These Are the 8 Challenges Facing Upcoming Authors in Kenya

Did you know that books play a central role in the development of any society? Books are a source of knowledge that build the reader’s capacity to tap their potential to the fullest. It takes the efforts of the author, editors, and publishers to churn out good reads that impact the readers.

Unfortunately, publishing in Kenya has not been a walk in the park for many upcoming authors. They face a range of challenges in their journey to authorship, which many a time have discouraged them.

Here we look at eight such challenges.

1.Dynamics of the publishing industry in Kenya

Publishers in Kenya and in Africa in general prefer educational books that have an assured profit as opposed to fictional work. Moreover, many publishers require authors to give world rights to their works.

Publishers usually pay royalties to authors even though no profit has been made from the book yet. This royalty accounts for a fraction of the price of the book, as low as 10 percent. The remaining hefty fraction caters to the publishing, distribution, and marketing expenses.

Consequently, as a new author who feels you’re getting the short end of the stick, circumstances will compel you to self-publish, which might pose quality issues if you don’t contract a reliable firm.

For quality self-publishing, contact us here.


Technology has revolutionized publishing across the globe with many authors resorting to the cheaper e-books instead of paperbacks. Unfortunately, piracy is widespread with unscrupulous traders reaping from authors’ sweat by selling pirated e-books and PDF books.

Piracy results in the author and the publisher earning lower profits from their work. Even though Kenya has anti-piracy laws, they seem not to safeguard legitimate publishing going by the thriving piracy in the country. Pirates display their despicable trades online without fear of punishments.

As a result, many readers would not buy a book when they can download its PDF version for free. This can discourage you as an upcoming author who will fear that your hard work will be in vain.

Nonetheless, there is always a solution to every problem.

Fill the contact form at the end of this article and we shall reach out to you on the way forward.

In the meantime, find out more on how to combat piracy from this👇 video

How to protect your book from piracy

3.Poor reading habits

For decades, various stakeholders have decried the poor reading habits of Kenyans and Africans in general. Africa’s share of the global book production is only 1.2 percent, according to the UNESCO.

A visit to your local book store verifies this assertion. When you walk in, school textbooks dominate the shelves. You might argue, if Kenyans read only what is on their school syllabus and rarely delved beyond the wealth contained in other books, why then should you bother to write a book outside the course book niche?

Poor reading habits coupled with low economy has resulted in low purchasing powers. Meaning, only a small fraction of Kenyans buy books. As an upcoming author, you may feel writing new books is a waste of time and energy because it may have no return.

4.Cutthroat competition

Today’s authors have to struggle with extreme competition posed by rapid publishing of books all over the world.  A book worth its salt would reach millions of readers globally in a matter of days if not hours after publication. Memoirs by celebrities such as United States presidents go viral immediately after the release. In the same manner are trending articles, videos, and images that tend to grab a considerable length of people’s time.

As an upcoming author in Kenya, such competition requires of you to move to all lengths to write unique books that would surmount it. This is an uphill task for many.

At JAN EXPLORE Publishers, we offer author coaching that is essential in overcoming the pressure and remaining highly competitive in your writing. Besides, we give authors free book review, which can help them to grow their writing and know the quality of their work before you decide to publish.

Check this 👇 video for more information

Why you need a book review as an author

5.Lack of experience and mentorship

Book writing is a process that begins with the author:

  • Coming up with the idea
  • Drafting the idea
  • Seeking book reviews
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  •  Marketing.

For an upcoming author without any experience, proper support and mentorship play a great role in motivating and helping you to navigate the obstacles along the way.

Sadly, for many Kenyan upcoming authors, this mentorship is non-existent and even if existent; you don’t know where to turn up for assistance.

Without mentorship, what comes out is poorly edited and printed books that struggle to make an impact in the market. More absurd, poor reception of your first titles might discourage you from writing the next books.

I believe you don’t want that to happen to you. We also don’t want your first title to go into trash. Sign up here for our author coaching and you will also get a free review for your book.

6.Inadequate publicity/marketing

Many upcoming authors have a challenge marketing and publicizing their work. For instance, many will wait until they have published the book before they start marketing. But there are ways you can publicize your book even before publishing. Social media, for example, is a perfect place to start. A case study is the internationally renowned authors who hype their work before it gets to print.

For upcoming authors, who incidentally have to target the local people as their audience, concerted marketing campaigns can also help reach a wider audience.  

7.Lack of finance

Authors need to create time to research and write their books. This is not easy for many working-class Kenyans. Many feel they lack the time to take a break from the routine and write a book. Even if you manage to finally write it, your book might take ages to get ready for presentation to publishers. When the established publishers decline your work, the self-publishing route does not always work. For it to yield quality books, you must be financially well to afford quality editors, and printers. Marketing the book is also costly. In the end, you might even fail to make returns from it.

8.Book industry cartels

For educational books, many writers find it challenging to get their work accepted. Owing to various factors such as favoritism, your work may fail to appeal to the officials in the Ministry of Education even when it deserves.

This is a matter of concern considering that in many African countries, textbooks account for about 90 percent of all books procured by government. For Kenyan authors, your book being selected as a set book or course book is a matter of life and death that marks the thin line between meagre earnings and breaking it big.

Bottom Line

Toiling to churn out unique content is fraught with many challenges.  These challenges arise from:

  • The government policies
  • The publishing industry
  • The readership
  • The internal status of the authors.

The industry stakeholders must unite and come up with sustainable measures to address these challenges. This will guarantee quality reads of diverse genres and topics at the book stores.

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