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Archive for the ‘Self-Published’ Category

Rethinking Reconciliation answers key questions about the extent of progress in South African reconciliation

South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 heralded the end of more than forty years of apartheid. The Government of National Unity started the process of bringing together this deeply divided society principally through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). However, interest in – and responsibility for – the reconciliation project first embodied through the TRC appears to have diminished over more than two decades of democracy. The narrow mandate of the Commission itself has been retrospectively criticised, and at face value it would seem that deep divisions persist: the chasm between rich and poor gapes wider than ever before; the public is polarised over questions of restitution and memorialisation; and incidents of racialised violence and hate speech continue. This edited volume uses a decade of public opinion survey data to answer these key questions about the
extent of progress in South African reconciliation. Leading social scientists analyse longitudinal data derived from the South African Reconciliation Barometer Survey (SARB) –conducted annually by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation since 2003 as well as interrogate and reach critical conclusions on the state of reconciliation, including in the areas of economic transformation, race relations and social contact, political participation, national identity formation and transitional justice. Their findings both confirm and disrupt theory on reconciliation and social change, and point to critical new directions in thinking and policy implementation.

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Book Bites: 17 July 2016

It's Okay to LaughIt’s Okay To Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)
Nora McInerny Purmont (Little Brown)
Book real
20-something Nora’s husband Aaron is diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. So they decide to live their best lives while he is still breathing, as in watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer re-runs and retell each other all their stories. But then he dies, her father dies and she has a miscarriage – all in a matter of weeks. However, this is not a misery memoir, it’s life affirming, gentle, warm and witty. As Lena Dunham says about the book: it’ll make you laugh and cry too. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Mothering SundayMothering Sunday
Graham Swift (Simon & Schuster)
Book buff
This enchanting novella pivots on the formative experiences of 22-year-old Jane Fairchild, a young domestic servant in 1920s England. It tells of her secret affair with the soon-to-be-married heir to the Upleigh estate, of the stark differences and difficulties of class divides and of how she eventually manages to free herself from these constraints to become a novelist. By turns tragic, erotic and whimsical, it enlightens in so many ways, evoking a certain post-war era with ease. – Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin

Zero GZero-G
Rob Boffard (Orbit)
Book fiend
Presented in breathless chapters so short they’d make James Patterson smile, Boffard’s second-in-a-trilogy space thriller Zero-G doesn’t let up once in its 450 pages. His protagonist, Riley Hale, is a cop on a giant space station, home to what remains of Earth’s population after a nuclear apocalypse. She’s already saved the station once (in Tracer) and she must do so again amid threats including terrorists, a contagious disease and a psychopathic doctor. The unceasing action doesn’t give the characters much space to be developed, but Zero-G is an exhilarating read that will encourage readers to head back to bookstores for the follow-up, Impact. – Bruce Dennill @BroosDennill

Edyth Bulbring (Tafelberg)
Book Monster
I wish Edyth Bulbring had been writing when I was young, but being a good 40 years older than her target market has not prevented me from enjoying her books. Snitch takes us into an environment at which Bulbring excels, the South African high school – that hive of teenagers, teachers and trouble. Ben Smith, 13, illustrates the 18 rules of surviving school, and suffers the dire consequences of breaking rule No 15: Never Tell Your Mom Stuff. – Aubrey Paton

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Authors Announced for the 2015 Polokwane Literary Fair (9 – 13 September)

Invitation to the 2015 Polokwane Literary Fair


Memoirs of a Born Free: Reflections on the Rainbow NationThaka' Mpa tsa kaSejamolediA Traumatic RevengeBotsotsoLewantle - The GalleryIngrid JonkerTaller than BuildingsThe Everyday WifeBilakhulu!

The 2015 Polokwane Literary Fair kicks off today!

Authors who have been confirmed for the festival include David wa Maahlamela, Malaika wa Azania, Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Vangile Gantsho, Bishop MT Makobe, Petrovna Metelerkamp and many many more.

The Polokwane Literary Fair, in association with Metro FM, takes place from Wednesday, 9 September, to Sunday, 13 September.

The first day’s activities will coincide with the 2015 National Book Week when the book bus will visit local schools and the Molepo Community Library.

There is also a wonderful children’s programme, hosted by Nal’ibali, as well as a myriad authors in conversation and poetry events to look forward to.

Scroll through the album on Flickr for all the book events at the 2015 Polokwane Literary Fair:

2015 Polokwane Literary Fair

Don’t miss it!

