Kenya is the home of literary giants.
Aspiring writers are often challenged not only to produce quality manuscripts but also to learn and build up on what their predecessors have put out. I recently started working on improving relationships with the writers I know here in Kenya to get us talking about writing in Kenya and publishing and how to change it for the better.
So, I got in touch with Elly and I’m pleased to introduce you to her. Hello world, meet Elly.
At days’ end, on my way home, a boy and girl from a nearby primary school walk home too. The boy has a cast on his arm, so the girl walking beside him is carrying his book bag. There’s a story here, a delicious story, as the girl laughs at what the boy says, then they walk in comfortable silence. I imagine them growing up together, falling in love (or not) maybe falling in love with others. The two going through struggles together, maybe reaching a point in their lives where they don’t know each other anymore, and wish they could go back to the old days and…the story continues in my head.
Of late, it has been a blessing to know I’m not alone in this wonderful sense of imagination. I feel privileged to know people with the same sense of creativity that constantly hangs over me daily, like finding kindred spirits.
Kenyan writers have increased these past few years. Their work is fresh and entertaining it is often sad that the only place to fully read their stories is online: on a blog, or an e-book.
In a not so distant past, I ran a bookstore in a small town outside Nairobi. A young man walked in with his poetry books one day. He had traveled from Uganda, and gone selling his poetry in every bookstore he found. His books were inexpensive, only Kshs. 80. I bought them, paying him for twenty books at one go. We sold those books for Kshs. 150 within the month. He had moved on to Tanzania by then, and he’d sold off his stock by then, but his brand of marketing stuck with me.
Print a large quantity of books, cheaply, sell fast.
So, I want to will a pulp fiction publishing house into existence in Kenya. A publishing house that will choose to publish fiction at affordable prices, so that the everyday Kenyan can afford it. Yes, I realize that the bottom line is important in business, however, no one wants to constantly buy a fiction book for Kshs. 800, that is the truth. We’re all on the streets buying foreign fiction books for Kshs. 100, or even Kshs. 50.
If you can find a way to print fiction on cheap low-quality paper, and make your stories epic and exciting enough to capture the masses, I think we could be in business.
This is my quest. Writing has always been easy, creativity quite available, however, the business side of printing in Kenya is an amazing challenge, especially if you’re looking toward selling affordable fiction. Finding a printer who can help print pulp fiction…in great big quantities, will make Kenyan fiction a bonafide trade/business. One without elitist circles, or prestigious airs, simply fiction with one goal—to entertain. This type of mass printing will nurture Kenyan writers, give value to our constant creative thoughts, create new job avenues, increase readership and inspire more Kenyan fiction into the world.
Elly is a gem when it comes to romance. She loves gardening and knows a thing or two about delicious treats. Hint: Cakes! She is currently writing the Koya Series.
To read her novellas, visit her smashwords page: Elly Kamari