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Self-publishing might seem like an uphill battle, but with  experience, it gets easier tothere is no reason to stay unpublished get into on this sunny part of the world.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?

How To Copyright Your Book in Kenya

Copyrights in Kenya

Protecting your work is most important to a creator.  We recently went through this process as we start on actual publishing of real books.  It’s both nerve-wrecking and enlightening.  Nerve-wrecking in the discovery of limitations: like costs and printing drama, and enlightening in that with every book printed, you discover mistakes and tell yourself, I’m going to get that fixed in the next print.  It’s been an interesting time.

So, for copyrights, I thought I should share this process with you.  It’s not so hard, you can do it too.

Firstly, you need to have your work fully completed, and ready to go.

  1. Get a registration form from the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO).  You can either visit their offices or download the form from their site.  Here is the link to that →Copyright Registration Forms
  2. Fill out the forms.  To be noted, don’t copyright someone else’s work if you do not have the permissions from the original author (owner of the work).  This is very uncool.  Just don’t do it.  Respect the original author/creator, alright.  Of course, if you are copyrighting your own work, write your name with no mistakes. ^_^  You wanna have bragging rights when you get that certification.  If you don’t understand the forms, do visit the Kenya Copyright board offices and they are very happy to explain them to you.
  3. Take your completed forms to a lawyer.  The wording is “Get the forms commissioned by a commissioner of oaths.’ A lawyer will help you with that.
  4. Attach two original copies of the work to be copyrighted – they prefer it in CD or DVD form. (Yep, that’s right. That means you will have 2 CDs/DVDs. Save it on a CD/DVD and label it.)  
  5. Deposit a non-refundable fee of Kshs. 1,000 in the Kenya Copyright Board bank account.  The form you get gives you their banking details.  They insist on the fee being paid in the bank direct, don’t use bank agents. (Confirm this fee when you get your forms)
  6. Take the bank deposit slip with you to the Kenya Copyright Board offices, and they will issue a receipt.
  7. Certification is issued within five (5) working days from the day of registration. In case there is an exception, they will let you know right away.

And that’s that.

Simple, right?

No more excuses saying you can’t copyright your amazing creativity.

Do you have an ISBN? Here is the procedure in case you want one.

The Kenya Copyright Board offices are here: 5th Floor, NHIF Building, Ragati Road.

Visit their website to learn more.

How to get an ISBN in Kenya.

Assigning an ISBN number to your book in Kenya

  1. Get an account with the Kenya National Library Service(KNLS)  ISBN service here: ISBN website
  2. Create a Profile, adding important personal details.  Please note we did this as a Publishing Co., (request information if you want to do this as an individual.)
  3. Once  you are set up, click on the ISBN Products.  They offer options of buying 1 ISBN, 10 ISBNs,  100 ISBNs to 1,000 ISBNs.  Choose the number that fits your needs, and make the purchase.  This process is easy, and flexible, you may do it in cash, mobile payment, through the bank, whatever works for you.isbn
  4. Once payment is approved, wait to hear back from KNLS.  They are very fast about this, and you will get a message from them giving you your ISBN numbers, as well as the barcode that goes along with it.
  5. Here is a short guideline of how and when to use your ISBN when you get it and what to do with it once you get it. The ISBN site, sends these guidelines to you once your ISBN is approved.

You may allocate ISBN to the following publications:
– Printed books material
– Microfilms
– Educational video or movies
– Atlases and maps
– Publications in braille
– Electronic publications

ISBN should NOT be allocated to the following publications:
– Off print from periodicals
– Advertising materials (sales catalogs, price lists, prospectus, instructions publishing flyers, etc.)
– Wall posters, newspapers, leaflets
– Programs of theatrical, music and other performances
– List of exhibits without additional text
– Curricula of schools and colleges of all kinds
– Lecture and teaching materials of manuscripts character
– Calendars and diaries
– Form and coloring books

PLEASE ALSO NOTE that ISBN should always appear on the verso of the title page, or if this is not possible at the foot of the title page. It must also appear at the foot of the outside back cover at a prominent outside position.

