African Writers Trust Informative Seminar Series: 3rd Edition

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Written by African Writers Trust/ Photo courtesy: African Writers Trust

African Writers Trust organised a residential, Informative Writers Seminar on the theme: ‘Self-Publishing in Africa: What you need to Know.’ The event took place at Hotsprings Villas Hotel, in Kampala, Uganda, from 14th to 16th June, 2024. The Seminar was attended by nationals from five African countries: Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and South Sudan.  The total number of people that took part in the seminar was 14; 11 being participants and 3 being tutors/facilitators.

An online session with Bieke van Aggelen, founder of the African Literary Agency.

The Seminar was designed to address the shortage of self-published books from Africa that meet international publishing standards, to enable them break through the global market. This shortage can be attributed to: lack of adequate skills, knowledge and experience, limited financial capacity and professional networks required to successfully execute a publishing project.

Leading experts in the industry who have devoted themselves to furthering the African literary scene through writing, publishing and mentoring other creatives led the Seminar discussions. These included: Goretti Kyomuhendo, one of Uganda’s acclaimed novelists, Bieke van Aggelen, founder of the African Literary Agency, and Susan Kiguli, a Ugandan poet and professor of Literature at Makerere University

Session with Goretti Kyomuhendo and Ugandan poet, Susan Kiguli

Using an interactive and conversational style, facilitators demystified the self-publishing model in Africa, taking care to explain what works and what doesn’t. Participants were educated on how to make more money from self-published works through selling International Rights. In a question-and-answer session led by Bieke van Aggelen, indispensable knowledge on getting and working with literary agents was shared with the group.

 Natasha Muhanji, a writer from Kenya, had this to say about her experiences:  

All the sessions with Goretti, Susan and Bieke over the days were all extremely insightful and I felt really guided, the stories accompanying their experiences over the years struck me as a budding writer, firing up my love for the craft even more.” 

Another participant expressed gratitude on how intimate the entire experience felt:  

“You know how unsure we can be about ourselves as writers sometimes. Thank you for being aware of this and creating sessions that were affirming and nurturing.”

During the group reading session, Whispers from Vera by Goretti Kyomuhendo was used as the reference text.  

Brain Azemchap, a writer from Cameroon writer expressed his admiration for the protagonist: 

Vera personalizes the journey that the African woman has made this far. From the stay-at-home wife/mum to that person who also has the same right to dream of a thriving career.”

Group reading session

The importance literary events, where writers come together to learn and network cannot be overstated. African Writers Trust is grateful to her partners for the financial support, which enabled the organization to implement the Seminar.