Publish Your Purpose: Jenn T. Grace gives marginalized voices a platform
By Melissa Lowery
With the arrival of each new technological platform for delivering content, from radio to television to the internet, pundits toll the bell for print and traditional publishing.
Jenn T. Grace sees things differently.
“Despite it seeming like publishing is dead, I think it’s the exact opposite,” she says. “I think the traditional publishing model might be dying, but I think the disruption of the industry broadly is where the excitement and potential lie. People who previously didn’t have a voice or there wasn’t a publisher who wanted to publish their voice for whatever reason no longer have that barrier.”
Grace is the founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose, a hybrid publisher with a mandate to give marginalized voices a platform. A certified woman- and LGBT-owned and operated business, since launching in 2016 PYP has worked with a diverse group of authors to develop and publish books on topics ranging from mental health to racial trauma to building a more inclusive workplace.
“I feel like the more diverse people we can serve, the more they can impact their local communities in a positive way—and we are part of that ripple effect of social and societal change at a micro level,” Grace says.I feel like the more diverse people we can serve, the more they can impact their local communities in a positive way. - Jenn T. Grace, @PublishPurpose Click To Tweet
Authorship as Brand Building
PYP exclusively publishes non-fiction and memoirs, a literary arena Grace says is ideal for an entrepreneur, public speaker or activist to elevate their personal brand, business purpose or community impact. The company uses a holistic team approach, working with each author to uncover the purpose of their book, building a business strategy to leverage authorship and coaching them through the entire process.
While the idea of authorship as a brand-building tool is not new, the strategy has been available mostly to majority voices – straight, cis-gender white men and, to a lesser degree, women. PYP takes that model and applies it to marginalized and under-represented voices, customizing the strategy to elevate their messages.
“Prior to Jenn launching PYP, authors who happened to be diverse business owners/professionals as a market segment were overlooked,” says Robin Dillard, BEQ Pride. “Within the supplier diversity and the diversity & inclusion space, there were limited options for amplifying an authentic diverse voice. Now minorities, women, LGBTQ, people with disabilities and veteran business owners and professionals have PYP to help them bring their voices, insights and authenticity to new audiences while they grow their businesses and careers.”
In 2019 alone, PYP’s release schedule includes Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of Their Jungle by Dr. Steven Yacovelli, an expert in the area of inclusive leadership, and In the Company of Men: How Women Can Succeed in a World Built Without Them by Eileen Scully, a global consultant on women’s equality.
“Having a book with your name on the cover does something for audiences and clients,” says Jennifer Brown, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and author of Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace & the Will to Change.
To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish
The ability to self-publish and distribute books via ebooks and print on demand books was the last big disruption within the industry. Grace embraces that option, offering a course guiding authors through the process of self-publishing.
“Anyone can self-publish and we have programs to teach people how to self publish,” Grace says. “I believe that if it’s done well, you can absolutely do it yourself.”
Self-publishing is not for everyone, however. Most of the people PYP serves – business owners, entrepreneurs, public speakers – don’t have the time to learn all the ins and outs of publishing. Those are the authors who need PYP’s full-service, author-focused team to help them develop, produce and market their book strategically to achieve their goals.
“There’s a strategic element to every piece of the publishing process,” Grace says. “We want our authors to be focused on how their book is going to benefit their business, not the logistics of how to actually get it published.”
Authors can enroll in the PYP Academy, a 14-week course that guides authors step-by-step through the process of envisioning, writing, editing, publishing and marketing a book. PYP also offers informal networking and informational events, like “The Business of Becoming an Author” at NGLCC’s conference in Tampa this summer and in Hartford, CT, this autumn, where Grace and PYP authors discuss the ins and outs of publishing and offer advice to those exploring the idea of writing a book as part of their brand.
“The reason I chose Jenn [to publish my book] is because she actually had a curriculum that would get me from Point A to Point Z in X amount of time,” says James R. Nowlin, keynote speaker, executive coach and author of The Purposeful Millionaire.
Focusing on the Author
PYP’s full-service model includes a focus on the emotional toll of writing a book. Traditional publishers are often an assembly line, where each author is but one of thousands of cogs in a machine. Their focus is on numbers, on how many books an author can move to benefit the bottom line. Grace chose a different process for PYP.
“That’s exactly the opposite of how we approach publishing a book,” she says. “We intentionally publish a small number of books annually because we are really focused on the author’s well-being, long-term goals and impact.”
When an author signs with PYP, they can expect support, guidance and cheerleading from concept to book launch and beyond.
“Emotions play a large role in writing a book,” Grace continues. “Writing brings up everyone’s baggage. Emotional baggage, self-doubt, limiting beliefs – I’ve written six books myself and I’ve been there. At Publish Your Purpose, we focus on supporting our authors through all the ups and downs, all the vulnerabilities and all the breakthroughs.”
“Jenn really holds the space for authors who are going through the process of writing,” Brown says. “She believes that you can do this and not just that you can but you must because you must tell your story.”
Grace believes that everyone has a story – that happens to be PYP’s motto – and she has built a publishing house on a model of telling meaningful stories that benefit the public.
“For any book that we decide to take on, we have to be personally invested in whatever the topic is, we have to be sure that our author is equally invested in the topic and some third-party community is benefitting from the collaboration of the two of us. That’s my business model.”
Learn more about Publish Your Purpose at publishyourpurposepress.com.