David Maloba – Illustrator in Kenya

I’ve been lucky to be introduced to awesome illustrators this month. This post today features another artistic talent based in Kenya, David Maloba. His art is fresh, and certainly, up and coming. I sent him a few questions for this interview, which he was glad to answer. Read on to discover what he has to say about his work.


Who is David Maloba?  Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do

I am a graphic designer who deals mostly with digital illustration portraits famously known as vector/vexel portrait artworks. They are cartoon style artworks that have artistic elements in them. It’s my daily drive and my passion, something I really love doing.

artwork by D. Maloba

I started out when I was in third year in the university. I bumped into a tutorial video on Youtube that had the whole process of making vector artwork using Adobe Photoshop. That tutorial helped me big time and due to my prior knowledge and skill in the software, it was easy for me to create this type of artwork. It took me a couple months of constant practice to be able to not only master the way to draw the artwork but also develop my own style. I am just simplistic for the simple reason, life.

You’re an Illustrator, what is your challenge in this industry in Kenya?

Well, being a digital illustrator in Kenya is kind of difficult because not many people know about it yet, and others haven’t accepted it as one of the forms of art. Let’s say for example, in my case, some people say I use filters while that isn’t the case. So cases like these tend to pull us behind and slow down the growth and recognition of this type of artwork. There is also the issue of low pay to no pay, where some clients might underpay you or even not pay you at all just because the artwork is drawn using a computer. They want it to be free. To do these artworks one needs certain tools, which are quite expensive to acquire, making it a challenge too. It’s also time consuming to do.

artwork by D. Maloba

EllyinNairobi Thoughts– Time consuming, but beautiful work!


..Keep creating. Someone will soon take notice of you. Keep your focus on and take each and every advice/comment positively. Some people might give you good reviews and some bad reviews, so don’t let them kill your morale with a few negative statements.

D. Maloba

What is your most favorite work and why? (Artwork you’ve done)

artwork by D. Maloba

My favorite artwork, I can say, is one I did of our esteemed president H.E Uhuru Kenyatta. It’s a special piece to me because it’s the one that I first got to print on canvas and second it exposed me to a wider range in terms of ideology and market. It’s something I am proud of doing each and every time I look at it hanging on the wall.

What type of skills or techniques do you need to develop for your work?

One needs to be creative, to know how to draw different elements and the knowhow of drawing using computer software like Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/Inkscape/CorelDraw, just to mention a few.

Who is your inspiration?

My inspiration is Zac Dynes. His style of work is just simple and amazing. He is the one who motivates me to work hard to develop my artwork.

What is your dream/Goal? Where do you see yourself as an illustrator in a year or two?

artwork by D. Maloba

My dream/goal is to see my work inspire more Kenyans like me to develop and grow this kind of digital illustration portraits. Though it hasn’t gotten recognition like other forms of traditional art, it’s steadily picking form by the day.

In one/two years’ time I see myself being successful and having my own digital illustration company/business where young illustrators will have a chance to showcase their works and get the knowhow of how to develop their art and also make a career out of it.

Who is your favorite artist/illustrator?

My favourite digital illustrator is Zac Dynes. He is one of the few artists who have a unique style of drawing illustrations. He calls them “drip art” going by how he expresses them with the drip effect.

What’s the last book/comic you read and why?

 Wow!!! It’s been long. Ok, the last comic I read is Unaffected by my best friend Humphrey Osoro. First of all, it’s obviously done by a Kenyan, has a good story line plus nice illustrations and a work many people have not yet gotten the chance to read because of lack of belief in Kenyan comics due to other foreign comics being given a number one spot/platform. It’s work that inspires me to work harder to grow my art. So, I can say I enjoyed reading it because it has humor in it, plus the illustrations are just amazing. I urge people to go and check it out because they will not be disappointed.

What are your thoughts to aspiring Illustrators in Kenya?

First and foremost is to always put GOD first in all that you do.

