Saving Our Stories
What is Storied?
An initiative from South Africa’s leading independent local publisher, Jacana Media, that will support fiction publishing.
South African fiction in numbers
10.5 million books were sold in South Africa in 2015, of these 2.1 million were fiction sales
Why creative writing and fiction matters
As has been demonstrated the world over, a country that has a vigorous and active culture of storytelling and story-sharing is empowered to develop a commonly agreed social agenda.
Returns on investing in Storied
An opportunity to invest in a drive towards social change in South Africa.
Storied is an initiative from South Africa’s leading local publisher, Jacana Media. The entity, capitalising on Jacana’s commercial experience in the South African publishing sector, will reinvent the local creative-writing and fiction sector through targeted financial investment and innovation. It will use Jacana’s intellectual capital and operational footprint to nurture South African voices and help them tell their stories.
For further information contact: Leabiloe Molapo | 072 502 7416 | email@example.com
The Storied Vision
Storied will publish diverse voices
In keeping with the changing perspectives of publishers internationally, and the recognition that South African book publishing must be more inclusive, the Storied initiative is geared towards diversity and inclusivity. Storied, with the backing of Jacana, recognises the imperative in having a publishing environment that represents the country’s demographics.
We will be the first publisher in South Africa that will focus not only on fiction publishing, but on publishing diverse stories. Like BlackBird Books, which publishes both fiction and non-fiction titles written by black writers, Storied is another Jacana initiative that will push the publishing agenda in giving South Africa’s creative talent a platform for their work.
Although a first in South Africa, Storied, like other international publishers, is cognizant of the commercial imperative of growing and developing the fiction publishing ecosystem across the value chain to develop readers, the end users of our products.
“A conquered people often lose the inclination to tell their stories. We have stories to tell, they are important, and they are liberating in nature.” – Dikgang Moseneke, author and former Chief Justice*
“Creating a vibrant ecosystem. Diversity. Representation. Fair representation of the demographic in publishing and bookselling and literature in general world over is a topic that is very current.” – Jessica Faircliff, SA Booksellers Association
“We feel very strongly about diversity in publishing. For me it is a real problem when we don’t reflect the society we live in. It’s not good for books, or culture, or commercially.” – Tom Weldon, Penguin Random House, UK
Jacana Media, currently ranked among the top five publishing houses in South Africa, is a ground-breaking and fiercely independent publisher that produces material in the fields of public health, the arts, natural history, fiction, South African history and current affairs, as well as life skills and educational material for public and school libraries. The company publishes work from some of the most imaginative and clear-thinking minds of our time. Our books respond to the challenges of the moment and provoke debate. The company is a prolific publisher of South African and African fiction, as well as non-fiction books. Jacana Media was Small Trade Publisher of the Year 2009 and Maverick Publisher of the Year 2008 (Exclusive Books). Other awards include: the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award to Ronnie Kasrils for The Unlikely Secret Agent, and to Redi Tlhabi for Endings & Beginnings; and the prestigious Arthur C Clarke Award to Lauren Beukes for Zoo City, recognising it as one of the best science fiction titles to be published in the last year in the English language. In recognition of the fact that we are an African company, Jacana publishes the Caine Prize for African Writing.
Growing South Africa fiction
Storied, with the support of Jacana, firmly believes that local fiction publishing and bookselling needs:
- the development of emerging voices;
- the development of editors to support fiction publishing; and
- innovative distribution models that can grow readership.
Storied will partner with Jacana Media to re-publish ten existing titles, from Jacana’s backlist, under the Storied imprint. Titles will be co-branded. This will be the start of many new titles to be published by Storied in the future.
Investing in African stories
As has been demonstrated the world over, a country that has a vigorous and active culture of storytelling and story sharing is empowered to develop a commonly agreed social agenda. Storied is a Jacana imprint that will focus solely on fiction publishing. There are significant potential returns from investing in a publisher who will be curating African stories in a publishing environment where there has been a dearth of fiction publishing that speaks to a wider market. Storied builds on the existing work of the Jacana Literary Foundation and Jacana Media in identifying and growing South African literary talent. It will also take new steps to develop key skills across the publishing supply chain – investing in the development of young editors and creative writers.
What will Storied do
- Actively develop multilingual editorial ability and capacity by investing financially in the education of emerging editorial talent.
- Develop translation capacity and ability – within the specific frame of creative writing – by investing financially in emerging talent.
- Publish and promote creative writing that sets a new standard for local literature.
