Sunday, February 3, 2013

New education Act sets stage for self-published authors

PHOTO | GIDEON MAUNDU Students at a library.

PHOTO | GIDEON MAUNDU Students at a library. As a result of the Education Bill 2012, publishing, the key player in the implementation of the provisions of the law and the revised curriculum will undergo radical change.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By KIRIMI MITAMBO kmitambo@sanaayetucreatives.co.ke

The signing of the Education Bill 2012 into law mid-January this year by the President could not have come at a better time.

The law, comprising Education Bill 2012 and Kenya Institute of Education Curriculum Development (KIECD) Bill 2012, makes education from pre-school to Form Four – which together constitute basic education – compulsory.

Though indirectly, it prompts radical and substantial changes in the education sector to accommodate the provisions therein. Advised by the Social Pillar under the Vision 2013 the Act stands out as a way to realising the high literacy scope expected by 2030.

As envisaged in the Education and Training sub-pillar, additional teachers, centres of specialisation and expansion and rehabilitation of schools is supposed to be achieved by the expected curriculum change.

Consequently, publishing, the key player in the implementation of the provisions of the law and the revised curriculum will undergo radical change. The new curriculum will open ways for a shift in publishing.

For a long time mainstream publishing has been the only way of getting your book published in Kenya. But, with the changes expected in the education sector – especially that which makes basic education compulsory, the country is expected to hit high in literacy level.

More reading materials will be needed. The increase in the readership and the resulting improvement in the reading culture require a broad-based approach to publishing. This could be achieved through breaking away from the traditional publishing and embracing self-publishing as a supplement.

Self-publishing is the surest way of identifying, nurturing and developing talent. It is the most embraced way of publishing in the West. For instance, in 2008, in USA and for the first time in history, more books were self-published than those published traditionally.

In 2009, 76 per cent of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses reduced the number of books they produced. Vision 2030, being pegged on the shifts of trends in the world as a result of globalisation and the need to be competitive in the rest of the world, aims at putting Kenya on a pedestal in both social and economic pillars.

In Kenya self-publishing is yet to receive a nod from stakeholders and readers. In most cases self-publishing is associated with memoirs and motivational books. The myth that looks at self-published books as rejects from the mainstream publisher or lacking in quality needs to be broken.

It is paramount to note that some of the renowned authors such as John Grisham, J. K. Rowling, Virginia Woolf, were originally self-published.
Here in Kenya Ng’ang’a Mbugua, author of the award-winning Terrorists of the Aberdar and Different Colours, proves that, if embraced, self-publishing would nurture literary talent that would have otherwise remained untapped.

Self-publishing provides the writer with many advantages. For instance, the author gets 100 per cent royalties (retail price) compared to 10-15 per cent from most of the mainstream publishers. In addition, the author makes all the decisions pertaining to content and design of the book.

Moreover, the author retains all rights, including translation rights, e-book rights, and movie rights. In a nutshell, self-publishing presents more pros than cons and, if explored critically, it could be the best option for budding authors in Kenya.

But for self-publishing to thrive there is need to engage professional editors and designers in the production process. This will not only ensure quality but also give self-published books a competitive edge on the market.

The writer is the director of Sanaa Yetu Creatives.

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