Second, is to keep creating. Someone will soon take notice of you. Keep your focus on and take each and every advice/comment positively. Some people might give you good reviews and some bad reviews so don’t let them kill your morale with a few negative statements.

artwork by D. Maloba

Third, do more research on illustration because it’s growing at a fast rate with different kinds of styles coming up. Also, interact with fellow illustrators not just in Kenya but other parts of the world and get to know how they do their artwork to have a better understanding of the art. I, myself, have interacted online with a few and also seen works they have done. For example, Paul Kawira, theartofvosty and Joe impressions just to mention a few. They have amazing artwork, go check them out too.

Connect with David Maloba

Are you interested in creating a project with David’s help? Connect with him on Instagram – @maloba_david

Elly’s Thoughts

And, there you have it! Passion, Commitment, Research (get your knowledge pool going) and Consistent Dedication! All the goodies you need to cultivate to be a creative! It’s always inspiring to discover the creative journey from a different perspective. Whatever it is you want to do, know that you can achieve it. Keep creating folks!

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How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya by Kariuki Waweru

On this post, we celebrate and feature one of Kenya’s Registered Valuers, Kariuki Waweru. He has written an invaluable book on How To Invest in Real Estate in Kenya. This book has a wealth of information on how to invest, tips on home ownership in Kenya and how to navigate the confusing world of loans and mortgages in Kenya. Mr. Kariuki was kind to answer my questions on his book and his publishing journey. Let’s take a look!

1. What is the most favorite question you’ve ever gotten from a reader?

I have had people who are at the verge of making a decision on real estate investing and when they ask questions, I direct them to the book. (How To Invest in Real Estate In Kenya). It feels good to have all the answers to their questions in one book. Feels like the motto for Nakumatt, “ You need it, we’ve got it”.

2.  Did you always want to be a published author?

I didn’t always want to. My first article was on whether to buy a car or a plot? I was dating my then fiancée, now my wife, and I needed to convince her that land is a good investment but I also knew that a car can earn one some extra cash… so I thought I should write down my arguments and see. I did that and she was very impressed. She encouraged me to keep writing and I wrote so many articles which I could send to her. She then encouraged me to start a blog, which I did. It’s now called www.kariukiwaweru.com … I then extracted some articles from the blog to publish my first book and extracted some more to publish my second book.

3.  What prompted you to write, ‘How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya’?

After publishing my first book in 2012 and revising it in 2014, I realized that there was a gap in the market for a more practical book. Between 2016 and 2018, I went through a practical hands on experience of taking a commercial bank loan, a mortgage, buying a plot, building my family a house and investing in a commercial property for rental purposes. I blogged about this journey, the lessons learned and these came to refine my consultancy journey  and made me a more practical consultant. I compiled all the experience and lessons learned and came up with this book. This book has everything you need to know about home ownership, commercial investments, loans and mortgages set in a Kenyan context by a Kenyan Registered Valuer and consultant.

4.  What is your most memorable experience as a Registered and Practicing Valuer in Kenya? 

It took me 13 years from the time in joined the University of Nairobi as a first year BA Land Economics student to becoming a Registered  Valuer. Getting that title was my highest professional achievement and a culmination of dreams… it was a dream come true.  Later on, seeing my name published in the Kenya Gazettee alongside the less than 600 valuers in Kenya since Kenya got its independence was also one of my greatest achievements.

5. You have published two books, that is, ‘The ABC of Real Estate Investments in Kenya’ and now ‘How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya.’

a. What has your publishing journey been like?

I have learned a lot. There is need to keep reviewing your work, get good editors and designers and most importantly a good person to print the book. My first book was poorly printed in downtown Nairobi and I had to redo the printing and change the layout and design in 2014. This current book, I have used very well established printers and designers (which is quite costly) and I have not regretted the outcome. 

b. Which book was easier to publish?  The first or the second?

The second was easier as I knew exactly what I wanted and how to go about the publishing, editing and marketing.

c. What challenges, if any, did you face the first time, and were they present the second time around?

The challenges from the first time were using inexperienced designers and printers to do my work. This cost me a lot in terms of money and time.

6.  What is your view on publishing books in Kenya?

I think we should immortalize ourselves through publishing books.

7.  What advice would you give to someone hoping to publish his or her first book?

The longest journey starts with a single step. Start writing. Start a blog… your readers will critic your work and you will be a better writer. Once you are ready, talk to someone who has published before and learn from them on how to proceed.

8.  Lastly, will you write another book?  What do you think the title will be?

God willing I will write many other books. Ng’ugi wa Thiong’o has more than 15 titles under his name…I have 3…I’m just getting started.

The titles normally come after the content is done…so I don’t have any ready titles as yet.

Elly in Nariobi’s Thoughts:

It is always so inspiring to see an author’s journey in to publishing. If you’re wondering if the journey is possible, I hope Mr. Kariuki’s answers are enough to let you know that yes, it is. Whatever your idea, fiction or non-fiction, you can get it published in Kenya.

How to Invest in Real Estate in Kenya is a great addition to your bookshelf.

1. Because it simplifies the process of purchasing land, navigating mortgages and helping plan for the future in terms of real estate investments.

2. All the content is based on Kenyan experiences. I always feel we need more professionals sharing, and demystifying their industries for Kenyans, as Mr. Kariuki has done.

To purchase this book:
The book goes for Kshs. 500.

Email – info@kariukiwaweru.com or Visit our shop at Shililia stores, El Roi plaza, Ground floor. Tom Mboya street next to Odeon or call 0793772490.

Humphrey Osoro – Comic Artist & Graphic Designer in Kenya

Are you curious about what it’s like to be a Comic Artist and Graphic designer in Kenya?

I’m excited to feature Humphrey Osoro who fits both of these titles. There was a time I thought I’d try to be a comic artist ( manga-ka – CLAMP had inspired me at the time) but the drawing talent was missing and I definitely prefer to read them.

So, I’m beyond excited to present this interview from Humphrey who has worked to realize the dream for himself. I hope his answers inspire even more comic artists in Kenya.

Q. Who is Humphrey Osoro?

A; I’m a comic artist and graphic designer based in Kenya. I make comics on the side and do my graphic design work as my day job. I’m a simple guy really, I love anything comics. Anything that tells stories just gets my attention: whether it’s movies, a good book or even a good work of art.

Q. So, why comics?

A. Growing up, I dabbled a lot in traditional art forms and in creative writing/storytelling. Once I got good at both, I wanted something that could combine the two and comics did that for me. Comics allowed me to combine my artistic side with my writer side. I was now able to use my art to tell an actual written story and since then I’ve been hooked on it.

Q. What’s your inspiration?

A; My main inspirations are guys like Jason Brubacker (author and artist of RE-mind webcomic), Tim Bradstreet (Punisher comic covers) and writers like Elaine Kamari in Kenya (Her blog is “Elly in Nairobi”). (EK dances like a fan girl at the mention). All these people push me to keep improving and work that much harder at my craft

Q. You’re a Comic Artist.  What is it like establishing yourself in Kenya?

A; Being a Comic Artist here in Kenya is very different from another Country like let’s say Japan. Over there, they have Otaku Culture, which is this strong following around their manga (Japanese comics) and anime artwork. It’s a little easier to kick off a career as a comic artist and all this is possible because people are aware of what manga art is and they appreciate the value of it. Those guys are basically rock stars in the art world in Japan. Japanese – owned companies like Viz Media who run “Shonen jump” and many others have capitalized on this and they sponsor these artists. They also give new upcoming artists opportunities in their magazines by running their work in black & white, only giving them coloured runs when they prove successful with the masses. This system works very well there, the artist gets paid his due, people get to read good content, everyone’s happy.

In Kenya, the picture is a little different. It’s harder to establish yourself here. Comics just started getting popular recently, so not many people even knew what they were. Some can’t tell the difference between a comic book and a cartoon strip in the editorial newspaper, so it’s a bit of an uphill task trying to explain what it is you’re making. Most really just think that comics are meant for kids, which isn’t the case. Comics these days are more targeted at adult themes like crime, passion etc. They address such a wide variety of topics as opposed to a few years ago when they were exclusively limited to children’s themes. It’s the younger generation that grew up watching these cartoons on TV, like myself, who make up the bulk of the current comic readers and artists. These people are the ones who appreciate the true value of comics. They recognize that comics are like movies, just in picture form. These are the readers that give me hope that the industry is heading in the right direction.


Giving up gets you nowhere. People will eventually start taking notice of you if you stick around long enough. You’ll start getting calls and gigs you never thought you’d get. The beauty of it is, not everyone has the patience to make a comic, so count yourself lucky, they’ll look for you specifically. So hold on, keep cranking out some art!