FINALLY, remember that the BOOKS AND NEWSPAPERS ACT CAP. 111, Laws of Kenya, stipulate that every publisher MUST deposit 2 clean copies of their (new, future and back issues) with the Director, Kenya National Library Service, (National Reference and Bibliographic Dept.). This process begins by filling in details under the “My Publications” section when you log into the ISBN service, and later depositing the copies physically at the National Library for approval. You shall not be allowed to purchase further ISBNs until you complete this process for all issued ISBNs.

Now that you have your ISBN, consider Copyrighting your book with the Kenya Copyright Board

This procedure is for a first time buy, for a second time buy, make sure you have met all their requirements on submitting books to the National Library.

7 Things to Know when Self-Publishing on Smashwords in Kenya

About Smashwords.com

smashwordsSmashwords is a global ebook distributor serving authors, publishers, readers and major ebook retailers. Smashwords is ideal for publishing novels, personal memoirs, poetry chapbooks, short and long-form fiction, and non-fiction. If you’ve written it, we want to help you share it and sell it!  We distribute books to Apple iBooks (51 countries), Barnes & Noble, Kobo (which powers the bookstores of multiple other retailers such as FNAC in France and WH Smith in the U.K.), Flipkart, Oyster, txtr, Baker & Taylor (Blio.com and the Axis360 library platform), and others.

 Smashwords.com is an e-book self publishing site.  Smashwords distributes e-books to a wide network of online retailers, mobile app platforms and affiliates.  They have 3 catalogs:

1. Premium  Catalog – Every author aspires to get their e-book in the premium catalog in smashwords.  This means that your e-book is distributed to major global online retailers.  These are:

  •  Apple – Ibook stores available in 51 Countries
  •  Barnes & Nobles – US and UK market
  •  Kobo Bookseller
  •  Page Foundry – (Inktera.com, Versant.Com as well as Android e-book store apps for Cricket wireless & Asus)
  • Baker & Taylor Blio
  • Txtr
  • Flipkart
  • Oyster
  • Scribd
  • Amazon – (Limited distribution for books that reach over $2,000 in sales)

To get books in the premium catalog, your e-book needs to have a quality book cover image, a proper copyright notice, and an ISBN no.  The author should also format their book according to the Smashwords Style Guide.  Smashwords have a program that runs your document and if any errors are found then the book doesn’t pass to the premium catalog.  Some of the errors include, having multiple font sizes, inconsistent line spacing, lines overlapping one another, multiple successive paragraph returns to arrange text…etc…All these can be fixed if  you go through the Guide.

2. Standard Catalog – This is the Smashwords catalog.  Your e-book should satisfy the copyright and content requirements found in the Smashwords terms of service.  Your book is available on this catalog the moment you upload and publish it to the site.

3. ATOM/OPDS Catalog – This catalog is for all major mobile app platforms.  Your book is available to millions reading on their phones. Sample distributors include Stanza on the iPhone and Aldiko on the Android mobile device platform

How to get started:

Firstly, Register for an account with Smashwords.Com.  Go through the set up process, as well as the payment registration.  This means you need a Paypal account too if you’re planning on selling the books.  If you don’t want to sell the books and only want to share them, then finish your Smashwords registration.  There are 3 Smashwords Accounts

– An Author Account – This is for an author self-publishing his/her books

– A Publisher Account/ A literary Agent Account – Use this if you’re representing multiple authors/ own a publishing house, You’re a literary agent…e.t.c

7 Things to Know Before Publishing on Smashwords in Kenya

1. A Finished Story –  Polish your story, until you’re satisfied it can be read by others.  Download the Smashwords smashwords bookStyle Guide and make sure your document is formatted according to the instructions in the book.  This is really important as your .doc is then turned into different types of e-book formats.  If it’s formatted wrong from the start, your book won’ t make it to the Premium Catalog.

2. A Title for your story – Make it unique, and eye-catching.

3. A Book Cover – Smashwords needs a good quality cover, usually a cover with a 1,600 width and 2,560 height.  The minimum width should be 1,400.  Make a pleasing cover.

