From Teacher to Editor to New York Times Best-Selling Author, Morgan Jerkins has had a career that is nothing short of inspirational. Jerkins is notably the author of novels: This will be my Undoing and Wandering in Strange Lands, both of which target the struggles of being a black female in a white nation. This will be my Undoing incorporates a collection of essays that reveal Jerkins’ opinions on topics such as feminism and misogyny in addition to Jerkins’ own obstacles in creating her path as a black woman. In Wandering in Strange Lands, Jerkins explores the past of her ancestors through the history of the Great Migration and the complexities it caused, including the vast displacement and disenfranchisement of the black population. Jerkins’ work is a clear indication of her willingness to surpass societies’ expectations and advocate for her values in the way she deems the best fit: her writing.
Though one could describe Jerkins’ work as nearly seamless, the process she employs to best market her brand does not come without its challenges, describing it as a “juggling act.” Jerkins is always working to balance her personality with the reflection of her business identity stating, “When I log onto Instagram or Twitter, I’m just being me–goofy, vulnerable, angry. Then I realize that for people who don’t [know] me, this may be their introduction to me, and a verified blue checkmark means that I’m not just being me, [but] being me may be reflective of my professional brand.” Despite the obstacles that derive from these procedures, Jerkins has utilized various resources and strategies as support: “I have a publicity and marketing team at my publisher who helps to guide me…I always take insight from professionals who are on the outside looking in.” Apart from outside resources, Jerkins utilizes her personal skills to optimize her brand and work: “[my publicity and marketing team] also trust me in that I’m good at social media. I met my agent and first acquisition editor through Twitter, for example. I know how to navigate networks.”
Jerkins’ experiences as a result of her work are nothing short of extraordinary. The story of how Jerkins found out about her debut on the New York Times Bestsellers List adds to the title as a whole. “I mean one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve had as a writer is learning that I debuted on the New York Times Bestsellers List an hour before I had to do the Atlanta stop at an Indie bookstore during my tour.” Another standout moment for Jerkins was when CNN invited her to speak “after an article [she] wrote for Rolling Stone went viral.” Jerkins perceives these experiences as an overall domino effect. None of them truly stand separate; instead, “each experience leads to the next.”
Jerkins comments that the difference between book advances and royalties may be surprising but is essential nonetheless. She outlines the difference by saying: “For book advances, yes, you get money upfront but, it doesn’t come at once. It may come in halves or thirds. As for royalties, you don’t start getting them until you earn-out, meaning that your publisher recoups the investment on your book.” The solution? “If you get a book deal, plan accordingly!”
For those looking to pursue a writing career, and professionals as a whole, Jerkins has advice, specifically concerning rejection: “Rejection is a part of the journey and even when you get “there,” rejections still happen.” However, there is still hope! “Reach out to authors who you admire because you may be surprised who responds.” Finally, for all of us, Jerkins advises “Read, read, read. Read for leisure. Read to actively how a story builds, how a story is structured, and all that in between. And most of all, know that you have something worthwhile to say.”