Friday, April 13, 2007

Book of the month: Plan to source books from publishers for review


I’ve been thinking of expanding the book review element in the blog. So far, it’s been on an ad hoc basis – when Baby and I go book shopping /when an author visits her school.

But one of the challenges I’ve previously spoken about is that as a parent, I don’t easily find information about African books – as in what's been launched, what’s the story about, where can I find it, how much it costs, what other people think of the book.

By the time Baby and I do our monthly book shopping local/African authors have to compete with international authors, and most of the time, local authors lose out (because of lack of visibility on bookshelves)

So I thought why not help out parents like me who’d buy children’s books by local authors if they had the information at hand?

The plan is to start with the 8-12 year age category, mostly because Baby is almost 9 and she has a pile of friends in the same age group. So I could even read the book to them and record their reaction to the story/book.

Time permitting, I might do a short Q & A session with the author, just to give the parents insight him/her. Later, I would look at other age groups.

The main challenge I had was that I didn’t know where to start sourcing books. Obviously I can’t afford to buy more books as they hit the bookstores, and I hardly know anyone in publishing to ask how to do it.

I also don’t have the time to devote too much time to the project – creative writing remains my top priority over and above my family and job responsibilities, and the blog is just something that’s evolving as I go along.

I think the key is that I put systems in place to get the books coming in and then just get the reviews going. Ideally, publishers would send me a book as they prepare for launch, and I’d send a quick email acknowledging receipt and another quick one when the review is posted.

But how do I get the publishers to take me seriously? I sent out some feelers to people who could help me, and so far I got enough input to be able to get a rough plan in place.

It will take some time before I get things moving, but watch this space for further developments.


I wrote an essay about writing and submitted it to Writer’s Digest. Not holding my breath about a possible acceptance, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Plan to send out my submission to Staaf this weekend.

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