– A Description of your story – This is the synopsis of your story.  That short paragraph behind a book that makes you want to read it.  Write one that fits your story.

4. Smashwords Categories – Smashwords classifies their books in the following categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Essay, Plays, Screenplays.  These categories are then broken down into different genres.  So if you’ve written Fiction, you should go ahead and choose a category of fiction, that is, Romance, Mystery, Thriller, e.t.c.

5. E-Book Formats – This is the part you have to understand in order to get your book into the premium catalog.  It’s also the reason why you need to download the Smashwords Style Guide. Smashwords allows you to turn your book into different formats.  They are:

  • E-pub – Widely used by readers on Apple Ibookstore, Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Nobles and Aldiko.  It’s the most popular format, and if your .doc fails to pass through the Smashwords check, you get autovetters because it failed the e-pub check. The Smashwords guide can help you sort out autovetter errors. If you have issues, check the Smashwords FAQs and you’ll find your answers.
  • Sony Reader – LRF Format
  • Kindle’s .Mobi
  • Palm Doc (PDB) – Used by readers on palm pilot devices, Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Smartphones, Symbian OS, Palm OS.
  • PDF Format
  • RTF Format – Rich Text Format
  • Plain Text 

You can choose all formats, or choose certain formats.  The file you upload should be a Word Document with a .doc extension.  Trust me, this makes it easy for you.

6. ISBN No. – To get your book in the Premium Catalog, you need an ISBN.  Now, Smashwords offers FREE ISBN Nos. You can assign a  Smashwords ISBN no. to your book.  If your book previously  has an ISBN, Smashwords allows you to assign it to your book.

images (1)
Write a Book, Publish It

7. Pricing and Sampling – So, you’re in Kenya, you’re wondering how to deal with pricing your e-book.  After all, Smashwords only does Dollars.  Yikes!  Two years ago, this was a challenge, but Paypal and Equity Bank recently made a deal that is making life easier for all of us online business people. ^_^ So, whatever the content of your book, if you can market it, then by all means price it and make extra money.  The minimum price you can set in Smashwords is .99 cents.  (Edited) If you manage sales of more than $10 a month, Smashwords pays the money into your Paypal account at the end of the month.  As for you accessing your money in Kenya, Paypal works with Equity Bank…read more here.

READ the Smashwords FAQs for any other questions you might have.

If you have all of the above, you’re definitely ready to hit Publish after agreeing to the Smashwords publishing agreement.

This is one avenue you can pursue if you’re thinking about writing books.  The best part is that once you publish the book, and leave it to circulate in the different online stores that Smashwords ships to for years.  Don’t unpublish it because then the book loses momentum. You can publish Fiction or Non-Fiction books.  Don’t forget to market the books offline and online.

Examples of Kenyan Books on Smashwords:

1.Yellow 

2. Kenya as Outsourcing Destination

3. I Dream of You

 

Choosing a Genre for Your Fiction in Kenya

What is a Fiction Genre?

It is a fiction classification based on content, setting, and mood of the story.  A book may fit more than one genres but most times a story leans to one type of genre.

Genres
Make a Choice of Genre

Why is it important to choose a genre when you write Fiction?

Choosing a genre helps you focus your writing.  It gives you a niche to concentrate on, instead of writing for everyone, you write for a specific target market and it helps you market your book easier after publishing.

Types of Book Genres

There are many different types of genres.  When you choose one, learn all you can about about that genre, read other authors who excel in the genre, then get to work.

