Hey, hey, hey and welcome to Self Published Episode 9. I’m Aziza Kibibi and in this episode we are going to talk about the birds and the bees. Yes, yes y’all. We will be discussing the very thing that drives human kind. The very thing that leads to the creation of each and every one of us. The very thing that many just can’t seem to get enough of. Ssssex! And aside from the blog post topic being about sex and my own sexuality, you may be wondering “well Aziza, what does sex have to do with publishing a book?” And to you I will answer this…
When it comes to making and marketing a product, the old adage is that sex sells. But often people take that way too literally. Sure seeing rippled six pack abs, glistening smooth skin or an ample bosom is eye catching, but often sex in imagery can be very subtle. So subtle in fact we may not even realize that is the reason why we are drawn to an ad, thumbnail, post or even a person at first.
Since the topic of my memoir Unashamed a life tainted addresses sexual deviance and trauma, I had a lot to consider when designing my book cover, (as I spoke about in episode 4), as well as marketing my book and even my public persona. But the thing with me is that I am proud of and I absolutely love…. me! And that include the parts of me that many may not find to their liking….or actually maybe too much to their liking which in turn makes them uncomfortable with there thoughts because…anyway, let me refocus before I get lost down that rabbit hole. My point is you can’t please everyone. And this episode is about learning how to please yourself and then acclimating your audience into your world. So without further ado, thank you for allowing me to caress your eardrums and penetrate your mind with…
THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
One of the most challenging aspects of recovery for a survivor of sexual exploitation, is one’s perspective of sex I went through many stages in my sexual growth and it's safe to say I continue to go through them. As a little girl I was confused between the sensations I was feeling, if what was happening to me was right or wrong, fear, and the stress on my body. I have children and I know sexual exploration is a part of growing up, but to have it forced on you is traumatizing to say the least.
By the time I reached puberty my father had pushed my body to the point that my physical senses were numb and my mentality was that him raping me was another one of my household chores. If I wanted to avoid being choked or punched while he had intercourse with me, it was best that I didn't fight.
I went from a little girl who's innocence and love for her father was used against her, to a teenager who's will had been broken to the point that she fit perfectly into the role created for her; to a grown woman with little identity of her own; sexual or otherwise. So what now?
At twenty five years old I'd already been having sex most of my life; but I'd never had an orgasm, I didn't see sex as something that was suppose to be pleasurable for a woman, and I'd been trained to please one person.
When I was with my first, outside of my dad, I really wanted to express how I felt about him physically. We talked on the phone, spent time together and I told him what happened to me. I trusted him and when we kissed for the first time (one of the many things I hated doing with my father) my body ignited with sensations that I didn't know was possible. I wanted him, and I wanted him bad! But when the day finally came, it was a disaster.
As soon as I felt his penis, seventeen years of sexual abuse came flooding back. I didn't break down, I didn't bolt and I didn't refuse; I reverted back to the trained obedient little girl I grew up as, and I went through the motions of making this man cum. As soon as that happened, I felt nothing. No amazing sensation running through my body, no will, no understanding if I liked what was happening or not. I was again the orifice being used for a man to get his rocks off on. And it was horrible.
I felt like everything that I built with this man went out of the window. I was embarrassed, ashamed and because he didn't orgasm, I felt like I didn't do my job.
This whole experience made me resentful. I was away from my father, yet he was still present in my life through my interactions with another man. I knew that had to change.
Thanks to my dad, sex was something negative in many ways, and I had to dispel so many head games it was crazy! Without knowing anything about psychology, I knew I had to deprogram the associations I made between sex and misery, and start all over again.
I started to read books on sex, scientific, practical and entertainment focused. I read books on masturbation, the female anatomy, sexual art, fetishes, female orgasm and ejaculation, as well sexual practices from different cultural perspectives. I watched porn and I read erotic literature while paying attention to what aroused me and what didn't. If I saw images that pertained to my father but still triggered sensual sensations in me, I didn't shy away from it. I told myself that if other women can enjoy it, than there's no reason I couldn't either. From there, I started masturbating. I was the only one I trusted with myself so, I enjoyed myself, by myself. I communicated with the man (who became my first love) everything that I did and he was in full support. Then one day while having an erotic dream, I woke up in the middle of my first orgasm! After that, I couldn't get enough. Rape? What rape? Molestation? What molestation? Daddy? Who the hell was that and what did he have to do with my orgasm? This became my viewpoint of the pleasure my body was capable of feeling. (Side note: God created sex as a means to reproduce. In order to make a baby a man has to orgasm but a woman doesn't. Yet we still have the ability to orgasm. Which means, God gave us our orgasm just for us to enjoy! I'm just saying.)