Event Details


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  • Undressing in Front of the Window by Vangile Gantsho
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Sarie-lesers resenseer inkleurboeke vir grootmense, onder meer Colour Brings Hope deur Tanya O’Connor

Colour Brings HopeColouring for Adults: Mandala Art by Lize BeekmanSkeppende InkleurboekKreatiewe inkleurboek vir grootmense

Uitspraak: wortels

Die boek is saamgestel spesifiek as ’n terapeutiese inkleurboek vir almal wat deur kanker geraak word en die uitgewers het dit saam met KANSA gedoen. Gevra oor waar haar inspirasie vir die prente vandaan kom, sê Tanya O’Connor dat dit haar herinner aan haar kinderdae. Toe was die teken van prentjies haar terapie, omdat haar ma nie meer in haar lewe was weens depressie nie.


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A Future Jozi – Three Science Fiction Authors Launch Their Books by Candlelight at Wolves

A Future Jozi

The setting for last Wednesday evening’s science fiction book launch in Illovo came straight from a dystopian novel, with candlelight casting dancing shadows on the walls.



But the Wordsmack publishing team and the folk at Wolves would not allow loadshedding to darken their spirits, and Abi Godsell, Mico Pisanti and Jason Werbeloff introduced their books to the gathering crowd.

A Future JoziPisanti’s new book, The Folds: Krokodil, is set in 2030, and he said of it: “Think of the worst-case scenario and hope like hell it doesn’t come true. 2030 is not that far off …”

Werbeloff’s book, Hedon, is also set in the near future, but imagines a world where happiness is compulsory.

All three books are based in Johannesburg – or, in the case of Hedon, in an alternative city with problems symbolically aligned to those in South Africa. Louise Cosgrave, who runs Wordsmack with Leani le Roux, asked: “Is there still an audience for books set in Joburg?”

Werbeloff said that South Africa has an “amazing market” for books, and Pisanti agreed: “It’s a growing industry and Joburg is never dull, it tweaks the imagination. Joburg is a new city, we’re all a forward-facing bunch.”

Godsell, author of Idea War and a town planning student at the Wits University, said that Joburg’s future is everybody’s story: “As writers and readers we need to tell publishers about the stories we want to hear and the people we want to hear about. Wordsmack is poised at the brink of something very exciting.”

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After the launch Books LIVE asked each author five questions about their books:
1. In a nutshell, what is Hedon about?

Jason Werbeloff: In 2051, the Bhutanese Empire rules post-apocalyptic Shangri with iron-fisted Buddhist compassion. Happiness is compulsory, but making everyone happy isn’t easy in an overpopulated world. Breeders are ghettoed, homosexuality is mandatory, and Shangrians’ happiness levels are strictly monitored by hedometers implanted in their heads. Become depressed, or feel too happy without helping others feel the same, and The Tax Man will get angry. Very angry.

The lovechild of Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale, Hedon is gritty satire on a dystopia drunk with bigotry and positive thinking.
2. Why did you use the specific space (Joburg) and time as a setting for your story?

Although Hedon isn’t set in Johannesburg, I use the fictional country of Shangri to illustrate many of the challenges that we face in Joburg and in South Africa. The story is full of wanton violence, and the oppression of a majority group – in Hedon the group is heterosexuals; in South Africa, it’s people of colour. These issues plague South Africa, even 20 years after the exit of the apartheid government.

3. This “compulsory happiness” factor sounds legit cool and not too far off. What made you think of it?

My experience living in South Africa today is that I’m surrounded by a ubiquitous gathering of people and media outlets that promote positive thinking. I find it nauseating, and I wanted to write about why I experience it this way. More than that though, I believe positive thinking is dangerous, and damaging. It encourages us to think that we are responsible for everything that happens to us, including the traumas some people face. This leads to victim-blaming, something that I explore in Hedon.

4. Who are your favourite authors or what are your favourite books?

While writing Hedon, I was inspired by two of my favorite novels – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I love the way Huxley is able to create an emotionally gripping dystopia, and how Atwood manages to make us despise gender inequality. In Hedon I tried to combine the ethos of these books, but in a new setting.

5. What do you think about the future of science fiction in SA? Are we going to take the world by storm?

We have superbly talented South African sci-fi writers. Unfortunately, though, we don’t have a good consumer-base. My experience is that it is much more difficult to sell a novel in South Africa than it is to sell in the United States and Europe. Johannesburg in particular offers an incredibly fast-paced lifestyle, and this isn’t conducive to giving readers time to read. South African authors may take the world by storm, but they’ll probably do so without the knowledge of the South African public.

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1. In a nutshell, what is Idea War about?

