Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Post: Jessica Bell Talks Self-Publishing

Today I'm excited to welcome the awesome Jessica Bell to Operation Awesome. 

There has been a lot of talk about self-publishing floating around the blogosphere (and internet in general) lately. With authors like Amanda Hocking (who since self-published 8 books in April 2010, has sold over 185,000 copies) landing huge deals it seems like self-publishing is a good idea. Jessica has just released a self-published collection of poems, Twisted Velvet Chains, and has come to chat about self-publishing. 

Take it away, Jessica... 

To self-publish or not to self-publish.

To be honest, I was hesitant to self-publish this collection of poems because of that horrible stigma related to self-publishing. Due to my debut novel coming out with a traditional publisher this November, I was worried that people were going to think that the novel will be self-published too. See? WORRIED. Why was I worried about such a silly thing? Because of the STIGMA. That horrible green worm that burrows its way into our heads to try and make us think something isn’t worth reading or spending money on.

PEOPLE!? Let’s destroy that immediate feeling we get when we realize something is self-published: “It mustn’t be up to par with what I’m used to reading. I want quality, not something some author was desperate to get into print.” That is what we all think, right? Well, I’m hoping that this poetry collection can be a teeny-weeny stepping stone towards thinking the opposite. Well, it certainly is for me, from the point of view of an author who has more often than not felt the same way about other self-published books.

I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m really PROUD of this poetry collection. I believe it’s different and powerful and worth reading. People who have never even read poetry are getting into it, and I think that’s something really positive. I just want to share this book. And I also want to ignore that need to have a publisher validate my work. I don’t want a publisher to validate it. I want to be confident about it on my own. I want to trust myself.

And let’s face it. Poetry is hard to sell. Even well-known poets are lucky to sell 50 copies of their collections. There just aren’t enough people reading poetry anymore. So spending all my time and energy seeking out a publisher who would probably only print about 100 copies anyway, just didn’t seem worth the effort. Because in the end, what would be the benefit? The only benefit would be that I get to “say,” my book is being published by a reputable name. That’s all it is. A name. Just like Prada is to fashion. So I bit the bullet and self-published a poetry book. I hope you can all give poetry a chance. You never know, you might really enjoy it and start writing some yourself!

Do you read and/or write poetry? If so, what sort of poetry do you get into? Have you read any poetry lately that you would willingly recommend others read? What made it worth the recommendation? 


Jessica Bell Bio



Jessica writes literary women's fiction, and poetry. Her debut collection of poems, Twisted Velvet Chains is now available and her debut novel, String Bridge, is scheduled to be published by Lucky Press, LLC, late 2011. You can follow her blog here.

16 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for having me! :o)

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  2. Way to go, Jessica! I can't wait to read it.

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  3. I think it's smashing, Jessica. This biz is all about taking risks, otherwise that work just collects dust. I say bravo! :)

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  4. Good for you for getting your poetry out there. I write light children's poetry. I have considered self publishing some of it because not many publishers even publish it anymore!
    There are wonderful self published books and not so wonderful self published books. I think there shouldn't be a stigma to it. Because there are wonderful traditionally published books and some so-so traditionally published books too.

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  5. Oh exciting!.....and very encouraging. Thanks for sharing, and I'll be looking out for it :D

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  6. I think self-pubbing poetry is BRILLIANT. I may have to do that too, you're an inspiration. You can be sure I'm buying a copy!

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  8. I LOVE your poetry. And even known published authors have said that they'll once in a while write something a little shorter, or just outside of their normal genre and they self-publish. So, I think it's becoming a more valid form of publishing all the time.

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  10. *I only removed the previous comments bc of a glaring typo & then my ripping on myself for said typo*

    Original post, sans the error:

    Congrats on both books! Love the cover art -- particularly for TWISTED VELVET CHAINS!

    I tend to be a traditionalist in terms of publishing -- at least trad pubbing is my goal at the moment. But I think, particularly for areas like poetry and, say, short stories -- areas that the market isn't always salivating over -- self-pubbing is a smart choice.

    Two questions that came to mind as I read this post:
    1) Do you think your decision to self-pub the poetry collection would have been different if you *did not* already have a book coming out traditionally? (i.e., although you mention the "stigma" one could also say the stigma wouldn't affect you as much as someone who *didn't* have something coming out traditionally?)

    2) I just wondered, if you have an agent (I did a quick, unsuccessful search), what his or her advice was & how that factored in to your decision.

    Such an interesting time in publishing!

    To answer your concluding questions, I used to write a bit of poetry in college. I am mostly into modern poetry -- stuff with concrete images, active verbs, etc. Think: Billy Collins. A few others to check out? George Bilgere, Susan Laughter Meyers & Dave Lucas. What makes them worth the rec is how they are able to take everyday subjects & personal experiences and make them applicable and accessible to pretty much everyone. One of my faves: "The Table" by George Bilgere.

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  11. hi miss jessica! i like poetry stuff lots. my mom used to read lots of it to us but mostly more old stuff from old poets. im just real happy you believe in you and could share out your poems by doing a self publish. i hope a zillion people could read your poem book.
    ...hugs from lenny (my bloggers broke for getting my sunshine on comments. ack!)

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  12. Louis L'Amour's first published book was not only poetry, but self-published, too. So I'd say you're in good company.

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  13. Oh Jessica you should be soooooo PROUD!!!!!

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  14. Thanks all for your interest!

    Ricki, my answers to your questions:
    1) Do you think your decision to self-pub the poetry collection would have been different if you *did not* already have a book coming out traditionally? (i.e., although you mention the "stigma" one could also say the stigma wouldn't affect you as much as someone who *didn't* have something coming out traditionally?)

    I'm really not sure about this as poetry is whole different kettle of fish. I guess you could say, though, that due to my novel being published traditionally I had more confidence in myself. I don't I would have had the nerve to self-publish if I didn't have the belief in myself.

    2) I just wondered, if you have an agent (I did a quick, unsuccessful search), what his or her advice was & how that factored in to your decision.

    No I don't have an agent, but I did discuss it with my publisher. She actually advised me to pub it before my novel comes out so that I have something of a 'backlist' for fans to check out. So yeah, she thought it was a good idea. :o)

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  15. I think it takes a lot of guts to self-pub but if you do it right, you'll probably do well. I think you will. :) Congrats on getting it out there!
    I don't read poetry alone but in group settings I enjoy breaking down poems (like a literary class).

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  16. Very cool -- thanks for the answers! And good luck to you! :)

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