Hey, hey, hey everyone and welcome to the first episode of Self Published. I’m Aziza Kibibi and I’m an author, an activist on the protections of women and children, a chef, media personality, a mom and a survivor.
Along with a narrative from my blog Unashamed an open book, some of the things you can expect from this podcast are comments and questions from readers and fans, sidebars of drama from behind the scenes, and tips and advice on self publishing your own stories whether it be as a book, a podcast, a public speaker and some of the many other ways you want to make yourself public to the world.
Links to resources will be in the show notes and be sure to subscribe for notifications on future episodes. Oh, and one more thing; make sure to follow me on instagram and facebook and subscribe to my YouTube page for inspiring and informational videos on preventing and healing from abuse.
So now without further ado, thank you for allowing me to grace your eardrums and penetrate your mind; lets do this Brutus.
So I finished writing the manuscript to my memoir! It's 35 years in the making and 3 years in the writing. Now I'm on to the next phase; publication.
For those that don't know me my name is Aziza Kibibi. Most people think I'm from another country but I am a born and bred Jersey girl!
I think the best way to introduce myself and explain why I decided to share a memoir with the world is to include a version of the query letter I've been sending out to literary agents.
But before I do that let me formally introduce you to the theme of this blog.
While I go though the traditional steps of book publishing (which is a long tedious process that takes lots of patience) I will also be moving forward with publishing my book myself. I will share with you on a weekly basis, my trials and triumphs through both these processes as well as events and reflections of my everyday life.
You can kinda consider this reality television in print. My life has never been what most people call normal, and with an unusual foundation, the building turns out pretty...well...unusual.
With that being said, here is my query letter.
Dear Literary Agent.
Meet Aziza. She’s a hard working single mom of five beautiful children that she is very proud of. Most men describe her as mysterious, free spirited and charming. Most woman find her confident, smart and witty. But little do they know, is that from ten years old, Aziza was raised as her father’s sex slave. Oh, and the first four of her five children, are also her brother and sisters
This book is the true story of my life. Beginning in what was the present at the time I started writing, it follows the hospitalization of my fourth child by my father who is physically disabled which was also during the criminal case brought against my father by me and my sisters. My memoir is the tale of how surviving my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, has shaped me into the woman I am today.I am the eldest of 9 children by my mother, and including my children whom he fathered, the eldest of over twenty-five by my dad. Using events from the present as a vehicle, the history of my life unfolds beginning with the birth of my third child by my father. I describe how my father delivered my children at home, save for one who I gave birth to on a campsite in Florida. I take the reader on a journey through my sheltered life in a polygamous family where I was home schooled, molested, beaten and trained to satisfy my father’s every sexual desire, to how I coped with my husband cheating on me (with one of my sisters) which led to our divorce.
I describe how while growing up I watched my father turn from a loving, talented respected member of the community, into the abusive monster that God spared my own children from growing up with. Via my transition through adolescence the reader witnesses my failed attempts at protecting my younger siblings from the fate I had befallen; my father’s video directing career where we interacted with hip-hop royalty from the 90s such as Queen Latifah, YOMTV Raps Legend Fab 5 Freddy, Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean of the music group The Fugees, and the events that led to the discovery of our family secret. In my adulthood I share the excitement of my romantic relationships, the challenges that come with being a single mother, and how I lived through the death of one of my daughters. I also address what it’s like to be in a family that’s on a never ending road to recovering from the dictatorship of my father, and how I was able to forgive my mother for not protecting us from her husband.At 113,554 words, UNASHAMED is a tale of tragedy, growth, resilience, survival, faith and forgiveness.
My portion of the trial against my father is currently in court. I had to graphically testify to his sexual exploitation of me as a child and young adult. He has been found guilty of all charges and faces fifty years of imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled July 26th 2013.
I want to share my story with the public because I feel I have a moral responsibility to other men, women and children that may be affected by child molestation and incest (both victims and victimizers). I have not repressed the torture that my father inflicted on me, yet I function normally in life, love and relationships. Despite my limited homeschooled education, I am currently an A student, pursuing my associates in communications (my first classroom experience), and have won three Woman’s Opportunity awards from Soroptamist International for my writing. I also published a blog journaling my grievance and acceptance of my daughter’s death.
Thank you for your time, and I looking forward to hearing from you.
Let me know what you think about my query. This is a platform for communication. I welcome any advice and I will answer all questions to the best of my ability. If you are willing to share a story of your own, I embrace you with open arms. I've spent most of my life in secrecy, deception and darkness. Believe you me, I am enjoying everything the light has to offer.
How do you do it? How do you get up everyday and get on with life? You are very brave and courageous to tell your story. It's difficult reading about the things you've endured and yet you're able to live life and not allow yourself to wallow in self pity. There are people who have endure far less than you and wouldn't dare share their stories due to their own personal reasons. I'm really at a loss for words but you are a true inspiration and I have no doubt you're helping many, many people by sharing your story.
I will answer your questions in the order you asked.
1. One step at a time. I don't focus on the past and though I have many reminders of what happened to me (children, financial issues-my dad used my credit when I was younger- some of my children have medical challenges, etc.)
I handle them independently from my abuse. And though I have faith, i don't impose expectations beyond my own ability to make shit happen.
2. I am no longer suffering, so I am thankful for every day I have the opportunity to make my own choices and affect my destiny. In my eyes, every day is full of so many possibilities, so it would be a waste spending time licking my wounds.
I thank you for your own bravery in communicating your thoughts and feelings. Your words are very encouraging and it warms my heart to know there are people like yourself who care in the way you do.
Now, If serendipity is on your side, and the Orisha are working in your favor, you may have direct contact to an editor who works for a major publishing house. This is where networking and social equity comes in.
Ironically enough I actually did. My ex husband was dating an editor for one of the largest publishing houses in the world. I sent her my query letter and my manuscript.
She read it…or so she led me to believe. And after a week or so she even got back to me with terms and conditions. They are as follows.
Aziza, your writing is passionate and inspiring. And your story is amazing.
I would love to represent you in becoming a
(insert one of the biggest publishing houses in the world who’s name is akin to a bird here) ,
published author… that is…. if you can convince your ex-husband to come back to me.
(insert screech noise here).
Ok, hold up. So my literary future is dependent on the rekindling of my ex-husband’s relationship that I didn’t even know was over?
I called my ex and said “You owe me. you’re gonna have to take one for the team.”
Insider tips - resource query letter
The intention of a query letter is to introduce yourself and your book idea to a literary agent.
In the past you would send this directly to a publisher. But these days publishing houses only work with literary agents.
The Writers Market is a book that has listings for literary agents who may be looking for the next James Baldwin or Anne Rice. A new edition is published every year and contains the most updated guidelines and trends of the publishing industry. It’s full of samples, what-not-to-do’s and contact information for book publishing industry leaders.
After reading about 50 different sample query letters, an endless amount of blogs giving advise on how to write a query letter, and every professional contribution on writing a query letter in the Writers Market book; among many other things, my query letter was the result.
Abracadabra! Yes! It is done! Thank you so much for listening. Just a final reminder to check the show notes for links on resources and to connect to me online. My book Unashamed: a life tainted is available on Amazon and other book stores, and if you would like an autographed copy, you can get one from me on my website. Proceeds from all my merchandise goes to programs to prevent child molestation, domestic violence, incestuous abuse and sexual assault. Follow my Instagram, @azizakibibi, to stay connected and learn about free giveaways. And on that note, until next time. Be blessed for you are a blessing.
All Rights Reserved, Aziza Kibibi LLC
Music and sound effects curtesy of Epidemic Sounds: