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!

 

 

 

Gardening for the Soul

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Aloe Vera Plant

Saturday was one of those days you just want to forget because nothing is going right.  From work, to interacting with people, to commuting, everything was just whack!  I got home, and I just wanted to bury myself under the blankets for at least twenty-four hours.  Alas, it was during the day, and sleeping with the sun up, is just hard for me. So, my mum dragged me out of the house and we went digging up the flower garden.  There is nothing like sinking your fingers in dirt. Stress, all annoyed and disturbed thoughts just disappear.  Our garden is right in front of the house, and the old flowers were getting boring. We decided to gut them out and decided to replant some new ones.

 

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Separating Aloe Vera plantlets

 

Aloe and Iris4 This is the garden after we were done planting the Aloe Vera and a pretty flower called Florentine Iris.  It looks pretty puny right now, but the rains are here, and they’ll shoot up fast.  The Florentine Iris is especially pretty when it grows flowers.   iris-germanica-florentina-flower

I can’t wait to see a garden full of these flowers. 

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This little exercise had me forgetting the seriously disturbing events of my day.  It was gardening for the soul, ^_^!

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On a side note, this huge tree grows outside our house too.  Every year, it gets these white flowers that bloom for like a day, before they fall down to the ground covering the whole area.  Pretty isn’t it.

Song of the moment: Rita Ora – Grateful

 

 

  

 

 

Somewhere Else by Mathew Shenoda – Poetry Review

somewhere elseSomewhere Else

by Mathew Shenoda

From the river Nile to the teeming streets of Cairo, from the indigenous, pre-Islamic Egyptian Coptic civilization to an America struggling with its fear of the Arab world, Shenoda’s poems recall the sacred traditions of an ancient, enduring culture as they widen the political conversation surrounding ethnicity, pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. This notable collection spans generational, political and cultural divides, providing a nuanced perspective virtually unknown in the West.

Publisher: Coffee House Press, Minneapolis

Purchase Here: Somewhere Else on Amazon

 

Favorite Poems from this Book:

Excerpt of Somewhere Else

...
There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else...Read This Poem

Excerpt of New Cairo

…I stand on the balcony, staring

Withdrawn from this poverty by a mere Generation,

Then I remember

Great Grandmother used to say:

“If you throw salt away

God will make you

Pick it up

One grain at a time

with your eyelashes”

Take a moment and just imagine what it would take to actually collect salt one grain at a time with your eyelashes.  Yes, there would be tears, what an impossible task, you’d say.  At first, I laughed at the idea of Great Grandmother’s statement, but then you think about it and it’s eye opening. If you’re desperate you’ll do it, right?  You’ll find a way to collect that salt with your eyes, but what a painful process that would be.  So, don’t throw away a good thing…hmm…

Mathew Shenoda’s thought-provoking Poetry = Stunning, Effortless Truths

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts

Mathew Shenoda writes poetry with a deep love for heritage and culture.  There is always that sense of go back, think about where you come from, how it has shaped you, why you are this person today. I think this book reminds me to remember where am from and where I belong.  Where is home? What does that word mean really?

Time changes, as it must, we all change, but even with change, stop and embrace what your past is, how you’ve gotten here.  What were your ancestors’ hopes, one day you’ll be the one they’ll call ancestor.  What do you want them to think of you?

Meet Mathew Shenoda at the Storymoja Hay Festival:

  Matthew-Shenoda-profile-Masterclass: Critiquing & Editing Poetry
  With: Matthew Shenoda (Egypt/USA) & Ladan Osman (Somalia/USA), Keguro Macharia (Kenya)
  Time: Thur 18th September 2:30pm – 5:30pm
  Venue: Nairobi National Museum @ the STORYMOJA FESTIVAL
 About the Masterclass: POETRY DOCTORS
One of the most essential elements of poetry writing is the process of editing alongside self critique and peer critique. In this workshop we will examine various ways of conceptualizing work as a writer engages the writing process and as a way to gain a critical understanding of one’s own writing. We will then look at a rubric for editing and critiquing that helps the poet reach the aims they set out to achieve in their writing.

 

H_ART the Band Answers my Question.

Two weeks ago, I posted the lyrics to H_ART the Band’s Ask My shoes (Uliza Kiatu).  I’d also asked the guys on their Facebook Page what had inspired their song.  I’m glad to say that they responded today, so I can share their answer with you.

Elly in Nairobi’s Question:

Hi Guys, I love your music!! I’m doing a small project called Poetry Week and I wanted to ask you one question, Which I hope you’ll answer.
What inspired Uliza Kiatu?

Hart the band

 

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H_ART the Band’s Answer:

The journey we go through in life to be who we are and get what we want.  We were going through our first phase in our musical journey, trying to find ourselves as a band and we had a few struggles here and there.  No one really would understand fully what we were going through hence the idea came up.  What if shoes could speak on our behalf???

 

 

 

And what if indeed!! I just love their answer.  There are so many things we go through, and sometimes it is hard to articulate the struggle, and the journey.  My friends used to say if the walls could talk, when we were in a room, so in this case, H_ART the Band says, “Ask My Shoes (Uliza Kiatu)” what my struggles have been like.

Thank you so much @H_ART the Band for answering my question.

Please support their music: – Uliza Kiatu (Ask My Shoes)

Like their page: H_ART the Band

Follow them on Twitter:  @H_ARTTHEBAND

Poetry Week – Reflection

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Dr. Maya Angelou – An Inspiring Woman

Last week, one of the greatest Poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, passed on and it had me reaching for her works.  Reading back on the many great words she’s shared with the world.  Cataloging lessons learned in her life, and thought provoking poems that make us pause.  She’s taught and inspired generations, changed perception and inspired courage with words, she shared her experiences through her poems, giving courage to many. Below is one of her most famous poems:

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

I love this poem because it is a powerful affirmation, no matter what or whom you meet in life.   Those things you or I are angelou2facing now, those terrible things, or wonderful things, those difficult or easy people you meet, if you believe in yourself and stand strong, you’ll rise.  For these powerful words, I thank Dr. Maya Angelou for sharing them with us.

Poetry is one of the most inspiring forms of art there can be.  A few words, arranged in stanzas can hold powerful messages that will inspire you, call up an emotion inside you that even you didn’t realize you had.  Poets often describe a situation, a feeling, an experience in such a way that you have no choice but to agree, or disagree, or find an urge to discover if that description fits that moment.

On this note, this coming week, this blog of mine will feature some poems from a few of Kenya’s Poets.  Most of whom have become musicians, changing our small world with their courageous words.  I love music, and a good song is one that reaches the soul, so explore with me.