Book Genre List

1. General – This is a book with no particular theme.

2. Action and Adventure (For kids and teenagers)

3. Anthologies – Stories compiled in one book without any particular theme

4. Biographical – If you have a stunning life story that must be told, this is your genre

5. Religious – Your story may have a strong religious theme, maybe focused on faith, or morals.  Basically, an exploration of a life with religion.  Your imagination, your story. This genre can have the following sub- genres:-

  • General
  • Fantasy
  • Futuristic
  • Historical
  • Romance
  • Suspense
  • Cultural

6. Coming of Age – These stories are about finding yourself, leaving home, or finding out what you want to do.

7. Contemporary Women – Stories about women, think Maeve Binchy

8. Cultural Heritage – These stories are mostly about culture, tribes, once again let your imagination go wild

9. Dystopian – Usually these stories feature an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it theme.  Think the movie I Am Legend with Will Smith, the Host by Stephanie Meyer

10. Fairy Tales/ Folk Tales/ Legends/ Mythology – My grandmother used to tell us stories about ogres who ate children when they did bad things when we visited her in her rural home.  She’d scare us that if we did something bad, that ogre would come get us when we slept.  Terrifying but that’s enough fodder for this genre.  Other ideas are like Cinderella, Maleficent…create your own.

Harry potter
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter

11. Fantasy – If you love Harry Potter, this is where those books lie.  This genre has different sub genres as follows:

  • Contemporary
  • General
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Historical
  • Paranormal
  • Urban
  • Collections/Anthologies – These should have a specific theme
naruto_597_progress_by_iitheyahikodarkii-d5bg2bf
Photo courtesy of the iiYahikoDarkii from Deviant

 

 

12. Graphic Novels – (Comics) If you love drawing and don’t know what to do with it, this is a good idea.  Make a character, and story.  They’re very fun to read. I love them. Most popular graphic novels are  Bleach and Naruto.

13. Holidays – Stories about Christmas time, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day and so forth…

14. Horror – Think Stephen King Novels.  Scary stories that won’t let readers sleep at night.

15. Humorous – If you have a great sense of humor, translate it on paper, write a funny story.

16. Legal – I think the person who’s done this the best is John Grisham.

17. Literary – For the more serious writer, Moby Dick/ Chinua Achebe/ e.t.c. such great minds. Are you up to it?

Eight Days to Live
Iris Johansen’s Eight Days to Live

 

 

18. Mystery/Detective – Who-Done-it theme. These stories have sub-genres that give them such a diverse range.

  • General
  • Collection & Anthologies – These must have a theme related to the main genre
  • Historical
  • International
  • Police Procedures
  • Private Investigators
  • Women Detectives

 

 

 

the villa
Nora Robert’s The Villa – A mixture of romance and a family saga

19. Romance – I’m partial to this genre.  You don’t have to go for the soppy romance story, you can add a sub-plot to add to the story’s texture.  Sub- Genres are as follows:

  • General
  • Collections & Anthologies – These must have a theme to them e.g. lost love, Nairobi romance, e.t.c.
  • Contemporary
  • Military
  • Fantasy
  • Multi-Cultural / Interracial
  • New Adult
  • Paranormal
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Science Fiction
  • Mystery – Suspense
  • Historical – Think those rebellion days before Kenya’s independence, or even further in times of the chiefs, so much fun to be had here, spark your imagination.

 

splinter cell20. Thrillers – Bring your readers to the edge of their seats with chilling stories, adventures across the country that leave you shivering.  Sub-Genres include:

  • General
  • Crime
  • Espionage
  • Historical
  • Legal
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Political
  • Supernatural
  • Suspense
  • Technology

How do you choose a Genre?

Your interests rule your decision, don’t tackle a genre you don’t understand or dislike.  If you are partial to horror stories, then learn all you can about that genre and bring your take on the topic to the table.  If it’s romance, learn all you can about the different sub-genres, and find where you’re most comfortable.  There are people who are great at creating the intricate plots found in a Thriller novel, and those who can sustain the emotional suspense found in a romance novel.  Explore your interests, and find what genre captures your imagination.

Do you have to choose a Genre?

When you go to the supermarket to buy baking flour, you find different aisles, each with a specific product.  There is the sugar aisle, the bread aisle. e.t.c…since you don’t want any of that, you go straight to the flour aisle.  There are different companies selling baking flour, but you have that one particular brand you like.  So, you walk up to it, and take it with you.  If you have time, you might browse the other aisles, and choose a different item.  If not, you go on to the check out aisle and go back to your business.