H. OSoro

Establishing oneself as a comic artist here in Kenya is a bit of an uphill task, though once you do, it’s really rewarding. You really have to be patient as it doesn’t happen in a day. Anyone willing to take on this behemoth of a task should be willing to take the untraveled path. If you’re an introvert like me, then be prepared to polish up those people skills. You’ll have to hit the ground running, reach out to other comic artists in the industry, learn from them but don’t expect too much from them (They’re also struggling as much as you are, just at a different level). In short, its a labour of love, you do it because you love the craft, money will follow in spades.

Speaking of money, don’t quit your day job just yet. Because no one knows who you are, chances are no one will be willing to give you any commission. Most of the Kenyan mindset is of the opinion that western stuff is better than the locals, which is true, but only because those guys got a chance to shine. They were all beginners like us, it’s just that someone listened. If you don’t aggressively market yourself, you’ll never get anywhere here. Prepare to be ignored online, receive cold stares when you make proposals and many more of the stuff I can rattle off the top of my head.

But, its not all gloom, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Get inspired by other people when you’re down. I recommend reading Elaine Kamari’s post on Self Publishing here in Kenya in her blog “Elly In Nairobi”. Everything was so much clearer and easier after reading that, so give it a chance. Giving up gets you nowhere. People will eventually start taking notice of you if you stick around long enough. You’ll start getting calls and gigs you never thought you’d get. The beauty of it is, not everyone has the patience to make a comic, so count yourself lucky, they’ll look for you specifically. So hold on, keep cranking out some art!

Q – The first 30 pages of your comic, The Unaffected Resolve- Chapter 1 are released at 254Comics.com.  Will you release Volume 2 at 254comics too?

A; Yes, definitely! The book is actually more than just those 30 pages, I released those because they were the ones already done in colour. It’s actually 114 pages long. Yeah, I know. That’s a LOT of pages. Well, when I began making the book, I decided I would create the thing until I finished the whole of Chapter 1. I’ve written dozens of scripts for “The Unaffected Resolve”, they’re a total of 11 Chapters for the first story arch. Each script has more than 24 pages of words in it, which in a comic made up of pictures and those words translates to almost 100 pages. 100 is the magic number because I’m targeting at creating a true graphic novel of “Resolve”. Each Chapter will have at least 100 pages so that at long last they can be compiled together into a 500-page graphic novel. My inspiration is the likes of Graphic novels like “Akira” in Japan. Now that one has 600 plus pages!

Right now, this comic book is finished, though in black and white. I’ll release the rest slowly as I keep colouring but you can head over to 254comics and read the first 30 pages in all its full colour glory. Stand by for a review of the book here by Ellie, It’ll be a detailed review of all 114 pages so for those who want to get an idea about it, stay posted right here. Though here’s some bonus art for Chapter 2 that’s currently in the kitchen! Completely reworked art-style for chapter 2!

H. Osoro Art – Unaffected Resolve – Chapter 2

Q. You’re also an illustrator, what type of commissions have you taken on since your start?

A; I’ve done so many of them so far. I used to dabble in the traditional pen and paper collisions whereby someone wanted a hand-drawn piece. I still do them but only exclusively because of how taxing they are.

I also did a lot of painting on canvas for clients and friends. These were really enjoyable, seeing a mess of colours come together into a nice final piece of art is just so satisfying.


I also do book illustrations. I’ve worked with publishing companies mainly on children’s illustrations. These are done digitally and require a completely different kind of art style. My style is usually highly detailed and complex, so having to make them simple was a nice fresh change for me.

H. Osoro

I also do book illustrations. I’ve worked with publishing companies mainly on children’s illustrations. These are done digitally and require a completely different kind of art style. My style is usually highly detailed and complex, so having to make them simple was a nice fresh change for me. I do these in a cartoony kind of style that will appeal to the kids. The biggest book illustration project had me handling 65 coloured pages. I was able to crank out 10 pages a day at the time so within a week I was done. It was challenging but it taught me a lot about sticking to deadlines.