Abi Godsell: Idea War is a narrative exploration of different ways of looking at power, politics and national identity. It uses the journey of the the 16-year-old protagonist, Callie Baxter, to unpack some of our own prejudices and blindness through the ways she interacts and is forced to change her interaction with the Chinese Custodial Authority members who have put her city (Johannesburg) under military occupation, forcing it to secede from South Africa and become its own Sovereign City-State, and who she has dedicated her life to fighting against.

2. Why did you use the specific space (Joburg) and time as a setting for your story?

I love this city that I live in, and for me, working in spaces I know, can visit and map, helps me extrapolate and chunky and believable (I hope! I’m kinda biased in that regard) futures. I also wanted to write a book for the people who live in this city, and want to see their street/school/building/favorite park in print (albeit in a junk-punk, dystopian light).

3. How did you come up with Idea War? What inspires you?

Getting around the city and seeing the amazing places and spaces here. Talking to people here. As a writer, I feel spoiled for material just from the place I live.

4. Tell me about the artwork for your book, how did you and the artists come up with the graphics?

That was all the artists involved. Almost. So there are three main pieces of art associated with the book: Covers, prints and the future Joburg map. The covers were jointly organised by Wordsmack and Louisa Pieters from Fool Moon Design. We wanted to emphasise the setting yet keep all of the main characters off the cover, so that people could freely imagine them in the way that they chose.

The prints were commissioned from Greg Nel, a freelance graphic artist and illustrator. Basically I gave him the text to work with and he developed an image he felt was strong from it.

Finally, the map was made by me, drawing lines on Google Earth (not at random, taking some cues from my current urban and regional planning studies) and sending those through to Louisa to make look as lovely as it does.

5. What do you think about the future of science fiction in SA? Are we going to take the world by storm?

It’s very bright. We have a voice here, a rawness, a diversity, that international readers are beginning to crave. Definitely!


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1. In a nutshell, what is The Folds: Krokodil about?

Mico Pisanti: Krokodil is episode two in a longer series called The Folds. It follows from Episode 1: Miss Universe and precedes Episode 3: Blink. In a nutshell it’s set two years from now, and it shows how a dangerous street drug – the Russian “krokodil” (which exists) is enhanced by a shadowy character known as Guillotine. “Krokodil” becomes a world epidemic which in turn starts a world war – a chemical war.

It also deals with small beginnings which butterfly effect into huge world events – and how the word terrorist can be misused or wrongfully used to fit a darker agenda. Plus there is an intriguing lethal whisper from the future towards the end, and a hint on what The Folds could be.

Oh, and it’s seen through your eyes.

2. Why did you use the specific space (Joburg) and time as a setting for your story?

Quite simply I used Joburg because it’s the city I was born in and it’s the city I know. But added onto that Joburg is an exciting, frustrating, wonderful, energy driven, take-no-prisoners kind of city. And wouldn’t it be wonderful to see how a city like that becomes central to world events and how it copes collectively and geographically in a world war situation?

3. How did you come up with the story for The Folds series? Where do you find inspiration?

This is usually the trickiest question of all as creativity and inspiration are very difficult to quantify.

All I can say is, it started with an image of a world filled with crippled, broken, half humans confined to a venue and forced to look at beautiful beauty pageant contestants. I wondered what kind of world that is? And who are these people? Why are they in this situation? The story grew from that scenario.

4. Who are your favourite authors or what are your favourite books?

Hilary Mantel, Cormac MacCarthy, Brett Easton Ellis, Tana French, Stephen King, John Connolly, Philip K Dick, Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, JK Rowling, George R R Martin, Tolkien … There are so many. These are the greats that live in my heart.

5. What do you think about the future of science fiction in SA? Are we going to take the world by storm?

I think the “future” of science fiction is here now. There has been a groundswell of speculative fiction over the past 10 years or so. And I think we are very privileged to be on the crest of that wave in many respects.

Are we going to take the world by storm? Why not? South Africa has always been a fertile ground for great writers and world class authors. Perhaps the time of science fiction and speculative fiction has come. But no matter how good the stories and the writing – support and readership is key.


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Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) live tweeted from the dark using #livebooks:



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Posted by Books LIVE on Tuesday, 31 March 2015


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“South African Speculative Fiction Needs More Genre-Bending”

The Guardian's WyrdInkarnanullnull

Nerine Dorman, author and editor of the Bloody Parchment anthologies, chatted to Books LIVE about horror and fantasy writing in South Africa.

The good news for aspiring writers is the deadline for this year’s Bloody Parchment – which accepts submissions in the “horror, dark fantasy and weird genres” – has been extended to 15 November, 2014.

