Tia Ross

Black Writers Online:
The Start of Tia's Legacy

Black Writers Alliance (“BWA”) was the first 501(c)(3) literary arts association to organize online. It offered Black writers worldwide a source for camaraderie and fellowship, feedback and growth, nurturing, development, and resources long before there was Facebook and years before Myspace. Founded in 1998 by Tia Ross, BWA grew from its three founding members to over 7,000 by 1999 under Tia’s leadership. Even early on, BWA was recognized by WritersDigest.com, twice being named among its selection of the top sites for writers, as well as by BET.com, BookZone, Publishers Weekly and countless others. By 2000, the group had begun hosting conferences which quickly earned a place among other elite writers’ conferences at the top of the list. Black Writers Reunion & Conference was featured on TV, radio, and in print among the pages of The New York Times, Writer’s Digest Magazine, Black Issues Book Review and Poets & Writers. BWA was the first to sponsor a literary awards program for Black writers with the Gold Pen Awards, which set the standard for all that have followed.

Black Writers Conferences & Retreats

In 2003 Tia stepped down for personal reasons, but demand for her conferences to live on compelled her back. After hosting conferences in 2000 and 2001, Tia revived BWRC in 2006 and organized five more. She introduced the first Black Writers Write Time Retreats in 2012, placing her conferences on hold as she increasingly consulted on conference launches for clients. After the 2016 retreat, Tia partnered with Rekesha Pittman to expand their events under the Flagship of Writeful Places LLC to continue offering quality programs that are more inclusive of all races of writers.

Calling for a Community

The demand for an online Black writers community persisted as well, despite the easy accessibility of groups on Facebook, other social media platforms, and private sites. Yet, year after year Tia’s inbox and Twitter mentions remained populated with ongoing requests for information about membership and how to join an organization that no longer existed. Finally, Tia realized that what was out there clearly did not fit the bill. Black writers still needed an online hub, a cohesive community that lent them the support, resources, and outlet that she was arguably the only one willing and able to successfully develop. 

In late 2018, Tia began developing plans for a new online community that would be a worthy successor to the legacy of Black Writers Alliance. In 2020, she launched the Black Writers Collective, offering a slew of programs designed to help aspiring authors finish works-in-progress, published writers to create author platforms and build fan bases from scratch, readers to connect directly with writers during all phases of book development, and, most importantly, she began to reestablish the online community that started it all.

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