The South African Times, London

'Kraut' wins her foreign publishing battle

(Saturday, 24 May 2008) - Contributed by Charlotte Olivier 

When South African turned German, Anli Serfontein, finally sat down last summer to finish her book From Rock toKraut*, her thoughts turned to finding a publisher.

“As I surfed the websites of renowned publishers, I sunk into a depression – the tenor being ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’. My problems were compounded by the fact that I was living in Germany and writing in English.”

Serfontein, who was writing her book “on and off’’ for a decade, then took her husband’s advice. She went for print-on-demand self-publishing. “It is transparent, professional, easily accessible and the future of publishing. I was no media novice and the idea of having total control every step of the way appealed to me.

“I asked a Scottish friend to edit: having lectured in Trier and with her parents living in King William’s Town, she was the perfect choice. She ruthlessly cut the book by a fifth - we are still friends and the book is all the better for it!” Serfontein laughs.

Then she realised the book still needed a cover. “That is even more important than the content, my Italian publishing friend, bluntly told me as the book editing was nearing its end.”

A Trier-born graphic artist in London came to mind. But would she do it? “She did and I adore the cover, because it absolutely catches the spirit of From Rock to Kraut.

Finally, the publisher, a subsidiary of the biggest book retailer in Europe, ensured world-wide distribution, which is “more than any small independent publisher, could ever offer”.

Then came the question of marketing. “The struggle is no longer getting my book on the market, but letting people know that it is out there. Since we live in a university town, marketing students helped out. We’re constantly adapting our marketing strategy and increasingly the internet has become our main marketing tool.

”It is an exciting project and yet I cannot wait to this summer get back to writing my next book. Writing a book is infinitely easier than marketing it!”

* A Rock is a derogatory term for people of Afrikaans descent, while a Kraut is an offensive name for a German. In From Rock to Kraut the terms are used lovingly and self-deprecatingly as SA born author Serfontein humorously narrates the story of her journey from urban Johannesburg to small town Trier in Germany. The book is now widely available via online bookshops in the UK. Go to

South African Times London, 24th of May 2008

Picture by (c) Daniel Schieben, a talented, young photographer from Trier, who has recently even exhibited in Berlin. Visit his homepage