To enter, email your short story (saved as a .doc file and not exceeding 3 500 words) to Remember to put “BLOODY PARCHMENT 2014” in the subject line and include your real name, pen name, nationality and word count in the body of the email.


There’s a boom in Spec Fic writing in South Africa at the moment. What kind of role do you think small publishers play in its success?

Small publishers are definitely at the forefront in the success. While the big successes, with the obvious names making waves overseas, are definitely giving many local writers something to strive for, it’s the small presses that are in the trenches, so to speak. Small publishers have the flexibility to bring us fresh voices, often with stories that the bigger publishers might pass over. While we all do hope to see some return on our investment, we’re also in it to produce original, quality literature that doesn’t just rehash tried-and-tested tropes.

Have you noticed any differences in the quality of submissions for Bloody Parchment this year?

I’m seeing a lot more South Africans this year, which is heartening, but after years of doing this, I can also predict that half the entries will fall by the wayside after the first reading period. Some things never change. This is a competition aimed at finding raw, fresh talent, which necessarily means that we’re seeing entries from numerous writers for whom this is one of the first competitions they’re entering. Sometimes there will be a new voice that just screams talent, or a regular entrant I know will offer a good story, and it’s those I’m looking for. But for every one of those there’re a handful who need to spend a little more time polishing their craft before they are ready.

Who’s on your panel of judges for 2014?

I’m yet to finalise this year’s panel, but for 2013 we had Tracie McBride, an Australian author and editor; Barry Gill, my intern and beta reader; Louis Greenberg, a South African author and editor; Cat Hellisen, a South African author; and Dave-Brendon de Burgh, a South African author and bookseller.

I have a few folks in mind for this year whom I’ve spoken to, but until entries are in and graded, I’ll hold on pestering them.

What are the current trends you’re seeing in local horror or fantasy writing?

It’s varied. Dystopias seem to be big locally, but I’m of the opinion that this trend is already way past its sell-by date and I urge authors to look for something different. That being said, post-apocalyptic settings are still popular, and it says something about what’s rattling around at the back of our collective unconscious. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a few more stories in that vein. And I suspect zombies might not be quite finished yet, thanks to the popularity of TV shows like The Walking Dead. Vampires are mercifully hibernating, though with Anne Rice revitalising her darling Lestat, who knows whether this will stir the grave dust a bit.

My feeling is that we’re on the cusp of something since we’re in an awkward lull between things. As for what it will be, I’d probably be a millionaire best-selling author by now if I could predict it. Personally, I’d like to see more genre-bending happening, with authors taking well-worn tropes and moving them into unexpected places.

How do you think local fantasy, horror and genre fiction matches up to the rest of the world?

South Africa has always a little behind the rest, possibly due to our relative geographic and cultural isolation. We need to build up to the point where our local authors are actively writing for and submitting for the foreign market, and where we have local publishers who offer the same benefits. With the internet offering so many resources, we no longer have any excuse not to offer quality literature. There really wasn’t much happening a scant five, 10 years ago, but I’m seeing many more writers active now.

Those who are serious about working hard to improve their writing are shining, and I’m watching a few special people with great interest to see where they go with their careers.

Raymond E Feist said recently that he was surprised how fantasy in South Africa was still “a bit of a ghetto”. Do you think it will ever go mainstream here?

Personally, I don’t think fantasy will ever be mainstream. But I do believe that we can create a vibe and eventually have our own conventions and bigger events. When I visit the library or go to a bookshop, I see large sections dedicated to fantasy, SF and horror, so I know there is a reading public out there. It’s a case now of connecting readers with authors, and creating environments in which the two can interact.

This year has been big for us. Not only have our authors such as Lauren Beukes and Sarah Lotz been making waves overseas, but we’ve had a fantasy event at Open Book 2014 that saw Raymond E Feist and Mike Carey in the spotlight with our very own Dave-Brendon de Burgh.

We’ve had continued support from SA HorrorFest with this year’s Bloody Parchment, which all who attended agreed was the best yet. But not only that, we now boast dynamic publishers such as Umuzi, Fox & Raven, Crystal Lake Publishing and WordSmack, who are taking African SFF/H fiction forward. All we need now is for South Africans to support these publishers by buying their books.

Which up-and-coming genre authors should we be reading?

