The Willie Lynch Letter is a Hoax!

As a book seller, my primary goal is to connect readers with books that they will enjoy and learn from.  Having a reader thank me for introducing them to a book or an author they appreciated is one of the joys of running this website.

In a recent conversation we discussed the growing number of publishers publishing the book, Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave.  I asked, “Why is anyone still publishing this book when it is common knowledge that the letter is a hoax?”  Of course the answer is self-evident; the book is profitable.  Immediately, I was forced to ask myself, why am I providing a platform to sell this book, and helping to perpetuate a lie?

Death of the Willie Lynch Speech: Exposing the Myth by Manu AmpimI searched the AALBC.com database and found five versions of the Willie Lynch letter, all from different pubishers, and all AALBC.com bestselling books.

I thought about removing the books from the website altogether, but realized it would be better to keep the book and update the pages to reflect that fact that the letter is indeed a hoax and change the book’s category from nonfiction to fiction. I also provide a link to another book, Death of the Willie Lynch Speech: Exposing the Myth by Manu Ampim which explains why the letter is a hoax and even shares an email exchange with the author of the letter, Kwabena Faheen Ashanti, PhD.

Why do myths like the Willie Lynch Letter persist?  

Hollywood would never be confused with an entity concerned with the accurate portrayal of Black history and culture.  However if you consider Denzel Washington’s compelling diatribe in the 2007 film, The Great Debaters, it is easy to understand why one would be moved to believe such fiction as the Willie Lynch Letter.

Of course in our social media fueled World Wide Web, scandalous information, whether it is true or not spreads quickly, while the often less compelling truth tends to get lost.

Some argue that it does not matter that the letter is a lie, for it is the message that the letter conveys that matters. That argument is flawed. For critical people, it is clear that the truth is required to understand how the enslavement in Black people in America impacts us today, not some 21st century hoax.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that the spreading of lies like the Willie Lynch letter does not matter.  Please share this article, or information about Manu’s book, the next time someone presents you with the Willie Lynch Letter as an explanation for anything regarding Black people, with the exception of how we can be easily misled.

Top 50 Authors, Bestselling Books, and More

50 Favorite African-American Authors of the 20th Century

Top 50 African American Authors

1,826 readers cast votes, back in 2001, for their favorite African-American authors. Here we share the 50 authors who received the most votes. Is your favorite author among them?

Bestselling Books May/June 2016

Bestselling Books May/June 2016

Our bestselling books for May and June of 2016 is a mix of books by both major and independent publishers. Recently published and classic titles are represented as well, making for an interesting list.


The 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Awards Winning Books

The 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Awards Winning Books

The 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Awards Winning BooksThe 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Award winners were announced, during the Harlem Book Fair, on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at 5 p.m. The winning titles are all excellent, but the finalist are definitely worth checking out too. AALBC.com published very favorable reviews of; Bibsy, by Brenda Ross; and The Summer of my Fifteenth Year, by Geri Spencer Hunter; which were finalists for Wheatley Awards.


New Books Coming in August

New Books Coming in August

Jacqueline Woodson, Jesmyn Ward, Teju Cole, Rep. John Lewis, Greg Tate, the names alone should inspire excitement. Visit AALBC.com to learn about excellent books published in the last two months, and to discover great reads coming out soon.


The Results of a Decade on Social Media

The Results of a Decade on Social MediaMuch of what I think about social media runs counter to conventional wisdom, but I appreciate my perspective is rather unique: I have over 20 years of experience building websites and actively publishing original content to the web. I teach web design at the college level and have used all of the major social media platforms for about as long as they have been around.

In this article I share detailed results of AALBC.com’s use of social media over the last 10 years, from BlackPlanet to Facebook and everything in between. Hopefully my experience will help you; “Use social media; don’t let it use you.”


Tiphanie Yanique, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and Glory Edim

Tiphanie Yanique, Glory Edim, and Nicole Dennis-Benn,

Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes The Sun; Glory Edim, founder of #wellreadblackgirl; and Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning; shout out their favorite bookstores and read from their novels.  These videos were recorded on July 27, 2016 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, in New York City.


Oprah’s Book Club 2016 Selection

The Underground Railroad by Colson WhiteheadHere is the latest book club pick from Oprah; The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

“Every now and then a book comes along that reaches the marrow of your bones, settles in, and stays forever. This is one. It’s a tour de force, and I don’t say that lightly.” —Oprah Winfrey

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom (Doubleday, August 2).

Also let us know what you think about the phenomenon of Oprah’s Picks.


Poet, Kevin Young to Serve as New Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Poet, Kevin YoungOn August 1st, the New York Public Library announced, “Kevin Young will be joining NYPL as Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He will begin his tenure at the Library in the late fall. Kevin succeeds Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who led the Schomburg with great distinction for the last five years.”

