Fire by Dora Okeyo

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Fire

by Dora Okeyo

A boy is born in the land of Leo. As the sound of the cattle horn is heard, everyone in the Kingdom celebrates the birth of not only a boy, but the Crown Prince. His name is Ustawi.

The hands that hold him foretell a prosperous future, but just like every dream has it’s valleys, so has Ustawi’s birth. One man has seen the evil that’s to befall the kingdom under the boy’s reign, his name is Ukweli. He is the Seer.

Fire begins the story of the Prince’s life and as you read through a story rich in culture and customs you can only ask yourself, can the Seer fight the gods? Can he avert the impending doom that’s to come?

Currently reading this book, a review to come soon.

Check it out, Fire is available on Amazon’s Kindle as an e-book and as a paperback book on Amazon

Find more books by Dora here.

Self- Publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Promotion & Awareness

5. Self- Publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Promotion & Awareness

download (10)Books are sold by authorpreneurs who take an active role in publicizing their work. Authors working with big publishing companies are lucky in that they get creative, marketing and PR departments working for them.  You have chosen to self-publish a book. You’re choosing to take on all those departments as well as write more books, that is, Double Duty.  Most African writers end up peddling their books from their handbag as I’ve heard once before. They are their own marketing team, their own creative department, and they are the PR team as well. In between all that, they must come up with the next book.

Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself here. Be strict with yourself.  Take yourself seriously, that means coming up with writing schedules, and promotion plans. Please note if you have an eight-to-five job, this might mean extra dedication, on your part. If you’re in between work or have never had a job and are thinking to self-publish for money, you have more time. Good for you, please use it well and beat down that procrastination monster.

Ways to Promote and build Awareness:

1. Get involved with the publishing industry in Kenya – There are different events that arranged by different Kenyan publishing companies and individuals. Participate in them, let people know you’re writing, and what your story is about. If possible, direct the people you meet in these events to your work. If you tell five people, chances are one or two will read it. If you tell twenty, five or six will get there. So, tell up to a hundred people. The number will grow. You’re building an audience, raising awareness.

2. Utilize your family and friends – they are a powerful network. Take ownership of your work and let your family know that writing is important to you. Show them what you’ve done. They’ll take pride in you, if not; convince them to take pride in you. If you’re having a hard time convincing them, tell them it’s not going to stop so they better get used to it, and start reading your stuff.

There are situations that occur, for example, I have moved countries in the past years. You find that you’re leaving your foundation community for a new one, and you are suddenly the odd one out. You have family but not as many close friends. This could lead to shyness, and/or insecurity. You’re the only one who knows you write – that kind of thing. In this case, take it one person at a time. You’ll find someone who believes in your work and go from there. Just don’t allow yourself to self-publish alone.  It gets tough, so talk about it.

3. Explore the Online Community – Join writing groups on Facebook and other social platforms. Are you on Twitter?  Follow other authors, readers, book reviewers, publishing houses, and other people involved in the book industry. You can also follow your favorite authors. Start a Blog. A blog is essential for any writer. You should have a blog. When starting out, you can share your struggles, and they’ll be many. If you’re established, use it to let people know what you’re writing about. When you’re successful, let people know about their favorite characters in your stories. Blogs are your home online. Please start one already if you haven’t.

4. Your book is your product. Talk about it, blog about it, tweet about it, Facebook about it, create posters, ask for reviews from noiseother bloggers, guest blog on people’s blogs and talk about it. Do you get my drift? Self-publishers sell their work by getting noisy and loud both online and offline.

Remember, it helps to have a quality story that’s worth the hoopla. Although, this is relative, some people have managed to sell stories that aren’t as good. If you have an advertising and selling gene, this is the time to make it work overtime. Get people reading those chapters. Don’t forget to write new stories while you’re at it. New stories are the best form of advertising.

←Short Description & Blurb

Let’s Talk Money→

Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Short Description / Blurb

4. Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Short Description / Blurb

When you pick up a book, you turn it to the back where you read a description of the story. The description lets your reader know who the main characters are, what they do, and what makes the story worth a read.

In short, this part of the book summarizes your story in one short paragraph. You have to entice your audience otherwise; they’ll put it back on the shelf, or move on to the next e-book.

Practice makes perfect. Teach yourself how to summarize your story.

