Friday, June 24, 2011

Jane of The Jungle: The New Un-Aging

My intern, Rebecca Shaw (who has been writing the Friday Round-ups for me), is on vacation this week, so I'm posting this piece by TWC Facebook fan Jane Baskin. Depending on your point of view about self publishing, you may find it controversial. Or not. You decide.

by Jane Baskin
I self-published my novel, Jane of the Jungle. I write because I can’t help it, but I publish because I want to share.

Thirty years ago I put myself through social work school by writing for a Boston newspaper. As a social worker, I have examined the minds of the mad, the bad, and the totally unbelievable. As a writer, I have created stories based on these experiences.

Before writing Jane of the Jungle, I had already written articles and a book about clinical social work. Jane of the Jungle puts it all together. It is a story of a woman’s quest to find freedom in her later middle age, amidst the everyday madness of life. Like my patients, it is bizarre, heart-wrenching and hilarious, all at once.

After taking a few shots at getting an agent, I decided to self-publish. Why? Because I believe that self-publishing is the new frontier. How?

• The publishing industry is changing. Sales of ebooks are catching up to sales of paper books and may overtake them. Online booksellers such as Amazon are eliminating most of the many levels of sales a book must go through in order to get good positioning in a store. And even the hallowed halls of Publishers Weekly are beginning to open to self-published books; in an article, rights columnist Paul Nathan says: “Gone are the days when self-publishing was virtually synonymous with self-defeating.”

• The role of an author is changing. Writers are beginning to realize the success of a book lies in its promotion, not only in its merit.

• Self-publishing may be a chance for newbies to be seen. For example, books such as the Celestine Prophecy, Legally Blond, and Babylon 5 began their lives in self publishing.

• Even some agents are accepting self-published books for sale to traditional houses.

• The quality of self-published books is rising. iUniverse has its “Editor’s Choice” designation; other companies will probably follow suit.

• If an author is willing to do promotion by acting as a businessman as well as an artist, a book may have a chance of being published and shared.

For my part, I hired a book PR firm, EMSI to get me started. I like their approach of publicizing the author and the message rather than the book itself. With their help, I speak about my favorite subject – anti-aging – in print and web venues all over the country.

So far, one article about me has appeared in several local magazines in different parts of the country, and I have been invited to write another for a publication in central New Jersey.

Meanwhile I have my blog, where I shoot my mouth off about my view of today’s longer lifespan, something I like to call “Life 2.0.” Life 2.0 is the last third of life, or the second part of middle age. It’s actually more like youth than middle age, because the burdens of family and career are past. Life 2.0 is the time to bust loose and use all your wisdom to live more deeply than ever before. You will never be as free as you are in this last third of life.

Jane of the Jungle bursts into freedom by chucking a life she can no longer manage and opening herself up to the wackiness of life on the road. In the process, she finds adventure, danger, crime, love, and of course, the madness that makes the world go round.

I truly believe that self-published books will make their mark, just as indie films have. I believe that promotion will and must become part of an author’s trade. Books are about ideas, and promoting an idea will ultimately sell a book. And selling the book is the way you share part of yourself with the world. Which is what it’s all about.

Jane Baskin is a former Boston TAB features writer and clinical social worker. She lives in the mountains outside Albuquerque with her husband and their small herd of dogs and cats. Find out more about Life 2.0 on her blog, Forever Kinda Young.

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