Ethnicity: African American
Hometown: Plainfield, NJ
Business Headquarters: Plainfield, NJ
Websites: www.anewqualitypublishing.com; www.jmbenjamin.com
Facebook: J.M. Benjamin
Meet J.M. Benjamin: the king of a successful publishing empire and author of over a dozen novels. One of the leading writers of the Urban Lit. niche, this master story-teller got his start penning his life and struggles while locked in the federal prison at Fort Dix, NJ over ten years ago. From there, the beast was born! Today, the Plainfield native’s A New Quality Publishing brand houses several best-selling titles, including his hit tales My Manz and ‘Em, Heaven & Earth and Down in the Dirty. No doubt, J.M. is the true definition of a hustler.
CM: I know you started writing while you were incarcerated. What inspired you to exercise your time in that way?
J.M.: An elderly female Caucasian counselor actually turned on my writing light switch. She encouraged me to journal and what started out as a form of therapy, became my passion and career.She believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself back then. She turned on a light switch within me and I’ve kept it lit since then. That was in 2002. My freshman novel dropped in 2005; came home in 2006, in 2007 went independent and [I’ve] been rockin’ ever since.
J.M. Working His Magic
What was it about writing that you found therapeutic?
Writing enabled me to learn who I really was and why I was the way I was. It helped me heal and overcome some battles and demons I was fighting within…writing contributed to humbling me.
How did this all lead to your own publishing company?
I was just coming home after doing a lot of time. I was a father and I needed money. I pushed Down in The Dirty like it was the best book out and fed me and mine. That wasn’t sufficient enough for me though. So I contacted my publisher and expressed my situation to her and told her I needed to drop a book independently to make better money. She asked if I was sure, and I was.
I had already learned the literary business while incarcerated, even before I got signed while in prison, so I believed after one year I was ready to spread my wings. I owed her one more book and she said if I turned it in she’d wait [to release it] until [after] I released my next book independently. In 2007 My Manz and ‘Em was released by me, and Ride Or Die Chick was originally released by them.
A Few of J.M.’s Titles
Now that you’ve built your empire, you house a lot of rising authors under A New Quality Publishing. How important is it for you to reach back and help other Black men and women attain their dreams?
That’s the objective. Any author I put on, I offer them the opportunity to learn the business and encourage them to spread their wings like I did mine.
As an author yourself, you’re a pretty prolific writer and you’ve won quite a few awards, give me a rundown of some of the accolades you’ve received.
I’ve received The New Jersey Juvenile For Boys Development Mentor plaque, the African American Literary Award, the Martin Luther King Drum Major Award [given to extraordinary leaders for their service] and countless others.
(Continues on next page.)