Recently, I went to my local library. As I was browsing for any recent books on any topic published with the word ‘Somali’ appearing anywhere; in the title or the description, I learned that there have been very few Somali books published in recent years by Somali authors; in the past three years, in the library catalog, there have been only 3 books, and most books published with anything Somali are published by non-Somalis. Is it necessarily bad that non-Somali authors are publishing on Somali? No, it is not. However, Somali authors not doing the lion’s share of writing such books is a bit embarrassing to me.
What is the reason why Somali authors are not out-publishing their non-Somali counterparts when it comes to Somali issues anywhere in the world, considering the large Somali diaspora worldwide following the Somali civil war early 1990s which forced millions of Somalis out of their motherland, Somalia, where many of them settled in Australia, Europe, and North America?
I don’t have a clear answer to the above question. Nevertheless, with my research talking to many would-be Somali writers, one possible notion comes to mind; many aspiring Somali writers, although their geographic location matters, think that adequate means to publish their book is unavailable, or getting a traditional publisher to accept your manuscript proves difficult; even some of those in North America, where publishing opportunities abound, think so.
On the other hand, to publish a book, can you only do it with a traditional publisher or you have another option?
If you’re an aspiring Somali writer out there, a traditional publisher is not all you have to publish your book; self-publishing route might be the answer and the stepping stone that can take you to the next level as an established author.
Ahmed Said is an aspiring writer who lives in Grand Forks, ND, USA, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org