Six Things to know when Self-publishing in Kenya

Self-Publishing is a learning journey

Think of it as a learning journey when you enter the publishing industry. At first, you don’t really know much, but as time goes you get to learn and know what is working and what is not.  You will need patience and the will to put in work.  Your dedication is a must.  Most important, know what you want out of it.  Here are six questions you should ask yourself at the beginning.

1. Are you publishing fiction or non-fiction?

Are you a creative with an abundant vault of stories, poems, musings that you feel would entertain, or bring joy and inspiration to people. Fiction is art, it is very creative and comes in a myriad of forms. Best of all, there is no restriction to it. Fiction books give you more freedom to be creative.

Are you writing non-fiction? Non-fiction books are fact-based. They are also industry-based, or educative. People read them to learn. You need to be very conversant on the topic you choose for your non-fiction book. What non-fiction topic are you passionate about? Decide – Fiction or Non-fiction.

 2. In what Fiction Genre? In what Non-Fiction Industry? 

Now that you’ve decided what type of book you want to write, let’s break it down further. In this post, I’ll assume you’re after writing commercial/popular Fiction books as opposed to literary works or literary merit work (which is also a choice by the way). Fiction is categorized into Genres that are recognized easily by readers. For example, mystery, thrillers, romance, children’s books, e.t.c. Educate yourself on the different types of fiction people read. Then, choose a genre for your fiction work.

For Non-fiction, decide what industry you want to write for. Are you a baker with expertise? Are you a chef with awesome cooking skills you want to share or teach? Are you a teacher who has discovered a new way to teach kids without having them memorize boring texts? What kind of content do you want to provide in your non-fiction book? At what level are you in the industry, that is, beginner/intermediate/expert? Decide –> Genre or Industry

3. Who is your target audience? Who is your core audience?

Now that you’ve chosen the type of book and in what genre or industry, choosing a target audience or a core audience comes next. I will tell you right now, you cannot write for everyone. Everyone is different. We all have different tastes when it comes to our fiction reads. I might enjoy Game of Thrones, someone else might find it unbearable. GOT is categorized as fantasy, on account of the dragons….loz. Their target audience is Adults who love Fantasy. Be very niche based with your fiction, it will help you grow an audience. Are you writing for kids, young adults, adults, women, young women, young men, high school kids, older generation, younger generation? Who are you writing for?

In Non-Fiction, who is your core audience? Beginners, experts, novices, hobby people, intermediate, startups, people seeking inspiration? If you’re writing an autobiography, biography, life story, a literary work, what point are you trying to put across and to whom? Know it. Decide –> Who is your audience?

4. Who is already in the game?

Whatever your idea, fiction or non-fiction, you’d best believe that someone has already written it. You need to know it, read that content, and find inspiration from it. Your main goal is to find out what other authors, in the fiction genre or in the non-fiction industry you chose, are doing. Learn from their work, their experiences, and transform your work into something close, good, or even greater. Decide –>Who do you want to be like when your writing career grows up?

  5. What are the authors in the game before me doing to get an audience?

Popular authors have a following, or die-hard fans that will read their work no matter what they publish. e.g. I will read anything Nora Roberts produces. Why, because I read to be entertained and know her books won’t let me down. She’s made a brand of her work. Now, your turn to make your brand. P/S – Your work at the starting point is triple, you need to convince an audience to read your work. Then, you must assure your growing audience that you’ll consistently deliver great work to entertain. Learn from the greats in your chosen Genre, or Industry. Decide–>What kind of audience do you want? e.g. Nora’s rabid fan(Elly) who will buy my work no matter what. how do i get her loyalty?

6. Will it work for me? How can I work out my own plan?

Now, it is very common for authors/writers to copy or emulate authors they idolize or admire. There is nothing wrong with that, unless you’re downright plagiarizing published work, which is absolutely wrong. (don’t plagiarize) However, you need a starting point, your chosen idol is a great start.

Use it to grow your work, your voice, your style. Once you’re clear on what type of content you want to create, what it looks like at its absolute best, then find a way to make it your own. Audiences gravitate to authenticity. Decision –> Be real, don’t cheat, and map out your goals for your work. Most of all, be passionate, and that should get you passionate fans too.

Once you understand the answers to these six questions, then you’ll have a plan to run with as you start your self-publishing journey.

The Red Kanga

Friday Feature1Mystic woods

Prompt:

The Mystic Woods! What story do you see here?

The Red Kanga

Do you remember…?”

Kuria glanced at the woman perched on the stump in the middle of the clearing. She had a new red kanga tied around her hips. Her green blouse, made of soft silky fabric, clung to her curves. She’d covered her hair, that glorious long dark mess, hidden with a green headscarf. He couldn’t see her face because she was staring at the green grass at her feet. She held a stick, poking at the ground as though searching for answers in the soil nourishing the green blades.

“Do you remember we used to come here when we were kids?”

Nostalgia clung to her words; brought back memories.

“I remember,” Kuria said with a wistful smile. “I remember you never covered your hair those days.”

She chuckled, poking at the grass faster.

“I had time to play with a comb then. These days I’m too busy.”

“Busy is a state of mind, Shiro.”

