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!

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.