- Invest in the careers and profiles of emerging creative writers through career development programes for writers.
- Identify and exploit new and alternative distribution models for South African fiction to grow readership.
- Donate titles from its Storied Collection to libraries.
Bridget Impey: Publishing Director – Bridget Impey grew up in a bookshop family and, in 1982, joined the firm of David Philip Publishers. After 19 years, she left to set up a trade publishing division for Juta & Co, Double Storey Books, which she headed for five years. In 2007, in search of adventure, creative publishing and commitment, she joined Jacana Media and, apart from a brief two-year stint as MD, she has happily published a wide range of titles for the trade division for the past 10 years. She also teaches publishing studies to honours and masters students at Wits University and continues to be all consumed by the world of books she grew up in.
Leigh-Ann Harris: Managing Director – Leigh-Ann Harris has been the managing director at Jacana since January 2017 and was previously the general manager for four years. Leigh-Ann headed up the Custom Publishing division for six years. She has 14 years of experience in publishing, with a focus on materials development for audiences with low literacy and English as a second language. She has extensive experience in communication campaign project management, having worked on the management team for the Department of Health’s Khomanani campaign from 2001 to 2007, initially at PriceWaterhouse Coopers and subsequently at Jacana Media.
Leabiloe Molapo: Project Manager – Leabiloe is an economist with experience in research, marketing, internal corporate communications and business development. It is her love for writing and for books that led her to the publishing world. She is currently studying for a master’s in Publishing Studies at Wits University.
Nielsen BookScan figures (2017) show that South Africa’s publishing landscape is highly skewed towards non-fiction publishing, presenting an opportunity for Storied to capitalise on this dearth of local English-language fiction publishing. Overall the fiction sales, although a fraction of international titles sold, has increased steadily over the past five years. (See above figure titled Fiction Sales by Publisher 2013–2017)
Jacana’s fiction publishing has grown over the years since the publisher entered into trade publishing, boasting an impressive list, and the titles that have won local literary awards are a testament to Jacana’s understanding of the fiction market and commitment to finding and publishing stories that resonate with readers. Storied is well placed to publish fiction stories because of its understanding of the reading market and relationships with booksellers. By being the first independent publisher focusing solely on fiction publishing, a market that has been largely ignored by local publishers, Storied has a first-move advantage because it will not only look at the entire value chain in its publishing decisions, but invest in the creative talent and voices that will meet a long-ignored market segment and readership. (See above figure titled Fiction Sales by Publisher 2013–2017)
Why focus on fiction publishing
Writing stories that resonate with the majority of South Africans is key to growing the fiction market. Statistics show that fiction does not sell in the same way as non-fiction publishing, and this is because publishers have ignored large segments of the book buying market. Storied has recognised that by nurturing African writers and rekindling the demand for fiction that is relevant to readers, we will be the only publisher developing and publishing emerging African voices.
Why is local fiction not selling and what will Storied do?
The key elements in book publishing form an eco-system that is made up of three key functions: editing, development and distribution. These three elements all contribute to a healthy eco-system that is grown through literary awards and prizes. Presently, these elements are not working cohesively, leading to a failure in the eco-system and in the production of local fiction.
Storied offers the solution to this problem. By investing in Storied, investors are investing in developing and growing this eco-system. See above figure: Storied ecosystem.
Storied will be involved in:
- Editor development
- Small and independent bookseller development
- Preferential discounts for alternative distribution methods
Young editors will have the opportunity to develop and hone their skills through short editing courses offered by the Wits Writing Centre. Storied will sponsor one student each year through the Wits Editors' Bursary which will train black editors who are be able to edit and understand new voices.
Sponsoring young writers for writing courses also forms part of the development of young talent that will be part of growing local fiction. Storied plans to put one student through the Wits Writing Centre each year. This initiative will support new writers with coaching. These are the same writers who will publish new titles for Storied going forward.
By offering retailers like African Flavour Books and small independent booksellers preferential discounts, Storied will contribute to reader development.
Sponsoring our writers and putting funding into book fairs and festivals will give our authors the platforms to communicate with book clubs. This wider reach will help develop a distributor network that creates accessibility to local fiction.
Storied will continue to engage with traditional book distributors, and grow and develop alternative independent means of distribution such as independent bookstores. Exploring alternative means of distribution means we not only create access to books but begin to think differently about distribution and developing readership.
The Storied collection
Donation of 10% of books from the Storied Collection to either community libraries or directly to book clubs will develop a network of book clubs, through which the Storied message can spread by word of mouth.
