Tamika Newhouse is a powerhouse. When you hear her name. you immediately think of the African Americans on the Move Book Club Awards or AAMBC Awards, because it is said not just to be one of the awards shows that recognizes African-American authors, but also one of the most lit awards shows when it comes to the literary world. But that would be because its publisher is an OG to the game of publishing, having experienced that world firsthand herself as an author. I was happy to sit down and get a minute of the time of Tamika’s time, as she is not just a Newhouse but a millennial powerhouse within herself.
The winner of seven African American Literary Awards, Tamika is the CEO of Delphine Media. The Houston native started out by first launching her book club to connect with other book lovers and writers like her through a MySpace page. Having been telling stories since she was nine years old, Tamika handwrote her very first book, cover and all, at age nine. So the love for writing and storytelling had always been present.
While her following grew, Tamika worked on the first book she self-published, The Ultimate No. Within a year, she attracted the attention of Kensington, which is one of the top five publishers in New York. She gained a book deal through them without an agent. She would then go on to found Delphine Publishing and work with other authors.
“I was having conversations with writers, other artists that were like, “Hey, are you looking to publish other people?” And I was like, “Well, sure.” You know, a lot of my makeup has always been helping people or always encouraging people. I grew up as a PK kid. I know how to hold people accountable for their dreams,” the award show creator says. “I was like, This is something that you want to do. Bet. Let’s figure out how to do it.” There was no such thing as a “no” in my world. It’s always about how, and so when I began to take up the idea of publishing other writers going into 2010, that was my same mentality.
As she stated above, Tamika grew up as a preacher’s kid who was too afraid to listen to secular music. She jokingly shared that the first song she heard and took a liking to was Missy Elliot’s Sock It To Me. However, she always had a passion for writing and seemed to have a knack for marketing as well.
“I wasn’t a popular kid, you know. My stories- I was comfortable in that space. I could be myself in that space. So it was always just me, my stories, and my journals. And so yes, I felt empowered and seen, and it was fun for me. It was a rush, a thrill,” the former teen mom explains.
Tamika affectionately recalls putting a lot of time, energy, and effort into the authors that she worked with, but she began to realize that she was possibly overgiving, and the authors began to feel entitled to more. This is why she walked away from publishing others.
“I eventually fell out of love with publishing. So I don’t technically publish other people’s projects and things like that anymore because I absolutely don’t want to be held responsible for other people’s writing careers anymore,” Tamika says. “I do publish my own work still, and I also publish nonfiction content. I also mentor and manage other writers. But as far as that independent publishing house, I was successful at it, and I’m still successful at it, but when it comes to publishing other writers now, I feel like that’s not really my space. People are trying to pull me back into that, but I don’t know how to be a publisher without encouraging, building, and coaching. In creating those boundaries, I haven’t mastered that just yet.”
The AAMBC Awards
The AAMBC Awards eventually followed the African-Americans on the Move Book Club and Delphine Publishing. Inspired by an award show she was being honored at, plus the observation that many of the writers that interested her were not receiving any awards or recognition, the author decided to produce her own show. “I wanted to start nominating these independent writers who were not getting awards anywhere else, and that was a thing that was in 2009. So that was the foundation of it,” the Plain Jane author declares.
By the time she moved to Atlanta in 2015, Tamika felt it was time to step the AAMBC Awards up, envisioning something similar to the BET Awards, and Atlanta was the perfect place since she had access to more celebs and her name was already ringing throughout the industry. In the past, the AAMBC Awards have honored those like Nikki Giovanni, and this year, they will honor Terry McMillan.
Originally, Tamika attached the award show to her book festivals, but then she rebranded it as Black Writers Weekend, a series of weekend events like social mixers, workshops, panels, film screenings, and pitch opportunities, and closing out with the awards on Sunday evening. Authors, publishers, journalists, creatives, celebs, agents, and more all attend this power-packed weekend to learn about and connect with others.
Traces of Mika
While she no longer works with fiction authors, Tamika is now more focused on non-fiction writers and her other projects, like her podcast Traces of Mika and her upcoming documentary. The documentary is to be about her life and work, while the podcast is more like a memoir where she shares stories about her life and career, often revealing things she hadn’t publicly discussed before.
She says of the podcast, “I was able to purge a lot of things and heal from just talking about it. But then, when I go back and listen to it, I kind of feel somewhat uncomfortable. Because I want sometimes want to hug myself, I want to cry for myself. But then I want to slap myself like, “If you don’t wake the hell up and get up out of that!” In a joyous voice, she continues, “So it is difficult just to listen back to it. This is why I’m kind of excited to go into season three because I’m not in the same spaces I was when I was filming seasons one and two.”
She also incorporates recordings of herself when she was as young as ten, saying she recorded herself because she knew she would one day be someone.
Challenging Herself After Success
With her new ventures, Tamika says, “Not to brag on me, but to brag on me, when it came to the writing piece, I accomplished everything I ever wanted. I traveled to dozens upon dozens of cities and sat on a whole bunch of platforms. I became a big-time bestselling author ten times over again with book deals by myself without agents. I never even thought that I’d accomplish so many of those goals way before I was 25,” Tamika explains in a modest manner. “And so, when I began to get older, I kind of felt a little stagnant, right? Because even I challenged myself with publishing, and I was making so much money then that I quit my job, and I hadn’t had a job since. So, I began to do more producing. I’m like, “I keep accomplishing these goals; what’s next?”
In 2019 The Words I Didn’t Say author served as co-producer and writer on the biopic for legendary Hip-Hop group 8 Ball & MJG film Comin Out Hard. As a member of AAFCA (the African American Film Critics Association), Tamika contributes to amplifying black writers in film and television through critical reviews and broadcasted conversations. The creative currently leads a team of writers developing original films, shows, and reality programming through her own media company, Delphine Legacy Media.
When asked how she would describe her swagher, Mika replies, “That’s an interesting question. Because to say I have swag. I am a very unique individual because it’s kind of like I’m “boughetta”. I can be bougie, and then I can be ghetto, borderline country at the same time. So I will say I’m all around, free-spirited, friendly, reserved, and personable. I’m not like this fashionista. I don’t even like wearing name-brand stuff. Because why? If it’s cute, it’s cute! So I don’t know…I haven’t really thought about it as far as my swag, which is country, mighty, free, and fun. Yeah, and just enjoyable, I say.”
More to Come
We will attend Black Writers Weekend at the end of the week in Atlanta. Watch our Instagram and Facebook for coverage.
Check out my interview with Tamika about the AAMBC Awards here.
Connect with Tamika below.
Black Writers Weekend: https://blackwritersweekend.com
AAMBC Awards: https://aambc.org