The banker who writes is the first description of Kinyanjui Kombani whenever he is mentioned. Kombani is a learning Facilitator at one of the leading commercial banks in Kenya. He is also a published creative author of titles like The last Villians of Molo and Den of inequities.
Among Kinyanjui Kombani’s accolades is an award winning entrepreneur and a business mentor. All qualities that made him the suitable person to talk to the campers on how to change the narrative that books don’t sell.
At the Digital Camp, Mr. Kombani handled a masterclass session titled ‘Publishing in Kenya: How to use social media to build a brand/ sell books’. As a business strategist, he has been able to market his books using the social media despite being traditionally published.
He kicked off the session by explaining the intricacies of traditional publishing and self-publishing. “Whichever way you choose to go, you still have to act like a hawker”, he said. “You have to carry your books and market them to people”, he explained. True to his word, even at the Digital Camp, he came with a carton of books, which people purchased copies of.
“In traditional publishing, there are different areas that the sales of your books go into. People have to be paid salaries, administrative bills paid, because the publisher invested their money into your book”, he explained. “That’s why authors sometimes get very minimal royalties”, he explained. “You have to be a good marketer even if you are a writer”, he added.
“One advantage you get as an author is you get to buy your books at an author’s discount”, he said. “My latest book, Den of Inequities has sold more copies than my first book, the Last villains of Molo”, he added. “This is because of the use of social media”, he explained. He started making sales even before the book was launched.
Social media is a powerful tool for business, a fact that was reiterated by Kombani during the Masterclass. “You should know how to brand your social media pages”, he said. He showed us a few authors’ social media profiles branded with images of their books. He then showed us his twitter profile, branded with the normal daily Nairobi residents, people he writes about in his fiction.
“It is good to build relationships in any business”, Kombani said. As a writer, he maintains the loyalty of his readers by delivering books to them whenever they order on social media. “I rely on trust and deliver books even before people pay for them”, he told us. “I have only had one case of someone refusing to pay me for a book”, he added.
He always adds a value of signing a customized autograph on every book he sells.
From his session, it emerged that whatever one does, even writing, needs collaboration, networking and is improved by the availability of social Media.