Storied’s work is also rooted in the work of the Jacana Literary Foundation, which manages three unique, powerful South African literary projects:
The Dinaane Debut Fiction Award
The only award for new fiction writers in the country, the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award has launched the careers of several of South Africa’s most prominent fiction writers, including the likes of Fred Khumalo and Kopano Matlwa.
The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology
The pre-eminent annual poetry anthology in South Africa, The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology, features work from the leading lights of the local scene alongside newcomers in all South African languages.
The Gerald Kraak Anthology
A pioneering annual anthology of essays, fiction, poetry and photography that reflects the dynamism of the South African creative scene.
Understanding our market and building on a sound reputation
Jacana Media has been in existence for 25 years, during which time we focused on commissioned work for clients including NGOs, corporates, the travel industry and national parks. In 2002, Jacana entered the trade publishing industry and has grown to become one of the most reputable independent publishing companies, growing an impressive trade list of both fiction and non-fiction titles.
A key player in the publishing market
Jacana Media’s reputation in the publishing market has grown tremendously from its humble beginnings as a publisher whose focus was on commissioned work. It is currently ranked among the top five publishing houses in South Africa. Storied will build on this reputation, allowing it to go to market with a sound and credible backer.
Book reviews of a selection of Jacana’s fiction titles from the past four years:
Jacana’s publishing history has been wide and varied, earning it a reputation of a maverick book publisher with a diverse publishing list across fiction and non-fiction titles. Some of the fiction titles published by Jacana in the last five years:
Sibanda and the Rainbird by CM Elliot. Published 2013.
“The author's respect for and knowledge of Ndebele culture and language is a pleasure indeed. An enjoyable debut.” – Noluthando L Ncube, Sunday Times, 24 November 2013
Close to Home by Cayleigh Bright. Published 2014.
On Caleigh Bright’s writing: “It’s the kind of meta-critical writing we need more of in South Africa, especially from white writers.” – Grethe Koen, City Press, 12 April 2015
Unimportance by Thando Mgqolozana. Published 2014.
“Mgqolozana’s latest novel bears a sincerity that speaks to young South Africans and every citizen in the wake of our recent national elections.” – Ruth Browne, Cape Times, 20 June 2014
The Story of Anna P by Penny Busetto. Published 2014.
“Anna P’s story transcends the narrator’s own tale to become a universal story of oppression and colonization. It is clear why Busetto won the European Union Literary Award for this delicate debut.” – Karin Schimke, Cape Times, April 2014
What will People Say? by Rehana Roussouw. Published 2015.
“It’s a riveting read, and will lie close to the hearts of many readers, while others will learn much they could not imagine for themselves.” – Jane Rosenthal, Mail & Guardian, 6 July 2015
Piggy Boy’s Blues by Nakhane Touré. Published 2015.
“Given the context of the book’s publication, with South Africans preoccupied with decolonising everything, it is hard not to see the book as Touré’s own brave contribution to that debate.” – Kwanele Sosibo, Mail & Guardian, 4 September 2016
Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi. Published 2015.
“Panashe Chigumadzi tells Tsitsi’s story with empathy. Sweet Medicine is a thought-provoking debut which explores what it means to be a woman in such a difficult time and place.” – Bongani Koma, Aerodome, 28 January 2016
In the Maid’s Room by Hagen Engler. Published 2016.
“As much as racism and ‘white entitlement’ is a sensitive topic, Engler manages to skirt past these issues with rib-cracking humour throughout the novel.” – Alicia Sibanda, Writer’s Write, 15 August 2016
Period Pain by Kopano Matlwa. Published 2016.
“And even though most of the book deals with tragedies and it appears that there will be no breakthrough, every page is enticing and not so emotionally draining that I could not continue reading. And it is beautifully written. When it comes to telling real South African stories, Matlwa is a force to be reckoned with.” – Tamara Booi, Business Day, 28 November 2016
New Times by Rehana Rossouw. Published 2017.