Fiction writers should equate the book industry to a supermarket. Choosing a genre is important because no matter what,  readers have different tastes. You cannot write for every one.  You’ll find people who only read thrillers, and nothing else.  You’ll find those who mix different genres.  When Readers walk in to a bookshop, or browse books on amazon, they are most likely to seek a book in the genre they like most.  If it’s romance, they’ll explore all the sub-genres in that category and never move anywhere else.  If it’s mystery, they’ll look for the different types of mysteries offered out there.  If you don’t choose a genre, readers might never stumble on your book.

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts:

You might have to explore a few genres before you find the one that fits best.  Don’t get discouraged, and make it a fun exercise.  If you choose a genre, find out who the big hitters are, read their books, find out why readers love their stories, and then get to work on your own interpretation of that genre.  Don’t copy a particular author’s style, because you’ll burn out very fast.  If you find a genre you like, at first you might tailor your stories like your favorite author’s style, but please, work at finding your own style.  Then your muse won’t stop talking to you.

Love Books
Learn your Genre, Love Books

The purpose of this list is to show a budding writer the diversity of fiction.  I hope Nairobi Fiction Writers will jump in and write in some of these genres, to add more titles on the shelves.

Keep Writing Folks!

Related Topics

How to Choose a Genre for your Novels

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!

Writing Resources: Self Publishing in Nairobi- What it Takes.

Hey, Hey, Hey!

I got emails asking a lot of questions on how self-publishing works.  How to do it, and why.  So, I thought this post might answer all these questions at once.lonely girl

Publishing in Nairobi, and I mean like getting a hard copy-honest to goodness paper book is a journey.
It requires your commitment to investment in order to get your book published into a physical book.  Then there is the footwork getting bookshops to stock and sell the books, and then advertising to get readers buying your books.  You may get lucky and get your book published by mainstream publishers in our country, but please note that this also requires effort as well.  Especially for someone writing Fiction.  Things might feel like the girl in the picture but don’t despair just  yet.

Baby-Steps – Be Brave

1. Be confident in yourself and share your work.  As long as you’re writing in your notebook and hiding your writing away, no one is going to read it.  So, if you’re worried how everyone will react to your writing, start small, and test out your stories.  If you’re reading this post, that means you’re already online, so Create a Blog.  There are lots of blogging platforms e.g WordPress, Wix and Blogspot.  All of which are easy to access.  Post your stories, share them and get other people to read them.  Share your site with friends and family, on Facebook, Twitter, Whats App, Instagram, make videos on TikTok, social media is so vast.  Talk about your stories there.

2.   The importance of step one is to give you a thick skin. People will read your work, some will love it others won’t like it.  And that’s the truth.  Now, the day you meet that first person who tells you that they don’t like your writing, you might think of scrapping that Blog and hiding again, but Don’t.  Don’t do it, don’t scrap that blog, just take a deep breath, find your comfort zone, and the courage to ask that person why.  If not, shake it off, because the same way you find that person who doesn’t like it, you’ll find a dozen others who do.  Be sure to remember that you can’t please everyone.  So my point is, grow a Thick Skin enough to take criticism and not give up.

3. If you’ve mastered the first two, you’re ready to explore the world of Self-Publishing.  Your book is a product.  Take it that way…find out who you want to write for (target audience), what genre you want to pursue, and get started writing.  It’s not an easy industry, and you’ll have many sleepless nights writing a book, but if you’re passionate, then it should be a fun process.  Romance, Mystery, Paranormal, Young-Adult, Contemporary, find out the meaning of these words when it comes to genre, and tailor your stories to it.  And then buckle down for the process.

4. Obviously, the first thing to do is to Write The Story.  Without a story…., what are you doing?  Get to work.  How many words have you written?  Have you finished a story? No? Goodness! Finish it!

5. Once it’s written, find a good editor.  Not someone who’ll put you down, but someone who’ll help you work out the kinks in the story.  A good editor is one who’ll take your story and  help you flesh it out.  Work with him/her, Chapter by Chapter, checking Grammar, Style, Plot Holes, e.t.c until you’re both satisfied.

