Self Publishing: Lessons I’m learning and things I hope to achieve

I have been writing for two decades now.

My first attempt at self-publishing led to the production of a short story, Dear Yellow, on Smashwords in November 2011. I have published 30 ebooks on Smashwords since then. Of the titles published on Smashwords, the most reviewed are: 21 Days, Pieces, Made for You, and Say You Love Me.

In 2014 and early 2015, I got onto Amazon and by then it was CreateSpace that called out to me and I tried my hand at it and went for publishing books for sale on Amazon. My author page now looks pretty much like this:

One of the greatest challenges working and writing then publishing on Amazon was that I could not reach out to more Kenyans and persuade them to buy the books online, because first it meant using a debit or credit card and second, if they wanted paperback copies the cost of shipping was ten times more than the book. As a Writer, though Amazon offered me the books at an author’s price, I also had to factor in shipping costs and this had me ship books only in the fall- so readers here could only get copies once a year! It was exhausting!

Sometime in 2018, a Writer friend, Elly shared her experience self-publishing in Kenya, and I reached out to a couple of publishers and finally got feedback from Publish 4 All here in Kenya.

So, in 2019 I worked with them and published Sifuna, then followed it with Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi and In the Quiet.

  • From 2011, to date, I am learning that it takes a lot of work to write, and not just jot down words but to align them into a story and a memorable one as such.
  • I am also learning that self-publishing means you put in the work, if you do not work on a quality cover, or format your book into the right size and ensure all contents fit the frame, then it’s nerve wrecking and means you go back and forth with the printers until you get it right and all this comes at a cost because in Kenya we import paper, so any paper waster is money wasted.
  • Today, I appreciate the efforts put in by the Kenya Copyright Board to ensure provision of copyright certification for content produced. Elly gives a step by step account of how to copyright your work in Kenya-> here
  • It’s also easier and faster buying an ISBN from the Kenya National Library Services at www.isbn.ac.ke

I hope to keep writing and publish more books for as long as I’ve got breath in me and for this year, it’s been a daunting task to complete a book I had wanted to publish in August.

  • I would love to be vastly read and to also see more young girls and women writing books, both fiction and non-fiction in Kenya.
  • One more thing I hope to achieve is designing good book covers. I am currently taking lessons on basic graphic design and learning how expensive good software is! So, I hope I can learn how to create book covers and in the future buy the software and use it.

Until then, if you’re interested in print on demand services, email Publish 4 All at p4akenya@gmail.com and they’ll give you a breakdown of the services they offer.

Writing Goals

If there’s one thing I learned this year with writing is that I have to be purposeful about it.

When you are consistent it is easy to track your progress, to know what works for you and what does not.

I’ve had to maintain my writing hours waking up at 2am and writing till 4am, sometimes I switch it up and write between 4am and 6am, anything to get in those two hours of writing time.

Cup Filled With Coffee Near Book
pexels.com

However, if you can be good then you can do better and keep improving as you go and I’m trying new things to see to this. So, here we go, these are my writing goals which I hope to upgrade into habits:

  1. Write something that scares me. I love being comfortable in my writing and this was a challenge from a friend, she writes erotica, and she looked at me and asked “have you ever written a sex scene?” I almost relocated to another universe! Then we started talking about how sex is depicted in romance novels versus the reality of it and once that was done, she asked me to write outside of what I know and I’m good at.  So, going forward, all the things that freak me out- the little insecurity nuggets, I’m writing about them- exploring them and getting better at mastering them.
  2. Write a new genre: I have written romance, African literary fiction and a bit of mystery and it’d be great to try something new once in a while to get a feel of the genres.
  3. Write about what I read. This is not to be taken as a review, however, there are times when I read books and they make me feel some type of way or have me asking questions and I rarely note these down…or if I do, I never look back at them or explore them. I’m buying a notebook for this to build up on my readership experience.
  4. Write for word counts. I know…I took part in NanoWrimo, but why wait until the eleventh month of the year to write for word counts? So, I’m looking forward to adding this to my writing time so that I do not get back to bed at 4am without hitting or surpassing a word count target.
  5. Meet and engage with other Writers. Look, I should be doing this already or write about having done this and the truth is, I have not committed to it. So, I’m already talking to a few friends here and there- working on an event in the coming year, hoping lots of people will get to attend it and learn a thing or two, it’s my way of putting myself out there as a Writer. I want to do it!

So there you have it, those are my writing goals from this moment and I look forward to updating you on my progress!

Have a lovely weekend!