How to Self-Publish your Books in Kenya

Self-publishing might seem like an uphill battle, but with  experience, it gets easier tothere is no reason to stay unpublished get into on this sunny part of the world.  There is no reason not to write.  A few years ago, the only way to access your money after you sold e-books and your money was in your Paypal account was through a bank.  It took eight days for it to process. Such a long time.  Well, that’s changed now, thanks to Safaricom’s Mpesa.  So, I thought I should post this little how-to today, coz I’m excited about it.

So, Simple how-to self-publish your e-book/book in Kenya:

  1. Write your book. – I advocate fiction books because that is what I primarily publish, but this works for non-fiction books too.  Your book must be entertaining, engaging, and in the case of non-fiction, informative.  Don’t cut corners.  Find an editor, pay them, do the work and get your book to perfection.
  2. Design your cover  – Great Covers are essential.  Find a graphic designer who can create a cover that will market your book in the best possible way.  Discover more about genres, and how covers play a role in distinguishing them.  If you’re writing non-fiction books, make sure your cover speaks to your audience, and the topic you are discussing.
  3. Write a Blurb – When you go to the bookshop and are browsing books, you pick one out, read the back, if you don’t like what it says, you return it to the shelf.  If you do like that small paragraph in the back, you immediately head to the counter to pay for it.  Hehehe…Now, take your book that you’ve spent months writing, and come up with a great blurb to entice your readers with one glance.
  4. If you’re publishing this book as an e-book on Smashwords/Amazon’s KDP, you are good to go.  The next step is to log on to your account, and start uploading the files as specified by each site.  Set your price, and hit publish.  Then start marketing your e-book like there is no tomorrow.
  5. Amazon has yet to offer any easier ways of getting paid in Kenya.  You still get a check in your mailbox with these guys when your sales reach $100.   Smashwords is more lenient.  They now pay out  monthly to Paypal.  And as I said earlier, Safaricom’s Mpesa now has an easy way for you to get your money through Paypal. 
  6. If you’re publishing your book as a physical book, get in touch with the copyright board, get your ISBN, and make sure you have crossed your T’s with them.  Then consider your printing options.  There are many different types of printers in Nairobi.  Some are efficient, others not so much. You need to find your perfect fit, money wise, and emotional-wise too.
  7. The rest is marketing and awareness.  Don’t forget that your book is a product.  Create a brand, embrace every reader who comes to you, and give them more with lots of love.  Share your work, and if readers love it, they will pay for it.

I write these little how-to’s because I believe the fiction/non-fiction books market is growing in Kenya.  We need more authors writing fiction and publishing it.  We need a bigger presence in the e-book market, and authors to take ownership of their fiction.  Then we can really have a vibrant industry, enough to entice more readers.  So, if you’re a writer reading this, get started today.  Get published!

Bonus:

Here’s a short fiction story to read for Free!

Download the Save My Heart PDF.

 

Five Reasons why you need an Editor in Kenya

Five Reasons why you need an Editor in Kenya.

Editing is lifesaving to writers.  A good editor will make your work shine, and help you tell your story in the clearest way possible.  A good editor will ensure you are bringing out the best of your content.

editing
Editing Notes

Here is why:

  1. Language:
    • Editors will make sure you have structured your sentences, full stops, commas, ellipses, dialogue tags…all these important tools and ingredients in the right way. This is no excuse for you to ignore the rules of language.  A writer should be well-versed on language, and the tools it requires to write a good story.  The editor helps you refine your language.  You don’t want to punish your editor, you want to inspire them to help you polish your work.
  2. They are your first audience:
    • A good editor will resonate with your work. If they read it, engage with it, and interact, then you’re one step closer to reaching a wider audience.  Do listen to their advice, even when you don’t want to.  It will help you in the long run.
  3. Your Editor will help guide you in the right direction
    • Depending on the relationship you develop with your editor, any conversation you have with your editor can help the direction you take with your work. They will challenge you to break long time habits, explore your talent, and push it beyond the limits you have set yourself as a writer.  Be careful to choose an editor you can communicate with.  Don’t forget, Editing is a service, shop around until you find the right fit for you.
  4. Editors keep you honest – If you’re writing fiction, and your editor knows your style, the moment you start to cut corners, your editor will call you out on them and keep you honest.
  5. They are always right, not always, but most times– This is the hardest thing to take for a writer. The moment your editor reads your work and you find a series of red marks, suggestions and comments.  Do not lose your head.  Take a walk, then return to your document and give it a second look.  You may argue a point out with your editor, sometimes, you may win, most times, you won’t as they are only trying to help you tell your story in a clear manner.

Once you have finished writing your fiction, or non-fiction book, get yourself an editor.  Do not mind the cost and take it as an investment.  To ensure the fiction/poetry or non-fiction book you produce is polished, and readable.  Remember, your book is a product, you want to produce the best content quality possible.

Have you found your right Editor?

