So, you want to get Published?

By Vera Dinda

“Vera, I need your help. There’s this book I want to submit for publication. Please help me edit it.”

So I did, though after 2 months.

“I wait for so long and this is what I get?” She was furious because I said, “so much needs to be worked on; the story doesn’t pick, it’s unreadable and I couldn’t go past the second chapter.”

The manuscript was 97k words. She might have written through the nights; sacrificed her sleep. She wanted to publish. And I broke her heart.

Why do you want to get published?

Perhaps one of your goals this year is to publish a book. But,

Why go through all the trouble?

Why is it important that what you’re writing is published and read?

What is the end goal?

Some people may read your Facebook posts and urge you to write a book. That helps but, please, let it not be the reason.

Pre-publishing tips

  1. Invest more time sharpening your pencil, than writing. Invest more time re-working your script than looking for a publisher.
  2. Work on your script on different levels;
  3. The content/story – what is the artistic merit?
  4. What thematic concerns do you handle and of what relevance are they?
  5. The characters – do they feel authentic? Striking? Memorable? Do you know them?
  6. Language –is it readable? On what merit?
  7. Plot structure – how well does it flow – regardless of the plot structure type?
  8. Your book blueprint?
  9. Develop an audience base. The more you listen to critique, the more you’ll be open-minded and the more your writing will improve.
  10. Get beta readers. Your friends and relatives might not count.
  11. It’s a great thing you wish to compile your poems into a book.

But, how many poetry anthologies have you read in the past year? Read purposefully, for research, for the style, for the language.

  1. Learn about publishing. It’s great to be ‘Surviving R Kelly’ It’s also okay that your script has nothing to do with R Kelly. So, how much do you know about publishing? As a writer seeking to publish, have you ever googled ‘Book publishing in Kenya’?
  2. Be patient. There’s no deadline and great books take some time.


What next?

As Writers Guild Kenya, our primary goal is not to publish but to grow you. Growth – especially in writing –is a painful process.

How quick are you to defend your writing?

It is easier to complain that we don’t receive feedback on our writing but what if we only expect ‘wow’? How fast does our anger rise when we are told otherwise?

Developmental editing

You don’t have to write a whole book only for it to fall short of the market expectations. My friend’s script might have been ‘helped’ way before she got to 97k words.

Developmental editing is just that – editing to develop your manuscript in content and structure.

The surprise might not work in the book market. ‘Relevant people’ should know what you are working on, and how it’s coming along.

If you’re considering hiring a developmental editor, you must be ready to allow your book to undergo shaping and re-writing sections, reworking the flow etc.

You might need to verbalize a story in the case of fiction for an editor to ask, ‘what is the catch in it? What makes your story unique? ’


You want to earn from your writing. Invest.

You want to be professional writer. Get professional help.

You want your name on top of a good book. Be patient.


#Publishing should not be a ‘goal’ but a natural consequence of good writing.


Matters Publishing

Writers Guild Kenya.


Vera Dinda is the Publishing Manager of Writers Guild Kenya. She blogs at:



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4 thoughts on “So, you want to get Published?”

  1. Hi Vera. Thanks for that great article. My opinion on it is that it would be more targeted to write a particular type of writing )fiction on non-fiction) or to specify sections that deal with fiction or non-fiction or even poetry writing. The reader may get confused about character when they think about self-help books or other books that do not have characters but those that deal with themes.

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