Category Archives: Website Tips and Recommendations

March 28, 2017 Newsletter — Book Recommendations, News, Contests, and More

Top 120 Children’s Books from the Past 50 YearsTop 120 Children’s Books from the Past 50 Years

Our list of the Top 120 Children’s Books published over the last half century is updated on an ongoing basis and reflects some of the best, most beautifully illustrated books published in the past 50 years. Most are awarding winning, critically acclaimed, titles. Some have become obscure over years, and some were independently published and never enjoyed a large platform to gain a significant audience. The Illustration above is by Leo & Diane Dillon and is from the book Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions.


New Books Coming Out April 2017New Books Coming Out April 2017

Learn about these and other excellent new books coming out this month and in the coming months.


AALBC.com Mourns the Loss of Poet Mari EvansAALBC.com Mourns the Loss of Poet Mari Evans

Evans’ poetic voice helped define the 1960s Black Arts Movement. Over the course of her career, Evans has been a distinguished writer and university educator. She has taught at Cornell University, Indiana University, the State University of New York at Albany, the University of Miami at Coral Gables, and at Spelman College. She is the author of numerous articles, children’s books, plays, musicals, and books of poetry.


Kimberla Lawson Roby, Beatrix Williams and Shelly Shepard Gray described their favorite independent bookstores New York Times best-selling authors, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Beatrix Williams and Shelly Shepard Gray described their favorite independent bookstores during the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, which was held March 18 at Centennial Park in Fort Myers, Florida.


Recently Reviewed Books

izzie & McKenzie’s Fabulous Adventures: Mayhem in Madrid by Dina C. TateLizzie & McKenzie’s Fabulous Adventures: Mayhem in Madrid by Dina C. Tate

Dina C. Tate set up Global Girls Squad LLC in order to develop and self-publish a series of chapter books for young girls of color. The idea is to set young heroines, Lizzie and McKenzie, on adventures that will have them traveling the world, learning about other cultures, and celebrate being different.

Tate makes a fine start in accomplishing her goal of, inspiring young girls to read about different cultures in her first installment, Lizzie & McKenzie’s Fabulous Adventures: Mayhem in Madrid. The adventure actually drives the story. Learning about Madrid is simply part of the adventure. Exposure to other cultures in this fashion is sure to make the learning process fun. Young readers will certainly look forward to more of Lizzie and McKenzie’s adventures as they learn about other places around the world.


Recommended Reads

Obama: From Promise to Power by David MendellObama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell

“I recommend this wonderful book to anyone who wants to know the real story behind Barack Obama’s historic rise to national political stardom. Having covered Obama since his Senate campaign began, David Mendell offers an insightful, richly detailed and refreshingly balanced account of a ‘change candidate’ who was neither as perfect or as flawed as others might want you to believe.” —Clarence Page

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea BeatyAda Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!


The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] – Download the First 20 Pages for FreeThe Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] – Download the First 20 Pages for Free

The Black Panthers was the most effective grassroots black revolutionary group in American history — but one whose legend, replayed in sensationalized news stories, a major movie, and countless publications, has outlived the group itself. Featuring never-before-published reflections from former members as well as tables and illustrations, this pioneering collection of essays examines this unique organization in depth using a new approach that places the views of former Panthers alongside those of historians and cultural commentators. The result is a vital dialogue between inside and outside perceptions and realities. A section on gender dynamics offers a much-needed examination of the role of women in the Party. Other essays in the volume address the social forces that gave rise to the Party, the organizational dynamics involved in maintaining its activities, and the internal and external factors that eventually contributed to the Party’s decline.


We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes

In this middle-grade novel by Derrick Barnes, two thirteen- year-old African-American boys become friends during a three-day stint in an after-school suspension. They were both involved in two unrelated incidents with the same person, the resident menace at Alain Locke Middle, Tariq Molten. During this three-day span, the young men visit each other’s homes and chop it up on a variety of subjects including respect of self and Black women, the dire state of hip-hop music, the use of the dreaded N word, and masculinity. Before long, the three boys are on a collision course.


