Navigating successfully through the publishing landscape in Kenya requires skill and much wisdom. Dooso Radido, the Director of Business Operations at ZionPearl Publishers and author of a number of bestselling books such including; The Ultimate Agenda: Using Your Purpose to Raise Your Productivity to an All-Time High, The Spark: How to Build and Unleash Your Inner Genius and Why Capacity Matters: How Capacity (Competence) Drives Functionality, Productivity Performance speaks to the KenyanVibe this week on what it takes to be a successful author and publisher.
How would you describe your experience with publishing in the Kenyan market?
It’s been 7 years now, I can confidently say that more Kenyans are getting into publishing and with that, I have gotten a front-row seat to interacting with how Kenyans think, the uniqueness we have to bring to the table. That has been the most exciting bit.
The downside has been; one, realizing that we are yet to embrace a reading culture. There is a percentage that is loyal to ink on paper but that niche is small. The larger group is drawn to audio-visual material. Two, there are numerous loopholes created by a general Jua Kali mentality. What I mean is, there is a glaring need to create professionalism and structure within the publishing industry as a whole because some people’s belief in the Jua Kali Approach to things opens spaces for shortcuts, which lower product and service quality. Copyright infringement and piracy are the order of the day, making it difficult for an author to gain as much as he or she ought to.
That said, even with the existing challenges, it is worth it. There is a fulfillment that comes from writing, creating your masterpiece that cannot be matched.
Knowing what you now know, what would you do differently as a publisher given a chance to start over?
I would focus more on building the kind of systems I have built now. The miracle of life is in systems, if you can create a system around what you do, you will create a higher level of efficiency and excellence. Systems run the universe.
What would you do differently as a first-time author?
Being an effective communicator means getting to the point faster. My first book was thick; my 7th book is much leaner. The difference has between the two is experience and growth. But if I didn’t write the first book, there would not have been a 7th book. I am glad I started. I get better as I grow.
You’ve authored 7 books, which is your favourite?
Each book carries a different message but “Why Capacity Matters” is my current bestseller. It explores the subject of why increase comes to those who already have much and how to build capacity so that you fall in the category of those who attract resources.
What inspired you to get on this path?
Writing begins with a love for books. I am an ardent reader, in the process of studying material authored by others, I have seen gaps that I felt a need to fill. I didn’t write my first book with the intent of publishing a series of them. I just wanted to cover a gap issue. 7 books later, I’m still covering gap issues that I find in different topics.
What have you found to be the most effective marketing tools for books in Kenya?
Be authentic in your work, let your content add value to the subject at hand and not just regurgitate content by other authors. Two, capitalize on influencers; one mention of your work by a person of influence will work wonders in getting word out as well as people trusting the quality of your material.
What’s your best piece of advice to an upcoming author
Writing is an exciting journey. Most people give up because of the inability to see how they will gain money out of it. When you decide to embark on this journey:
- Write as an overflow of passion
- Remember you are building a legacy that will leave a trail of insightful thoughts after you are gone
- Write to impact the present and coming generations
There is a rich reward in books, even financially, but one has to apply patience as it might take time to get a return on investment. There is also a financial implication to publishing books and marketing them. Books don’t just sell, you have to invest in producing good content, excellent packaging and marketing.
What have you found to be the most effective key to building a publishing empire?
I have found that knowledge works when applied within a functional system. Translating knowledge into disciplines is the magic behind creating functional systems. It’s not enough to read, it’s not enough to know, create disciplines using that knowledge. Systems are built on blocks of disciplines.
What’s your greatest aspiration in life?
I question situations, I question content. I aspire to provide answers to some of life’s questions.
How have digital platforms changed the publishing landscape?
The digital options have enabled us to sell on global platforms; reach people in different parts of the world.
One mistake I see newbie authors make is placing books on platforms such as Amazon and fail to invest in marketing; some have gone for 10 years without selling a single copy. The platforms are good, they have simplified the process of publishing for many but you still have to work at marketing.
Last piece of advice?
Apply patient selling; have conversations around your book and let people have a taste of what the book has to offer.