QOTW: Redefining Black Author-preneurship

Nia Sadé Akinyemi// Image provided by Akinyemi

Nia Sadé Akinyemi// Image provided by Akinyemi

Seeing yourself represented in history boils down to those in charge of recording history. Nia Sadé (The Literary Revolutionary) Akinyemi is making sure black voices tell black history. Her various authorpreneur coaching programs and publishing opportunities through her publishing company, Young Black Fearless Publishing, is her way of ensuring the black voice is heard and recorded globally, giving writers the agency to tell their stories. We celebrate her as Qween of the Week for the work she does in helping writers become independent business owners, or authorpreneurs, sparking a literary revolution by founding her own publishing company and literary institute.

What inspired the name “The Literary Revolutionary”?

I’ve always considered myself to be a revolutionary. I grew up studying Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells work. They were doing on behalf of black people that others were afraid to do. I took that same approach to many issues as an activist until I decided to dedicate my energy to literary activism. The name “The Literary Revolutionary” just came to me one day and I just went with it. I believe the ancestors made that call for me.

How do you stay motivated when writing and as an authorpreneur?

When writing, I have to stay as close to the truth as possible to remain motivated. For me, writing is therapy, and it’s often the best way I can emotionally release. I’m motivated as long as my writing is honest. When I begin to stray more into fiction than fact (even when I’m writing fiction), I begin to lose interest in what it is I’m writing. As an authorpreneur, understanding that books are my business is what keeps me motivated. I quit the best job I ever had to step out on faith with my authorpreneur journey. I have no choice but to find joy and motivation in my work daily because I have no intentions or plans of working for anyone else again.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Anyone who knows me or has been following me for some time knows that I don’t believe in writer’s block. Often, when a writer finds herself stuck, it’s likely that they a) didn’t adequately prepare for their book, i.e. no organized outline, or b) they’re experiencing a spiritual block; not necessarily writer’s block.

Do you have any tips for people who are experiencing a block?

I talk about the difference between writer’s block, spiritual blocks, and lack of preparation all in my book, “Write the Book, Sis!”

How did the idea for Partner Publishing come to be?

It’s funny; most of the services I provide all began with someone close to me dropping a project in my lap. My good sister-friend, Anana Harris Parris, author of “Self Care Matters A Revolutionary’s Approach”, had been sitting on her book for five years before she saw me self-publish my first book “Young Black Fearless”. She called me and said she wanted to partner with me on her book. She sent me a couple hundred dollars and encouraged me to work my magic and get her book in her hands. I took charge, did just that, and then developed a full workflow for publishing that I began to market as a service. Garnered a few more clients and it was all she wrote!

What or who is your biggest inspiration?

Beyoncé! When I find myself overwhelmed with juggling my life as a mother, wife, businesswoman, artist, and activist, I go to the mirror and ask myself, “What would Beyoncé do?”

What does The Literary Arts Institute offer budding authors?

The Literary Arts Institute is deeply rooted in my tribe’s core African-centered values. It offers authors in training, not just the knowledge and skills needed to write and publish, but also historical, spiritual, and cultural curated lessons to help the writer have more comprehensive and fulfilling writing experiences. I want for every student that takes a course with The Literary Arts Institute to understand that its more than just writing or publishing any old book. It’s about being intentional about documenting our stories and expertise and leaving actual history and resource books for generations to come.

What is your goal with the Institute?

To publish over 1,000 black authors across the globe; especially youth.

Why do you think it’s important to have more published black writers?

Because no one can tell our stories like we can. Period.

What does representation mean to you, as an author and publisher?

As an author, it means addressing in writing the things that we are too afraid to talk about. It means representing the various shades and lifestyles of blackness with love. As a publisher, it means directing my community back to our essence. My vision as a publisher is to be the #1 publishing company for black authors around the globe because we still can’t point to that one publisher for us and by us.

Why do you think there aren’t more published black authors?

Though the number of published black authors is slowly rising, the reason there aren’t more (yet) is that we’re either: 1) afraid of being open and vulnerable. 2) Not intentionally making time to write and publish books, and 3) wanting to become “New York Times Bestsellers” so bad that we’d rather wait on traditional publishing companies to call us back, instead of just taking the independent route, strategically building a following and market, and trusting the process.

You call yourself the “Priestess of many movements,” why a priestess?

A priestess is a woman leader of a movement. I believe that defines me as my purpose in this lifetime is to build and lead. I am doing that with every initiative I launch; from my 2016 “Young Black Fearless” movement to 2017 “Black Authors Matter” campaign, to 2018 "Write the Book, Sis!" movement and the ones to come. For every initiate spirit leads me to do, I try to garner as much awareness around the mission and message because it ultimately is furthering the elevation of us as a people on all fronts. 

How did these movements begin?

Each campaign turned movement I’ve initiated has come from a question I’ve been asked, that I chose to respond to strategically. “For Young Black Fearless,” there was the question: How does a young black teen become an activist? How do they do what I did? I took that question and turned it into a book, then turned it into a blog, and built a following educating young people on getting involved in their communities in various areas where liberation was needed. Same with “Write the Book, Sis!” The question I was often asked was “How/Where do I start?” So, I wrote a book on it, and the success of the book and #WriteTheBookSis kept the buzz going and a movement grew from it.

What is some advice you would give a first-time writer/author considering writing a book?

I have a wealth of knowledge in my books and classes. I’d advise them to follow me Instagram (@theliteraryrevolutionary) and join my mailing list for all the gems.

What’s one thing you want anyone who comes across your page and your work to leave knowing about you or themselves?

I want them to know that they don’t need the validation of white-owned publishing companies to go forth with their books. I have never believed in waiting around for traditional publishing approval. F*** that. Black writers have access to everything we need to become successful Independent Authors. Gone are the days where we’re willingly signing over our copyright and coins to publishing companies that are owned and operated by folks who look and care nothing about us and our legacies.

Are you working on any new projects we can know about?

I’ve just finished up my proudest project to date, “For Colored Girls Growing Like A Rose From Concrete” which is a collection of works from new and upcoming authors who have been coached by, whose books have been edited by, and who have partner published with The Literary Revolutionary.

What is it about?

“For Colored Girls Growing Like A Rose" From Concrete” is the inaugural anthology edited and published by me. In this powerful volume of poems, essays, and personal narratives, an ensemble of courageous women and girls of colour -- many who are emerging leaders in their fields: revolutionary activists Chanice Lee and Anana Harris Parris; bestselling author and storyteller Denise Nicholson; Licensed therapist and grief specialist Denesha Chambers, educator and mommy-influencer Angelique Niare among them. They confront topics including love and loss, race and politics, motherhood and divorce, abuse and healing, mental health and self-care, as they share their own experiences in writing. Their words vibrate with authenticity, purpose, and wisdom today, and for years to come.

It’s my proudest work to date.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you need to have with you?

Well, first let me say I’d love to be stranded on a deserted island away from the rest of the world sometimes. I’d have to have two people (my son and hubby) and a good camera to capture the journey.

If you know who the next Qween of the Week should be send us an email: qweens.magazine@gmail.com, we look forward to hearing from you!