3 Very Important Tips Self-publishing Authorpeneurs Should Never Forget

As an authorpreneur in Kenya, you might decide that you would like to self-publish your book. A few years ago the thought would have seemed impossible but these days, international self-published authors such as E.L.James of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ or Guy Kawasaki who self-published ‘APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur’, have books that have gained popularity and sold millions. After hearing that, a fiction writer might think that it’s very easy to publish a book and make a lot of money online; however, it is not that easy. Self-published authors still work very hard to not only write, but create their product (the book they’ve authored) and sell it to the market in an effective way in order to achieve success. It’s not an easy road since unlike signed authors who have a publishing house backing them up, you might have to do a lot of work yourself instead. However if you are an author who is ready to take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur, you can achieve success.
There are three important aspects of self-publishing your book that you should never take lightly and should tackle in the most professional of ways. These three aspects are imperative to the success of your book.APE with lady

1. Getting a professional editor to edit your book
You might be a very good and talented writer, however; even the best make mistakes. You need to get someone to read your book and edit for any grammatical errors or to check for good writing. It is therefore important to find at least one editor who is skilled and seasoned in editing books professionally for writers. You can have 2 to 5 other people read your draft in order to assist with editing, such as your friends or family who are well versed in editing; but it’s always important to make sure one of the people who is editing your book before you publish it has some professional experience or background. You can decide to find an editor and hire them for their services. If you are a new authorpreneur and do not have a large budget; there are ways you can look for editing services for very low costs or for free. Websites such as Writer.ly or Writing.com have people who offer editing services for authors looking to self-publish. They have their rules on how they go about it, but you can check two or three sites to see which one’s the best fit for you.

2. Getting a professional and well-designed cover page for your book

Save my heart cover page - elly kamari

Elly Kamari E-book Cover page

It’s very important to get a well-designed cover page for your book before you self-publish. The cover page should be able to attract the correct target audience for your book as well as portray the ‘face’ of your book effectively. In business, presentation is very important, therefore; you book is no different. If you are not talented or well-versed at graphic design or cover page design, you need to get someone who is. If you have a family member or friend who has such skills, then approach them and have them do a professional cover page for your book. If you do not know anyone near you who does graphic design, you can choose to look for a professional graphic designer or photographer (if you require a professional photograph done for your book cover) and hire their services. If you have a small budget; you can look for sites that have artists who offer cover page design services at a lower cost or for free to get referrals or gain experience and exposure. Try out sites such as Deviant art or Writer.ly, they also offer design services; where you can network with these individuals and find out how they offer their services. You can also inquire on fiction writing sites since they may also have or know of individuals who offer those services as well.

3. Writing a descriptive and stellar ‘blurb’ for your book
A ‘blurb’ is the little paragraph that is at the back of every book which describes the story in short and lets the potential reader know what the book is about. It’s very important since it’s what helps you ‘close’ the sale on your potential reader. It has to be engaging and compelling enough to leave the potential reader wanting more – enough to buy your book. This is similar in business to a product description. You have to ensure you entice the target reader with just enough information to pique his/her interest. This requires the writer’s talent in writing and summarizing a story in a few sentences, so make sure you are up to the challenge. Have one or two people read the blurb, especially those who haven’t read your book yet and get their reaction on whether it piques their interest.

Write a stellar blurb for your book

Write a stellar blurb for your book

I hope those three pointers have helped any of you authorpreneurs out there, now get to work and get that book of yours ready for selling!

If you have any other pointers on how to get your book ready for the market before selling it, feel free to share below ^_^.

This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog

How Authorpreneurs in Kenya Can Connect and Gain Loyal Followers

As an authorpreneur in Kenya, you may be wondering how to connect your brand (you as an author) to your target audience in order to gain loyal followers who will not only purchase your books; but also share your fiction works with their friends and networks as well. You will need to apply a kind of marketing called inbound marketing in which you attract, convert, sell and delight your target audience. There are various ways of engaging with your target audience and achieving those four goals. Today I want to share four effective ways in which an authorpreneur can do so.

Authorpreneur 101 pic

1. Create a blog and post on it consistently
As a fiction writer if you don’t already have a blog, you need to create one right away. There are many reasons why any brand should have a blog, and for a fiction writer such as yourself – this applies to your brand as well. It is a very effective way of connecting with your audience; as well as sharing your sample fiction works and updates about your brand or any other interests you would like to share. You can write short stories in your blog which your audience can read to get a better understanding of your talent and style of writing as well as the genre in which you write in. A great example is this blog on Romance in Nairobi. You can also choose to share helpful and relevant information in any topic; whether it is geographical information about locations you write about, or helpful tips to writers who are beginning to write fiction stories. This is your own space online that will attract your target audience and let them know more about yourself and possibly convert them to become your loyal followers.