“The result is a novel spectacular at engendering empathy for its central characters: quietly funny, heartbreakingly sad, and not easily forgotten.” – Tara Childes, Aerodome, 27 July 2016
The South African publishing landscape
The South African English publishing landscape is dominated by the big five publishing houses: Penguin Random House SA, Pan Macmillan, Jonathan Ball, NB Publishers and Jacana Media – all of which publish both fiction and non-fiction titles. Jacana Media is the only independent publisher that has been ranked among the big four publishers. With respect to fiction publishing, Jacana competes with the large publishers’ imprints: Umuzi, Picador Africa and Kwela – all of which publish South African popular and literary fiction. Of the independent publishers, Modjaji Books is the only other independent publisher that publishes both fiction and non-fiction. Jacana’s imprint, Storied, will focus solely on English-language fiction publishing, becoming the only imprint that publishes African popular and literary fiction. Storied’s focus on developing writers and editors will distinguish it from Jacana’s other imprint, BlackBird Books.
The R3 million will fund Storied’s activities in this start-up phase. Storied will take new steps to develop key skills across the publishing supply chain – investing in the development of young editors and creative writers. The value of Jacana’s backing of Storied is in the strong publishing platform and existing infrastructure. Investors will be investing in Storied’s capability to publish books without the “start up” costs. Jacana’s contribution is the reputation and infrastructure. Investors will benefit from:
- an established publisher with a sound reputation;
- existing infrastructure and equipment; and
- an extensive network in the bookselling market.
See above figure: Jacana’s existing infrastructure contribution as a proxy for start-up costs.
Projected book sales and revenue
Storied is projecting to sell approximately 800 books in its first year and begin recording a profit in year 3. There is a projected average 19% revenue growth over the ten-year period.
Prior experience gives Storied the know-how to pricing models that work. Understanding of this market ensures that any pricing risk stemming from a lack of knowledge of the market is fully mitigated against.
Sales and distribution model
Storied will capitalise fully on these well-established channels, and on the publishing, sales and marketing team’s full understanding of this market.
Knowledge of our customer base (readership)
Our knowledge of the readership of the diverse stories that Storied will publish stems from the prior experience of Jacana’s fiction titles, along with another imprint – BlackBird Books– dedicated solely to publishing black voices. It is BlackBird’s success in publishing formerly marginalised voices that has demonstrated the gap in the market, which Storied will be helping to fill. See above figure : Revenue Projection
Notes on revenue projections: 10 TITLES – cover, layout, print
Storied will partner with Jacana Media in year 1 to re-publish 10 existing titles in years 1–5, increasing to 15 titles from year 6. Titles will be co-branded. Revenue from sales will be split between Jacana and Storied 50/50. Sales from years 2 to 5 will include sales of titles from year 1 on. This is the backlist. Year 2 to 5 will produce 10 titles per year. Sales will be split 50/50 with Jacana. Jacana will manage all marketing, sales and distribution on behalf of Storied. Sales assumptions are based on sales of 800 units per title in year 1 400 in year 2 200 in year 3 150 in years 4 and 5.
Wits Editors’ Bursary
The bursary will train black editors to fill the gap. Editors who will be able to edit new voices and who understand these voices. This costing is based on Wits University editing courses.
An initiative to support new writers with coaching. These are the same writers who will publish titles for the year to come.
Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology
The budget for this award is concentrated on payments for the judging panel, production and print of the anthology, the award administration and the event. These costs will fall away in year 4 and 5. Revenue for sale of the anthology is split 50/50 with Jacana.
Dinaane Debut Fiction Award
Budget for this award is concentrated on payments for the judging panel, production and print of the winning title, the award administration and the event. These costs will fall away in years 4 and 5. Revenue for sale of the book is split 50/50 with Jacana.
Storied will allocate 10% of all print runs for donations to schools and libraries.
Storied will rely on Jacana’s infrastructure to operate. Administration costs include a salary for one project manager, office space, stationery, marketing and bank charges.
Investors are offered the opportunity to invest in a drive towards social change in South Africa. Participation in Storied’s equity offer is not only an investment with social returns, but an investment in a sound commercial business that will yield real commercial returns.
Funding goal description
Storied seeks to raise R3 million to fund its initiatives over a three-year start-up period. This excludes the start-up costs in the table above. This funding will be towards the budget presented in the attached five-year projected budget, and will drive the co-publishing, together with Jacana Media, of Storied’s fiction titles. This is a commercial venture that will be run as a fiction publishing company. Storied’s motivation behind fiction publishing is driven by the recognition of a gap in the fiction-publishing market, Storied will also support creative-writing talent as a way of strengthening the African fiction publishing market.
See above table: Start-up costs that will be carried by Jacana Media.
The attached budget under investor documents represents all the production costs, as detailed in the notes, excluding start-up costs carried by Jacana Media above.
The five-year financial budget is also attached under investment documents.