Cat Hellisen, Joan De La Haye, Toby Bennett, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, David Horscroft – these are but a few of the local names who have novels available. But also urge folks to support our short fiction market by buying anthologies, as this is a great way to find new voices. Go look at the popular AfroSF anthology, and buy back issues of Something Wicked magazine, as well as its two anthologies. (And of course our existing Bloody Parchment anthologies.) Short stories are often the way upcoming authors cut their teeth, so by buying shorter-form fiction, you help motivate the publishers to keep bringing out anthologies.

When will we see Bloody Parchment 2013 on the shelves, or rather in the cloud?

I’m unfortunately a bit of a one-woman show for production and editing, and have had some time constraints and unexpected setbacks to deal with this year that totally borked my schedule, but I’m hoping to be done with the edits this year and see the 2013 anthology release early 2015. There are some developments afoot that I can’t let slip just yet, but I am confident Bloody Parchment will only keep getting bigger and better.

Betrayal's ShadowBroken MonstersThe ThreeDark WindowsWhen the Sea is Rising RedShadows

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Don’t Miss the 10th Annual HorrorFest at The Book Lounge

Halloween is approaching, and that means it’s almost time for this year’s Horrorfest at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Home RemediesCabin FeverBloody Parchment: The Root Cellar

Sharp EdgesThe Guardian's WyrdKhepera RisingBetrayal's ShadowBloody Parchment

From The Book Lounge:

It’s once again time to dust off your witch’s hat, release the tarantulas and carve that spooky pumpkin, because the SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment event happening at the Book Lounge on October 29 at 6pm. Get into the creepy spirit by dressing up as your favourite ghoul or ghost, and join us for an evening of haunted thrills when the likes of Diane Awerbuck, Ruth Browne, SA Partridge, Nerine Dorman, Carine Engelbrecht, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, Zane Marc Gentis and David Horscroft gather to share their tales of weirdness and terror.

As usual, the opening event will be followed by film screenings over the next few days at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town (29 October – 7 November) and The Bioscope in Johannesburg.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 29 October 2014
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Participating ghouls: Diane Awerbuck, Ruth Browne, SA Partridge, Nerine Dorman, Carine Engelbrecht, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, Zane Marc Gentis, David Horscroft
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

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Link Love: Tiisetso Maloma’s Self-publishing Marketing Tips (Plus: Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model Excerpt)

Forget The Business Plan Use This Short ModelTiisetso Maloma, co-founder of Bula Buka eBook Conversion and Distributors and author of Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model, has compiled his top ten tips for self-published authors to market their books.

Maloma has also shared an excerpt from his book, detailing eight ways to create successful and innovative products. Read his marketing tips and the excerpt, below:

10 Ways South African independent authors can market their books

I have sold have sold over a 1000 copies of my 2013 self published book Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model since the start of its marketing in April 2013. This is 600 + ebooks via e-stores such as Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo and others. The other is hardcopies sold straight from me through either couriering or personal meetings.

eBook sales were mostly international. Anyway, for a self published South African, I am proud of these online sales given our ebook market in only now developing. A Kanye West like rant is deserved, so good I should spit Ultramel custard – khotha so hard. It says to me I can do much better this year, which I am hard working on.

I have helped publish a number of South African authors online via my ebook conversion and distribution company Bula Buka, and marketing advised on some.

I am going to share with you points based on what I did and what I am going to correct in promoting my book.

Why wait for publishers?

Conventions, in our case publishers, are there to facilitate efficiency to get value (books) conveniently (they have well located stores) in the hands of users (readers/consumers). In any industry these applies.

Just because they say no to facilitate your value (book), it doesn’t mean your book doesn’t deserve to get in the hands of readers. They do not dictate what value is, consumers do that. More important is ‘goal keepers’ (consumers) not ‘gate-keepers’.

It is the information age, a buyer’s market. If you believe you have a valuable and/or entertaining story to share, go ahead validate it with your market and self publish – thanks to the internet it is much easier today. Conventions will find you ahead and you will be leveraged then.

Book examples: take 50 Shades of Gray and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Conventions said no to them at first, then the authors self published and consumers said yes to the books (million dollar big way) – conventions came around later.

My book is getting me opportunities which weight financially more than the book sales. This leads me to say it is not only about huge book sales but advancing your career.

Let’s get into the ways to market your book..

1. Don’t release just yet: validate

Look, books are products. Like any other products they are intended for a use. So you need to validate if anyone would use them (buy/read them) before you actually make them.

An entertaining book renders use (entertainment) to whoever is reading it.

I did validate my book’s concept and the ‘short model’ part. I validated these with a couple of entrepreneurs around me. However what I should have done was to share these validations onto public platforms (social media) before launching, so as to grab believers in how I was to solve their entrepreneurial problems.

