection Class, and a guardian army called the Theria Guild.
After a tragic raid destroys his home, Zev Joins the Theria Guild to become a Guardian. He learns how to fight the ghost wraiths coming to wreak havoc on innocent villages. He trains to be the best, joining the Strike Force by the age of Twenty-Five. Zev's main goal is to gain enough power in the Theria Guild. A power that will help him find his sister who was lost to him during the raid in their village when he was seventeen.
His goal to find his sister falters when he meets Dalia Taj, the Elderon's daughter. Dalia is a gifted researcher with a plan to end the Ghost Wraiths for good. She needs the Strike Force to end the great invasion and restore peace.
Zev must now decide what is more important to him, his family, or his country.

What is Self-Publishing?

What is Self-Publishing?

Self-Publishing is the act of an author taking on the process of writing, editing, formatting, printing, and marketing your fiction or non-fiction book. Following are five important aspects of self-publishing.

  • The author publishes their work independent of any publishing houses.
  • The author takes on all the costs and expenses of the process.
  • The author does receive all the sale profits: He or She retains control and ownership of his or her content.
  • The author registers ISBNs and Copyright Licenses in person. He or she is responsible for fulfilling any legal requirements needed in the process of publication.
  • Marketing and promotion falls to the author.  The author needs to work at discovering and cultivating readership in order to make sales.  It helps if you have a large network of supporters online and offline.  If you don’t, then it is a great idea to get started on cultivating readership of your work.
What is Self-publishing? Five points on Self-Publishing in Kenya.

Self-Publishing is different from Traditional Publishing.

In Traditional Publishing, a publishing house accepts an author’s work, edits and formats according to house standards, prepares the work for printing and takes on the marketing of the work. In this day and age, the author is no longer exempt from the marketing efforts and may have to complete tasks as assigned by the publishers to promote the work.

In Kenya, publishing houses do not need you to have a literary agent.  However, they do need you to send work that has content centered on the publishing houses’ preferred publishing genres.  Check out these four traditional publishing houses submission guidelines: East African Publishers / Moran Publishers / Storymoja Publishers / Mystery Publishers

Of course, there are more than these four publishing houses in East Africa, but I have highlighted companies who have clear submission guidelines on what they are looking for on their websites and the process of submission.

Now you know what Self-publishing is, and what to expect from the process.  Here is a tip on what you need to do to see profits from your hard work.  Approach self-publishing as you would a startup business.  Your books are a product.  A product that requires smart marketing and constant refining to attract your readers and keep them.

It is no longer about just uploading your book on Amazon’s KDP or Smashwords and keeping quiet, waiting for a reader to stumble upon your work.  The industry has grown and changed.  There are a lot more authors who are publishing on the same platforms, in the same way.  You now need to market your work and be outgoing about it, online and offline.

Self- Publishing will give you results depending on the amount of effort (time + money) you choose to pour into it. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

Gratitude – I am so grateful for… this December 2021

I want to pause and think of the good happenings in terms of this blog and my writing this year. So, this is my 2021 gratitude post.

It is two weeks until the New Year 2022.  I haven’t posted much on the blog this 2021, but I have met incredibly amazing people this year because of this blog.  I am truly grateful for the experiences that have come to me because of these amazing people. 

From amazing books to read and review, to a publishing adventure I am incredibly excited to be a part of, and although I cannot talk about it, I am grateful for the inspiration I am gaining from the process.


This year I had the privilege to virtually meet Bako Pierre Aymard, a translator / Interpreter [English-Spanish-French], from La Salle University, Philadelphia, USA.  He created a Spanish Translation of my book, I Dream of You.  It was so exciting to receive the completed file, all my words in Spanish.  I am incredibly grateful to him for the work he has done, and for choosing to translate my book. I will definitely work to put it out by the end of this year.


I got to virtually meet Nomaqhawe Ndlovu (Noma), who writes for Verve Romance.  She wrote a very inspiring and informative article on Romance Novels and their role in African relationship expectations.  I’m grateful she included me in her project, and that she featured my short contribution in the article. You can follow Noma on Twitter here.

ververomance.com

I would also like to thank Firdaus H. Salim for featuring me in the Mt Kenya Times earlier in the year.  She published my interview and featured Save My Heart on the ePaper.  I was grateful for the opportunity to talk about my writing ideas and hopes and I thank her for featuring my book.  Find the article below.  Follow Mt Kenya Times on Instagram here.


Thank you, to all who find inspiration to create their own work, and to publish, after reading my blog. I am happy to know the information here is of use to you, and I hope to continue creating more useful content. 

