Category Archives: AALBC.com News

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


You may receive messages like this directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version. Enjoy all of our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

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

Celebrating the Best in Black Literature (May 31, 2016 Newsletter)

Subscribe to AALBC.com’s eNewsletter

Books to be Published in JuneBooks to be published in June

Summer will heat up with some great new titles. Walter Mosley is back with his latest installment in the Easy Rawlins series, Charcoal Joe. Can you believe it has been 25 years since the first book in the series, Devil In A Blue Dress, was published?

We are also excited by the first novel, The Reactive, from Masande Ntshanga who is the winner of the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award, as well as a Finalist for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing.

Bobby Brown, with help from acclaimed author Nick Chiles, reveals intimate details of his marriage to Whitney Houston, speaks about losing his daughter Bobbi Kristina, and shares insights into his amazing career in his new memoir,Every Little Step: My Story.

Also look out for new books from other AALBC.com Bestselling authors including Kimberla Lawson Roby (A Sinful Calling) and Timothy George (The Dagger). To discover these and other great soon to be released books, visit our Books Coming Soon section.


AALBC.com Bestselling Books

The publishing company founded by authors ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray, Brown Girls Books, dominated our bestsellers list this period, claiming the top three fiction positions. Our #1 fiction bestseller, The Ex Chronicles is an anthology where 20 writers share relationship stories. At #2 we have The Perfect Find by Tia Williams and completing the trifecta is Dirt by Teffanie Thompson.

Congratulations to Brown Girls Books and all of the bestselling authors. Check out our full list bestselling titles for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and children’s literature.


Beyond Phillis Wheatley — Important Firsts In Black Literature

Phillis Wheatley Most readers know Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American female poet. Did you also know that George Moses Horton (ca. 1797-1883), was the only man to publish volumes of poetry while in bondage and the first African American to publish any book in the South? Were your familiar with Solomon Plaatje who was born October 9, 1876, and was the author of Mhudi which was published in 1930; making it the first novel by a black South Africa?

Jupiter Hammon, who was born on October 17, 1711, was perhaps the first Black person to be published, in 1761 before the United States was even formed.


The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

Langston Hughes“One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet—not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet;” meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet;” meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America—this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.“—Langston Hughes, Originally published in The Nation magazine, June 23, 1926

This ninety-year-old article could be been written yesterday; read it in its entirety.


The 2016 Black Pack Party: A Wonderful Celebration!A collage of the 2016 Black Pack party in Chicago

The 2016 Black Pack Party was a really wonderful celebration. Read my thoughts about the event. If you were able to join us in Chicago, please share your thoughts and photos in the article’s comments section.


Events Coming in June

BAM Anniversary

Summer is the busiest period for book festivals. In June the Go On Girl! Book Club will host their 25th Annual Awards Weekend. The international literary festival Calabash will kick off in Jamaica; Chris Abani, Paul Beatty, Teju Cole, Nicole Dennis-Benn, jessica Care moore, Marlon James and many other authors will be featured. The Sacramento Black Book Fair will celebrate their third year. And that is just the first week!

Also consider checking out the, AAMBC Literary Awards and the combined celebration honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Black Arts Movement and the 20th Anniversary of Cave Canem (pictured above). Learn more about these events and all the others coming in June and the rest of the year.


A Great Deal to Promote Your Books on AALBC.com

Promote Your Books with Large Book Cover Advertisement and Horizontal Ad BannersOur Large Book Cover Advertisement and Horizontal Ad Banners appear on virtually every one of the several thousand AALBC.com web pages. Plus, each author whose book is promoted with this very prominent placement also receives a free Author Profile. If you already have an Author Profile, we’ll extend your campaign by two weeks.

With this deal, your AALBC.com Author Profile will give you a permanent, high profile web presence, which is great if your only presence is social media. Plus the highly visible placement of your advertisement will expose your book to over 100,000 avid readers of African American Literature. Learn more about this terrific deal.

Also consider Sponsoring our Monthly Newsletter. This is a great way to reach readers of Black literature. All of our mailings are permanently archived on our website.


Dear Reader,

AALBC.com celebrates 18 years!Authors and publishers, here is a great way to support AALBC.com without spending a dime: Use our affiliate code when sending readers to Amazon to purchase your book.

The vast majority of the time when links to Amazon are shared with me, no affiliate code is a used. This means money is being left on the table. Why forego that revenue?

Here is the format for the link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1617737984/ref=nosim?tag=aalbccom-20
Simply replace you book’s ISBN10 or ASIN with the boldface number in the URL above. It is that easy!

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson


You may receive messages like this directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version.  Enjoy our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

AALBC.com eNewsletter – May 31, 2016 – Issue #234

black-pack-party-collage-2016

The 2016 Black Pack Party: A Wonderful Celebration!

The 10th Black Pack Party, like all the others, was a wonderful celebration.  Hosted during Book Expo America each year, the Black Party Party is an annual celebration where Black book publishing professionals, writers, and avid readers come together to celebrate each other and have a good time.

This year’s party was held in Chicago, IL and is only the 2nd time it was held outside of Harlem, NY (the 3rd anniversary celebration was held in Los Angeles, CA).  The following are just a few highlights from the evening from my perspective.

