I won’t lie- it has been difficult writing this blog post. Now not because I did not have anything to say but because I had so so much to say and it all got jumbled up in my head but then I realised…like everything, I just need to start at the beginning…..
My beginning started last year 2021 when I decided to write my life story. I must say it was the hardest thing I had ever done because I had to be honest with myself and put to paper the situations I had gone through-all of them-the good, the bad and the ugly. I think I cried every day I was writing but the funny thing is it acted as therapy and slowly by slowly, I was able to expunge all the demons I had been carrying. But it got interesting when I realised that publishing a book takes more than just writing.
As a first time author, it’s easy to think that once I have written the book, I am home free and I have hit the ball in the park….Now yes, you have scored but man, there is still so much more to do…way more and it can get all jumbled up if you do not know how and where to get the information you need to get it all done.
Mr Google is fabulous but sometimes you have to get down low and dirty…It was in the trenches of this that I realised that there is more to publishing, so much more. My eyes were opened up to the intricacies and challenges of publishing in Uganda like never before, like why did I not know all of this? Where have I been? All these questions led to this project Koffee Karavan: A Brew of Publishing. This project was an attempt to answer all the questions I had as I went through my own publishing process.
I am sure you have all heard this saying; People in Africa do not read or write. In fact, if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book. Well, this project is here to bust this myth. This is a stereotypical narrative that has been going on for ages. Whilst to some extent on a surface level, it does look like this could be true however once you dig deeper, a lot is revealed about the publishing industry in Uganda. Now, this is the untold story that this project wanted to tell.
Koffee Karavan: A Brew Of Publishing
In this particular project, we highlighted the different creatives- writers, publishers, editors, designers and all in the industry who use their creativity to change that stereotypical narrative. Just like a caravan of ancient times, Koffee Karavan: A Brew Of Publishing toured the streets of Uganda online and offline scouring for creatives-both individuals and brands in the publishing industries to understand what measures can be put in place to develop the industry.
Koffee Karavan is supported by the British Council Cultural Exchange programme, which supports cultural organisations, festivals, artists, and creatives between the countries of SSA and the UK to create art, build networks, collaborate and develop markets and share artists’ work with audiences.
The objectives of the project were:
What exactly is Publishing?
But before we dive deep, what exactly is publishing? Contrary to what some may think, publishing is not just printing. Printing is just one stage of publishing. According to Wikipedia, Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free.
Traditionally, the term refers to creating and distributing printed works, such as books, newspapers, and magazines. With the advent of digital information systems, the scope has expanded to include electronic publishing such as ebooks, academic journals, micro-publishing, websites, blogs, video game publishing, and the like.
To make this happen, there are different stages of publishing. Some say there are six stages, others seven, and others even up to ten stages. We will be using Night River Press stages of publishing.
stages of Publishing
Now, this is where the writer puts pen to paper. Now I wish I could say this was the easiest part but nope, this is the beginning, the start of a journey and it ain’t easy. It takes time to write. And here it is dependent on the writer. It took Stephen King, a prolific writer two years to write The Stand, one of his many books. So the onus is on the writer to get in the flow and begin to write consistently.
2. Manuscript Development
Manuscript development includes the editing processes that allow authors to create the best book possible.
The various editing processes included in manuscript development are
• Developmental/substantive editing includes the various editing techniques in the beginning phases including developing ideas, structure and organization and the creative content and writing style.
• Copyediting occurs throughout the process and again before the work is set into type to correct errors in grammar, spelling, and usage.
• Proofreading is the final step before it is set into type before the final publishing.
3. Art Direction
This stage refers to every visual component of a book, whether it contains illustrative work or not. The page size, typeface, spacing, and flow of the page can make or break the reader experience. Depending on the subject or target reader of the book, illustrations can also greatly enhance the reader’s experience.
Below are some of the key areas associated with art direction for publishing;
Cover Design is the first thing a potential reader will see. Cover designs should be attention-getting yet appealing while accurately portraying what the book is about. Using the right colors, imagery, and fonts are all important aspects of designing a cover that entices a reader to choose one book over another.
Book Layout is an important part of creating the best possible book. Depending on the type of content and the target audience, choices include the proper page size, font styles, line spacing, and margin settings.
Book Illustration is not essential to every book, but when used it is important that the illustrations enhance the work. When choosing an illustrator or working effectively with the illustrator you have already chosen, you must take this into account.
Interior Page Design is as important as cover design. Closely coupled with book layout, the way the text lands on the page and flows for the reader is a design element that should never be overlooked.
4. Pre-press production
This stage covers the final details prior to your book being published. Once the book has been created, edited, and designed, these are the final details to ensure the final product matches what was envisioned. Applying for the necessary registrations that will protect and categorize your work and the testing of the printing plates, color saturations, and other printing processes (for printed publications), are all necessary components to make your book a reality.
• ISBN (International Standard Book Number) A worldwide, numbered identification system that provides a standard way for publishers to number their products without duplication by other publishers. “ISBN” also refers to ISBN numbers themselves. This can be purchased from The National Library of Uganda.
• Copyright. The exclusive, legally-secured right to, among other things, reproduce and distribute works of original expression. Expression is your own unique way of expressing an idea, telling a story, or creating a work of art. Under copyright law, creators hold the copyright of a book or other literary work from the moment they put the words down on paper, into a computer file, or into some other tangible medium.
Coordination and confirmation of all elements of the art design for the book prior to printing includes cover design, book layout, book illustration, copyright page, book interior design, typesetting, coordination of files for uploads to vendors, reviewing and approval of the pre-press file to ensure all elements are correct and the colors and typesetting have been adjusted for the final product.
5. Print and Digital Production
This stage covers all of the final details to publish the book after pre-press has been completed and approved. This includes determining the print vendor through reviewing estimates and timelines, the coordination of files and approvals with the print vendor, and conversions to eBook formats.
At the end of production, the book will be published! Yiippeee!
• Choosing the type of printing
• Print on demand
• Offset printing
• Receiving print quotes or estimates based on type of printing, color, paper, binding, quantity, timeline, etc.
• Choosing the type of printed book
• Cover options
– Hardcover (with or without dust cover)
• Book textures
• Trim sizes
– Perfect bound
– Saddle stitch
– Case laminate
• Choosing the vendor based on estimates and quality
• Print management
• Coordinating files
• Press checks
• Other decisions
• eBook conversion
• Audiobook conversion
This is the final stage and essential component in making your book known to the world. With over 1,000,000 books published each year, it is imperative to have a marketing strategy for your prized possession.
Here are some of the many options available for marketing your book:
• Social Media
• Domestic Marketing
• Book Launch
• Book Reviews
• Book Award Submission
• Targeted Media and Publicity
• Targeted Blogger Outreach
• Title promotion to professional readers
• Book Trade Show Submission
I have been blessed to have an amazing marketing team that pulled off an awesome virtual book launch. Shout Out to B, Jamina,Michelle and Justine!!
And that is the beginning, folks! Now onto Part Two as we dive into the past, present and future of publishing in Uganda.