Most of all, I am grateful to all of you who read my blog.

Here is to looking forward to even more incredible happenings in the year 2022!

Copyright Registration in Kenya – Updates

This post is an update on Copyright Registration in Kenya.  Since my last copyright registration post, the process has gotten infinitely easier and accessible to anyone with a laptop and an internet connection.  The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has created an easy-to-use website portal.  The portal allows you, the creator, to upload your work and get your registrations done in one place. To get started:-

1. Kenya Copyright Board has a Copyright Registration Portal that you will find on this link: Copyright Portal

2. You need to create an account.  There are two types of accounts, that is, Personal and Corporate.

3. You will need the following details to sign up: Your Identification Number, Your KRA Pin, Your Phone Number and Your Email.  If you’re doing this as a Company, you need your business registration numbers and the KRA Pin associated with your business.

4. The portal does send you a verification code to validate your phone number.  Make sure the number you use is a number you have access to, and can use to receive messages.

5. Once you have your account, you now have the option to register your work on the portal.

6. To register your Copyright, choose the Make an Application option on your account.  Submit your book’s information, as needed.

7. If you’re an author copyrighting your personal work, you only need your personal information.  If you are an author with a co-author, you will need the details of your co-author too.  If you have a publisher, you will need the publisher’s information as well.

8. In this post, we are discussing submission of books for copyright registration.  The portal’s preferred format for book submission is a PDF document.  Please consult the portal for other creative works like audio.

9.  To note, your application requires a definition of ownership percentage of the work.  If you’re the creator and author of the book, then the percentage is at 100%.  If the work has different creators making up the whole, then you need to decide the percentage division to the different owners.

10. Once the details of your work are submitted to the portal, you will receive a message on your number and in your email, as below.

11. In my experience, you will receive the results of your application in a day, or within hours.

12.  Your Copyright Certificate is then available on your account and you can download it or View it, as needed.

Authors, if you’re able to do this on your own, please do it.  It is very easy and you have control on how and when you can access your copyright certificates.  If you ask someone else to do it for you, please be sure it is someone you can trust and that you’re able to access your copyright certificates at will.

If you have more questions on what you can copyright in Kenya, please visit this KECOBO Frequently Asked Questions link and go through the different types of creative media that you can copyright.  Alternatively, you can email them or call them for help and support.

Kenya Copyright Board – Email: nrr@copyright.go.ke

Copyright your work today.

How do you find out the cost of self-publishing your book in Kenya?

This question paralyzes the majority of writers in Kenya. It is the most asked question in my inbox. So, I am going to make a be-courageous-and-take-matters-into-your-own-hands post. Educate yourself on the words Word-count, Book size and Genre. Your manuscript is a product. Fiction or Non-fiction, it is a product. Know what your desired product looks like.

What is the cost? How much will you need? How do I know the cost?

In this post, we came up with a short guideline on how to decide what type of book you want to create. There are six questions you need answers to, only then can you decide the size of the book you want to produce.  

If you’re writing fiction, know what size of work you want to create and in what genre you want to write in. That is:-

  • 1. Short Story – 0 to 7,500 words
  • 2. Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
  • 3. Novella – 17,500 to 40,000 words
  • 4. Novel – 40,000 words and above.

Where does your current work fit in the list below?

This is a list of Genres / categories when publishing on Amazon’s KDP. Use it as a guideline. Where does your current work fit?
  • Choose a Genre: (Read this post on why you need to choose a genre) Once again, you cannot write for everyone, ‘everyone’ s’ tastes are different. Genres are as follows:
    • Children’s books
    • Romance
    • Action
    • Historical
    • Mystery
    • Thriller
    • Fantasy
    • Slice-of-life and many more etc.
  • Remember each size of story requires a different type of workload from you.  You must understand that the cost of printing a novel with 40,000 words and above is more than the cost of printing 7,500 words.

The word count determines the amount of money you’ll spend when it comes to self publishing. It becomes very important to choose the number of words you want to produce in the type of work you want to create. 

If you’re writing a non-fiction book, decide what size of work you want to create as well. The word count is leveled the same as the list above. Remember your chosen topic and industry. If you’ve chosen academic writing, follow the rules of that process. Do the research e.t.c. The cost of printing non-fiction is also determined by the presence of photographs and diagrams (color or black & white). The more photos and colored-diagrams, the more cost.

Once you write your manuscript, then you can start thinking about editing and the cost of editing. Once again, editors look at the amount of words (Word Count) you need edited, and the work you have already put in to make it easier to edit.