2. Create social media pages and engage with your audience
Once you attract your audience, it’s very important to engage and interact with them. The best way to do this is on social media since that’s where most of them are as well. If you don’t already have accounts, create pages for your brand in which you will connect and engage with your audience. You can choose two or three social sites that you feel comfortable to start with, instead of opening numerous accounts that you cannot keep up with. Examples are; creating a Facebook page for your brand image, opening a Twitter account and then you can add another social media site such as Pinterest or LinkedIn depending on whether you want a visual based social site or you want to network with other authors. You don’t have to get a third social media account, if you are comfortable with only two, stick with that. Make sure you post consistently on your social media sites and use the 80/20 rule; 80% helpful and engaging material and 20% promotion on your brand products i.e. Fiction books.

Elly Kamari - Author FB page

Elly Kamari – Author FB page

3. Create accounts on self-publishing sites
As a writer, you need to be available in sites that are used in your industry because that is where majority of your target audience will be as well. Two main examples of these sites are Smashwords and Amazon. They are important since they sell fiction books to their customers and this is a ready market for you to attract. This is very important especially if you are a self-publishing fiction writer. If you don’t already have accounts in these sites, make sure you open them as soon as possible. You will be able to create a profile for your brand as well as share your writing to your target audience as well.

Self publish on smashwords.com

Self publish on smashwords.com

4. Visit industry-related events and festivals
As a fiction writer, it is necessary to connect with other writers in your genre and area; as well as readers who have a major interest in your industry. Great places to connect with such people are poetry and spoken word events, festivals such as the Storymoja Hay Festival which offers a chance to meet great authorpreneurs in various genres and master-classes that offer insightful discussions and information on various industry-related topics. These kinds of events will be visited by both your potential target audiences – avid readers interested in meeting authors and learning more about their interests. You will also meet and network with other authors; those who have been in the industry for long or new fiction writers beginning to write seriously such as yourself. Therefore ensure you are always on the look out for such events; so make sure you attend the Storymoja Hay Festival in the Nairobi Museum starting on the 17th of September this month.

Come to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Sept. 2014

Come to the Storymoja Hay Festival in Sept. 2014

Get started on doing the above things and you will be on your way to creating a strong and loyal following for your brand as an authorpreneur in Kenya.

Do you have any other sites or tips for authorpreneurs to visit or follow? Please feel free to share below.

This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog

5 Target Audiences that Authorpreneurs in Kenya Can Select for Their Books

If you are a fiction writer in Kenya and you decide to become an authorpreneur, you might wonder how to get started. The best thing to do when you decide to become one, is to think exactly how you would if you were starting a business – because technically, that’s what you’re doing. Therefore; it would make sense to select a target market for your book. The reason why you should select a target market for your writing is because, no business or brand can be able to cater for the needs of everyone at the same time; therefore, it makes sense to select a specific group of readers in whom you can concentrate on and produce material which will interest and attract them. This will in turn lead them to purchase more of your books. As a writer, the way to select a target audience is by selecting a genre to write in; maybe you already write in a specific genre already – that’s wonderful. However if you don’t really have any one genre you write in, you need to select one in which you will be writing the fiction material you intend to market. This will help you in focusing your marketing and sales activities which will in turn, save you costs and resources which you will allocate effectively in the right platforms.
Here are some genres you can choose to write in and can even be focused to a specific geographical location if you wish to focus your target audience.

1. Romance
This is the highest selling genre in fiction writing (Romance Writer’s of America Association’s reported figures of Simba Information Estimates) and a lot of self-published writers in Kenya basically write in this genre. You can choose to write in this genre and focus on your target audience more by choosing to write Romantic Comedy; which is a light-hearted story detailing a romantic story and complications that arise in relationships. You can also choose to write a Historical Romance, which is a romantic story in a historical setting. You can also choose to focus on geographical setting, such as Romance in Nairobi, where you write a romantic story detailing a relationship that is based mainly in Nairobi where the characters meet. A great example of a fiction writer in Kenya who writes in this genre is Elly Kamari on her blog. This is a great audience to target since most romance readers are loyal fans; if they read from a talented author who satisfies them, they stay loyal to the author and constantly buy their books when published. Great examples of international authors with loyal readers in this genre are Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts.

Danielle Steel is one of the top Romance authors internationally

Danielle Steel is one of the top Romance authors internationally

2. Crime/Mystery
This is another top selling genre in fiction writing as international authors such as John Grisham can attest to with also a large loyal following (myself included – I have read all his books but one; and it was because it was not in his usual genre). This is usually a story detailing a crime that is commissioned or the investigation of a crime and the solution. For those readers who are not fans of romance, you will find that a majority of those audiences will choose to read mystery novels. There is quite a large following of mystery novel readers in Kenya and it’s another genre that would do well. You can choose to focus it once again by choosing a geographical location such as East Africa or Africa itself to create a niche for yourself as an authorpreneur in Kenya.

3. Horror
This is also in the top five selling genres in the world, the fifth to be specific (Romance Writer’s of America Association’s reported figures of Simba Information Estimates). It also has quite a following not only internationally but in the Kenyan audience as well. I was a die-hard Stephen King fan in my teenage years and read most of his books; I was fascinated by the genre. It has a particularly loyal audience that search out authors who become popular or are great writers; you would not lack for a market in this genre. If you don’t already know, Horror Fiction is about a story that incorporates supernatural and/or inexplicable elements and is intended to arouse fear and dread. A Kenyan who writes in this genre is Peter Nena on his Demogorgon Fiction Blog, he has very detailed stories that evoke dread and horror to his readers; his stories keep you at the edge of your seat.

