Winner of the African American Literary Award for Independent Publisher of the Year, JESSICA TILLES has twenty-two years of experience in the publishing industry. She is an award-winning writer, book editor, publishing coach, graphic and web designer, speaker, and facilitator. She has penned several fictional novels: Anything Goes, In My Sisters’ Corner, Apple Tree, Sweet Revenge, Fatal Desire, Unfinished Business, Erogenous Zone (an anthology), Loving Simone, Crossing Sisters, No One Has To Know, and Loving You. She has ghostwritten and edited many projects ranging from historical fiction to memoirs to business books. As a small, independent publisher, she published over two hundred titles under Xpress Yourself Publishing.
Besides her many accomplishments, Jessica comfortably sits alongside Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Maya Angelou, in Heather Covington’s Top 100 Literary Divas. She is a staff writer for Black Men In America.com, has published the short story “Third Shift Blues” in Black Romance Magazine, is the recipient of the Memphis Black Writers Guild’s “Rising Star” award, and two-time recipient of the Best in Graphic Design Excellence.
She has spoken at many venues, including book club events, writing conferences, industry events, and creative writing programs. She cares deeply about serving writers, and all those in the creative professions, and is passionate about helping them succeed in the wonderful world of publishing.
How it all began…
“I belonged to a book club, and Simon Says by Collen Dixon was the book of the month. We held our meeting at Sibanye Books in Baltimore, Maryland, with Collen as our guest author. Collen’s story of writing her first book drew me in, and so I wanted to write a book, too, and I did.
After I wrote my first manuscript, Anything Goes, I knew nothing about publishing. The idea of submitting to a publisher scared me to tears. Back then, I didn’t handle rejection well. I would never put myself in a position where rejection was an option. Because of my fear, I would go the self-publishing route. It was scary, but exciting, too, taking that path. Robin Green, the owner of Sibanye Books, gave a writing/publishing workshop at Coppin State University in Baltimore. There, I attended a self-publishing workshop given by three self-published authors: Collen Dixon, Brenda L. Thomas, and Jamellah Ellis. The trio blew my socks off, so to speak. They ignited a fire in me that continues to burn. Jamellah recommended The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom & Marilyn Ross, and the rest is history.
Twenty-two years later, I still refer to my dog-eared, yellow-highlighted, paper-clipped, copy of The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing. I also have the updated version with Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier. Over the years, I’ve purchased many how-to self-publish guides and this one, by an extremely long shot, is the BEST guide. The guide goes through publishing from A to Z, or as I like to say, from the rooter to the tooter. Trust me when I tell you this: YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!
Also at this workshop, I took a seminar on scriptwriting. It was amazing, too. We watched a small snippet of the movie, Shawshank Redemption, based on Stephen King’s novel. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the woman who gave the seminar, but she added fuel to the fire that Collen, Brenda, and Jamellah had already set ablaze.
After the workshop, I stopped at Barnes & Noble and purchased the guide and found a book on scriptwriting, and other books on writing, which I have a ton of—always, always hone your skills. You can never stop learning! I couldn’t wait to get home and put in the work, and the rest is history.
One important tip I took away from the workshop, that is forever etched in the front of my mind, and I recite it to my clients religiously: do not look self-published.
I’ve mastered the art of not looking self-published, and I can do the same for you. I would love to work with you! Contact me, and let’s self-publish your book—the right way!