Sunday, July 21, 2013


The biggest complaint one hears from aspiring African writers is the difficulty they face in finding publishers for their works. Often, new writers say, publishers tend to concentrate on big literary names. In the case of Heinemann's Africa Writers Series, for example, names of Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Taban lo Liyong and Okot p'Bitek, have dominated the scene for the past half a decade. By concentrating on established writers, young, upcoming writers have been denied the chance of breaking into the literary market.
There have also been complaints that publishers do not even bother to read manuscripts submitted to them by unknown writers. And even if they do, the response is often a rejection slip. To this, publishers respond that they receive many manuscripts everyday and they cannot possibly read and respond to all. They say to do so would mean incurring extra costs of employing people to go through the manuscripts, something they are unwilling to do.
Publishers also complain about high costs of printing, warehousing and distributing books, saying this is one reason they have to choose and pick from thousands of manuscripts they receive every year since they can only print a few books.
What publishers need to understand is that writers spend a lot of time writing. They think, research and labour for many hours to turn out a manuscript. At least they deserve some consideration and respect from publishers.
My submission is that as long as they are in business, publishers cannot avoid the drudgery of sifting through whatever number of manuscripts they receive. It is also my view that even when a rejection slip is given, it must be accompanied by an explanation as to why the material has been deemed unsuitable for publishing.
This whole process of turning out books is a partnership, and at the end of the day, both writers and publishers must win.
Because of my knowledge of the problems in Kenya, I decided to self-publish The Politics of Betrayal abroad. This way I had full control of my manuscript from the beginning to the end. Of course it cost money to publish the Politics of Betrayal, but this was the only way I could get my book to the bookstore. The company I chose is a Publish-on-Demand (POD) publisher. POD is a system that is becoming very popular in developed nations because it allows the publisher to print as per orders. This system frees shelves in stores and cuts costs.
Please let me hear your views by filling the form and clicking SUBMIT in the CONTACT page. I also encourage you to order The Politics of Betrayal to know the inside story in Kenyan politics.
Joe Khamisi