What it do Sistah Girls! Here we are in the second month of a new year, and you know what that means… Black Book Content Creators Day is just around the corner!!

In preparation for the big day, ya favorite Midwest Gypsy connected with the delightful Jerrica, aka Smirk._ on TikTok. From “character cafes” to customized playlists, weekly TBR updates, and so much more; Jerrica is a Memphis-born “hopeless romantic” whose content makes you feel like you’re catching up with your long-distance bestie to have some tea, share a laugh, and talk Black Lit.


Sistah Girls, today we’re switching our fermented grapes for warm tea leaves.

Get the little readers all tucked, then settle in to learn all about Jerrica. Why she became a Black Lit content creator, how she handles creator’s block, and find out exactly which book bae doppelganger she’d go see in Las Vegas.

Im Ready Lets Hear It GIF by PBS SoCal

SGBC: Tell me a little about yourself, where are you from, and what pushed you to create a Booktok page to highlight Black literature?

Jerrica: My actual name is Jerrica and I was born and raised in Memphis!!

I say that with my whole chest because Memphis is an unsung mecca of Black history, culture, and art. There is a unique sense of pride embedded in our DNA, a type of resilience that keeps our spirit strong, and a soul that can not be forgotten or replicated.

Like Memphis, Black–specifically indie/self-published literature does not always get the reverence it deserves. Like Memphis, Black Literature has to fight through layers of negative stereotypes and labels that often keep others from experiencing the beauty that lies within it.

When I posted my first video about a book, I just wanted people to know that I liked a book written by a black author. It wasn’t until I began to connect with other readers, authors, and content creators that I found this seemingly hidden world fueled by various types of love and appreciation for Black Literature.

I’d like to think that my Booktok page is one of many platforms being used to amplify a genre of ART that is still beautiful, still thriving, still NEEDED, but often underappreciated.

SGBC: It is one thing to love to read and another to want to share what you’re reading with others in the capacity that you do. What inspired you to become a content creator for the stories you read?

Jerrica: For a while, I was a self-taught, freelance graphic designer. Providing a paid service in a creative industry gets frustrating, and draining so I stopped despite my talent and love for it.

As I continued to discover authors and their stories, I saw an opportunity to marry my love for books and my love for digital art. Booktok became both an escape and a creative outlet for me during a time when I was rediscovering myself. That is still the root of the reason I do what I do. 

I read/recommend/discuss Black contemporary romance books specifically because we are capable and deserving of loving and being loved in the most beautiful ways… and seeing all of those beautiful ways spelled out on pages from different perspectives, written by different people from all walks of life is magical. Being able to create something that hopefully portrays the way these books make me feel is… healing.

@smirk._ I MIGHT TELL YOU A JOKE BUT I’LL NEVER TELL YOU A LIE!!! #darlingnikki #kenyagoreebell #blackbooktok #blackindieauthors #interracialromancebook #darkromancebooks ♬ original sound – 📖 Smirk’s Novel•Tea

SGBC: Do you ever get content block? And if you don’t how do you keep new ideas flowing?

Jerrica: I feel like I live in a constant state of content block! Most times, I feel I should be doing more… that I should be more structured and organized, and intentional with my booktok page.

I wonder if I’m stunting my own growth or “influence” by not doing so. However, I seem to birth my best ideas when I release myself from that pressure. The engagement is a bonus, but the things I create are for me, first.

My journey started by simply connecting with people over books, so whenever I find myself in a content rut, I remind myself that people just want to know what I’m reading and if I liked it.

SGBC: Have you ever been asked to create content for a book that wasn’t your favorite? And if so, how did you navigate that?

Jerrica: I try my best to avoid discouraging anyone from reading a book unless it is genuinely harmful/problematic. The beautiful thing about books is that I don’t have to “like” a book to be creatively inspired by it.