Once I was comfortable with my ability to have sexual feelings without associating it with something negative, I introduced my boyfriend. And the rest is history.
Recovering after sexual trauma is a process. It takes work, focus and practice. But first one must accept that they have a right to and deserve to enjoy sex again. Starting with the passion to retake the power stolen from you, and not allowing the abuser to maintain control after the attack, enjoying sex without hangups is possible, and very probable.
My father performed cunnilingus on me when he started molesting me, and today cunnilingus is probably my favorite sexual activity. Im not ashamed to say that there may be some association pertaining to (this is where I get technical) Unconditioned Stimulus, Conditioned Stimulus and everything else concerning classical conditioning and Ivan Pavlov. But I don't care! It could be, and it could not be. I'm not going to dwell on it because doing so would just be a continuation of crediting and/or discrediting my father for my sex life. At the same time if there is association, oh well. There's nothing I can do about it now. I need to live my life, and that includes enjoying the pleasure that myself and someone I care about can give me.
You can’t edit your own work. Well, let me take that back,…you shouldn’t edit your own work. And by edit I mean the final and/or second to final edit. Of course when writing, every draft is an edit and you as the writer do the first few. But before publishing or distribution, you must allow a fresh pair of eyes to make edits for grammar and content. I knew this. Which is why I searched for an editor first in my school (remember the professor who came on to me?), in my social media network, among my friends and amidst my business associates; which is where I finally found one.
A young women came highly recommended by a gentlemen who I’d met and baked some cookies for. Taking my own advise, I’d spoken with him about my project even though he had nothing to do with book publishing, and lo and behold, he had a good friend who was an editor, a contributor for a popular media blog, a ghost writer and an ad copy writer.
We met, I told her about my project, she sent me some samples and references, I sent her 5 pages to edit to make sure she meshed well with my writing voice, she returned them and it was all good. She gave me a quote and an estimated date for completion which was within plenty of time of my deadline, I accepted, we singed a contract which included a non disclosure agreement, I gave her $1300 in money orders and I sent her my 558 page draft for her to get started.
3 weeks later she sent me 75 edited pages. Things were looking good but I was finding some basic mistakes and some grammar edits that completely changed the context of my writing.
OK…ok, this is just part of the process right? We had a phone meeting and corrections and clarification were made. Cool. But it was nagging me that when I compared her 75 pages to the original 75 there wasn’t many differences aside from what she did wrong. But ok, maybe I’m just that good of a writer. It’s all good.
Two more weeks passed and she sent me another 25 pages. Ok, it was looking good at first; a few spelling errors on my end that she corrected, great. But again, an entire event was changed around. When I asked her about it, she said that what I wrote was too unbelievable and wouldn’t be accepted by a reader. Uhm, Huh? I had to remind her that everything in my manuscript was actual events. It was my life for crying out loud and changing the events is not what I hired her to do. She expressed her understanding, apologized and corrected the issues. I checked that we were still on track with timing which she confirmed and we scheduled the next check in.
Ten days later, to my pleasant surprise I received from my editor 25 more pages. We were three months out from my deadline, and I thought at this rate she just may finish the entire manuscript early. And the 3rd time is definitely a charm because I had no issues with this batch of edits. She corrected my spelling mistakes, made edits to phrases for clarity and even poetically emphasized a sentenced with such eloquence, it was as if she plucked the colorfully abstract artistic imagery right from the thought bubble floating above my head and translated it into words.
I emailed her thanks and praises, confirmed our meeting the following week and went about my business.
Two days later while going through my email, I noticed that my editor didn’t respond to my last correspondence, so I text her.
By the end of that day, I noticed she didn't respond to my text so I called her and left a message on her voicemail.
The day comes for our meeting and I had yet to hear from my editor. I emailed, I called I text and nothing.
First thing I thought was I hope she didn’t die. I don’t know why that thought always pops into my head when I don’t get a response from someone, I guess because death can be sudden and final….anyway I digress.
Our meeting date came and went and I heard nothing from this lady. I called our mutual associate and he said it was very unlike her not to respond because she’s very professional. A sentiment I myself shared based on the interaction I had with her thus far.
Two weeks go by. Nothing. Another Two weeks later, nothing. I was now 8 weeks from my deadline with only 125 pages edited and out $1300! I didn’t have the money to hire another editor in time so I used what I learned from the edits she made and though I knew I couldn’t be as effective as an objective party, I went about editing my own manuscript. What else was I supposed to do? I kept emailing in hopes I’d get a reply. And since the phone always rang before it went to voicemail, her phone was charged right? That was a good sign. So I kept leaving voicemails praying I’d get a call back. A Month later and still no email, no call back no text response. It was clear to me I would miss my deadline. Even if I did hear something at that point, she wouldn’t be able to finish editing in time.