Scenario: if your manuscript has typos, misspelled words, grammar challenges, for fiction – a confusing story, for non-fiction – a mishmash of ideas with no real point, an editor is looking at your manuscript and seeing a huge workload. They’ll either charge you a large number or decline your work.

If you’ve made the effort to clean up your manuscript of a lot of the troubles above, an editor will have an easier time working with you, as they’re able to understand what your work is about, and what you want to achieve. The cost might reduce from a huge shocking number to a manageable number. ^_^

So how much do you need?

  • Editing – Depends on the word count, the work you’ve already put in to your manuscript, and the type of editor you get.  It can range from 9,000/- to 50,000/- or more. An editor may help you with formatting at an added charge.
  • Book covers – From 1,500/- to 5,000/- It depends on the illustrator or graphic designer you choose.
  • Formatting and Printing – Depends on the size of book (Book Size).  Some printers don’t do the formatting services, others do.  A book with around 30,000 words costs about 180/- per book to print, depending on the type of printer you get, and how many books you want to print.
  • Printing Cost is absolutely dependent on your desired end product.  You can get it cheap, you can get it expensive.

Shop around and discover which printer will work for you.

So, your cost is determined by Word Count. Word Count determines your Book Size and Your Editors’s Costs. Small word-count costs less, large word – count costs more.

Genre is what your book is about, the category it fits in and how easy or fast your readers will find it.

Six Things to know when Self-publishing in Kenya

Self-Publishing is a learning journey

Think of it as a learning journey when you enter the publishing industry. At first, you don’t really know much, but as time goes you get to learn and know what is working and what is not.  You will need patience and the will to put in work.  Your dedication is a must.  Most important, know what you want out of it.  Here are six questions you should ask yourself at the beginning.

1. Are you publishing fiction or non-fiction?

Are you a creative with an abundant vault of stories, poems, musings that you feel would entertain, or bring joy and inspiration to people. Fiction is art, it is very creative and comes in a myriad of forms. Best of all, there is no restriction to it. Fiction books give you more freedom to be creative.

Are you writing non-fiction? Non-fiction books are fact-based. They are also industry-based, or educative. People read them to learn. You need to be very conversant on the topic you choose for your non-fiction book. What non-fiction topic are you passionate about? Decide – Fiction or Non-fiction.

 2. In what Fiction Genre? In what Non-Fiction Industry? 

Now that you’ve decided what type of book you want to write, let’s break it down further. In this post, I’ll assume you’re after writing commercial/popular Fiction books as opposed to literary works or literary merit work (which is also a choice by the way). Fiction is categorized into Genres that are recognized easily by readers. For example, mystery, thrillers, romance, children’s books, e.t.c. Educate yourself on the different types of fiction people read. Then, choose a genre for your fiction work.

For Non-fiction, decide what industry you want to write for. Are you a baker with expertise? Are you a chef with awesome cooking skills you want to share or teach? Are you a teacher who has discovered a new way to teach kids without having them memorize boring texts? What kind of content do you want to provide in your non-fiction book? At what level are you in the industry, that is, beginner/intermediate/expert? Decide –> Genre or Industry

3. Who is your target audience? Who is your core audience?

Now that you’ve chosen the type of book and in what genre or industry, choosing a target audience or a core audience comes next. I will tell you right now, you cannot write for everyone. Everyone is different. We all have different tastes when it comes to our fiction reads. I might enjoy Game of Thrones, someone else might find it unbearable. GOT is categorized as fantasy, on account of the dragons….lolz. Their target audience is Adults who love Fantasy. Be very niche based with your fiction, it will help you grow an audience. Are you writing for kids, young adults, adults, women, young women, young men, high school kids, the older generation, younger generation? Who are you writing for?

In Non-Fiction, who is your core audience? Beginners, experts, novices, hobby people, intermediate, startups, people seeking inspiration? If you’re writing an autobiography, biography, life story, a literary work, what point are you trying to put across and to whom? Know it. Decide –> Who is your audience?

4. Who is already in the game?

Whatever your idea, fiction or non-fiction, you’d best believe that someone has already written it. You need to know it, read that content, and find inspiration from it. Your main goal is to find out what other authors, in the fiction genre or in the non-fiction industry you chose, are doing. Learn from their work, their experiences, and transform your work into something close, good, or even greater. Decide –>Who do you want to be like when your writing career grows up?