Kuria shifted, pressing his back against the rough trunk a tall tree. Hundreds grew around them. He stuck a blade of grass between his teeth and stared up at the waving branches above. The sun sifted through, rays of light falling on the stump in the middle of the clearing, highlighting Shiro. It looked like a natural spotlight.

She paused in her poking to glance at him.

“Are you going to tell me why you called me?” she asked. “I left githeri cooking on the jiko.”

“You always have githeri cooking.” Kuria scowled. She never invited him to eat it. “Who are you cooking for this time?”

She shrugged.

“The house is full of people. Stop worrying about my githeri. What do you want to tell me?”

“I went to the shopping center to get charcoal earlier.” Kuria threw the blade of grass on the ground and crossed his arms against his chest. “I heard you were seen there with Chege. Are you two together now?”

Shiro scoffed.

“You’re like a woman. Why do you listen to gossip?”

“Is it true Chege bought you mangoes from Mama Nora, or not?”

“The mangoes looked good.”

Shiro tossed her stick and sat up straight, a frown dancing on her forehead.

“So he bought you mangoes?”

“Ah ha,” Shiro said with a nod. “What’s wrong with eating mangoes?”

“I bring you avocados from my mother’s tree and you sell them, but you ate the mangoes, didn’t you?”

“Chege paid good money for them,” Shiro said as though that should make sense.

Kuria frowned.

The woman was going to drive him insane.

She just didn’t see the point.

“I don’t want you to eat anything Chege buys you again.”

Shiro gaped.

“Did you hear me?”

Shiro stood up, her hands on her hips.

“You’re going mad, Kuria. You can’t stand there and dictate what I can or can’t eat. Who died and made you my master?”

“I’m warning you.”

“Warn away,” Shiro said. “Keep going and I will go find Chege and tell him to buy me all the fruits in the market.”

“I’ll kill him.”

“Then you’ll go to jail,” Shiro said. “Anything else you wanted to say?”

Kuria fumed, annoyed by her innocent expression. She had no idea how mad she got him. How angry he was that she dared talk with that Chege.

Why couldn’t she see how he felt about her? Why didn’t she care?

He thought about the avocados he took to her house. Three afternoons ago, he’d climbed the avocado tree behind his mother’s house and spent two solid hours picking each fruit with care. The trick with avocados was not to drop them from the tree. They bruised easy. Bruised avocados turned to rot.

Yes, he’d carefully picked each fruit, and hauled two large baskets down the tree. He’d taken one to his mother, the other he’d kept for Shiro.

She’d thanked him with a smile. Ah that smile…, he glanced at her face now. That smile was missing. She didn’t grace him with her smile too often, so when she’d smiled at him that day, he’d felt like he had won the lottery.

Yesterday, he’d gone to take milk to the dairy and he’d heard the women there talking about Shiro’s avocados. Shiro had sold all the avocados he’d given her. It had hurt to know she hadn’t even tried to eat one.

“If you’re going to scowl at me, I’m going home.”

Shiro’s irritation was clear and he pushed off the tree when she started to leave.

“Why did you sell my avocados? I brought them for you and your siblings to eat. Why sell them?”

“You brought a basket full. They would have gone bad in the house.”

“They weren’t ripe. You could have divided them and—

“I don’t like eating avocados.” Shiro sighed. “Don’t you have a fruit you don’t like?”

“No.” Kuria fumed. “You used to eat them fine when I gave you a slice over at our place.”

“That’s because I didn’t want to disappoint you.” Shiro shivered. “I don’t like the taste very much.”

“What kind of excuse is that? If you don’t like something just say it,” Kuria said confused. “Did you sell all the avocados?”

Shiro nodded. “I sold them all.”

Kuria scoffed and shook his head. “So much for my efforts.”

“Don’t look so disappointed. I used the money to buy this kanga. Do you like it?”

Kuria looked at the red kanga.

“My old one was fading.” Shiro smiled and his heart jumped the beat racing. Shiro’s smile had that effect on him.

“What do you think?” Shiro prompted, touching the red kanga.

“It looks good on you,” Kuria said, clearing his throat with a slight cough. He liked this pleased smile on Shiro’s lips. He wondered what else he could do to bring it back. “I can bring you more avocados if you like.”

“Will you?” Shiro asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” Kuria said thinking his mother wouldn’t notice one basket missing.

“Are you going to get mad if I don’t eat them?”

Kuria shrugged.

“No, as long as you don’t sell to Chege.”

Shiro laughed and turned to leave.

“I’m going to finish cooking my githeri. You’re welcome to come and eat it, if you like.”

Kuria grinned because that was the first time she’d ever invited him to eat her githeri. She left the clearing in quick strides, glancing back once to wave at him. He stared at the stump where she’d sat, and smiled.

Yes, he remembered. He remembered every time Shiro met him in this clearing. Every laugh, every smile, and every argument they’d had.

One of these days, Kuria thought, he was going to propose to Shiro right here, and she was going to say yes.

****

githeri – popular beans and maize traditional dish

kanga – colorful wrap

Read other Stories in the EA Friday Feature:

The Human Shrine

Never Complain, Never Explain

Dear Michael

The Haunting of Mystic Woods

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FREE READ – Download the EA Friday Feature August Anthology here.