The Power of The African American Literary Awards

It’s one thing to be a writer and to be welcomed by your peers, but to be honored by them elevates the appreciation I have for the annual African American Literary Awards. Like many author’s today I started off as a self-published author. With one foot in front of the other I was destined to let the world know about my book one reader at a time. And we know as authors that this is a very long and tedious journey.

The award show had only taken place twice before my debut in 2009 but it had an immediate strong presence in the African American literary community. In its first year it honored writers such as Eric Jerome Dickey, Wahida Clark, Nikki Giovanni, and L.A. Banks. And in 2008 they continued to honor those that affected us the most through their pen such as Victoria Christopher Murray, Walter Mosley, J.M. Benjamin, Zane, and Jill Scott. And in 2009 only nine months after the release of my debut novel I took home the title of Self Published Author of the Year as others like Zane, Faith Evans, Blair Underwood, and Maya Angelou were honored.

Till this day I cannot believe I am an AALAS recipient. I am blessed to share that title with many of the elites I have previously listed. The power of this show brings out the best in the business from magazine editors, agents, publishers, publicist, actors, singers, poets, and philosophers and in the midst there was me. The effect of that award would soon land me a major book deal without an agent and soon enough I would discover the power of networking.

Consistently being nominated for three years in a row in 2010 I was able to witness the brilliance of Dr. Cornel West and Sonia Sanchez. More than anything I was able to witness the genuine love and support that each and every one gave to the winners such as Carol Mackey, K’Wan, Noire, Sherri Shepard, Carl Weber, and Kimberla Lawson Roby.

There is nothing like this show. It is a night of love, laughter, fun, and support. And now in 2011 I look at my fellow nominees for self-published author of the year Rahiem Brooks, Ni’Cola Mitchell, and D.A. Williams and smile because they are about to witness a life changing experience.  I cannot wait for September 22 to see who walks across that stage, holds that award in their hand, and embrace their moment, the moment I witnessed as a new author, the moment that help gear me in the right direction. And if it wasn’t for Yvette Hayward creating such a life changing award these moments wouldn’t happen.

So I want to send a virtual congrats to all the nominees for this year’s 2011 African American Literary Award Show. You are all winners and remember the true journey starts that night.

Good Luck!

Tamika N.

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