  5. What are the authors in the game before me doing to get an audience?

Popular authors have a following, or die-hard fans that will read their work no matter what they publish. e.g. I will read anything Nora Roberts produces. Why, because I read to be entertained and know her books won’t let me down. She’s made a brand of her work. Now, your turn to make your brand. P/S – Your work at the starting point is triple, you need to convince an audience to read your work. Then, you must assure your growing audience that you’ll consistently deliver great work to entertain. Learn from the greats in your chosen Genre, or Industry. Decide–>What kind of audience do you want? e.g. Nora’s rabid fan(Elly) who will buy my work no matter what. how do i get her loyalty?

6. Will it work for me? How can I work out my own plan?

Now, it is very common for authors/writers to copy or emulate authors they idolize or admire. There is nothing wrong with that, unless you’re downright plagiarizing published work, which is absolutely wrong. (don’t plagiarize) However, you need a starting point, your chosen idol is a great start.

Use it to grow your work, your voice, your style. Once you’re clear on what type of content you want to create, what it looks like at its absolute best, then find a way to make it your own. Audiences gravitate to authenticity. Decision –> Be real, don’t cheat, and map out your goals for your work. Most of all, be passionate, and that should get you passionate fans too.

Once you understand the answers to these six questions, then you’ll have a plan to run with as you start your self-publishing journey.

Book Covers – Featured Amari’s Puff Pastry

Delicious Inspiration!

We (my sis + me) have been working on industry books these past months, and I would like to share a bit of that journey on this blog from now on. You might find a Book Cover feature, or a story on the insane experiences we get dealing with our printer, mingled in with Fiction chapters of my stories. The journey is evolving!

My sister is the house baker, and these past weeks she’s been carrying out a massive pastry recipe testing project for this book. She bakes and we take hundreds of photos, for the book’s interior and for the book cover. Our main priority is usually the initial PDF. Once that is done, we flow into the process of formatting for print. In between all that, we’ve had to learn what Tabata Intervals are. Don’t forget to take care of your health. The struggle is real.

This first cover is our most important as it goes into the PDF copy and is used for all social media posts and sales posters. I had fun developing this cover, now I’m off to do some formatting.

The Amari Beginner’s Guide to Puff Pastry

Title: The Amari Beginner’s Guide to Puff Pastry

Description: Get this e-booklet if you want to learn how to make your own Puff pastry, Croissants and other Puff pastry desserts. This book contains terms and tips to introduce and explain to you Puff pastry and Croissant dough and how to get best results. If you want to start making Meat pies, Sausage rolls using the correct pastry – this is the book for you.
Recipes contained in the e-booklet: Puff pastry, Croissants, Palmiers, Pain au Chocolate, Cherry Turn-overs, Vol – au – Vents, Puff Cinnamon Rolls, Meat Pies & Puff Donuts

Format– The e-booklet is in PDF format and is not printable.
The Hard copy will be available from next week at Kshs. 300.

Where to get itDirect purchase from Amari Baking Center. Send amount to Lipa na Mpesa, Buy Goods till no. 89736 (Amari Quickbreads bakery) then text e-mail address to no. 0701796688 stating you want the Puff Pastry e-booklet please.
On sale until 2nd May only – yay! Kshs. 50 only for our new Amari Recipe E-Booklet

Discover other Books, here.

Where to start – Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing in Kenya?


Self-Publishing is a great word in Nairobi!

ellyinnairobi.com

A reader sent me a message and told me, ‘ I have a THING for words.. I have been low-key writing for a while now, and I think its time the world gets a piece of my taste and style.’

Inspired words if I ever heard any! They have me making a post on this blog when I’ve been low-key M.I.A, and zoning in the land of uninspired-let’s- Netflix ‘n’ Chill-mode. So, thank you! Elias, for getting me thinking.

That message followed up with a question. Where do I start? What do I do next? My answer is, ‘Arm yourself with information.‘ There are two roads in this: Traditional Publishing Road and Self- Publishing Road.

Each one has it’s own set of intimidating challenges, but you’re in this now, don’t back out now. Let’s arm you with information instead, and you’ll know what your options are.

What is the Traditional Publishing Road?

Traditional publishing includes getting your book published by an existing Publishing House, either Local or International. Please note that each publishing house has a set of guidelines on the type of content it publishes. It is important to know what type of books a particular publishing house is producing before you think of sending your manuscript over. Knowing saves you a rejection before you even start.

Here are examples of Publishers that are based in Kenya:

Storymoja Publishers


Storymoja Publishers is a creative Kenyan publishing company with a wide variety of authentic African children storybooks. We publish curriculum books, career resources and revision books.