Visitors to AALBC.com will recognize Kevin Young as an accomplished Poet, who was a finalist for a 2003 National Book Award


Events Coming in August

Leimert Park Village Book Fair

▪ The 32nd Annual Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair, Aug 5 to 6, Denver, CO
▪ National Conference of African American Librarians, Aug 9 to 13, Atlanta, GA
▪ Blogger Week 2016 UnConference Aug 20 to 21, Washington, DC
▪ Leimert Park Village Book Fair Aug 20, 2016, Los Angeles, CA


Meet Troy Johnson Founder and President of AALBC.com

Meet AALBC.com Founder and Webmaster, Troy JohnsonI had the pleasure of being part of Virgo Girl Media’s Meet 50 Bloggers Tour

“Although Troy runs a digital website you can constantly find him out and about within the crowd. My first encounter with Troy was at one of his literary networking mixers in Harlem and from that day forth, I swear I have seen Troy at 90% of the literary events I have attended. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “It not what you know, it is who you know”; well Troy is one of those people to know.”

Check out Virgo Girl Media’s interview with me and share it with others.


Authors Get Your Website Up and Running Fast!Authors Get Your Website Up and Running Fast!

Do you have an out of date website and can’t find your webmaster? Is your Facebook page your “official” website? Would you like a website, but don’t know where to begin? If any of the above is true, you need AALBC.com’s Enhanced Author Profile.

Even if you are satisfied with your web site, you will still benefit from the increased exposure an Enhanced Author Profile provides. We are often update our pages before and an author’s main site and out rank them in search. Authors with an existing profile (over 2,460 of you) can upgrade at a discounted rate.

This service is not just for authors. Many publishers, agents, publicists, book cover designers, editors, and other industry professions are discovered on AALBC.com. You’ll attract more visitors, than you would on your own because you be associated with, AALBC.com, the most popular website dedicated to Black books!


Edit 1st – Manuscript Editing Services

Edit 1st Manuscript Editing ServicesWe Provide a Full Range of Editing Services
“Edit 1st’s services are first rate! I found them to be extremely helpful and easy to work with. They offer professional, in-depth insight and comments. Are easily accessible for questions and feedback, and their work is comprehensive in scope taking in the totality of your work, with respect to grammar, plot and voice. I completely recommend them to anyone looking to make a good story great!”—David Lamb, award-winning playwright and author


Participate in an AALBC.com Focus Group

Dear Reader,

AALBC.com Celebrating 18 yearsAre you interested in helping AALBC.com improve? Would you like to share your ideas with us? There will be two sessions during the month of August. In New York City and central Florida. If you are interested in participating let me know which days of the week and times works best for you. Food will be provided and books will be given away. Email me at troy@aalbc.com

As always, thanks for reading!
Peace & Love,

Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


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AALBC.com eNewsletter – August 3, 2016 – Issue #236

The Results of a Decade on Social Media

One of the most profound changes I’ve witnessed on the web, in the past decade, is the rise of social media.  Here I share my insight and experience in an effort to help you utilize social media more effectively, or as I always say;

“Use social media; don’t let it use you.”

I’ve been building websites for over twenty years.  My first website was created to promote a business I ran selling personal computers. A more recently built site is used in conjunction with a college course I teach on web design.  AALBC.com, was started in 1997, and is the most prominent website in its niche.

AALBC.com is also my livelihood, as a result I have to follow trends on the World Wide Web. Over the last 10 years this required me to keep up with social media.  I have a presence on all of the major social media platforms and have used them as both; as a regular user, for personal purposes; and for marketing, to help promote AALBC.com.

The graph below, derived from data collected by Google Analytics, shows the top 10 social media platforms that have sent traffic to AALBC.com over the past 10 years.

image002

Over the past 10 years Facebook has made up close to 73% of all the social media traffic AALBC.com receives.  Twitter is a distant second at just over 8%.

The bar chart below shows the relative amount of traffic from all social media sites over that past decade, including MySpace and BlackPlanet (remember those sites). Again, Facebook is the leader with Twitter a distant 2nd.

ranking-top-24-socila-media-over-10-years

The following graph is most telling; It looks at the top 5 sources of social media traffic to AALBC.com, during the first 6 months of 2016, and how those 5 sources have performed over the past decade.

top-5-social-media-ver-last-10-years

We see quite clearly that Facebook has always been a much better source of traffic to AALBC.com than any other social media platform, and that dominance has grown dramatically over the last three years.

Given the fact the Facebook is on track to make up 90% of all of my social media traffic for 2016; one might argue that I should invest more time and money on Facebook to grow my presence and increase engagement there.  But…

…social media is not the only source of traffic.

While Facebook is projected to be the dominant source of social media traffic this year, it is also projected to be less than 8% of my overall traffic.  Over the past 10 years Facebook has only contributed 2% of our site’s overall traffic; and the bulk of that traffic was generated in 2016.  Twitter is projected to contribute less than ½ of 1% to our overall traffic this year.

% Total Traffic
Last 10 Years
% Total Traffic
2016 (projected)
Facebook 2.07% 7.76%
Twitter 0.24% 0.48%
Pinterest 0.05% 0.20%
Disqus 0.08% 0.19%
Total All Social Media Sources  2.86% 8.83%

Considering that all of my social media activity over the last 10 years has resulted in less than 3% of my overall traffic (ignoring the surge in Facebook traffic in 2016), one can argue that any resources (knowledge, time, and money) allocated to social media marketing would be better utilized in other areas.