130+ Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences

acramento Black Book Festival - June 2-3, 2017Sacramento Black Book Festival – June 2-3, 2017

The Fourth Annual Sacramento Black Book Fair will feature more than seventy authors of African descent, showcasing and highlighting a diverse spectrum of authors and literature, from contemporary and historical fiction, to anthologies, poetry, academic books; children’s stories and books, non-fiction to biographies, self- help, and inspirational, religious, and financial works. AALBC.com’s founder, Troy Johnson will be giving a talk on “The Corporatization of the World Wide Web and its the Impact on the Black Book Ecosystem.”

Learn more about this festival and more than130 others coming up over the next 12 months, in our events section.


Win Two Books by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Win Two Books by Kimberla Lawson RobyTo enter be one of the first 10 subscribers to answer the following two questions.

1. What is something that you really like about our newsletter or website?
2. What is something about our newsletter or website that can be can be improved?

Three winners will be randomly selected from the first 10 responses. Winners will receive Kimberla Lawson Roby latest book Copycat, and an early prepublication version (a “galley”) of Kimberla’s next book, Sin of a Woman.

The winners of this prize have already been selected. To learn about future prizes visit our contest page.


When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery.”

Who said this? Visit this page to learn the answer. You’ll also be able to read and listen to the entire speech.


Two Terrific Ways to Promote Your Books on AALBC.com

Spring Special - Your Book on Two Popular Pages Until June 21, 2017 – Only $89Spring Special – Your Book on Two Popular Pages Until June 21, 2017 – Only $89

Your book will appear on AALBC.com’s Homepage and the Book’s Main Page for the entire spring, now through midnight June 21, 2017.

Place Your Horizontal Ad Banner on Every AALBC.com Page for as Little as 50 Cents per Day!

Place Your Horizontal Ad Banner on Every AALBC.com Page for as Little as 50 Cents per Day!

728X90 Ad Banners are displayed at the top and bottom of every AALBC.com page and are seen by 1,000s of visitors daily. Select the banner placement (top of page or bottom) and the number of days you’d like the campaign to run.

Get your book noticed by avid readers today!


Dear Reader,

Troy Johnson Head shotIn the first 18 years of running AALBC.com, I’ve profiled more than 900 authors. In the past year alone, I’ve added profiles of 2,000 more authors—that’s an increase from 1 new author profile per week to 1 new profile every 5 hours!

Not only has the number of authors increased, but the quality of their presentation has improved dramatically as well. Each of the author’s books has its own page. If the book has won an award, is on a bookclub’s reading list, or is reviewed there are links to pages with more details on all of that information. Ta-Nehisi Coates book, Between The World And Me, is a good example.

Each individual book’s buy links are customized to get readers the best deal—even if it means sending them to another bookseller. Consider Misty Copeland’s new book, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You; autographed copies are available from Mahogany Books, and our buy links will prominently reflect this deal as long as it is available.

For this reason, more some authors, like critically acclaimed novelist Elizabeth Nunez, use AALBC.com as their primary web presence. This is just one example of many improvements to AALBC.com.

Please know that none of this would be possible without your spiritual and financial support. So please consider paying for your newsletter subscription and continue to share any of our content, you find valuable, with others.

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


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AALBC.com eNewsletter – March 28, 2017 – Issue #243

Huria Search supports web independence

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.


Related Articles:

 

Why Black Owned Websites Fail

A few days ago a friend came across an article in, WhereItzAt Magazine. In the magazine was an article, “In defense of Black Bookstores,” addressed the loss of Black bookstores and why it mattered.  This is an issue I’ve covered extensively.  Indeed, I have published a directory of Black owned bookstores for as long as I have run this site.  My current coverage of Black owned bookstores is probably the most extensive coverage available on the web today.  So it goes without saying that I applaud WhereItzAt Magazine’s coverage of this important issue.

My friend took a photo of the article (shown below) and shared it with me, because AALBC.com’s website was mentioned as a resource where one msy find a list of Black owned bookstores.

