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 forums 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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Friday June 8 2018 173
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!

 

 

 

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!