When you are done with the concept of your book, before writing, or as you begin writing, start sharing briefly some concepts, tactics or stories to test if they stick with people. This grabs followers of your message. Those are possible buyers. They could even sway the direction of your book: they will say we can buy your book if it is like this and not like that.

Do read into these people, read how you can find them in groups and figure out ways to engage with them.

I’m sure you do get retweets on Twitter; likes and comments on Facebook. It means people take note of what you are saying. Test your book in this way as well.

2. Don’t release just yet: build buzz

I didn’t do any prior book release marketing for my book. I regret this. I did it to an extent but it wasn’t as I would do it today – now it would be very extensive.

The reason I didn’t do prior-book-release-marketing was because I believed I shouldn’t make any noise about a product which isn’t ready yet.

How I would do it today:

- Writing articles related to my book’s direction and share them via guest blogging.
- I have newsletter following on my blog, obviously that would be used as well.
- Social media. This is a given.
- When I talk about my book, I would ask for feedback. Do not be scared of feedback. Most of the people who give you feedback would feel vested to read your book when it comes out. And spread the message about it to others.
- Introduce the cover 2 or more months before the book comes out. If the cover has a concept to it, you can throw a bit of a narrative to it.

3. Maintain and grow a fan database

Exercise your social media presence, tweet and Facebook. Talk more of content related to your book’s concept so to attract the kind of following which consumes your kind of work.

Interact with folks in your industry, you are not interesting on your own, interact.

The important thing to do is make sure you start a mailing list. I use Mailchimp, I highly recommend it (it’s free if your database is less than 2000 subscribers or something). Ask those interested in your message/book to sign up to get further updates and excerpts of the book as you are writing.

People are likely to miss a tweet or a facebook status than an email.

4. Publish and share a dramatic excerpt from the book

People respond to drama more. Look at newspaper headline on street poles, most are dramatic – because drama sells newspapers.

Example: 2 dead rhino poachers will make it onto media headlines than ‘best math teacher nominees’. Go ahead and google this. The award winner makes it of course.

If your book has a dramatic part which you think people would love, use that to lure people in. Solicit other blogs and forums which might find value and appreciate the piece.

5. Choose a catchy or memorable or maybe a shark like book title

I have helped many authors publish online. Some book titles don’t raise any interest in me to investigate the book with ambition to read it, because I just don’t get what the title suggests about the book.

I tested my book title Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model and it raised resonance with a lot of people, a lot of people hate business plans, and it got others gobsmacked. They were like ‘what the hack, but we thought a business plan is important’.

Googling Forget The Business Plan confirmed further that a lot of people hate business plans and that seasoned entrepreneurs are preaching ‘forget the business plan’.

Of course this isn’t a dictation, but merely stating that sharp titles would raise interest in people to investigate your book. This tactic is advantageous especially to self publishing authors.

Here are other titles by South Africans which I think are clever and appealing: Could I Vote DA? by Eusebius Mckaiser, Mama I Sold You by Thaamir Moerat which digitally published, In My Arrogant Opinion by Khaya Dlanga, and Lose The Business Plan by Allon Raiz.

The title which I totally like is by American author Tucker Max, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.

So do test your tittles beforehand. I am testing a title for my next book coming out next year 2014 April, Confessions of a Terrible Entrepreneur, and will have a subtitle which balances the ‘terrible’ part of the title. But secretly I have had a couple of entrepreneurs say to me they resonate with the title very much, and I am sure those are the ones who will buy it – buyers matter more. Will see…

6. Publish an excerpt with value

Besides on your blog, solicit relevant subject blogs and magazines to publish excerpts from your book.

The excerpts must be of value, helpful and thoughtful.

This is besides the dramatic piece. Drama is one tactic you can use, but if you are not about drama, this one will show people that your book is of value and they should read it.

You can publish the dramatic piece 3 months before your book is released, then this one the first week of release. This is to show that your book is not all just ‘wild fire’ but contains value.

Again so that book reviewers (not just media but people) can have good things to spread about your book.

My book has been featured in Drum magazine, Under 30 CEO, Transform SA and countless online magazines.

7. Go print at least 20 hardcopies for sales

Of course there are more South Africans reading hard-books than ebooks. So try your best to print some hardcopies. Here quality varies with your affordability – at least a way there is a way. Go investigate with different printers (book printers and general printers).

But ebook sales are picking up. Being published online it gives you an ‘official author’ status and a good online search presence.

