There are comic book characters with traits like real human mental and physical health conditions as traits, but not many use disabilities, disorders or gender identity as super powers.
A Detroit publishing company’s new comic, The Xtras: Forces of Courage and Change, uses heroes to help reduce society’s stigmas. The idea by Eunice Howard inspired Denise Crittendon, owner of Esteem MultiMedia, to write and release the book last fall. One of a variety of Esteem’s titles, The Xtras helps Crittendon celebrate 10 years as an independent publisher.
She first started the business to promote self-help books she wrote for teens and pre-teens. At the time she was also a motivational speaker and, because she was known as a journalist, other writers began contacting her to publish their books.
“It just kind of happened,” says Crittendon. “It just kind of fell in my lap.”
Increasingly, independent publishing companies have cropped up in Michigan and nationwide, expanding an industry that supports everyone from first-time writers to established authors and academics.
Esteem MultiMedia began in 2008 and has published local and international authors. The first book Crittendon published that she hadn’t authored was Tale of the Cow Tail & Other Stories from the African Diaspora by Nigerian author Lanre Ogundimu. After the book’s release, she says she gained clients.
Crittendon graduated from Michigan State University in 1975 with a degree in journalism, starting at the Michigan Chronicle a year later, earning $10 per story. After reporting at The Detroit News for 15 years she became editor of the original African American Family Magazine before it was renamed B.L.A.C. in 2009.
Crittendon has known she wanted to write since she was a child, declaring it would be her profession at a young age.
“When I started college I thought journalism would be the avenue to become a writer and I’m really glad I took that route, because I’ve always had a passion for social change,” she says. “It was the perfect vehicle for me to expose social injustices.”
Other works Esteem MultiMedia has published include a sharecropper’s memoir, White Fields and Blue Skies: Memoir of a Rural Mississippi Boy by Calvin Victor Robinson, Book of Wisdom, a spiritual self-help book by Aldonna Smith, and INFUSION: My Personal Journey with GSC by Sheila Yancy, a former African American Family Magazine intern who died of cancer. Crittendon has also ghostwritten several projects published by Esteem MultiMedia.
The publisher looks for a certain types of stories.
“The company follows the same path that I followed when I was a reporter and features writer for The Detroit News and when I was editor of African American Family Magazine,” Crittendon says. “I always focused on social issues. I always focused on uplifting the downtrodden, enlightening people and just exposing people from all walks of life.”
Most books follow a theme, “healing pathways for a new generation,” which is also the slogan of her company.
“The books that I publish are, in some way, focused on healing,” says Crittendon. “I’d like to think I create healing pathways.”
Editor’s Note: This Small Shops business profile is supported by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s small business programs visit https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go