Hey, hey, hey. Welcome to the 4th episode of Self Published. I’m Aziza Kibibi and I want to thank you for allowing me to caress your eardrums and penetrate your mind with tales of my shameless journey of being a self made author.
It’s not been an easy journey to say the least. With little guidance on how to actually publish a book, I went through a lot of trial and error. But some would argue that’s the best way to learn. Nonetheless, my hope is that this podcast will help navigate you during your publishing journey. And if you aren’t particularly interested in sharing your stories, then I’ll be satisfied with satisfying your curiosity. Now with out further ado….. lets do this.
August 7th, 2013
JACK OF MANY TRADES. MASTER OF SOME.
I write poetry you know. I'm also a chef. I know how to sheetrock rooms, paint and wallpaper, lay tile and carpet floors. I can sew, knit, crochet, build walls, and grow everything needed for a gourmet meal; I even know a thing or two about running electric wiring and plumbing, and most of these things I learned at my father's encouragement and coercions.
In every cloud there is a silver lining and even among the abuse and torture I grew up with, I know a lot of things others don't because my father made me learn them. Like most children do for their parents, I wanted to make mine proud. Though my father did everything he could to break my will, that didn't change the fact that him and my mother were the only two people that validated me. Sure we were punished when the dishes weren't clean enough or our beds weren't made on time, but I went out of my way to do more than my parents required. And with my eagerness to succeed, my parents loaded on the responsibility. There were times when I felt lost and defeated, but my relationship with God and my determination to go on, served me like the last drop of fuel that gets your car to the gas station just before it shuts off.
I've birthed five children. Four for my father and one for my ex husband, and they challenge me on a regular basis. I do my best to apply the things that I find are positive from the way my parents raised me, in my own childrearing. Things like thinking outside of the box, reading the dictionary and learning how everything works. But sometimes it can be difficult deciphering what methods were genuinely beneficial to me and my siblings' development, and what was meant as a tool of control. For instance: I was raised vegetarian because my dad taught us that ingesting meat was harmful to the human body. Now that I've done my own research I have found evidence that supports a diet free of animal flesh or at least it's use in moderation. But I can't help but wonder if the real reason my father limited mine and my siblings diets, was to keep us weak. Though there was animal products in the house such as milk and cheese, they were reserved mostly for my father's consumption, and when we were allowed to have a cheese sandwich, you could count the shreds on the roll.
My dad taught us that a child's role in a family was to serve the parents, and that we did in so many ways. As a single mom I require my children to help in household chores, keep their rooms tidy and do their homework, but in the back of my mind I'm aware that I may be lenient on them because I'm trying to stay away from my father's philosophy. I see my children as gifts of opportunity and an investment in the future. Not slaves tied to me biologically meant to wait on me hand and foot.
Two of my children have inborn errors. My 16 year old has Phenylketonuria (PKU), and my 9 year old had both PKU and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Incest doesn't cause deformities in the sense that if two family
members have a baby it will be a two headed monster, but it does increase the possibility of a child born out of incest inheriting genetic weaknesses (if you carry the gene to birth a two headed monster...u get the point). In my case PKU and SMA are recessive genetic deformities where both parents have to be the carrier of the gene to pass the disease on to the offspring. Since my father (who carried the genes) impregnated me- a direct relative- the chances that I would be a carrier as well was 1 in 4; which happens to be the same chances that we had in creating a child with the disease.
All of this could serve as constant reminders of the dark parts of my life, but the reality is, there are other people that were not raped and taken advantage of by a family member that have children with the same challenges mine have. My reasoning is that me and my children aren't that different from others out there, making me feel less alone. And compared to the abandon that I felt when I was a child, less alone is all the company I could wish for.
My foundation is crooked, cracked, twisted and full of holes. But with the right amount of mortar mixed in the fitting consistency, layered with the appropriately shaped bricks, I know my skyscraper will touch stars that haven't been discovered yet (I can to lay brick too. Lol!).
The Child MolestationPrevention Study (Abel and Harlow 2001) states that the effects of child molestation can result in suicide due to overwhelming feelings of guilt and confusion (I remember those days), causing a child to become harmful to themselves. Other consequences which are carried into adulthood include, severe depression (been there, done that), sexual problems, promiscuity, multiple personality disorder, physical illness (check), asthma (got it), immune system complications (hmmm?) and drug and alcohol abuse.
For resources on abuse prevention and recovery for yourself or someone you know, go to PreciousLittleLadies.org. where we strengthen the bond between mothers and daughters to combat child molestation, incestuous abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault and our motto remains your’e not alone, its ok to tell.
I passed one of my early drafts of Unashamed a life tainted on to a friend of mine who is a filmmaker. He then passed it on to people in his circle for feedback; mostly women. I must say, I wasn’t prepared for the reaction. Rather than provide input on my writing, story development or character arc, most comments criticized and judged my life choices. Comments on my responses and reactions as a child were honestly, very mean. One person even said I must have liked the abuse because (according to the pages they read) I didn’t have a “fight or flight” response to my situation. Oh well. You can’t please everyone.