4. Fantasy Fiction
This is a rather broad genre that can be focused into other specific genres due to its popularity and diversity. Fantasy fiction often details a story involving imaginary beings in the real world or in an alternate reality and assuming suspension of disbelief about magic and/or supernatural powers. This is an appropriate description for the book series – Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. There are readers who like a fantastical twist to fiction and it’s a large audience out there as well; therefore, you can pick this genre, write in it and make it your own.

The 'Harry Potter' book series by J.K.Rowling is a very popular Fantasy fiction genre

The ‘Harry Potter’ book series by J.K.Rowling is a very popular Fantasy fiction genre

5. Science Fiction
Science Fiction is about stories that feature how science and technological advances affect individuals and civilizations. This is another genre that has a loyal audience internationally and even in Kenya. I also went through a science fiction phase myself and was an avid Arthur C. Clarke reader for about two years. If you like writing in this genre, you most definitely have an audience out there and you can once again, focus your niche in Africa if you wish to create your own niche.

Now that you know five target audiences you can write for, go out there and start connecting with them. Start your journey on becoming a successful authorpreneur in Kenya.

This post was originally published on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog.

Why Writers in Kenya Should Start Practicing Authorpreneurship

Authorpreneurship is the business of creativity (hazeledwards.com). It is relevant especially to illustrators, designers, writers, multi-media innovators, photographers and other artistic individuals. Authorpreneurship helps you invest in your creativity to increase your professional opportunities. This involves combining both aspects of the individual in a way that works for them i.e. the originator and the entrepreneur. It involves learning the marketing, publicity, technological, legal and entrepreneurial skills required to sell ‘the brand’. Writers in Kenya fall under this category of individuals and should therefore think seriously of becoming authorpreneurs.
There is a misconception in Kenya that writing is not a “serious” job, especially writing fiction. Another misconception is that writers cannot make it as entrepreneurs  – by writing fiction alone. However, this is not the case and I believe writers in Kenya should start looking either at themselves or their books as the brand – just like a business person looks at his/her products or services as a brand. As an aspiring fiction writer you may be asking yourself, ‘Why should I do that?” Well, here are a few simple reasons why.

Make money from writing your books

Make money from writing your books

1. It’s a way of generating secondary income if you are employed
If you already have a job but you still write fiction constantly and consistently, then you should become an authorpreneur. This will guarantee you some income on the side that could grow in the future and become a major source of income. The same way that you carve out time to write fiction when you are not working, is the same way you can make time to find out how to promote your brand online and offline to your target audience. You could always use some extra income, why don’t you generate it by doing something you love.

2. It’s an assured method of entrepreneurship in this particular industry
There are many best-selling authors in countries like the U.S. where writing is a main source of income for those authors; they have made a business out of their brands – themselves. Examples are John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and Nora Roberts to name a few. In Kenya however, most authors usually have their ‘brand’ as a secondary income. However an example of an authorpreneur who uses his creations as a main source of income is Allan Gichigi, a photographer and filmmaker.

3. Writing can be an expensive hobby, so make money from it
Writing fiction as a hobby can be costly in the long run; expenses like internet payment or bundles and time as well, which is a resource in itself. If you like writing – that is good, however; time is valuable and if you are looking for ways to generate income, you should use your time wisely. Therefore, you should ensure all your time spent doing different things enriches your life in some way. So if you spend a large amount of writing, you might as well get some money out of it while you’re at it; especially if you are really a talented writer.

4. There are other budding authorpreneurs doing it already
You might wonder if it’s worth doing and whether other people are doing it in Kenya and if they are getting results. The answer is yes. There are upcoming authorpreneurs in Kenya who are doing well, as well as gaining a strong following for their creations. Great examples are Boniface Mwangi the photographer,

 Boniface-Mwangi-profile

Clifton Gachagua the poet and Nderitu Wahome the writer; Nderitu-Wahome-profile

to name a few. They are gradually creating their artistic works (fiction, poems or photos) and marketing it to the Kenyan market in order to generate income as well as share their amazing creations with their audience. Therefore, if you have amazing fiction that you know your target audience will love reading and you can also generate income with – get started on becoming an authorpreneur today.

5. You can’t constantly create content to reach your audience if you can’t survive financially
If you love writing fiction and sharing it with your audience, you have to maintain it financially as well (see no.3 above). It is therefore logical that this writing activity maintain itself, especially financially. It would be regrettable when you go through financial difficulty that your creativity would have to suffer as well. In order to constantly and consistently keep creating fiction, ensure you are financially stable to do so by making your writing work for you as well.

If you are an aspiring fiction writer, I hope that those very important reasons have inspired you to research and find out more on how to become an authorpreneur in Kenya. Get started on your journey today.

Do you have any experience as an authorpreneur in Kenya? Feel free to share your experience or any suggestions by commenting below.

This post appeared originally on the Storymoja Hay Festival Blog.