8. Sell by couriering

I have sold over 400 hard hardcopies, either by meeting those who want the book (depending on whether it is convenient for me) or posting to them by registered courier mail with the South African Post Office. By book retails at R150 and it includes free courier.

But I must say personal meets are a hella fun.

9. Ask customers to take photos with your book

If you buy a book from me, I either take a picture of you with the book or ask you to do it. I then tag you on social media.

Out of 10 times I tag a picture of someone with my book at least 5 sales come out.

10. Workshops

To promote and attract sales for my book I organised a number of workshops on business modelling, some free. I spoke at other people’s events, at times for free.

I at times lost money on workshops which I organised when the turnaround didn’t meet the cost to market. From here on, I rely on partnering with people who have a database of relevant possible attendees, to then do pre-sales without many other marketing activities.

With the free workshops, for example I would ask organisations which assist entrepreneurs, to organise their crowd for me. I did one with YDO in Eersterus. A lovely crowd but I suspected though they were trying out entrepreneurship in the absence of employment. They much rather be jobbing (I didn’t sell so much books). Funny enough it was the one workshop which I enjoyed the most. It must have been because I had to thoroughly thoroughly dissect every concept and point.

The concept of marketing (which Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model details) is engaging firstly with groups which can bring a quicker return in sales given the marketing expenditure.

On some workshops I sold more books than on others. It depends on my delivery and who is the audience.

Who buys depends on whether they have an interest in the help or entertainment your book is offering, and in my case, those practising entrepreneurship did buy more than those aspiring.

This year I have identified new groups which I will do free workshops for. And it will be cheaper.


Read an excerpt from Maloma’s book, Forget The Business Plan Use This Short Model:

8 tips on how create successful and innovative products

It all starts with an idea to create a product; then making the product.

Below are characteristics which your product or brand has to have if it is to be profitable. They are elaborative. Apply them to your product.

1. It has to serve an identifiable purpose(s) or deliver value to consumers

Consumers buy products for absolute purposes that the products will serve. Be it even that the product brings joy to them, or tickles their fancy. The point being, the product brings a certain satisfaction or use to them. And the satisfaction or use is brought about by acquiring your product.

2. It has to be of better value from your competition, in the eye of consumers

It could be the price, feature or design difference. A cheaper product may be the reason for consumers to buy your product and not the competition’s.

There are many reasons which could make consumers choose your product over your competitor’s. Always chase that reason and imbed it in your product.

3. Deliver efficiency

Your clientele has to be better off with your product. They must be glad they possess your product. It should make a better difference in their lives somehow.

4. Easily defined products and product features

It’s about describing what your product can do for consumers. When products/services are easily described and their use is easily understood, they become easier to sell. It also becomes easier for you to relate what the product will do for the consumer, and easier for consumers to understand what the product will do for them.

This helps consumers readily identify what your product will do for them.

It is also a quick way to close a sale. This is your product’s hook.

5. Good quality, good after sales service and maintenance

This is how you protect your product’s use, in that it’s always in use and serving its purpose. This is also how you maximise the value of your business brand, which then makes your brand the trusted among plenty.

6. Well branded product

Branding is the layer that covers your product or a layer which stands for your product.

You need a logo. A logo is a sharp and distinctive mark which says “I made this product, this product of such stature”.

Your product’s packaging is crucial; it should communicate a psychology that captures consumers. It should also explicitly communicate your business’s name. When people think of a good product, your brand should come up.

7. Don’t take forever building your product

We all are in chase of perfection, to better our products. Do not take forever perfecting your product. Things change, people change, relevance changes; who knows; someone might come up with an idea similar to yours.

Don’t overload your product, the best way to test its viability is to release it in the market, and improve it along the way.

For as long as a product is able to serve a particular purpose and add value in the market, people will be willing to pay money for it.

The best way to learn as an entrepreneur (value provider) is through engaging your product with the market (selling), as soon as possible. Whatever the stage of the product, it must serve value or purpose that which people can exchange money for.

Say you take time loading features onto your product, and then release the product into the market, the market will give you feedback on what to tweak.

It would take more time to tweak and return the product to the market than if you had less features. Another reason not to overload your product is, once you get into the market and competition strikes, the extra unloaded features can be used as ammunition to stay ahead.

I want to quote something that Rick Alden (founder of Skull Candy) once said. I struggled to find the precise quote, paraphrasing will do. He said, the first one to get to the market, is the market leader. I think he was pointing to what I stressed above. Skull Candy didn’t take that long to get to the market. And as they were in the market, they learned a lot of things which helped the company become stronger. This would have probably not been the case had they delayed to launch. Skull Candy is a headphone leader in the outdoor action sports market.