←Plagiarism & Copyright

Promotion & Awareness→

Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Plagiarism & Copyrights

3. Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – Plagiarism & Copyrights

I’ll touch a little on this.  Copyrights are a contentious issue in Kenya, mostly because there are many copycat entrepreneurs. When we talk self-publishing in Kenya, you’re mostly going to have your books published online, on your website or on international platforms. In this case, you, as the writer, you have to watch that you haven’t plagiarized someone out there. If you’re sure with your creativity, then the platform you choose helps you place copyright rights on your work.

Educate yourself on Creative Common Copyrights. They’ll help you protect your work. The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.  Read More about this on their website.

I think people should never be afraid of sharing their work because of copyrights. If you can prove that the story is yours: that means keeping a clear record of development, from drafting, all fifty-or-so scribbled drafts and different word .docs you created in the process, to the final product, then you shouldn’t have a hard time proving your ownership.

In Kenya, you can decide to register your author name as a business/company to protect your creative products. Consult with a lawyer, and find out how this can be done.  A good lawyer won’t mind having a conversation about these issues with you.  Learn what you can do to protect your work legally.  If you do catch someone stealing your work, take the necessary measures, grab the same lawyer and go to court if you can’t resolve it amicably.

If lawyers are not in your means, find out if the person is selling your work online. Google allows you to report copyright infringement, so does Amazon.com, and any other platform you choose to self-publish. Make use of the report button and follow instructions.  If all fails, result to shaming them on your blog, social media, e.t.c, people will listen.  No one likes a cheat.

Please note that the same process will be carried out on you if you plagiarize someone’s work.

In the end, it is all about your own integrity and responsibility.  Be Original at all times, and know your rights.

Food for thought:

There are established writers who offer their work for free online.  They go as far as supporting people who get their books in dubious ways.  I think the point is to get as many people reading.  The more popular a book is, whether it is through pirating or whatever, it gets staying power, and therefore more sales.  Just a Thought.  Sharing is not bad as long as you credit the author fully.

Outright robbing however, that is terrible.  (This is when an individual takes your story, changes the names of the characters and decides to put his/her name as the original writer.  This is wrong! Don’t Do It! Just Don’t)

←A Cover

Short Description & Blurb→

Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – A Cover

2. Self-publishing Fiction e-books in Kenya – A Cover

So, your story is complete.  Now, you need a great cover for your e-book. This is also the reason why you need to choose a genre. Covers often interpret what your story is about to your audience. Every book you’ve ever bought has a cover that attracted you to it. You might have known the author, but the cover ultimately drew your eye to that book. Don’t think so? Check yourself the next time you stand in a bookshop. Really, I dare you to test this out.

indexTo use examples, Romance novels use specific types of pictures on the covers e.g. hot guys, pretty ladies, sexy shoes, jewelry, silky fabrics, flowers, wedding gowns, if it can invoke the sense of romance, they’ve used it on a romance novel. In this case, reach out to some good-looking, gym-visiting Kenyan guys and chicks and get them to pose for your romance novel cover. 

When it comes to horror and murder stories, there is blood on the cover, green monsters, crime scene tape, scary monsters, bloody scissors or knife, guns; I’ll scare myself so I’ll stop here. I’m hoping you’re getting the idea.

Reach out to graphic designers, and artists to help you come up with a cover that speaks to your audience. You can also purchase a cover from different cover makers on their sites, Deviant Art, or in real life creative shops.

Remember, stick to the genre covers and come up with your take on them. If it’s romance, create a cover with a romance theme. If it’s Sci-fi, they choose those robots and aliens for a reason. To let people know what genre they’re buying. So, know your genre, your story, and find a cover to match.

P/S: Don’t use borrowed, copied pictures in your work. It is always best to get permission for pictures you get online, or from people. This is to avoid jumping into a copyright argument. Go original at all times, do your best to follow this rule.

←Your Story

Plagiarism & Copyrights→

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.

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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

 

Writing Resources: Self Publishing in Nairobi- Fun Post

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 hard, and challenging.
I think you need to be holding at least Kshs. 100,000 (this is me guesstimating it could cost more) to get a book published, then there is the footwork getting bookshops to buy the books, and then advertising to get the people buying your books.  Unless you get lucky and get your book published by the mainstream publishers in our country, things look bleak for you right?  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 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, geez 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, just 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.  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.