4 Questions to Ask Before You Self-Publish in Kenya

First question, Are you a writer?download (1)

  • You’re a writer if you fill notebooks with stories and random thoughts that could be stories.
  • If your laptop/PC is full of files of stories you’ve written.
  • You wonder why publishing can’t get easier in Kenya.
  • You get jealous every time you see that Saturday story running on the dailies and wonder why it’s not your story and how you can be that person….^_^ You know you do.

So, now we’ve established you’re a writer.  (So that we’re all on the same page, the writer I’m talking about is one who writes Fiction)

The second question is, Are you any good?

booksThe word ‘good is relative.  Readers have different tastes.  The world of fiction has different genres.  There are those who are partial to a particular genre, and those who can read from each genre.  Wherever your story fits, you’ll find readers who think its good, and those who don’t.  If you get readers who love your stories, celebrate!  You’re entertaining someone.  If you get readers who criticize your work, take it with a grain of salt then shake it off.  Grow a thick skin and don’t stop writing.

Bad editing, however, does not make your story attractive.  No one wants to read a story with glaring mistakes on every page.  Work hard, spend extra time reading your story aloud and fix those grammatical errors.  You may also ask a friend to check them for you, if you’re anything like me, if I read a page repeatedly; my brain starts auto-correcting errors. That means you’ll have a sentence that says knead, when you meant need, but you can’t see it.  Pester the people next to you so they can read your work and catch those problems.

The third question is, How do you get published?

Traditional Routes are tough to follow in Kenya.  Publishing companies have strict criteria when choosing manuscripts.  Most times, you’ll feel like giving up when you send in manuscripts and you get no response.

Hey, that’s life.  So, buck up!  There are many avenues to follow.  Get online and start publishing, the entire world is online, and there are no more excuses about how no one will read your work.

The fourth Question, How can I get an Audience?

Publishing online made simple. – You’re in Kenya, you’re thinking I want an audience, and I don’t know how to reach them.  Maybe, you do have an audience, and want to expand it.  The first step is to establish your identity online.

downloadStart a Blog

I was in a meeting recently where someone mentioned that blogs are taking over the world.  There are so many blogs out there, and that’s how most people get their voices heard.  So, you, my dear budding writer, why don’t you have one?

Get started right now.

You can use WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, Flicker, and other platforms that allow you to Blog without cost.  The goal here is to create your space.  It will be a space filled with your words.  It’s also a place where people give you feedback on your writing.  Get noticed.

  • Don’t just write three posts and stop because no one has commented.  I’ve seen people who quit writing their blogs.  Please don’t quit.  Commit to that Blog, and don’t stop.
  • Talk about your Blog, share your posts, get others talking about it too, through social media, also through your friends, and family.
  • Build a brand around your writing.  If you’re confident in your work, others will be too.

Self-Publishing Your Stories

If you have written stories and they are typed up neatly, complete and ready for other people to read, think self-pubabout self-publishing.  First, ask yourself why you’re thinking of self-publishing.

    • Is it to make money? – This takes time, it’s doable, but it takes time.  So, don’t quit your day job just yet.  Making money through self-publishing means, you’re marketing your book daily, getting people to talk about it, and buy it.  If you’re determined, you’ll get this done.
    • Is it for name recognition while you try to get a publishing house to pick your book?  – Well, this takes work too.  Time and work.

Whatever the reason, the first rule is not to stop at publishing one e-book.

  • The best marketing is publishing constantly.  Don’t stop with just one title.  Otherwise, you end up as the one none-hit wonder.
  • Be creative.  A good story will sell itself.
  • Don’t stop learning.  Research what other authors have done, teach yourself grammar, and spelling rules, learn what genres are, find your niche, and explore it.  Don’t stop learning.  When you think you’ve mastered writing, hit the books some more.
  • You’re in Kenya,  there is loads of inspiration – The best part about our culture is that it’s so full of color.  Don’t be afraid to explore it.  Include the characters in your life, and you know they’re many who leave you wondering and asking questions.  Turn them into fun characters in your stories, and highlight your culture.

My Humble Advice is Don’t stop, no matter what.
manuscriptThis part is important, so important; I had to write it in red. ^_^.  Don’t stop writing.  Most budding writers encounter a lot of challenges that make them shy away from writing.  It could be the pressures of life, and making money.  You know what, that’s understandable, make sure your life is going well.  But, don’t shelf the idea of writing.  Carry around a notebook, and that spare moment you have waiting for the bus, or taking a break, jot down a few thoughts.  It will turn into something more, and before you know it, you’ll have a bunch of stories.

Others stop when someone reads their work and they get negative feedback.  Oh, this is not good.  Oh, I didn’t like it. Don’t let such words stop you.  I’ve had someone tell me that, and I made them tell me what they didn’t like.  Was it the characters?  Was it the story plot?  Why didn’t you like it?  Ask why, think it over, and then find a way to fix it.  If the answers given don’t sound reasonable, then find a second opinion and a third.  Just don’t quit.

In fact, when you get that negative feedback, it’s time to write even harder.  Hit the books, research what others have done, and then get back to your writing desk, and challenge yourself to do better.  Go to seminars, seek out fellow writers, join platforms and learn more about the writing industry.  You’ll slowly find your voice and your niche.

So, are you interested yet? Get to it then!  Start writing already!