How to publish a book in Kenya
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Author | Josephine Ngatia

Happy New Year! The beginning of the year is a joyous time for most people. You will hear some people talk about their new year’s resolutions and goals while others are looking forward to great things happening in their lives. Many authors write a book at the beginning of the year, and if you are one of them, congratulations! It is wise to know how you will publish your book as you write it (or plan to do so). In this blog post, we look at how to publish a book in Kenya. I will focus on self-publishing because it is the model available to most Kenyan authors.

Publishing a book in Kenya is straightforward once you know what it involves. Let us start by looking at the difference between the two models of publishing available to authors: self-publishing and traditional publishing.

The difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing

There are two ways you can publish a book in Kenya: self-publishing and traditional publishing. To understand self-publishing, let us first define traditional publishing.

In traditional publishing, you submit a proposal plus your manuscript to a publisher or use a publishing agent to do it for you. The publisher will then let you know if they will publish your book (based on their requirements). If they accept, they will buy the rights to publish your book and pay you royalties after selling copies of your book. The publisher will cover the cost of publishing, distributing, and marketing your book. You surrender the rights to your book and are not free to distribute it as you please.

If you are self-publishing, you will submit your manuscript to a publisher who offers self-publishing services. You will pay the publishing cost and receive copies of the physical book and digital files. You are free to distribute copies of your book through selected bookshops or sell them from home. With self-publishing, you can print the number of physical copies you want if you don’t want the proverbial 1000 copies.

Many Kenyan authors will not have their books published by a traditional publisher, and will end up taking the self-publishing route.  

Below are steps to publish a book in Kenya:

1.   Prepare your manuscript for publishing

Ensure your manuscript is complete and well-organized so that the publisher can easily work on it. At the bare minimum, include a title and subtitle, author’s name, table of contents, introduction, main chapters, conclusion, and an author bio. Other optional things include a dedication, foreword, endorsements, preface, bibliography, endnotes, marketing pages, etc.

You can also give your manuscript to a professional editor before submitting it to a publisher. The editor will show you if you need to make any structural changes or rewrite certain sections. This step is optional, and most authors prefer to take their manuscript directly to a publisher.

2.   Do you want a physical book, eBook or both?         

Identify whether you want different versions of your book. Some publishers offer to produce only the physical book while others the eBook version. Others will publish both a print book and an eBook. At WordPower Publishing Kenya, we publish Christian eBooks. We can provide you with the audiobook version as an additional service.

3.   Identify an ideal publisher for your book

Look for a publisher who focuses on the genre of your book. If you want to publish a Christian book, approach a publisher who focuses on Christian content. If you want to publish an educational or poetry book, look for a publisher whose focus is these types of books.

Publishers will tell you the books they publish based on their vision and expertise. You can get this information by checking their websites to identify the best one for you.

If you find a publisher you like but are unsure if they can publish your book, call or email them. They will want to review your manuscript before they accept to publish it.

4.   If you self-publish a book in Kenya, you will pay an upfront fee

If you publish a book in Kenya using the self-publishing model, you will pay the publishing fee upfront. You can find out if the publisher has a payment plan if you cannot raise the required amount at the onset. Once the publisher reviews your manuscript, they will give you an invoice and an agreement to sign. Ask questions about their service to know what to expect. 

Find out what the publisher will deliver to you, e.g. how many physical copies, digital files, social media marketing tools, etc. Each publisher includes different things in their publishing packages, and it is good to know what you are getting. You can ask how long it will take to publish the book so that you can plan for its launch.

5.   Approve the book files before printing or publishing on digital platforms

Some publishers will give you the final book file to review and approve before it goes for printing or publishing on Amazon Kindle. If you are happy with the work, you can give your approval. If you notice an overlooked error, let the publisher know. The files usually include the interior of the book and the cover.

The publisher will have formatted the book files for printing or digital distribution. The print book file is in PDF, while the eBook file can be in epub, kpf, or a formatted MS Word. You can preview the epub or kpf file on Kindle Previewer or Calibre.

6.   Delivery of the digital files and book copies

Once you approve the book files, the publisher will print the physical copies or give you the digital book files to source for a printer. The publisher will let you know whether you can collect the physical books or they will deliver them to you.

You should receive the files to all versions of your book and keep them safe. You are the copyright holder and can distribute your book in bookshops or online stores of your choice.

7.   Register your book for copyright

When you publish a book in Kenya, register it for copyright and get your certificate from the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO). Some publishers will do the registration for you, while others prefer that you do it. You will go to the KECOBO website and register online. They have simple instructions on how to fill out the information and upload your book’s interior file. You will need to provide the contact information of your publisher, the book’s ISBN number, among others. Once you finish, you will receive instructions on how to get your copyright certificate. You will need the certificate in case of any copyright infringement. The law recognizes you as the copyright holder of your work even before you apply for a copyright certificate.

What next after publishing your book?

Once you have the physical copies of your book or digital files for the eBook version, it’s time to sell your book.

Selling

You can sell your physical books from home or approach bookshops to distribute them. As a self-published author, you will manage the selling of your book. This also includes the administrative tasks that go with it, like accounting, stocktaking, and delivery. If you have published an eBook, you will select the distribution channels of your choice, e.g. Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Draft2Digital, etc.

Marketing

Marketing a book is the part that authors hate and avoid. Unfortunately, with self-publishing, you will sell and market your books. Having the right online marketing tools will make it easier to sell your book. We can help you create social media graphics with quotes from your book. Click here to find out more.

If you want to market on social media, you need to design graphics and captions to post on your profiles. To market your book in events and forums, use tools such as bookmarks, flyers, or banners. Another avenue to sell your books is through your website or blog. Put an image of your book in your resources section or create a blog post highlighting the major takeouts of the book.

Your next step

One question you need to ask yourself after publishing your book is, what will this book lead to? Is it a coaching or mentoring program, online course, or master class? Many authors find that after the initial buzz of their book, everything goes silent, and they don’t know what to do. The book is not selling as much. Your book is a tool that helps you with your other assignments.

If you would like to publish a Christian eBook, get in touch with us to discuss your book project.

Need help with writing your first book? Check out my eBook on planning, outlining, and writing your first book.

How to Publish a Book in Kenya
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Josephine Ngatia

Josephine Ngatia is a Digital Content Writer & Strategist from Nairobi, Kenya. She provides digital content solutions to new Christian authors, startups and small businesses. She is the Founder of WordPower Publishing Kenya. Her personal blog is titled: The Urban Christian

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