My guest today is Lauri Kubuitsile, a full-time writer living in Botswana. She writes for children and adults and has had numerous books published as well as many short stories included in a variety of anthologies. She was the 2007 winner of the BTA/Anglo Platinum Short Story Contest. In 2009 and 2010 she won the Pan-African Children’s Writing Competition, The Golden Baobab. In 2011 she was shortlisted for the Caine Prize. Best of all, she’s my friend. Please make her welcome.
Imagine if you will, a country with no trade publishers. A country the size of France with only three or four (if you stretch the definition) proper bookstores in the entire country, all located in the capital. A country with a population of 1.8 million where buying books is not a priority and when you ask, “Do you own a Kindle?” the most likely response would be silence and a face that defines the word confusion.
And now imagine being a full time writer in that country. And in that scary, harsh place in the dark corner of your imagination you will find me, a full time writer in Botswana. (I hope now you feel deep despair for me. If so, please scroll to the bottom and buy my books.)
You’re likely wondering, how does she survive? First, I’ve been lucky to have some of my books prescribed in schools. We do have educational publishers. Second, I write a lot, across many genres, and I write fast. I started writing eight years ago and have 17 published works of fiction, some for kids, some for teens and some for adults. (This is, of course, not mentioning the books I’ve written that have never been published; there are quite a few of those too, sadly.) All of my books are published in Botswana or South Africa, which is slightly less harsh for writers, but there are loads of excellent writers there so the competition is fierce.
The biggest problem for books published in Southern Africa is distribution. Our trade markets are small and we can’t get our books overseas. It is just too expensive to get paper books from here to there. This is why I feel that the current chaos in the international publishing industry is a good thing, at least for us. E-books will make the biggest of our problems fall away.
I’ve now entered the e-book revolution. Some of my traditional publishers have put out a few of my books as e-books and I’ve also now self published three e-books from my Kate Gomolemo Mystery series. Luckily, I paid attention to where things were heading and kept my e-book rights for the books in the series that have been published traditionally (all except one: my first ever published book The Fatal Payout. I was still dazzled by book contracts then and would have signed my life away to see my name in print.)
Being a writer in Botswana is not impossible. You need to be willing to adapt to the environment, work hard, and pay attention to the direction the wind is blowing.
Lauri blogs at Thoughts from Botswana(http://thoughtsfrombotswana.blogspot.com)
And her most recent books are:
Murder for Profit ( link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084FH61O )
Anything for Money (Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084FH4RU)
Claws of a Killer ( Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084FI62C)