Remember in the last episode I mentioned that the newspaper article I interviewed for led to an appearance on a nationally syndicated television show? Well I’m not going to talk about that here.
Here I’m going to share with you information on book cover design, logos, book layout and branding.
But before I get into that I want to continue to encourage future and current publishers and entrepreneurs to take any and every opportunity to promote yourself and your work. You’re going to feel silly at first standing on line at a grocery store trying to figure out a way to strike up conversation with the person in front of you about your YouTube channel or editing service you just started. But you have to fight that feeling and just do it; even if it’s just to practice for the day that you get a few minutes in front of a major network talkshow producer.
While antithetically, I am an advocate for making your major moves in life covertly, that is just to protect you from the haters. People love to direct their negative energy onto those that are doing big things. But in arenas outside of your immediate circle, you have to speak up because they are essentially your audience. A fan, subscriber or a customer won’t know about what you have to offer unless you tell them. And those who have opportunities available to further your agenda fall into that category; and they can be anywhere. I’ll go into detail about my own techniques in another episode. I just want you to start getting used to the idea of not sitting quietly in the back of the classroom.
Now lets return to my book cover. I knew I wanted my book cover to be representative of my introduction to the world. I went on Amazon and looked at the covers of hundreds of memoirs and books on personal stories surviving abuse. I saw so many thumbnails of a child’s crying eyes, broken glass, and cracked concrete that I wanted to cry, break some glass and go and repair the cracked concrete on my sidewalk. It was crazy.
I knew I didn’t want my book cover to look like what was already out there. So I called a friend who happened to be the son of the late great musician, George Benson, and we got to snapping pictures for which I commissioned my graphic artist sister to use to create 3 book covers, a book spine and the back cover design.
Designing your own book cover can be challenging because when creating your own work, everything is subjective. But your book cover is the first thing that’s presented to the world about what is potentially inside. Stay tuned for why I say potentially.
Your cover must catch the attention of eyes that are distracted by thousands of other book covers. It must also convey a message from the book which can be tricky since you don’t want to give too much away. This is why I said “potentially” earlier. You know the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? In my opinion, book covers are the worlds first version of click bate. Outside of children’s books, graphic novels and any other literary work that is primarily made up of illustrations, book covers can be very misleading and sometimes for good reason. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a fiction work about a young dark skinned black girl during Jim Crow Era who wished for white skin and blue eyes, had prostitutes for friends, bullied the neighborhood white girl out of jealousy for her entitlement, and was eventually raped by her father. That book was banned in various states, passed along through different publishers and had more cover designs than I’ve been able to count. But the most commonly found version is a silver blue jacket with the words “The Bluest Eye” in script; a complete contrast to the story contained inside the pages. But, if you google the bluest eye being banned, image results of the cover show a version with a penned illustration of a very dark girl with piercing blue eyes, crouching in a perceived corner, meek and afraid looking back at you.
For a memoir it seems fitting to put the face of the person who the book is about on the cover, but if it isn’t a face easily recognized then a face could work against you. So I took to researching peer reviewed articles on the subject based on demographics and culture, and created polls to help me decide.
After concluding that I would put my face on the cover, taking 3 cover versions my sister created, I polled again both male and female audiences to see what emotions were invoked on seeing my book cover, and which would they choose to explore in a book store. I also polled what they would think the book was about based on the cover only.
After compiling all of that information, I made the decision to publish my book as a 2 volume ebook using two versions of the cover. I continued to gather public reactions to those covers and finally decided on the cover that is used on the print book today.
The moral of the story, don’t be afraid to try and try again and try again and again. At the very least, you’ll learn a lot in the process.
Hey you. Thank you so much for listening; for allowing me to caress your eardrums and penetrate your mind. I hope you were able to derive something from this episode. Feel free to shoot me a note with any questions and I’ll do my best to respond, and I’d really appreciate your feedback and ratings on this and all of my episodes. I’m a work in progress taking in all I can to progress.
I just want to remind you if you want to learn more about anything I share here from resources and inspiration, to how to prepare to testifying court, and please I follow me on instagram and facebook and subscribe to my youtube channel. Everything is Aziza Kibibi. I also have a special coupon code for my listeners if you are interested in buying my book. Just use code CARESSMYEARDRUMS for 11% off of Unashamed a life tainted, at bookbaby .com. You can find the link in the show notes.
Thanks in advance and Until next time. Be blessed for your are a blessing.
Music: Epidemic Sound
Resources and Offers
Sex abuse prevention and recovery: https://preciouslittleladies.org
Use code CARESSMYEARDRUMS at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/unashamed1 for 11% off your purchase of Unashamed: a life tainted vol 1 & 2