Andrew Mwalasha, 24, began writing his first book when he was 21.
Three years later, he has three titles under his nameall self-published and selling on Amazon.
She Once Loved, Mystery: a Demon Sister to Luck and The Worth of a Lifetime.
He has also written over 1,800 pieces of poetry and quotes, which he regularly shares on his Facebook and Instagram pages.
“I studied a Bachelor of Commerce (accounting option) at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. When I was in high school, I loved English, especially literature.
We had a teacher who often assigned us essays. One day, he selected mine and read it to the class, afterwards, he said it was the best he had ever read in many years of his teaching career.
He was so impressed, he gifted me a novel. It occurred to me then that I could build a career out of writing.
I initially wanted to be a journalist, but I realised that there are few media houses in Kenya and I worried that I would not find a job. I therefore registered for BCom, a popular course, but deep inside, I knew it was not the right path for me,” he says.
She Once loved, his first novel, was inspired by what he refers to as preservation of morals.
“The book talks about morals in our society. Sometimes I feel that the society is losing its moral fabric and that people are deliberately doing the wrong things: involving themselves in corruption, dishonesty and theft.
This is a book that I hope helps the reader to become conscious of their decisions and how they relate to morals and humanity. Mystery: A Demon Sister To Luck is the first book I wrote even though it was published second.
I just wanted to put a face to my passion when I began writing it. I had just completed university at the time (awaiting graduation) so I decided to write. I was 21. Apart from occupying my free time during my work day, I wanted to explore my creativity.
This is how this book came about. I was obsessed with investigative documentaries at the time, which explains the themes and plots in that book: mystery and adventure. The Worth of a Lifetime, my third book, is non-fiction. It is a combination of poetry and prose. There are certain questions which, as human beings, we do not know how to answer. In this book, I try to pose these questions and attempt answers in an effort to awaken the readers’ self-consciousness,” Andrew explains.
Writing is one thing, getting published is another, he points out.
“As a writer who was just starting out, I did not consider the publishing hurdle. It did not take me long, however, to realise that publishing was expensive, for example - I would need at least Sh120, 000 to publish one book yet I did not have that kind of money.
Publishers in Kenya also tend to go for textbooks more because they are sure that people will buy them because of their utility value.
For my kind of writing however, someone has to love reading to actually buy my books. This realisation is what prompted me to turn to Amazon, to publish my work as ‘eBooks by a self-publisher.”
In the near future, I plan to republish all three books with a commercial publisher and having them stocked in bookshops.”
“Marketing, which follows publishing, is the hardest part of the process. Amazon allows authors to price from around Sh99.
Mystery: A Demon Sister to Luck costs Sh99 while She Once Loved is selling for Sh300.
I marketed the books mainly through my Instagram account: Drew. Poetry.Ke (an account where I also post poetry on a daily basis).
I also ran the five-day promotions for the books where readers get access to the books on Amazon.
Marketing my books has been a challenge, especially because I had the misconception that I would start earning money as soon as my books went up.
The reality is that it takes time, up to a year, sometimes to sell just one copy. It took me nearly four months to sell a copy of my books.
So far, I have sold about 50 copies of the eBook and 20 hard copies (printed out eBooks).”
“My stronghold has been my writing passion. If you go into writing to make money, you will be disappointed. Money follows passion,” he says, and adds.
“I have met people who read and people who do not, and I think that like writing, reading is a passion, therefore not everyone has it. I also think people read what they are interested in. For instance, there are those that absolutely love my poetry but would not read any of my books because they do not have the time or the patience to do it.”
The best feedback he has received so far is that of a reader who told him that his book, She once loved, moved her to tears.
“It was reassuring to know that I can write something that moves someone that much.”