BY WAMBU MISHECK
Whether one need a license or not to write maybe debatable, whether writing is doomed or salvable is contestable but for those preparing to partake this journey should be prepared for the turbulence. Hear further.
When I completed writing my first motivation book, I was over the moon. I gave myself a pat on the back for the job well done. The only obstacle I could think of then was on how to publish my book. I foresaw that the odds of being published by reputable firm were next to zero. What with not having a renowned name in the publishing world?
I realized there and then that my name would not ring a bell in the foresaid firms. After a lot of soul searching, I convinced myself that I needed no one to play a gatekeeper to my effort. I needed neither an individual nor a copy editor for that matter to belittle my efforts with “back to sender” note and in the same vein labeling my effort as not worthy a second look. I feared the unsolicited disclaimer “ Not worthy to be published by any self respecting firm” Thereand then I decided to self-publish.
Off with Zeal, I went into it, like duck in water. I refused seriously to incur much debt for I realized that modern technology have availed to us what many, years back, could not dream of when it comes to publishing. With a computer and a printer, I realized I could comfortably produce a copy of my work. Who needed a loan of Sh 200,000 to produce in bulk whereas a few thousands would give me a number of copies without the burden of back breaking interest rates?
I would not stand the thought that my book shall die still born. And so I went to a local cyber café and produced the first twenty copies. I was elated. My dream hatched. I had done what I had willed for years; produced my own book. I had beaten the odds, I thought.
Then a waking nightmare began.First to market the book proved an uphill task. By nature I’am a reserved person, an introvert, traits which would not sell one to prospective buyers. In marketing these traits I realized put one at a huge disadvantage. To stir interest for the book beat me. Many prospective buyers ended excusing themselves. It took me no time to realize why.
The binding was not to standard, the cover design was less than appealing. Shortcut are very expensive, it dawned me. Nothing beat a well furnished book, binding wise and cover wise, believe me. Many buyers search for this. They buy the appearance not the context. They fall for it fully, I discovered.
For the few who bought, it took little time for complaints to start raining “your book is too difficult, one needs a dictionary to work it out” I heard. I was stark puzzled. What I thought was an ordinary, standard English, wanjiku could decipher became a jig-saw puzzle. How I wished I had handed the work over to a deft editor. I would have saved myself a lot of trouble.
Next, I observed that Kenyans will line sheepishly to buy foodstuffs and bar soaps in a supermarket but few Kenyans would line- sunshine or rain – to buy a book. Kenyans, a buyer, said to me, will only go for a book if and only if it came inform of prescription from a doctor!
Soon after I decided to approach some local bookshop to stock my book .Many declined. They gave funny excuses “Book not well done” . But one bookshop, stocked my book at an exorbitant charge of 35% of cover price. What remained for me as profit was measly.
Though I soldiered on, now I have 6 books and two high school revision texts, I have come to realize that book writing and marketing is not for the faint hearted. Marketing has undone me.Workmanship is far from perfect. Now, I am reduced to sending my books to prospective readers without a thought whether they pay or not.Hawking. The mere thought that they may find my book appealing and read it gives me a false sense of satisfaction.W
BY WAMBU MISHECK