Publishing in Ethiopia: The finished books!

The idea for our Eager 4 English children’s books was conceived in the fall of 2012. At first, my role was small. I was one of about 30 volunteers who was paired with a creative writing student in the US. Our job was to provide the writer with information about our towns so that a story could be written that our students would really relate to.

As time passed, my role expanded. First into editing – I spent months going over every story and copyediting line by line. And then I spoke to the creator of the books about her vision for the design…her initial plan: a Word document. My shock and appall turned into understanding when I realized she didn’t have InDesign, nor had she worked with it in the past.

During my university days I was the fiction editor and design & layout editor for our school’s lit mag. I had also worked in publishing after graduation, so I offered my (wildly limited) expertise. But still, I had no idea just what I was getting myself into. We waited months and months for our illustrator’s edits. I got tips and advice from a friend in the US, while trying to work with an uncooperative internet connection. We weren’t allowed to speak with the printers directly for fear that they would jack up the prices due to our foreign status. I waited weeks, WEEKS for responses to the inquiries I made to our partners. I was working on four books simultaneously (one for each region – Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, SNNPR), all the while keeping up with my projects at school. I was busy, too busy.

But then, magically, it was all over. And on March 20, 2014 (a year and a half later!!!), all that hard work paid off. Peace Corps had printed 2,000 copies – 500 of each book. The printing coincided with our All-Volunteer Conference, and we were able to pass out the books to the rest of the volunteers. And just like that, it was all worth it. These books were definitely one of the hardest projects during my time here, but they were also one of my favourites : )


  1. Great Job! Way to go in putting your “limited expertise” and university knowlege into action. Now you have to find something else to keep you busy up until the very end. (HaHaHa)

  2. What an amazing story! Was this a one-time project, or are there plans to keep it going? I’m headed to Ethiopia at the end of June, was a journalism student in college, and want to get into publishing once I’m done with PC.

    1. For us it was one-time, because everyone involved is heading out in August. But Peace Corps loved the project and I know they had mentioned an interest in translating the stories into Amharic/Tigrinian/Ofanoromo. So I’m sure they’d be supportive of something like that. And who knows, you could probably spearhead a new version of this in your group – just start it as soon as possible, it takes a while! I can help you out if you have any questions.

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