East African Publishers – They are really my favorite as they write out a complete guide for your submission and what to expect. Please note the types of books they publish listed on the side.


Every manuscript that is sent requires a minimum of twelve weeks to be properly assessed and evaluated. After a manuscript is assessed, the author may be sent (a) written report(s), or be requested to appear at our editorial offices for a verbal discussion on the work, or be asked to react in writing to the report(s)

Moran Publishers – This site also has clear directions on how to submit your work for consideration. Moran Publishers have made available to you a Publishing Proposal PDF that you can download and fill out.


Send us an email on info@moranpublishers.co.ke and our editorial team will advise you on the next steps.

There are loads more not mentioned above. Do your research and get to know them. To note, Traditional Publishing in Kenya is very heavy on education and storybooks for young children and schools. Creation of set books, and etc. If you’re thinking of publishing poetry and fiction novels, your life will be full of interesting experiences. Be prepared for it.

To boost your chances on your journey into Traditional Publishing, you can also send out queries to a Literary Agent. I will be honest and let you know that Kenya is sorely lacking access to these. (Here’s a call out to genuine literary agents willing to work with Kenyans, please set up shop already. Kenya is eager. ) The few I’ve heard about led to horror stories of being paid before they read your work, with no guarantee of publishing. Ouch! However, here is some hopeful information on Literary Agents from Kenyan Writer Alexander Nderitu.

Why is Traditional Publishing so Attractive?

The idea that you write your manuscript, send it to a publisher and if they like and accept it, they will pour their considerable resources into marketing your manuscript, with no effort or little effort from you. Acknowledge that, Traditional Publishers have access to wide networks of brick and mortar bookshops, readers in schools and institutions, and know market trends better than anyone. So yeah, they are an attractive ideal. You need to work hard as ever to make your manuscript remotely attractive for consideration. Deal with it! That’s not going away.

Let’s move on to the next road.

What is the Self-Publishing Road?

The first thing I told you here is ‘Arm yourself with information’. Why? The writers I know have all chosen this road, and have gotten results by learning how to do this right. We shall start with Digital Publishing, as it seems to most, to cost the least. Truth is, cost is relative! Your product is only as good as what you’re willing to put into it.

Digital Publishing includes selling e-books in different formats like PDFs, epubs for adobe editions, .mobi for kindle, and formats accessible by Apple products among others. It is the most attractive form of self-publishing as it places control in the hands of the author.

An author who understands that their work is a product, and therefore needs customers, excels in this form of digital publishing. Let me give you an example: I love examples, don’t you? No…oh, well, here is a good one for you anyway.

Writer A

Genre: Writes from the heart

Blog: – Doesn’t like to share content, so hasn’t tried blogging

Social: – Facebook sucks, Instagram is for kids, Trump rules Twitter, it’s not for me. What’s LinkedIn? Social Media is too hard.

Dream: I want to publish and be known for writing books.

Writer B

Genre: Fiction, (Mysteries, Thrillers)

Blog: writerB.blog

Social: Facebook -@writerb (1,000 follows), Instagram- @writerb254 (558follows), Twitter-@writerBwhowrites (900 follows), LinkedIn – Author Writer B (200 connects) Tiktok-Writeislife

Dream – Sell 100 copies of 70k word book.

Who do you think will sell more books? Writer A or Writer B?

Answer: Writer B

This is the reality of life today! You need to build a community around your work, as an Author, an Artist, a Musician, a business person, well I’m talking to Authors mostly, so I hope you get what I’m trying to say. It’s hard work to even get the numbers under Writer B’s social follow. After which you need to keep up content that’s engaging enough to keep your follows, and have those follows interested in your work. (Don’t buy the follows, really that’s so 2017!) When you have them good and interested, drop your book for sale in all it’s available forms and watch some magic happen. You might sell 25 in the first week, then you continue the grind of selling until you hit 100 copies sold. All this on a really good day! Digital Publishing cost you time, serious editing costs and an attractive cover. (Yes, you need to invest time in editing. Seriously!)

Or, you can print your books!

Self-Publishing is a great word in Kenya. You can provide your book in both digital forms and actual books. In Kenya, this depends on your resources, cash wise. As I’ve mentioned before, printers come in all shapes and sizes. (The example mentioned in the link works for fiction books too.) Each Printer has their own requirements, please take the time to discover which printer will fit your needs best. You can choose to print 10 books of your poetry and/or fiction book or 1000 copies. After you print the book, your job now is to find customers to buy your books. Like Writer B, the wider your network, the more customers you gain, the more books you sell. Be a social bee, a busy bee.

