2021 keynote


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The Charleston African-American Book Festival is the first and only annual celebration of African-American literature in the Charleston area. Black Ink serves as a platform to support local Black writers, creating a space for them to share their work, discuss their craft, and expose readers of all ages to the great variety of African-American authors in the area. With the support of community-conscious sponsors Black Ink: A Charleston African-American Book Festival will impact the lives of hundreds of readers, both young and old.

Black Ink is a project of the Charleston Friends of the Library in partnership with the Charleston County Public Library. The festival is free to the public and will include hundreds of books for sale, vendor exhibits, a keynote address, and more!


The 2021 festival will feature New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia as its keynote speaker. He authored the middle-grade novel "Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky." ​

Registration is open for the 2021 Black Ink Festival, which is virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The free festival runs from Jan. 14-16. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend live virtual programs and discussions, engage with presenters, authors and attendees. The festival is aimed at amplifying the voices of black authors. Through the virtual festival platform, attendees will also be able to chat with each other, discuss topics of interest, visit author virtual tables and more. The festival closes with the keynote address by New York Times best selling author Kwame Mbalia at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16.


For authors and readers alike, you won't want to miss this opportunity! Register for free today.

2021 programs, workshops & panels

Getting to Know You—Author Edition
Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, Time TBD

This is an opportunity for readers to learn about participating Black Ink Authors.
•    Children’s/YA Authors
•    Nonfiction Authors
•    Fiction Authors
•    Poet

The Right Path to Market for Your Project
Thursday, Jan.14 at 11 a.m.

Just because you are an independently published author doesn’t mean you can’t traditionally publish a project, and vice versa. In this current publishing landscape, being able to pivot as the project requires can only help extend your career long-term. This panel will help you learn how to determine which projects are best for which path to market, and why skills from both can benefit you wholesale.
•    Saritza Hernandez, Andrea Brown Literary Agency
•    Wendy Coakley-Thompson, Publisher and Author 
•    Nancy Redd, Trad Author 
•    Marcus Amaker, Former Black Ink Keynote and Charleston’s Poet Laureate 

Synopsis and Query Letter Workshop
Thursday, Jan. 14  at 1 p.m.

Find out why having both a query letter and a synopsis for your project is essential to the writing process no matter what publishing avenue you decide to take.
•    Latoya Smith, Facilitator—LCS Literary Services

Self-Publishing Presented by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) 
Thursday, Jan. 14 at 3 p.m.

With Amazon being the largest online retailer for book purchases, it is crucial for independently published authors to know how to navigate Amazon’s self-publishing platform Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). During this workshop, KDP representatives will share best practices on how to make KDP work for authors, including free tools for eBook and print book creation, the importance of keywords, why and how metadata matters, the ins and outs of book pricing, and more. While this is primarily targeted to indie authors, both traditionally published and aspiring authors can also benefit from this workshop.

How to Be an Advocate and an Ally for Black Voices
Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.

In the wake of a dynamic 2020, amplifying Black voices has become a rallying cry. But what does that look and sound like, especially for those among us who aren’t Black?
•    Courtney Hicks, Education Outreach Assistant—College of Charleston's Avery Research Center
•    Shani Raine Gilchrist, Editor-at-Large—Southern Review of Books
•    Michael Bailey, Founder and Chief Curator—The MinorityEye 
•    Barney Blakeney, Journalist—The Charleston Chronicle


Getting to Know You—Author Edition
Friday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m.

This is an opportunity for readers to learn about participating Black Ink Authors.
•    Children’s/YA Authors
•    Nonfiction Authors
•    Fiction Authors
•    Poet

Collaboration with Influencers
Friday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m.

The author-influencer relationship is more important than ever. With so many activities competing for a reader’s time, having influencers in your corner to help amplify you and your work can pay unimaginable dividends. This panel will give you tips and examples of how influencers can help your book reach a broader audience.
•    Jeanell Marvin—Instagram Influencer 
•    Cherrie Woods, Eclectic PR—PR and Publicity Service 
•    Angela Kay Austin—Author and Podcaster 

Looking Beyond Amazon
Friday, Jan. 15 at 1 p.m.

Why cultivating partnerships with your local libraries, bookstores, etc., is crucial for reader and author accessibility. Moderated by the Charleston Friends of the Library Board President Susan Hoffius. 
•    Darlene Jackson, Charleston County Public Library Chief Deputy Director
•    VaLinda Miller, Turning Page Bookshop

Cultivating and Maintaining Author-Reader Relationships
Friday, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m.

From reviewing to street teams to book clubs, this panel will discuss how readers can help lift their favorite author’s careers and how authors can make themselves more accessible and available to readers.
•    Ruth Rambo/Georgette Mayo, Conseula Francis Book Club
•    Maya Hollinshead, Mega Reader and CCPL Librarian
•    La Sheera Lee, Read You Later
•    LaShaunda Hoffman, Publishing Professional

Black Authorship in 2021
Friday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.

What does Black authorship look like? A roundtable discussion featuring Black Ink Book Festival participating authors.


Diversity in Publishing Panel
Saturday, Jan. 16 at 10 a.m.

Moderated by Tamara Butler, Ph.D., College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center Executive Director, our panelists discuss how a call for diversity is changing the publishing landscape. 
•    Kiley Reid, Author
•    Breanna McDaniel, We Need Diverse Books


Advice for the Burgeoning Writer
Saturday, Jan. 16 at 11:15 a.m.

Most authors started out solely as readers. This is your chance to ask an author from the genres participating in Black Ink any questions about their transition from reader to author-reader, and how you may make that transition given the current landscape.
•    Children’s/YA Author
•    Nonfiction Author
•    Fiction Author
•    Poet

2021 Black Ink Book Festival Keynote featuring Author Kwame Mbalia
Saturday, Jan. 16 at 1 p.m.

New York Times best-selling author of "Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky" and "Tristan Strong Destroys the World" delivers the 2021 keynote address for Black Ink Book Festival.


*Festival programs are subject to change. 

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