Finding markets for Setswana poetry and short stories as well as Setswana book manuscripts is not easy.
People writing in Setswana need to accept that the bulk of the published works will be for schools. The trade market for Setswana is minimal if even existent at all.
This is, of course, a problem that can only be solved when readers buy books written in Setswana.
But on the positive side, unlike some languages, Setswana crosses borders. There are markets in South Africa and Botswana for Setswana material.
I’ve searched around and found a contest and few markets where Setswana writers might consider submitting their work.
All of the educational publishers in Botswana consider Setswana manuscripts that are in line with the school syllabuses too and should not be forgotten.
1. The Sanlam Prize For Youth Literature
This is a biannual prize for writers from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
There are two prizes (gold and silver) for fiction manuscripts in Afrikaans, English and the other official South African languages which includes Setswana.
There is a substantial money prize and the offer of publication. The manuscript needs to be for a teen audience, 25,000-40,000 words.
This year is a prize year and the deadline is the 30th June.
The submission needs to be sent by post and should include the online entry form which can be found here- http://www.sanlam.co.za/wps/wcm/connect/Sanlam_EN/sanlam/sponsorships/culture/sanlam+prize+for+youth+literature.
Each year the prize is run, there is normally a theme for submissions, but this year is open, so any topic that teens might be interested in can be submitted.
2. Vivlia Publishers
Vivlia is the largest independent, black owned publisher in South Africa. They publish textbooks, fiction, and biographies, some of them in Setswana.
Keep in mind again that they are an educational publisher, not a trade publisher. What that means is that it is unlikely that your book will be sold through the bookstores.
It is best to approach them with a query regarding your project. They have a website with all of their contact details.
3. Fig Tree Publishers
This is another South African publisher. On their website they say that they publish selected Setswana books for teens and children.
When approaching them they would like you to send a cover letter, a synopsis of your book, and the first three chapters. This can be emailed to: email@example.com.
3. Oxford University Press (OUP) Southern Africa
OUP publishes Setswana books, again for the syllabuses in schools in Southern Africa. In terms of literature, on their website they state that they publish “topical literature for youth” in Setswana.
It is likely best to contact them with a query about your project first. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Jacana Media
According to their website they publish Setswana picture books for children.
For books for an older market, they are known as a publisher of nonfiction, mostly current affairs, history, political biography and natural history.
They do not publish poetry, short stories, sci-fi, fantasy, YA, religious books or self help. They only accept fiction submissions during the months of June and November.
It is not clear if they publish adult literature in Setswana. It is best to query them. They have a comprehensive website.
Kutlwano is one of the few markets for Setswana short stories. They accept stories between 500-1000 words. You can email them to email@example.com.
If you can illustrate your story, they’ll take the illustration too.
If you write poetry and short stories in Setswana, don’t be discouraged. Most of the big publishers produce anthologies to be used in schools.
Educational publishing is an odd thing, it is all about rush- rush and wait. The publisher receives a list of what the schools need and often they have a ridiculously short deadline to produce books of quality.
If you have good, relevant work ready to be used you will be a step ahead of the other writers, and you will be an asset to a publisher who is under a crazy deadline.
Best to contact them politely, asking if they are in need of short stories and poetry and if they are not, to keep your name for the future when they are taking submissions.