Purposely Created Publishing: Support For Talented Black Writers

Interview with Tieshena Davis, a national award-winning publisher and founder of Purposely Created Publishing.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison.

Over the years, Black writers have used the pen to provide intimate details about their struggles with racism and hostility and a range of other social issues. Others, like Maya Angelou, have used writing to give an insight into their lives through their autobiographies. Some of these authors have gone on to win NAACP awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and even Nobel Prizes. However, in order to be able to achieve all these feats, Black writing talent needs to be nurtured.

Tieshena Davis founded Purposely Created Publishing with the sole purpose of fostering Black writing talent such that it is geared toward social awareness creation, education and personal transformation. To her, writing a book alone is not enough. One must take the thoughts in the book into the community to help change lives and build legacies. Today, Tieshena gives us an insight into the work she does with her publishing company to empower the Black community and make us socially aware.

blackmattersus.com
Can you tell us more about you and what you do for the Black community?
Tieshena Davis
Well, I own a publishing company that primarily focuses on social awareness, education and personal transformation. And our number one demographic is African Americans who can shed light on any of those areas through their writing. In addition to that, I also host an annual award ceremony, the Indie Author Legacy Awards, where we’re highlighting those writers who make an impact in the community. So it goes beyond just writing the book, but actually taking the message in the book out into the community as an action and a mission to help change lives and build legacies.
blackmattersus.com
What are the main issues which you can name that are connected with Black writers?
Tieshena Davis
So many, especially on the social awareness arena. We’re talking mental health, some of the issues that women face in the military, primarily Black women, and then also a lot of the internal issues people are dealing with that is holding them back from reaching their goals in life. So a lot of that is low confidence, low self-esteem and not knowing how to access the available resources to help them achieve goals.
blackmattersus.com
Films and books about Black people usually make points about racial injustice. Can you mention what the authors who publish through Purposely Created Publishing mainly write about?
Tieshena Davis
Yes, I’ll use an example. Her name is Lila Holley, and she’s out of Killeen, Texas. Her book is Camouflaged Sisters: Revealing Struggles of the Black Woman’s Military Experience. There’s a lot of things that go on with that specific group in the military in terms of getting some of the career opportunities, having a voice and being recognized for their hard work and contribution, opposed to some of their white counterparts or some of the white leadership in the military. A lot of those opportunities are hindered unfortunately, because, one, they’re Black, and two, they’re women. So that’s a whole other subject on it’s own. Out of all the books that I’ve published, I think that is the one that has given me the most insight on what we face as a Black society especially when it comes to governmental opportunities and how the government supports us. Now we’re about to release the second edition of Camouflaged Sisters: Silent No More, where we’re revealing some other deeper issues such as military sexual trauma, depression, homelessness – and these are just some of the things that we don’t hear about in day-to-day media. No one’s talking about this but it definitely exists and it’s hurting a lot of these women internally and mostly mentally. Mental health, I think, is a big thing in the Black community that we are either not talking about enough or we’re concealing, and so I really hope that all of my writers use my company as that outlet – and my guidance is to support that outlet – to bring some of those issues to light.
blackmattersus.com
I also saw in your Twitter feed that you talked about the Indie Author Legacy Awards. And it’s got a tag of “honoring modern impact-centered writers.” Can you explain what this means?
Tieshena Davis
Yes, impact-centered writers as I’ve mentioned before, are those who are taking their message beyond the book cover and are actually making an impact in their communities. A lot of the authors that we work with have all of these different subjects; sexual awareness, human trafficking, mental illness, and they’re taking that into the community and creating events where they can raise awareness and also get some financial support to put more resources out there in the community. They’re either doing it through an event, through mentorship, through training and workshops. It’s easy to write a book, but I think that as a writer, your number one goal is not just to get the content out and get the book published, but then to take that, go a step beyond and reach out to these people who your message is for. I think that is highly commendable. So those are the people that we highlight at the event.
blackmattersus.com
You wrote concerning the 6th Annual Back to Business Virtual Conference. You tweeted that “Are you a highly-driven Black Woman Entrepreneur, Creative, Service Provider or Professional who is SO ready to Jumpstart Your Vision and Monetize your Magic?”  Please tell us more about this event?
Tieshena Davis
Yes, that’s actually an event hosted by LaShanda Henry, founder of Sistasense. And with that event, LaShanda has gathered high influence Black women-entrepreneurs who have already achieved what a lot of new Black women-entrepreneurs are trying to achieve in their career. It’s really highlighting all of these little pieces that are needed to develop and have sustainability in a business. So it’s looking at your marketing, your sales, your communication, if you communicate, how you communicate. Also, we’re looking at social media, what are the different social media outlets you should be utilizing based on the type of business you have or who you’re targeting? What are the tools for social media that you should be using to ensure that once you’ve reached them through social media, how do they come back and connect with you? So it’s all about generating leads for your business, increasing visibility, credibility and having the systems to market them in place, and then of course, getting the sales. The group that she has gathered, I think, is a phenomenal group of women who all have been doing extremely well in business, at least for the last five years to the last two decades.