The challenge, find time in all your busy-ness to write your next book.

A Note on Digital Publishing Platforms like Amazon and Smashwords.

I am a BIG fan of Do-it-Yourself. I mean that, even at home, you know when kids write on the wall with permanent markers and every adult is having a blowout. I don’t worry. You know why? I’m very capable with a brush and paint. That wall will look as good as new with the right paint. Simply keep the paint handy at home…the writing on the wall will disappear. Hahaha

Now, when I hear scandals about people who got their books put on Amazon for them and they have no access, I wonder why it’s even happening. You, starting out author, you, Amazon’s KDP has pages long of information on how to publish with them. Take the time to read, and learn. Please, Please Arm yourself with information. Smashwords.com even has a How to book you can download for free to get started. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim when there is no need.

Learn how to do it, if it’s something you want to do. Take the time to learn.

Once you’re armed with information you will be able to make the right choice for you and your work.

Calculating Self- Publishing Costs in Kenya – Non-Fiction Books

Break out the calculator!  It’s all about the Word Count!

So, I’ve had a few questions about what the process of self-publishing a physical book in Kenya looks like.  What does it take?  How much does it cost?  So, let’s calculate it in this post.

Are you ready to self-publish?

Writing in Kenya is a journey! A myriad of experiences that sort of take you through very high highs and low lows, but when you find the perfect fit, you end up in a sweet spot.  You can lower your costs depending on how hard you decide to work.  I can only share a snippet of the journey my sister and I have traveled under The E.i.N Company on our publishing journey.  As you know, or are now learning, hehehe, my sister and I run Amari Baking Center.  The center has published recipe books and a How To book on the baking industry.  To get the Business Baking book published has been quite a process.  I will share some of that with you here, as documenting it all would take a few pages.

Is your manuscript finished? 

This is a question you need to ask yourself the moment you write the last word on the last page of your work.

  1. If your answer is yes, then seek a Beta Reader before you find an Editor.  Beta readers are test readers.  Your first test reader.  You can have one, two or five, have them read your work and let you know what they think.

A good beta reader will give you valuable feedback.  They help you clear your mind, refine your thoughts as you want to lay them out in your book. They don’t mind having a discussion with you about your content, and they save you thousands, helping you refine your manuscript.

Listen to each beta reader if you get five, you can also have just one who really gets you, and that is also important.

Best places to get a Beta Reader:

  1. A Friend/family with the same interest.  Someone who will not coddle you, and is honest about your masterpiece. (I played this role for the project along with two others.)
  2. Join writing groups or critique circles.  Be warned, you might go through a few groups to find the perfect fit.
  3. Online resources – Goodreads has a Beta Reader group, explore it.  Writing.com, join the community and find a group that you’re comfortable with.  You can even get critiques on your work.  Absolutewrite.com the links are a great resource.  Facebook Writing groups like this one: Beta Readers & Critiques.

Find your right Beta Reader fit.  The person who makes you comfortable enough to discuss your work and how to improve it for the better.  If you are not relating with your Beta Reader, stop and seek a new relationship.  Sort of like dating…hahaha, get your right fit.

Cost in this part of the process: Your Time. Beta Readers are beautiful souls if you find someone willing to gain the experience at reading/editing, it costs you nothing cash wise but work and a willingness to listen to your beta reader.

Once you are satisfied your work is ready, find an Editor.

2. Invest in an Editor.  There is no way around it.  I’m serious.  They are gold to your work.  Find someone who is willing to work with you, and if you find you are not melding with your editor, please, stop and find someone who is singing to you.  That way when they yell at you about the commas you keep adding in the wrong places, you won’t hate them for life.

Our cost in this process was as follows: Cost: 0.20 cents per word, or Kshs. 45 per 250 words(We had about 35,000 words in the manuscript the end cost was Kshs. 6,300)  The service included the following: 

  • Proofing for spelling mistakes, typos, punctuation problems, capitalization errors, and awkward grammar.  The overall structure of the manuscript.  Which includes managing your content flow, word choice, clear narrative, and offer research help to ensure situations and scenes are factual.

The process took a little over two months as we worked to ensure everything was just right.  Inputting time for Re-edits, and general discussions among all involved.  Quite a process.  When it was done, it was time for the cover.

3. The Book Cover – The first cover for this book was simple.  It cost Kshs. 500 to design.  I had taken on the role of publisher at this point, so we had numerous chitchats, and we weren’t really looking for something expensive looking.  It was an industry book, one we were testing out, so that’s about how much we felt it deserved at the time.  We printed out 50 books to start, but more to come on the printing. Here is the first cover.  Pretty basic, but it was the first, and so still proud of it.

