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How do I get a book published in South Africa?

A quick guide to getting books published in South Africa.
A shelf of books: John Langan's The Fisherman. Alex Latimer's The Space Race.

A question from a reader:

I have this idea of publishing a book that I've written and have no cooking clue where to start and who to speak too. My copy of your book is one of my most treasured possessions-true and not saying this to butter you up. I wanted your guidance on what to do next and who to speak to to get it published. I'm based in Cape Town and am prepared to drag my bundle of papers with a thousand post its wherever it needs to go.

Hi reader! Huge congrats on writing a whole manuscript. I know exactly how hard it is, and I hope you're very damn proud of yourself.

How to get it published depends on what kind of book you've written.

Getting your fiction published

If it's fiction, then the subreddit r/PubTips has some good general advice. I also suggest you look at the r/writing FAQ. This is roughly the approach that I followed in getting an international agent for my fiction book.

In South Africa, it is common for first-time unpublished authors not to have agents and to approach publishers directly, but you should still have a good cover letter etc.

Getting your non-fiction published

If it's non-fiction, identify a publisher who publishes books similar to the one you've written and check out the submissions guidelines on their websites. For instance, here are the guidelines for my South African non-fiction publisher Jonathan Ball. Most non-fiction publishers want a proposal, sample chapters and a detailed outline.

Here's a list of some South African publishers, both fiction and nonfiction, to get you started.

Consider your goals

I'll be honest with you, the odds are against you when it comes to traditional publishing, and it's not an immediate path to fame and riches anyway unless it fits into a bigger career strategy. It's really worthwhile spending some time clarifying what you actually want to get out of this before you begin. Getting a book traditionally published is hard. It will probably take up a lot of your time with no guarantee of success.

Depending on what you want to get out of this, you might find that self-publishing is a better route for you, or that you've already got the value you wanted to get just by doing the writing and you don't actually need anyone else to read it, or that you can achieve your goals just by hosting the content for free on a blogging platform (by the way, that's how Manage Your Money... started, as a series of free blog posts I stuck up on Medium).

If you do decide to self-publish or blog your content, there are five billion guides to this online, just do a search.

Best of luck! Again, it's a huge achievement to have finished a manuscript. Giant high-fives!