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## Kenya’s Young Authors with Big Dreams: Navigating the Self-Publishing Landscape

In recent years, Kenya has witnessed an upsurge in young authors embracing self-publishing as a means to share their stories with the world. This trend has ignited a discourse on the viability of self-publishing as a long-term career path, the challenges these authors face, and the extent to which their books find a receptive audience. To delve into these issues, we engaged in conversations with several young authors and the founder of a bookstore specializing in self-published books in Nairobi.

**Alex Livingstone: A Teacher with a Passion for Storytelling**

Alex Livingstone, a 24-year-old teacher at St Rita Girls High School in Chuka, epitomizes the new wave of young authors in Kenya. His literary journey began with co-editing a Swahili anthology titled “Simu ya Ajabu na Hadithi Nyingine,” marking his foray into the world of publishing. He subsequently authored guides for two textbooks, “Chozi la Heri” and “Mapambazuko ya Machweo na Hadithi Nyingine,” honing his storytelling skills and developing his unique voice.

Livingstone acknowledges the inherent challenges of writing, emphasizing the need for time, commitment, creativity, and the solitary nature of the craft. He candidly shares his experiences with self-doubt and the difficulties of balancing his teaching responsibilities with his passion for writing. Despite these hurdles, he perseveres, dedicating evenings and breaks from teaching to pursue his writing aspirations. Livingstone draws inspiration from his keen observations of human behavior, music, and movies, exploring diverse themes ranging from crime and justice to politics, love triangles, religion, family dynamics, conflict, and the mysteries of life.

To aspiring young authors, Livingstone offers words of wisdom, encouraging them to view writing as a journey that demands commitment and patience. He stresses the importance of setting deadlines, seizing writing opportunities, and expanding knowledge through voracious reading. He advises writers to draw inspiration from their surroundings and to explore a multitude of themes, avoiding the trap of being pigeonholed into a single genre.

**Antynet Ford: A Personal Narrative of Love and Heartbreak**

Antynet Ford, a 25-year-old journalist, recently unveiled her debut book, “Uncertainty of Love,” marking a significant milestone in her writing career. Her journey began in 2017, when she sought solace in writing after completing high school. Initially, she poured her thoughts into an exercise book, but it wasn’t until 2021 that she felt an overwhelming urge to write again.

Ford’s book is a deeply personal narrative of her quest for true love while grappling with self-love. She delves into her experiences, relationship trials, lessons learned, and aspirations for marriage. The inspiration for the book stemmed from her struggles to heal from heartbreak and the mistakes made in subsequent relationships. Writing became her outlet during a period of depression, but the process was not without challenges. Ford experienced a mental breakdown, questioning her direction and seeking support from a counseling psychologist.

Despite the initial setbacks, Ford regained control of her life and resumed writing in early 2023. However, she grappled with self-doubt and the fear of being judged for revealing her struggles. She overcame this hurdle by sharing her writing on WhatsApp and opening up to friends, who encouraged her to continue. Balancing work responsibilities and writing demanded effective time management, often involving late-night writing sessions and dedicating lunch breaks and weekends to penning pages.

Ford’s writing style is influenced by her desire to reveal a side of herself that others may not know. She draws inspiration from authors such as Mark Manson, whose books have guided her in reassessing priorities, focusing on what truly matters, and re-evaluating societal pressures. To fellow young writers, Ford’s advice is simple: keep pushing and set aside time to write, even if it’s just a paragraph. She emphasizes the importance of finding a reputable book publisher and avoiding shortcuts.

**Ijeiza Halima Kimani: Encouraging Young Learners through Swahili Children’s Books**

Ijeiza Halima Kimani, a 27-year-old freelance editor and author, has made a name for herself by writing several Kiswahili children’s books, including “Kito cha Ushairi,” “Siri Kali na Hadithi Nyingine,” “Harufu ya Jehanamu na Hadithi Nyingine,” and “Bakora ya Ushirikina na Hadithi Nyingine.” Her stories not only teach Swahili but also encourage young learners to engage with their communities and the world around them.

Kimani faced the challenge of writer’s block, which she overcame by creating summaries of intended content to guide her writing. She also adopted the practice of jotting down ideas that came to her late at night on her phone, transferring them to her computer in the morning. Setting daily word count targets helped her build discipline.

Like many young writers, Kimani experienced self-doubt, questioning the possibility of being published. Despite rejections and numerous back-and-forths with editors, she self-published her books through a network of friends and referrals. Her literary influences include Adam Shafi and Kenga Mumbo, and she explores themes related to youth empowerment and family in her writing. Kimani’s advice to aspiring young writers is to never give up, acknowledging the challenges of writing and publishing but emphasizing the worthwhile results.

**Justus Ngode: Guiding Young People through the Journey of Singleness**

Justus Ngode, a 30-year-old teacher, published his book, “Mastering the Treasure of Singleness,” with the goal of helping young people discover the hidden treasures of singlehood. He believes that singleness is not a mere waiting period but a time to discover one’s life’s purpose, emphasizing the need to find one’s true calling before entering a committed relationship like marriage. The book also provides guidance on how to disconnect from relationships that lack purpose.

Ngode’s writing journey began without a laptop or desktop, but he believed that resources would follow his vision. He purchased a book and a pen and started writing, trusting that he would eventually acquire a computer. He overcame self-doubt through prayer and extensive reading. It took him six years to complete the writing and editing process, publishing the book in the seventh year.

Ngode draws inspiration from authors such as Dr. Myles Munroe