By Jess C Scott
My name is Jess C Scott and I’m a professional writer. I’ve decided to share some of my perspectives with self-publishing. If self-publishing is something you’ve been thinking about, I hope this post serves as an inspiration to you as you get your writing projects off the ground.
1) Self-Publishing: What’s Great About It
I was very happy to read Chloe Crossman’s article on women’s magazines, published on The Fear Girls on April 30, 2012. I thought the following lines were so, so true:
“The reality of it is this: [these magazines] cater to the idea that women should value appearance over substance, please our partner before pleasing ourselves, and that the best way to achieve fulfillment in life is to make sure that our cleavage is displayed with just the right amount of visibility. . .if we allow ourselves to consume [women’s magazines] with too much frequency, we will become intellectually lethargic, driven by a need to refuel our damaged confidence with another dose of sugary garbage.”
Superficial and shallow values were what inspired my debut book, EyeLeash A Blog Novel.It’s a semi-autobiographical story that captures self-discovery in the 2000s.
There seems to be an epidemic of young people (tween and teenage girls, especially) with low self-esteem. Instead of combating this low self-esteem, the mainstream mass media tends to fully exploit it.
I know that the bottom line of any business is about profits. I know that traditional publishers are in the business to make money. That being said, I don’t think that profits should compromise certain principles.
One of the biggest gifts of independent publishing is that it offers a writer full creative and business control. In my experience, it allows me to work with a clean/clear conscience too, which is pretty much priceless if you’re the type that likes to maintain a certain amount of personal and/or artistic integrity.
Self-publishing allows a writer’s voice and vision to remain in its clear, undiluted state. It gives a writer the chance to create something unique and memorable, versus something that’s commoditized and forgettable.
There might always be a tension between art and commerce, depending on your goals and motivations as a writer. But at least you have a real opportunity where you can ultimately decide what you want your writing to really be all about.
2) Self-Publishing: Tips for Success
Here are a few tips to be efficient, productive, and focused as an independent author.
a) Be professional. When you’re committed to quality, it shows in your body of work. This also reflects well on the self-publishing community on the whole (the reverse is true too!). It helps to have a neat and organized website (ideally, it should also be visually pleasing). Web presence is important when your business is online.
b) Use social media wisely. Social media is great for self-promotion, cross-promotion, and socializing. I try not to spam my friends/followers too often. I’m not on social media all the time either (it can get pretty distracting…). You don’t need to be on every single social media platform. It’s more conducive if you select a few that you really like, so that you can utilize each to the fullest. Try to discern the difference between ranting and venting.
c) Be open to collaborations. I know of a few indie authors who seem to be very proud of the fact that they operate “by themselves” only (without asking other authors for “anything”). While it’s good to be self-sufficient, working together with others can be enjoyable if the people involved sincerely believe in the project they’re working on. This was the case with the no-nonsense Q&A advice book I co-authored with NYC teacher Matt Posner entitled Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships. The book wouldn’t have been as comprehensive if only one of us had authored it.
d) Have a positive attitude. If you fail at first, try again, and try harder next time. You tend to improve the more you persist at something. To borrow a quote from the astrologer Bob Marks, remind yourself that “being miserable all the time is impractical.” When optimism is grounded in reality, it helps you maintain a psychologically and emotionally healthy state.
e) Have self-respect. You’ll be respected by readers/customers if you stay true to whatever it is that motivates you, or what you feel passionate about. Don’t be afraid to say the unsayable.
f) Think long term. Don’t get discouraged if you see other authors sail ahead, or if you don’t see magnificent sales straight off the bat. Your focus shouldn’t be on creating “one” masterpiece, but on building up a backlist over time in order to strengthen your brand. Some people are tempted to take shortcuts, though perseverance tends to draw out the best qualities of a person. It’s nice to buck the system and be successful, even if a hundred million other people are also aggressively trying to do what you do.
3) Self-Publishing At Its Best = Revolutionary Resistance
Since my mid-teens, one of the things I’ve been passionate about is resisting the mainstream media. A lot of my creative work contains a “rebellious” streak against the (often stereotypical) messages from the mainstream media. I especially loathe the media’s tendency to reduce love, sex and relationships to mere commodities.
Publishers are mostly interested in finding the next cash cow franchise. In a tumultuous climate of change and upheaval, I suppose one cannot blame traditional publishers for focusing on what’s guaranteed to bring in the big bucks.
Self-publishing doesn’t need to be defined by the corporate culture that exists in all media conglomerates. Self-publishing isn’t defined by corporate politics or maintaining the status quo. At its best, self-publishing champions independent thought and action, which allows driven and motivated writers to really get their work out there and make a difference somehow.
I like resisting the hegemonizing mindset of megacorporations everywhere, where the goal is to unite the world as one people and one wallet. It’s coarse when a person or industry is entirely driven by greed and money. I don’t know about others, but I find merging the idealism of art and the practical aspects of business more fulfilling. The creative tension never gets dull or boring.
It’s the best time for a writer to get their work out on the market via digital self-publishing, a process that’s efficient, convenient, and economical.
21st-century self-publishing is an invitation to writers everywhere to join in the revolution/resistance front. Once you’re ready to join, jump right in, and be willing to learn new things along the way.
For best results, keep the following quote in mind: “Give up; give in; or give it all you’ve got.”
Jess is an author/artist/non-conformist who’s dedicated to writing original stories that are both meaningful and entertaining. She writes in a variety of genres including erotic fiction, urban fantasy, young adult fiction, cyberpunk, and poetry.
She recently completed Literary Heroin: A Twilight Parody, Bad Romance (a satirical “seven deadly sins” anthology), and Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships (co-authored with NYC teacher, Matt Posner).
In a Word Riot interview, Jess mentions that the basic message in her work is “always the same: to be unafraid to be one’s true self.”
Jess is also the founder of jessINK, an innovative publishing company that focuses on substance over short-term success with current fads and marketing hype.
Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships (co-authored by Matt Posner and Jess C Scott):