“Cynique” and Troy

I’ve moderated discussion forums on AALBC.com for almost 18 years. About 12 years ago a writer using the alias “Cynique” began contributing.  She is a brilliant commentator, with a sharp wit and and insight informed by both great-grandmotherly wisdom and a new age sensibility.  She is cynical, a contrarian, and never backs down from a debate.  She is one reason I enjoy the forums.  Given the stiff competition put up by social media “Cynique” is one reason the discussion forums are still alive.   Several years ago, I renamed one of our discussion forums after her, “Cynique’s Corner.”  Well after more than 12 years of a cyber-relationship I had the pleasure of finally meeting Connie Bradley a.k.a “Cynique” for the first time!  It was like meeting a super star.

Troy-and-Kai-bpp-2016

Here I’m with Kai EL’Zabar who is the Executive Editor of The Chicago Defender. Kai, teamed up with us to co-host this year’s party she selected the venue, Norman’s Bistro on Chicago’s South Side and helped promote the event.  As executive editor of one of the most important Black owned newspapers in the country, Kai is a powerful women.  I’m looking forward to working with her more closely.  She recognizes the importance of ensuring we own platforms and continue to tell our own stories.  Kai recently published an article on The Defender’s website, “Blacks Showcase at Book Expo 2016 In Chicago.”  Her coverage of our participation at book expo is so important because it tells the world we were there, we had an impact, and what we did mattered.

playwrights-attend-blackpack-party

In this shot from left to right is the author Q.B. Wells; me; award winning playwright, Tsehaye Geralyn Hébert; playwright, Ilesa Duncan; and Kevin Roberts owner of Azizi Bookstore (the physical store is now closed).

This was a fun table.  I already knew Kevin and Q.B., but this was the first time I met Tsehaye and Ilesa. They were both very interesting women.  Ilesa is the Pegasus Theatre Chicago’s artistic director and is adapting Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage. As mentioned Tsehaye is an award winning playwright and serves a playwright-in-residence at Chicago State University.  She is also the recipient of the New Voices and Visions Award (Louisiana State University) among others. Prestige and accomplishments aside these were just some really cool people.

blackfigterpilots

I had the pleasure of meeting author J. Marcellus Burke (pictured) and his publisher Bennett Johnson of Path Press. Bennnet who was previously Vice President at Third World Press, recently published Marcellus’ historical novel, The Black Knights.  The novel is a fact based story about four fighter pilots who served in the German Luftwaffe (Air Force).  I’m reading Burke’s novel now.

obari-troy2

Here, in the white framed spectacles, is Kwame Alexander, who is the author of The Crossover, which was awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal for Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children, has done more for Black books than I can relate in a single blog post. In fact, in 1998 he hosted an historic event called 360º A Revolution of Black Poets. He put me on my first panel discussion.  Kwame has always helped elevate AALBC.com from the very beginning.

On Kwame’s left is the the writer Earl Sewell.  Earl has published about 20 books, but more importantly he constantly supports other writers.  On Sewell’s left is Earl Cox. I first met Earl in the late 90s, when AALBC.com was in its infacncy.  As an industry professional Earl taught me a lot about the publishing industry and introduced me to several key publishing professionals. As an entrepreneur he and I have worked on a number of projects and continue to do so to this day. Crouching up from is Dr. Obari Cartman. I met Obari at the party and will definitely follow his work.  His first book, Lady’s Man: Conversations for Young Black Men about Relationships and Manhood has been praised by Na’im Akbar and Jawanza Kunjufu.

go-on-girl2Here are two ladies, Maya Smart and Tiki Massie, from one of my favorite book clubs, Go On Girl! Book Club, Inc.  The clubs boasts hundreds of members in chapters across the country.  The club is hosting their 25th Annual Awards in New Orleans this week (June 2 – 5, 2016).  I also work with Go On Girl! Book Club, Inc. in variety of ways.  Currently, I donate all profits from books sold on Go On Girl! Book Club’s reading list to charities support by the book club.

troy-and-lisaGo On Girl! was not the only book club present; Sistahs On The Reading Edge from Antioch, CA was there as well. The general public may know this club as the group who filed a racial discrimination lawsuit for damages as a result of an August 2015 incident in which the women were accused, of being too loud and removed from the train. But I know this group as a cohesive group of women who can be found at literary events across the country.  The club’s president and co-founder, Lisa Renee Johnson (pictured) is also a published author whose debut novel Dangerous Consequences was published in 2011. Lisa also actively works to help writers and entrepreneurs succeed.

Of course there were many more terrific book people at the event.  For example, author Asadah Kirkland, who runs The Soulful Chicago Book Fair (coming July 16, 2016), danced as if no one was watching.  Author and publisher Ivy Valentine Pate was there with her mom, Gwen Valentine. Publicist, Laini Brown whose clients include Bishop T.D. Jakes were among many others who enjoyed the festivities.

Most years we take a group photograph, but we skipped it this year. Without the benefit of photographer Marcia Wilson, who has taken all of the previous group shots, coordinating effort would have been more complicated and broken the flow of the evening. Hopefully others, who attended, will share their photos or post links, in the comments section below, and let us know how they enjoyed the event.

black-pack-group

Finally, I’d like to thank the other hosts of this year’s gathering, The African American Children’s Book Project (Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati), The Chicago Defender (Kai EL’Zabar), Linda Duggins, Mosaic (Ron Kavanaugh), Say It Loud! Readers & Writers (Patrick Oliver), and Written Magazine (Michelle Gipson).  You are all warriors in your respective fields.

Next year’s the party will be held in New York City.  The date will be Wednesday, May 31, 2017.  I hope to see you there!