If I am still able to use the imagery and details to come up with an aesthetic, a mood board, or a character highlight from a book, I do. I am honest in my opinions and conversations, but a book not being my personal cup of tea shouldn’t stand in the way of it reaching readers who may appreciate it in ways that I couldn’t.

SGBC: What are the top three things all content creators should have? (Editing software, cameras, etc.)

Jerrica: Do what works for you. Find what you are comfortable with and build from there. As a primarily digital artist, Canva has been my most helpful tool. So has stock photo and vector sites that I use to find additional clipart.

I am considering investing in an iPad because I imagine reading e-books and working in Canva might be a little easier on a bigger screen. I know some people have software that helps you plan and schedule social media posts. I imagine that is useful as well for people who are more stringent with their content goals.

SGBC: Why do you think Black literature is important?

Jerrica: My “why” begins with undergrad. It only took one semester of an elective African American Literature class for me to fall in love with it and make it my major. I wanted to have more of the conversations that the books I read in that class inspired.

We questioned and debated all sorts of societal norms and cultural worldviews all because of the way an author told a story. Black literature is our time capsule. It is how we tell future generations what our lives were like. It is how we make sure our realities, our stories, and our legacies are never forgotten.

@smirk._ #stitch with @Torri🌻 my sweet and spicy combo #blackbooktok #booktok #blackromancebooks #blackgirlsread ♬ original sound – 📖 Smirk’s Novel•Tea

SGBC: What five tips can you give someone who is interested in becoming a Black literary content creator?

Jerrica: I think finding your lane is imperative! Do whatever fits your skill set and your personality! Visuals are my niche. I create 90% of them in Canva using their built-in clip art and stock photos. The videos that I post are just me being me being my silly, slightly menacing self.

Understand that your platform and your following come with a social and cultural responsibility to be mindful of the way you present our art–because books are art– to the world. That isn’t to be confused with censorship, or political correctness at all.

There are certain conversations, generalizations, and attitudes toward Black books for which I never want my platform to be an usher. To accomplish that, I have to give thought to how something I say/do could be received. I never want to say or do something that helps uphold the negative stereotypes and generalizations that Black Literature is fighting to dismantle.

DO IT SCARED! The author’s note in Mea Monique’s The Grim Reaper’s Lawyer is probably the passage I’ve recited the most in my booktok tenure. She challenges us to not let fear keep us from doing the things we really want to do.

Let your love for Black literature be the spark that keeps your fire lit. You’ll fall on your face. You’ll rub people the wrong way, but if you let your love for Black literature be your compass, you’ll always be able to navigate this space.

Have fun! We deserve all the things that bring us joy! I hope anyone dedicating their time and resources to Black bookish content finds true joy in it.

SGBC: What are your future goals as a content creator?

Jerrica: My only goal is to continue to connect with other readers, content creators, and authors. I want to continue to discover new books and authors.

I want to continue helping readers find Black books that they may not have known existed. I want to play a part in helping Black authors get the flowers they deserve.

SGBC: You’re in Las Vegas at a male review show, three men that look like your favorite book baes are performing…who’s on that stage?

Jerrica: Trevante Rhodes, Kofi Siriboe, and the guy from Black Panther! Y’all know the one!

SGBC: How can Sistah Girls find you on social media?

Jerrica: On Instagram: Smirks_novel.tea | TikTok: smirk._

BONUS: This or That Literary Edition

Sutton Group realestate realty bonus sutton GIF

SGBC: STANDALONES OR SERIES? | Jerrica: BOTH! Interconnected standalones!
SGBC: BROTHER’S BEST FRIEND OR FALLING FOR YOUR KIDNAPPER? | Jerrica: Falling for your kidnapper (I’m a little romantically chaotic.. ok?)
SGBC: PAPERBACK OR DIGITAL? | Jerrica: Paperback

Sistah Girls, make sure that y’all follow our good sis Jerrica on all the platforms! And don’t forget to show her some extra love on Black Content Creators Day, February 26th.

Until next time…stay warm!

Peace 🩵



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