Three weeks before I was to submit my manuscript to a potential self publishing company I called her phone one more time. There was an answer…this number has been disconnected.
Hey you, just a quick reminder if you want to learn more about anything I share here whether it be resources, inspiration, or a even a quick recipe for dinner for 4, please follow me on instagram and facebook and subscribe to my youtube page. Everything is Aziza Kibibi and 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 its ok to tell.
Like any product made available to the public, a book, film or any form of art, it requires a need for it. Especially if you plan on being compensated for your work wether it be in the form of cash, admiration, fame, respect, opportunity or anything else of value to you. Now don't get it twisted, yes there must be a need, but that doesn’t mean that it’s known there’s a need. Just saying.
Now luckily for us what is considered art is subjective to the audience, and any form of it at the very least will bring some type of satisfaction to said audience, even if only to be something for them to hate or criticize.
But I think it’s safe to say that if you want to publish something, it’s with the intention of it being enjoyed and wanted by others.
So, if you are a creator who intends on her or his creations to be consumed by the public, how do you give your audience what they think they want while staying true to yourself?
I have a formula. Mostly you plus a little of them with a dash of the industry.
The mostly you part should be easy. It’s your work, your inspiration, your heart and soul. Don’t allow what you think is popular in the industry dictate your creative manifestations. It’s fine to take it into consideration and allow it to influence it somewhat, but keep in mind many great works like the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, weren’t considered great by industry standards and professionals.
But, that doesn’t mean you should ignore industry standards. Especially if you’re new to it. Ever heard the term “don’t try to reinvent the wheel?” You’re trying to enter a field that already exists. A party that clearly has a dress code. A group that has their language established. And that being the case, there’s a lot you can learn from it.
For example, If you want to be published by a traditional publisher, 9 times out of 10 you’ll need to submit your work based on their requirements. And if you want to self publish your work, it’d do you good to learn marketing strategies from the pros.
As for the the “little of them part”, that comes in the form of caring about your audience. While you can look at what’s worked with audiences in the past, that’s the past. The present and the future could be something completely different. That being said, what your audience wants is somewhat of a mystery, even to them.
There is currently studies being done on why a meme goes viral. No one knows. Why did kermit the frog looking at his dark side reflection appeal to the masses? Sure we can look at cultural and societal events, color contrast, relate ability, familiarity and many other markers that could be the reason the graphic of a shrouded kermit talking to his un-shrouded self went viral in too many interpretations to count, but the exact combination that made it appeal to so many is as dark as the death star itself. So I recommend instead of trying to predict what would please an audience, consider trying to predict how not to displease them.
In my case I had to consider traumatizing my reader. My subject matter is a tough pill to swallow. But being a necessary pill to swallow I had to figure out how to make it easier to go down. And I chose to use relatability. But to know what to include in my memoir that would be relatable, I had to create an imaginary audience who could relate. Outlining who your audience is helps a great deal in the marketing and somewhat in the creation stages of your project. Who is your consumer? Are they parents? What colors do they like. What do they do to put food on the the table? Are they married? Single? Divorced. Do they like their parents? Their job? Their home town?
Your work may appeal to more than the audience you imagine which is a good thing. But thinking about who you imagine would be consuming what you have to offer, makes it much easier to create the recipe for the cake they didn’t know they were craving.
Hey you. Thank you so much for allowing me to caress your eardrums and penetrate your mind. I hope in this episode you were able to find something useful to you or someone you know. There’s only one more episode left in this season y’all. So I hope you really soaked this episode in. It got a little..well….lets just say when I was reading the blog post I was like, ooh, Aziza. You go really real in this one lol. I just find sex such a fascinating topic. It’s something that never gets old. People need but trivialize. Too many will go to jail for it, some will die for it and others will actually kill for it. Yes, many serial killers actually get sexual gratification from killing. It’s a weakness, a weapon, a power, a sin and a miracle. And yes, it can sell books. But before I go on an entire episode’s worth of information on sex and sexuality, I want to say this is the second to last episode in the season! Thank you in advance for sticking with me this far and I hope you stay stuck because there’s more to come. Until next time. Be blessed for you are a blessing.
Self Published is written, produced, edited and hosted by Aziza Kibibi.
Music by Yomoti, Gunnar Johnson and Arden Frost via 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