I’ve also handled logo design, business cards, banners, strips, posters and other stuff relating to Graphic Design. I’m a Graphic Designer by profession at the Nation Media Group at the moment, so I do the normal graphic stuff like making advertisements, proposals, posters etc. It’s been an eye opener on what it really takes to be a good Graphic designer. So anyone looking to be an effective Graphic designer, try applying there and see if you’ll get lucky. The deadlines and pressures at work really prepare you for when you have to deal with clients in your illustration hustle. Overall, it’s the illustration type of logos and designs that really pique my interest. I find these make full use of my talents as a human being. I get to combine both Graphic Design and my love for illustration.

H. Osoro art

I can say that as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing comics since the beginning. I did them for my high school magazine back at “Friend’s School Kamusinga“. It was a piece called “Demolishon” that addresses many of the negative vices in society. I still do it today, so make sure to check out my Facebook page & other media platforms. I finally undertook a personal project to create my own comic book back in 2017. It’s called “The Unaffected Resolve”, go check it out at 254comics.com. There’s nothing more I enjoy like making comics, it’s like seeing a movie in your mind and your hands are there to translate that to paper.

In comics, I’ve done comic pages for a couple of clients that I really can’t name due to non-disclosure agreements. I also offer some of those comic book services to fellow artists whereby I do inking of your basic sketches and colour them for you at an agreed fee. A good example of this, is a good friend of mine, he’s called “Kimzy Flimzy” on Facebook, go check out his art. We collaborate on a couple of gigs when he’s really busy and I step in to help out so we can beat the deadlines, so big thanks to you bro if you’re reading this!

Q. What is your creative process like?  Do you have a favorite spot where you must work?  Or a favorite pen?

A; My creative process is simple. It usually starts out with me just closing my eyes and playing out a movie in my mind. I see the characters, I see them alive, breathing , talking and moving about. From here when I grab my pen to sketch them out it’s easier from there.

When I’m down on creative gas, I just put everything down and let loose. Play a computer game on my PlayStation, ride my bike on a mountain run in my area because there’s so many cycling trails over here or just get down and do some exercise.

My favourite pen is the good old blue “Bic” pen. The ones we all used in high school and campus. I was that kid that looked like he was paying attention but if you looked closely, you’d always find me sketching. I sketch everyday. I found that by doing this, I was able to master movement of my characters by not being too rigid in my drawing approach. So yeah, get a trusty pen, doesn’t need to be blue like mine!

Q. What would you say to aspiring comic artists and illustrators in Kenya?

A; First, nothing comes easy. You want to be a comic artist? Then be prepared to be a jack of all trades because if you only know one thing, then chances are you won’t succeed. Take the time to learn other forms of traditional art, learn the basics of proportion, colouring and more. All these will apply at some point when you’re working on your book.

Second, consider learning some basic Graphic Design. You ask, “Why?” Well, because comics are essentially picture books at the end of the day. This will equip you with knowledge on layout, formatting of your book since chances are no one around you knows how to format a comic book. (The dimensions of a comic are different from your average book on the shelf.)


First, just have your comic ready. Finish it. At least in Black & White because you need to have something to put in front of your potential readers. From here, market the hell out of your book through various channels available such as blogs, social media platforms etc.

H. Osoro
H. Osoro art

Third, be assured it’ll take some time before you get your name out there. First, just have your comic ready. Finish it. At least in Black & White because you need to have something to put in front of your potential readers. From here, market the hell out of your book through various channels available such as blogs, social media platforms etc.

I could go on and on but at the end of the day it depends on you. How badly do you want to tell your story? Because I know you didn’t get into comics to just make money, you had this story in your head you wanted to share with the world. You do it because you love the craft, even when you’re paid peanuts. Now that’s true passion right there. I know I did, so what about you?

Connect with Humphrey

View this post on Instagram

Close up view2 #cartoon #instastory #illustration

A post shared by Humphrey Osoro (@humphreyosoro) on

Instagram @ humphreyosoro

Facebook: @Humphrey Osoro

Read The Unaffected Resolve – Chapter 1

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.

Every time I write about Traditional Publishing in Kenya I get annoyed, because it feels like one big mass of #askweio123. Yes, they don’t make it easy here. So, 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?

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)

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 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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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

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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.