Book Cover1

The second cover we worked harder.  It cost about Kshs. 2,500, and it now included the ISBN barcode.  Very proud of this one as well.

Amari Cover

What to know during the book cover process:  Understand your budget, and the person working with you, and what kind of book you want to sell.  This creation process took a week, though with the second cover there was a lot of back and forth, going almost to two weeks.

Now: The first cover had no ISBN and we had not even gone searching for copyright, so those costs didn’t factor in.  However, it’s good to get copyright and your ISBN the first time you get published. So, here are the ISBN and Copyright Costs.

ISBN – Kshs. 1,500 (confirm with Kenya Libraries on this as you get yours)

Copyright Costs – Kshs. 1,000 (The price at the time, confirm with their site as well)

In total our book cost:

First time Print:

  1. Editing – Kshs. 6,300
  2. Book Cover – Kshs. 500
  3. Printing – (Kshs. 180 x 50) = Kshs. 9,000
  4. Total = 15, 800 (We sold it at Kshs. 500)

We weren’t happy with our first print.  Pages misprinted, and arranged wrong, about 10 of the books were given for free. So, that first time was a bit of an experience.

Second Printing

  1. Re-editing – Kshs. 2, 000 (There were a few changes we needed to make)
  2. ISBN – Kshs. 1,500
  3. Copyright Costs – Kshs. 1,000
  4. Cover – Kshs. 2,500 (included the ISBN bar code)
  5. Printing – (Kshs. 180 x 50) = Kshs. 9,000
  6. Total = Kshs. 16,000 (We sell it for Kshs. 500 still, but now all we need to do is reprint for restock)

A very generous and kind client of ours shared the Publish4All  contacts with us.  A simple email actually. (p4akenya@gmail.com). He said they print really well and this book would come out so well with them.  They were really fast to respond, and very helpful. So, that’s how we redesigned the cover and sent the book to Publish4All for second print.  The end result was amazing and they even helped us sort delivery, becoming our perfect fit at last.

Do note that Publish4All requires you to have your book edited and formatted for print, as well as formatting the book cover for print.  You can reach out to them and learn more.  Remember, word count is key.  The larger your book, the cost rises as well.

So, this is the process of printing a non-fiction book in Kenya.  The end product has 102 pages, and the cover, pages neat and sealed to perfection. You have a snippet of the costs to get you through a first print. Be brave and try and get something printed, it’s the only way to know what works for your work.

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Sis proudly spreading the news! She’s awesome.

With the book in hand, the rest is marketing in all shapes, forms and sizes.

Thoughts on this process:

Before the first print, we had walked all over Nairobi trying to find the best printer.  There was a printer who had the best product, but wouldn’t take our book without us printing 500 copies in one go.  Imagine our shock, that was a low, because we really liked their work, but couldn’t afford all those copies at once.  So, you shake it off, and keep looking. We went to the second, and a third, I think we found the first printer after talking to six printers.

I believe it depends on the amount of money you are hoping to spend, and the end product you are hoping for.  So, shop around, don’t be in a rush, just be sure to have all the information you need before you start investing.  That is what this process comes down to.  An investment in your manuscript.

Then, start marketing like the end is tomorrow.

I hope this post is of insight to you.  I will work at compiling an editors in Nairobi list that you can use for your editing process.

Keep writing, and sharing, let’s get published!

Tips on Promoting Self-Published Books in Kenya

Reader Question: What self-promotion tips result in high sales?

I got this question on my blog, and it had me thinking, of course.  When I first started writing, I felt a little bit a lot like a fish out of water.  Gasping for air, with no real idea on what to do next.  I know what it’s like to feel as though you have this need to keep writing, but have no real solid foundation to make it a workable financial solution for

tom-holmes-556800-unsplash
Photo by Tom Holmes 

your life. In short, this question filled my head on a constant when I started.

Two things to remember :-

  1. Yes, when you start, you will need to find other means to fund your life until your book turns out sales that satisfy you.  If you haven’t already.
  2. Yes, you will need to invest in your book to make it a success, and a product worth purchasing.

You cannot escape these two things.  Once you have understood that, and accepted it, now we can discuss self-promotion and sales.  I’ll explore three options today, and post the rest next week.  I’ve been on a writing binge, and want to post fiction the rest of this week…hehehe.

Tips on Self-promotion that will lead to High Sales!

