- Posted September 8, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
From hobby to job
Author / Artist / Non-conformist Jess C Scott took her passion for writing (and her interests in sexuality, web design, and marketing) and started an innovative publishing company.
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When I was in my early twenties, I digitally published my first two books because they weren’t commercially categorizable. One was a blog/IM novel, while the other was a multiple-genre-crossing anthology.
It was mid-2009 that I set up my website from home as a Maine-based very small business.
How Things Gradually Came into Focus
I had no idea I would move in this direction when I was in my teens. I was a lot more scattered then as I had a great number of interests, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out what exactly I wanted to focus on.
When I graduated from high school, I enrolled in a mass communications course. At the time, I was advised to “be a journalist” or “study journalism” since I liked to write. The digital publishing scene had not really taken off yet, so I went a more conventional route thinking I could do creative writing in my spare time.
I ended up leaving the course halfway. The reason? Ultimately, I couldn’t envision myself being a journalist.
My passion was more imagination-based. “Fiction” was the writing world I truly wanted to be in!
I transferred some of my course credits over to a bachelor’s degree via the extended studies program at Adams State University. A distance learning program allowed me to continue working on my writing/publishing endeavors while completing a basic degree (as back-up for any “just in case” scenarios).
Because I had a bit of work experience by this time, I thoroughly enjoyed the business modules in my university coursework. My subjects were primarily in the English and Business departments, a cool and relevant combination for someone who was striving to do their own thing in the digital publishing scene.
My overhead costs stayed low due to my myriad of interests that seemingly served “little purpose” during my teenage years. As a teen, I would spend hours fiddling around with HTML, web design, sketching, fiddling around on Photoshop. Over the years, these hobbies sharpened my eye for design, so creating a website from scratch (and/or blog templates) as well as designing eye-catching book covers came pretty naturally to me when I needed to get those things done (on an extremely low budget) for jessINK.
Turning Negative Experiences into Positive Ones
I have had some mishaps along the way. I’ve gotten taboo-themed, alternative erotic eBooks banned and gotten my Wikipedia page deleted several times (the latest reason: “Wikipedia doesn’t want this content”).
However, as with everything in life, I learned it was imperative to stay positive. Things could look really hopeless at points, and there were many times that I seriously questioned my level of sanity with regards to actually attempting to thrive in the highly competitive publishing scene.
Instead of getting into petty squabbles with over-zealous Wiki administrators, I shifted my focus towards gaining some media mentions in credible sources (including interview and reviews in literary journals and websites such as Word Riot, SexIs Magazine and Under30CEO).
I also learned through the eBooks censorship I experienced that I needed to think of how I could adapt my work, so it would be more acceptable in the mainstream market. That experience got me to be more objective, and to come up with solutions as to how I could gain a wider readership without selling out in the process.
The Perks of Not Giving Up
I’m glad I didn’t give up halfway—it was due to my website (and the collection of erotic works published through jessINK) that I got invited to take part in a couple of writing events in late 2012 that centered on sexuality in literature.
I met various VIPs (Very Interesting Persons) from the “professional” as well as “personal” events I was involved in as a result of that invitation, of which I am forever grateful for. In some ways, the personal events were stranger than fiction, of which I’m doubly appreciative of! (Though I might write it all as a fictitious story one day, or brand it as a “factual fiction” novel...)
There is a lasting satisfaction and fulfillment which comes from building a project or company from the ground up. While I have lots more goals to achieve, what I have always liked with digital publishing is the opportunity it allows for a person to carve out a niche for themselves in the eBooks/print world. You can be as original and move in whatever direction that you like.
It doesn’t mean that you have to totally rule out traditional publishing, if you’d still like to be traditionally published one day. But that no longer is “the only” way to be published and gain an audience for your writing—nowadays, you can make things happen on your own.
Staying True to Goals and a Vision
The biggest satisfaction I get is in keeping to my vision, as summarized in jessINK’s mission statement to being “dedicated to publishing original stories that are both meaningful and entertaining.” As a professional non-conformist, I do like backing my own vision 100%, which makes self-employment a natural and satisfying option for me.
One of my main goals in life has been to combine art and commerce, which digital publishing allows me to do.
I wouldn’t have been able to get jessINK off the ground without a number of things:
(1) Having support from close friends and family members,
(2) Reading about others’ success stories (whether they were regular people or celebrities, all of them had undeniable passion and drive for their projects),
(3) Being located in the picturesque, quiet, coastal region of Maine which has captivated the imagination of poets, writers, and artists throughout history.
The other plus point is that I’ve not really grumbled at length about the drudgery or monotony of work. Like anyone who walks this path is aware of, the art of transforming a hobby into a job gives an internal peace and satisfaction that cannot be bought.