6. If you’ve gotten your work edited, it’s time to start Self Publishing.  Things you need:

a. You need a Cover – You can do this yourself, or get someone good with Graphics to do it for you.  Do your research and come up with an image that suits your story. Be Creative, and give credit where it’s due.

b. You need a Blurb– This is that paragraph you find in the back of the book.

c. Talk About It – Tell as many people as possible that you’re publishing a book.

d. Choose the Self- Publishing platform that suits you best.  There are a few of them, and each one has it’s merits. So, here are your choices:

1. Smashwords – They offer you two choices, publish for free or put a price.  So, that is up to you. They pay through Paypal after your sales amount to $10.  Equity Bank offers a way to access your funds on Paypal.  So just get a Paypal account and consult with Equity Bank for the rest.

2. Amazon – There is no choice for free eBooks here, so once you publish, you must give it a price.  They pay you after your sales amount to $100 in the form of a check. (if you’re in Kenya) Once the check arrives in your mail, you get to cash it at your bank account as per your bank’s procedures.

3. Lulu – You can publish on Lulu.  I’m not so sure about the payment, I’ll check it out more, to better understand the Process.

4. If there are more, let me know….

download4e. Don’t forget to Market your Book.  Talk about it, share it, give it for free, get people to know that you’re writing and publishing.  This is the most important part.  Don’t stop writing!  Don’t publish one book and stop. The best form of marketing is writing more, get as much of your stories published. (Don’t forget to make them interesting and entertaining, because if you’re publishing uninteresting stories, you’re going to have a hard time.)

7. You’re probably asking who’ll read your stories right?  Don’t worry, there are lots of people online, in fact, the whole world is online and extremely curious.  If you have a strong voice, and a compelling story, there are readers. There are also loads of people in Kenya who prefer to read eBooks online.  There is no excuse to say that no one will read your work.  There are people who will read your fiction.

Have you reached here?

Well, if you have and are inspired, I wish you the best.  And once you get that blog running, or that book published, drop me a line.  Strength in numbers right, I’ll share it with everyone I know, and in turn, they too will share it…you get the gist of it, self-publishing is about networking and getting as many people as you can to read your stories.  It’s even better when your stories are amazing, coz then they sell themselves too.

I hope this long Post has given you some direction and I hope to read more fiction from you.

Writing Resources: Conflict and Why It’s Important

Conflict!

You need it in a story, and it has to have purpose.

Different types of Conflict

Man Vs. Man

Man Vs. Man is the most common Conflict.  Your character having a villain in his life who just wants to cause trouble.  This is the conflict used with most superhero stories, supernatural stories, and even mystery cases.  Find out who done it.

Man Vs. Nature

I know you’ve watched 2012 or know the story. It is the best example of a Man Vs. Nature kind of story. Man surviving desert storms, the ice age(although I don’t think this is possible in Kenya…but hey, you’re the writer), Floods, Drought, e.t.c.

Man  Vs. Society

This is the type of story that is about one person facing off with an entire society.  They mostly occur in traditional settings, an individual challenging customary rules, and having  a hard time because it’s a challenge to change an entire society.  Most times, this individual may end up being the odd one out, and the story is how he/she handles that sort of thing.  Examples of this are: Mandela’s Story, Martin Luther King’s Story, in Fiction – Avatar by Micheal Crichton.

Man Vs. Himself

This is the type of story I truly love because it starts out with the main character as the underdog and ends with him being the king of the jungle.  Writers that pull off this type of conflict have a great story, one that is shared for ages because each one of us has something we struggle against in our lives.  And the moment you stop struggling and master that thing, it becomes a source of triumph and achievement.  Examples are like the Hellen Keller Story.

There are those who are able to mix all these conflicts in the story, making it complex and exciting.  There are those who prefer to follow one simple conflict, which can leave you breathless as well.  So, it is up to you to plan out your story using the conflict that most excites you and your plot.  Just don’t mishmash it in there and make it confusing to your reader, take it slow and plan it out until it is believable.

Further Reading

Literary Conflict

Literary Devices – Conflict