  1. Great Content – I stress this every time I write about self-publishing.  Take the time to evaluate your work.  Discover your strengths, your weaknesses, your opportunities, and your threats.  Yep (SWOT) coming at you.
    1. Did you choose a topic you know?  A topic you love and are passionate about?  Do you sound convincing?  Can the reader trust you when they read your book?  Are they going to fall in at the first page, and not regret getting straight to the last page? If you answered yes to all of these questions, hey, you’re working on your strengths.  If not, find a way to do just that.
    2. Your weaknesses are found by your editor, your first fan, the person who reads your work and makes suggestions.  Listen to them, and find a solution.
    3. Opportunities are found where you work, who you spend time with, family and friends.  For example,  my sister writes recipe books, and has written on her journey in the baking industry.  Her opportunities come when she meets those who want to join the baking industry and those already in the industry and would love to try out new recipes.  If you are writing fiction, your friends, family, school mates, and those around you are your first readers.  Exploit them to the fullest.  Don’t be shy and grow a thick skin for when you face rejection.  Shake it off, and keep moving forward.
    4. Threats are your competition.  Whatever book you have written, or are thinking of writing, there is an author three steps ahead of you.  Search them out, seek them out, read what they have done, learn from it, but don’t plagiarize. ^_^  What you learn, use it to improve your own work.
    5. In one bundle, make sure you are treating your content like a high quality product.  You want to provide your readers with the best content possible.  Polish it, edit it, get a great cover and blurb, enough to entice readers at first glance.
  2. Build a Strong Platform – To be truthful, this is a challenge. I  won’t lie and say it is easy to build a place where you have people running to read your blog, facebook page, twitter, instagram, or your book sitting on the bookshelf in the shop on the first day.  It takes work. Hard, daily work.  Some days are great, others not.  The key is not to stop.  Now that I’ve said that, let’s get into it.
    1. Platforms are a central place to find your work, and all about your work, and you, the author.  I chose a blog because it was easiest for me.  I love writing and sharing ideas.  I don’t mind sharing fiction, so most of my stories can easily be found on this blog.  The readers I’ve gained have found me through this blog, which then shares my content to my social accounts: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  This blog is my strongest platform.  You can have a different platform.  Just have one place your readers can get to know you and your work.  Here are a few examples of writers with similar platforms. Peter Nena, Dilman Dila, there are more, but these two remain constant favorites for me.
    2. You are your marketer.  Share your work with people you meet in person, in groups you join.  Let people know you are writing, where to find your work, and how to access it.  I’ve said before, I prefer Smashwords as they are really great at getting your work in more online bookshops, as opposed to Amazon’s exclusivity.  You can also choose to explore Kenyan online bookstores like Magunga.com.  Connect with brick and mortar bookstores and see if they will carry your book, or even bookmarks directing people to your site.  Run an ad on Facebook/Instagram, see how many people get to know about your work. Remember that you are the PR team, and share your work constantly.  Don’t be discouraged if one idea doesn’t work out, get back to the drawing board and explore another.
  3.  Converting to High Sales – The first two parts of this list build a community around your work.   Your goal is to make this community love your work, so much, that when you publish your next book, they won’t mind paying for it. Your main job is to grow this community, nurture it, and they will, in turn, support your work in ways that will truly surprise you.  This is why you need more than one book, more than one story, more than one of all that you do, to build readership.

Writing Tips Blog GraphicAs with every plan, there are small goals in between the growth process.  Some of those are:

  1. Get readers to review your work if you have already published.  Reviews are a great way to get people to know that your work is worth a look.  I bet before you buy a book on Amazon, nook, etc, you check out reviews to see if it’s popular.
  2. Join communities that focus on your chosen topic.  Fiction writers choose genre communities to find readers.  Non-fiction writers choose their industry to find readers.
  3. Social media is a great place to start the conversation.  Tweet it, gram it, facebook it, page it, if you have the camera, make videos and youtube it. 
  4. Start a podcast, and build a following. 
  5. Don’t keep quiet, and talk about it to friends, make small business cards to share when you go to meetups. The amount of chamas (groups) people join in Kenya come on…share your cards with everyone there.  They will check it out for curiosity out of the five curious, you will get two who will turn into fans.  Fans buy books.  Just think, If no one knows, how can you sell?
  6. Going back to the start, make sure you have your work edited write right.  Your readers will love it if they don’t have to work at reading it.

I hope this is helpful to you.  If you have written a book, and self-published it, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments below.  I love sharing stuff…great place to start right?

Happy May Day!