8. Protect product use value through innovation and consistent enhancement

The truth of the matter is, everything changes, people change, competition gets tougher, and other factors like piracy take course. Say you release your product this year and people buy it, then next year and the following years, they have no reason to buy it again because they have it already. Your duty is to then give them such a reason to continue buying. The role of a business is to make money everyday (or year) if possible and keep making it. So, the year following the product release, release something that the same consumer who bought the first product can buy, so as to keep making money.

Even if it’s an enhancement of the current product, those that bought old one would want the new one because it has something that the old doesn’t have. In this way you will continue making money.

But be very careful not to totally take the crap out of the previous product. You might upset your first consumers (I’m not totally sure of this, think it through).

Take apple for instance, it’s always taking money out of people’ pockets, it’s always making money, as businesses should, and as they are meant to. From iPhone 1, you want iPhone 4s and now iPhone 5. So they are living up to business philosophy, “ever making money”.

Another example is Google. Since its inception, it’s been improving its main product which is the search engine. Again it has been acquiring other properties that now make money for it; Youtube, Adsense (former Oingo), Android, etc. If their search engine business was to become less profitable, it has invested its profits in other revenue driving streams/products. The amazing part about Google is that they also buy companies that add extra service on their search engine business, which is their founding product.

About the author

Tiisetso Maloma is the co-founder of Bula Buka eBook Conversion and Distributors. He is a business model consultant, devised EBC business model canvas, authored Forget The business Plan Use This Short Model and the free booklet Township Biz Fastrack. Follow Tiisetso on Twitter @TiisetsoMaloma, Quora and Facebook.

Book details

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Link Love: Mike Maphoto’s Diary of a Zulu Girl Blog to be Turned into Book and TV Drama

In April, Mike Maphoto, a lawyer from Polokwane, started a blog, Diary of a Zulu Girl, as a joke to trick his name-dropping friend into pretending to know one of the people mentioned on the blog. The prank worked and the blog took off, getting over a million hits in the first three weeks. It has now received 33 million hits and gets 45 thousand readers per day on average, according to Maphoto.

The fictional blog is about the 19 year old Thandeka Mkhize who leaves her small town in Mooi River to study law at Wits University. The diary details her experiences in the big city, where she is introduced to older men who buy her drinks and expensive clothes. Jeanette Chabalala from City Press spoke to Maphoto about the success of his blog, which he is self-publishing as a book and is filming as a TV drama after turning down an offer from the SABC and receiving R9 million from an independent record company to create the show.

Mike Maphoto has been changing the game since April. Jeanette Chabalala catches up with him about his growing empire.

It all started out as a joke, but this year Mike Maphoto has moved from being a casual blogger to a published author, TV series creator and director.

The creative behind the popular Diary of a Zulu Girl blog has made giant leaps across the media with the blog morphing into a book and a TV drama.

Last month, Maphoto gave a talk on his project at TEDxSoweto, saying that his second highest readership is based in England and he thinks that this is because of the universal nature of the experiences his character has:

Image courtesy City Press

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Link Love: The Write Girls Publish Second Book, The Man with the Blue Eyes

The International Women’s Club (IWC) gave birth to something extraordinary: The Write Girls. The group, consisting of Carole Armstrong-Hooper, Giovanna Sartor, Susan Herrick, Priscilla Holmes, Lynn Rowand, Erika Hauptmann and Caroline Gilbert, come together at least once a month to write and encourage each other through constructive criticism. Two years ago they published a collection of short stories called Women Like Us. Proceeds, which amounted to R10 000, were donated to charities supported by the IWC.

With their second book, The Man with the Blue Eyes, they decided to challenge themselves even more and wrote a novel where each member of the group penned a different female character. This unique approach to novel writing strengthens the characters’ unique personalities.

The Man With the Blue Eyes is a murder mystery about the life and death of a famous businessman who dies under mysterious circumstances. In classic whodunnit style, the reader is introduced to the women in this man’s life, all of them having had motive and plans to kill him.

The book will be launched the November meeting of the IWC. Look out for The Man with the Blue Eyes at a bookshop near you.

Cilene Bekker from the Hermanus Times spoke to The Write Girls about their second foray into publishing:

Here’s inspiration for budding writers or book clubs, from a group of ladies who have been meeting monthly for the past six years to discuss what they love – books and writing.

The Write Girls started as a six member group. “Born out of a workshop run for The International Woman’s Club (IWC) of Cape Town, by the multifaceted Priscilla Holmes, a published author herself,” says Lynn Rowand.

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