This was indeed the conclusion I arrived at in 2015.  The table below on looks at the last 3 million visitors to AALBC.com (period ending April 2015) and shows where those visitors came from.  The table shows the vast majority of traffic to AALBC.com originated from organic search.

Click image to read more our last three million visitors

Click Image to Learn More About This Table

Since search is a key source of traffic I decided to spend much less time on social media marketing (SMM) and to work harder on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Today given Google’s dominance, SEO means making sure your site makes meets Google’s technical standards. As a result, I decided to completely overhaul AALBC.com with SEO in mind.  The meant among many other things, optimizing AALBC.com for mobile devices.

It also meant creating the type of content that will rank higher in search results.  In my case, it meant concentrating on building quality content that is unique.  For a book website, like AALBC.com using the same book descriptions that every other bookseller uses will no longer cut it.  I needed come up with a unique take and add value to information about books that is already common elsewhere on the Web and provided by much larger sites including Amazon.com and Google.

I increased my focus on building direct relationships with other sites and creating content that they would like to link to. I also worked to help those sites understand why linking to each other’s sites is important.  I’ve noticed that I can get more visitors from a link on another website than I can from a social media website, and with far less effort.

I’ve observed that social media websites work to encourage engagement on their platforms. Facebook, for example, said using their platform for organic reach (people you can reach for free) has been made much more difficult. This is true across the social media landscape.

I’ve watched my engagement on social media decrease despite the fact that my number of fans and followers have increased.  All the time and effort I invested in building my presence on social media was wasted, as the rules were changed and social media became pay to play.   Of course there is the very real risk these platforms will shut down or change so dramatically that all of work will simply be discarded.  I worked to create a substantial presence, and attracted thousands friends, on MySpace; which was all lost as MySpace went through several redesigns.

At the end of 2015 I greatly reduced the time spent on social media for marketing purposes, and I work to ensure what little time I do spend on SMM is utilized as efficiently as possible.  Also, I rarely use social media for personal purposes.

In the winter of 2015, I initiated the following 10 tactics as part of my social media marketing strategy

  1. I don’t pay for promotion on social media (buying ads).
  2. I don’t actively seek new fans or followers (I welcome them, but you will never hear me say, “follow me on…”
  3. I don’t post content directly on social media—I only share links, with a brief description, to my website where my content resides.
  4. I only post a links once.  Very popular content will be posted more than once, but this is rare.
  5. I do control how AALBC.com’s content is shared, by using tools like Facebook’s Debugger Tool.
  6. I always use images when posting on social media. Links will images are clicked more often.
  7. I do respond to comments I receive on social media, but I don’t initiate conversations on social media unless there is no alternative.
  8. I removed all social media applications from my cell phone.
  9. I do encourage social sharing. I share content on other websites by using the social sharing buttons on their website.
  10. I engage with others on their websites, not their social platforms, whenever possible.

The Results

My social media traffic for the first 6 month of 2016 has already exceeded the traffic I’ve gotten from social media for all of 2015 and all of 2014—combined!

Interestingly, despite greatly reducing my activity on social media, traffic to my website from social media (from Facebook in particular) has increased during the first 6 months of 2016, both as a percentage of my overall traffic and in terms of the number of visitors to the website: social media is a larger portion of a growing pie that is traffic to AALBC.com.

I’ve discovered that building content that appeals to AALBC.com’s visitors, which also meets Google’s technical guidelines, is actually more effective in generating traffic from social media than working to strengthen AALBC.com’s presence on those social media platforms. I guess the old adage applies;

“Content is King.”

Despite all the hype and attention paid to social media, social media has no content of its own. The only content social media has is the content that we give them.  Content is indeed king, but it is not free.  Both Facebook and Twitter and are now paying for content in an effort to attract new users and increase engagement.  On top of that Facebook is also battling a 21% decrease in personal sharing.

Adding AALBC.com’s content to a social media platform enriches the social media site and impoverishes AALBC.com.  My strategy of limiting the use of social media to notifying readers about content on AALBC.com, while facilitating sharing of information, has allowed me to invest much more time creating content for AALBC.com and and engaging with readers here.

social-media-icons-2010The effectiveness of this strategy can change tomorrow, but change is the very nature of the World Wide Web.  Anyone unable to easily adapt to change would never be able to run a website for more than a few years—certainly not as a business venture.

Back in 2010, I used to be a strong proponent for using social media and even gave workshops on the subject. However, the Web is a very different place in 2016 than it was in 2010 and my tactics and strategies have changed, out of necessity.

There is one constant however, no website can survive without support from visitors—not even Facebook.  AALBC.com survives because visitors read and share our content through social media, email, and even word of mouth.  Visitors buy books from our website, and authors and publishers purchase advertising or participate in our discussion forums to promote their work. This is the only way we can survive.


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