blackmattersus.com
You’re doing a great job empowering Black people, Black women especially, and I’ll like to commend you on that. 
Tieshena Davis
Thank you.
blackmattersus.com
Do you have any special programs for the youth who are trying to take on writing as a career?
Tieshena Davis
Right now I don’t. However, I am partnering with Pat Johnson. She is the founder of the African American Author Expo, and actually she just had it on October 15 at Morgan State University. It was the first time that Morgan State provided the space in partnering with her and I was actually on the publishing panel for that event. I’m partnering with Pat Johnson for a youth initiative that she’s going to roll out in 2017. She’ll have a hand-picked group of youth ranging from 6th graders to 12th graders and myself along with other people there to guide them through the writing process, and then my company is going to come in and actually publish the book for the project. Youth empowerment is also something that’s near and dear to my heart. At the Author Awards, in my opening statement this year, something that I said – and I saw that the crowd just really resonated with – was, “No matter where you are in life right now, what you’re doing on a daily basis, I challenge and I beg each of you to take a minute out to connect with the youth. It could be in any capacity. Just connect with some young person in your community, and just let them know that they’re more than enough and whatever their goals are, whatever they’re trying to achieve, they can do it. It is possible, and I am a prime example of that.” I grew up in Philadelphia, in a highly restricting environment, without a mother and a father. My mother abandoned me as an infant, my father was addicted to drugs, and I watched him throughout his drug addiction. My great-grandmother raised me, but through all of that – and being passed around in five different homes between the ages of twelve and fifteen – I was able to get out of that environment and overcome those adversities. I moved to Washington, D.C, went to Job Corps, at the age of 16, completed Job Corps and just stayed in the area. And when I think back to that area in my life, Job Corps definitely saved me. You have all these different instructors and teachers, and they would just come and say, “This is my job, I’m supposed to show up and do what I’m supposed to do everyday.” But there were about two or three people in particular, that I remember who went above and beyond, just to remind me, that I had what it takes to succeed, this isn’t the end for me and there’s so much more for me. And just that encouragement from them really inspired me and that’s what’s helped me up until this day to achieve everything that I have and strongly keeps me going. So I strongly suggest that we all get involved and all look at it as a social responsibility, to empower and encourage our youth. It’s so vital.
blackmattersus.com
Have you personally faced any issues connected with racial or gender injustice or discrimination?
Tieshena Davis
I’ve had both. Definitely in my past corporate positions, I worked in the hospitality industry for some of the top level companies and I have faced both gender and race discrimination. Gender, definitely when it came to the management opportunities. I saw that more of my male counterparts were either getting the promotion opportunities faster than I was, and then I remember one particular time I had these two counterparts and our job was all equal. It was very clear what we were supposed to do everyday, yet they underperformed. And it seemed like I always took the flak for it. I would ask, “Why is it that these two are not held accountable for what they’re supposed to do?” And I was just asked, “Well, can you do the job or can you not do the job?” In that moment, I felt a little inferior, so opposed to trying to further explain myself or push the issue, I didn’t want to lose my job. I just went ahead and said, “Yes, I can perform the job,” and continue to do what I was supposed to do. So definitely that was more of a gender thing. And with racial, I really feel like there were opportunities that bypassed me simply because I was a young Black woman, and that, I was the youngest in my region and district. It was kind of presented to me like, “Well, just be lucky you had these opportunities because really, you haven’t deserved it. So feel lucky, shut up, and keep moving forward!” So yeah, it exists in corporations as well as in non-profits.
blackmattersus.com
What events like the 2016 Indie Author Legacy Awards are you planning for the rest of the year?
Tieshena Davis
We’re planning the Indie Author Legacy Awards for June 24th, 2017. It’s going to be in Baltimore, Maryland. We don’t have the exact location yet, but you can definitely stay updated on the website which is indieauthorlegacyawards.com. Actually, November 1st, we’ll be opening the call for nominations and that will be something where you can self-nominate or you can nominate another deserving author. It has to fall under three categories: the writing has to be centered on raising social awareness, education, and a personal transformation. Not only that, but we do have a verification process where our  … will take those book titles, take those names and then do the research as to what they are actually doing beyond the book to impact the community.
blackmattersus.com
Finally, what advice can you give to people who are just starting work on a book or who want to take on a publishing or writing career?
Tieshena Davis
Yeah, I would definitely say, the very first thing is to believe in yourself. I see that a lot of people that want to publish a book, they know that they have a great message, but they don’t believe in themselves, so they get into what I call thinking-thinking or analysis paralysis, and the next thing you know, three, four, five years have gone by and they’re still saying “I want to do it.” So just believe in yourself, know that your message matters, it doesn’t matter how many other people are out sharing the same message. There is something divinely unique about yours and your experience, your epiphany, your knowledge, so share that with the world. Our stories and our testimonies have tremendous power. And you can definitely make a huge difference. I always think of people like Maya Angelou, who’s passed away but her words are always here with us, and simple lines, simple quotes, can totally transform someone’s life. I’ll also give a tip: As you’re writing, just write as if you’re talking to somebody for the very first time. That way, you make sure that what you are saying in your message is definitely for that person you’re trying to target once the book is released.

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