Of course I was interested in sharing this article, but I decided to look for an online version which would make it possible for others to more easily read.  I found the article but noticed that the online version did not mention AALBC.com at all?!

(Editors Note: I originally linked to the article, but I had to remove the link because the page was removed.  When sites remove pages without providing redirects this hurts sites that link to them which also discourages linking because broken links hurt a site’s SEO.)

This just struck me as simply dumb.  Why would the website not mention and link to an online resource  to help readers discover the remaining Black owned bookstores—the very thing the article is purporting to support?  They were obviously aware of the resource; why would they decide to exclude it on the online version of their article?

I still shared the article, because the subject is important.  In fact, I even added WhereItzAt Magazine. to my listing of Black owned magazines.  I also added their website to my Huria Search engine which allows people to search Black owned websites exclusively.

Now, while I’m using WhereItzAt Magazine as an example they are the norm—and this is our biggest problem. Stated plainly, Black websites do not link to each other.

To illustrate this point, lets run a Huria Search on “aalbc.”  Again Huria Search’s only goal is to elevate Black websites by making their content easier to find.  In fact, the websites I own, including AALBC.com, are not included in the hundreds of sites that are indexed in Huria Search.

If you examine, the top results you will see that most are two years older or more.  There are none from the largest Black websites.  The one search result from a top Black website was Black Enterprise Magazine, where they credited AALBC.com for an image that they copied from my website.  Even here Black Enterprise they did not actually link back to the the AALBC.com page where they grabbed the image (looking at the page today, Black Enterprise even removed that reference).

You’ll also see from that query that there are 13,000 results.  Which may give you the impression that there are many links back to AALBC.com—and there, but they tend to be older links.  The problem I’m describing is relatively new.

When the web first started Black-owned websites were very likely to link to other sites. We all recognized that by helping visitors discover other interesting websites, that added value to our own websites.  In fact, before search, this was the primary way we discovered other Black websites.  This is why I continue to link to other websites and may be the reason I’ve been able to keep this website viable for 18 years

What changed?

Well some webmasters have been convinced that linking to other websites hurts their website: Some feel linking to other websites encourages people to leave their website. Others feel by linking to a potentially lower “quality” websites, hurts their website in terms of search engine optimization (SEO).  Of course there is the problem of the site they link to removing the page in the future, creating a broken link on their website, which is bad for SEO and the experience of their visitors.

But all of these reasons can be addressed—particularly by webmasters interested in the health and vibrancy of the Black web.  Relying on social media, or search, to elevate our sites and make them discoverable, is simply not working.

To compound this problem, when webmasters started linking to other websites, they began linking aggressively to social media websites. The result is that collectively we are uplifting social media and marginalizing our own websites.

This problem is further exacerbated by Google (who handles the majority of searches), whose search algorithm looks at our behavior, of linking to social media and not linking to Black websites, and makes the reasonable conclusion to elevate social media over Black websites in search engine results.

All of this has had disastrous results on the ability of websites to generate traffic and survive.  As a result, the web is far less rich—particularly as it relates to content generated by and for Black people.  We have lost some terrific website and potentially great ones are discouraged from even starting because of the difficulty of attracting visitors.

If you have read this far, I suspect this article has resonated with you.  If so, there is something you can do: Take every opportunity you have to link to another website.  You don’t need to have a website or blog to do this.  You can link to and share links to websites from your social media sites—a hyperlink to a website is much better for a website, than tagging or liking that website on a social media platform.  If you read an article which has a place for comments, and feel another website offers a related resource, link to that website in the article’s comments section.

Of course if you appreciated this article share it by linking to it or using the social media icons shown.

Footnote:
Immediately after publishing this article, I connected with the publisher of WhereItzAt Magazine; not only will they update their “In defense of Black Bookstores,” article to add a link to our bookstore database.  They have also expressed an interest in collaborating.

I’m pleased WhereItzAt Magazine received the article as intended.  I also look forward to working with them in a more constructive, and mutually beneficial, fashion.  As a result, you the reader, will be much better served.