'Absolutely surreal': 29-year-old Durban author books her place among publishing giants

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Founder of Krest Publishers, Keli Hariparsad.
Founder of Krest Publishers, Keli Hariparsad.
  • In 2020, Keli Hariparsad had left the security of a career in medicine to pursue her lifelong dream of being a published author.
  • Two years later, her publishing company, Krest Publishers, is nominated with publishing giants for Best Publishing Company at the Book Behind Awards. 
  • In the future, Hariparsad sees Krest Publishers as a platform for creative products and services, including photography, fine arts, performance arts, and multimedia.

Leaving the security of the medical profession to chase a lifelong dream of working in the world of literature is a step that takes incredible courage. Not only has 29-year-old author and book publisher Keli Hariparsad taken this step, but she is also reaping the benefits.

Since leaving a stressful job in medicine to pursue her dream in 2020, her publishing company, Krest Publishers, has released several books by South African authors telling stories that illustrate the country's vibrant cultures and unique history.

Not only that - she is making waves as an author herself. 

Making the bold decision to leave medicine for book writing at the start of a global pandemic would fill even the bravest heart with trepidation, but Hariparsad has been rewarded for her courage by seeing her publishing company go from strength to strength in just under two years.

Krest Publishers has already made a splash in the literary business, as it is nominated alongside heavyweights Johnathan Ball, NB Publishers, and Penguin Random House at this year's Book Behind Awards, set to take next month.

Heriparsad herself is nominated at the Book Behind Awards for Best Upcoming Female Author 2022 for her book, 'The Four Hundred Club'. The Durban-based author and publisher is stunned by her success.

"It feels absolutely surreal for a company our age to be placed alongside industry giants. I grew up reading all my favourite books by these publishers. It's an overwhelming moment for a young business that was operating from home less than two years ago!" said Hariparsad.

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Krest Publishers received nominations in the categories of Best Fiction for a teenage fantasy called Teneo by Novian Dunne and Best Educational Book for a book about healthcare worker conditions called Doctor Anxiety by ZMF Patel.

Krest Publishers is also nominated in the categories of Best Biography for Cabin Crew Diaries, a book about the adventures of S Bharuth, an air hostess for one of the most prestigious airlines in the world, and Best Poetry for Stepping Stones by Vishnu Kristna.

"I spend a lot of time ensuring our house's books come out wonderfully that I don't have a lot of time to focus on my own work. So, it was such unexpected and exciting news that I have been nominated in the category of Best Upcoming Female Author for my book The Four Hundred Club, also published by Krest," Hariparsad said.

While Hariparsad always had a flair for writing, she did not always believe that it was something she could do for a living one day. She graduated from medical school in 2017 and worked in two Durban hospitals until the end of 2019.

krest authors
Left to right: Krest author Liam Nisbet, Krest CEO Keli Hariparsad, Best Poetry nominee Vishnu Kristna, 2021 Best Poetry winner Sarvdasha Sewlal, and published poet Mervin Francis.

Her decision to leave a career in medicine was due to conditions for healthcare workers deteriorating and her passion for words remaining a constant presence, even in her adult life. She then quit her job as a medical doctor, and eventually founded Krest Publishers.

"At that stage, I hadn't even imagined it to become a fully fledged business, but rather something small and local. All I had wanted was to prove that creative careers were just as important and viable as academic careers," she said.

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She said while she expected her own book, The Four Hundred Club, to be the first book that Krest would publish, it was Secrets and Lies by Paul Zunckel and Yellow Roses by Sarvdasha Sewlal that broke Krest in as a publishing business.

These two books were nominated in the 2021 Book Behind Awards in the categories Best Fiction and Best Poetry respectively, with Yellow Roses winning in its category. She said this process taught her that creativity needs to be coupled with some business and marketing skills to make it a sustainable career.

Hariparsad said Krest Publishers offers publishing agreements under the frameworks of either traditional, self-, or hybrid publishing. Krest Publishers assists with standard duties like editing, ISBN applications, layout, and cover design.

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Krest also offers support in marketing and sales of books, which Hariparsad says is the challenging part of book publishing that every author needs to take personal responsibility for, especially in the digital age, which has widened readers' choices significantly.

"We've since introduced the Krest online bookstore that sells for other independent publishers too. We have a Krest conservatoire offering informal classes in writing, and the Krest Cars magazine which is a luxury coffee table publication for high-performance car owners," she said.

Hariparsad considers South Africa "an incredible mine of inspiration". She said this motivated Krest Publishers to hold an annual short story competition to showcase stories that include multicultural characters, local landmarks, and tourist destinations, and languages.

"I especially like that the kinds of stories out of our country are both reflective of a past we can learn from and optimistic of a progressive future. For example, we have struggle stories to humble us, freedom stories to inspire us, and we also have born free stories to show us an inclusive future we are moving towards," said Hariparsad.

In the future, Hariparsad sees Krest Publishers as a platform for all types of creative products and services, including photography, fine arts, performance arts, and multimedia, giving skilled creators in these mediums an opportunity to have fulfilling and sustainable careers.

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