Tag Archives: review

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

30+ Must Read Books – Something for Everyone

Our January 2016 eNewsletter was sponsored by author Russell A. Mabane.  Learn how you may sponsor an AALBC.com eNewsletter.


Bestselling Books for November/December 2015

Our bestsellers list has been published continuously since 1998. For several years we have published this list every two months, but the new website design allows us to publish our bestsellers list on a monthly basis—with greater ease. We are happy to have recently introduced a bestsellers list for children’s books, which was something our readers frequently requested. We are also in the process of creating, for the first time, our all-time bestselling books list. We still have more than 10 years of sales data to add, but you can monitor the progress of AALBC.com’s all-time bestselling books list.

Authors You Should Know

Jason Reynolds

Jason knows there are a lot—A LOT—of people, young, old, and in-between, who hate reading. He knows that many o f these book haters are boys. He also knows that many of these book-hating boys, don’t actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys, first of all, you’re reading this Jason’s master plan is already working (muahahahahahaha) and second of all, know that Jason totally feels you. He REALLY does. Because even though he’s a writer, he hates reading boring books too.

So here’s what he plans to do: NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS.

Reynolds is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing For Young People MFA Program, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

T. Geronimo Johnson

Born and raised in New Orleans, Johnson is the bestselling author of Welcome to Braggsville, (longlisted for a National Book Award) and Hold It ‘Til It Hurts, a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. He received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in language, literacy, and culture from UC Berkeley

Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville (Penguin Books, Feb 17, 2015) is the winner of the 2015 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

Fabienne Josaphat

Fabienne Josaphat received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida International University. Her short stories have appeared in various journals and magazines, including The Caribbean Writer and MiamiZine.

Here’s what Edwidge Danticat says about Josaphat debut novel, “Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow takes us to hell and back, inside one of the most brutal prisons run by one of the world’s most ruthless dictators. Fabienne Josaphat impressively brings to life a horrible period as well as the men and women who fought against it. Filled with life, suspense, and humor, this powerful first novel is an irresistible read about the nature of good and evil, terror and injustice, and ultimately triumph and love. ”

Carole Boston Weatherford

The daughter of educators, award-winning poet Carole began writing in first grade. Today she is the author of numerous books, including the Carter G. Woodson award winning title, The Sound That Jazz Makes and most recently, Dear Mr. Rosenwald. Her writing covers such topics as jazz and photography, as well as the slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow eras. When she’s not traveling or visiting museums, Carole is mining the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles. Coming from a family of educators, she has a passion for rescuing events and figures from obscurity by documenting American history.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Glaude is the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies and the chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2002 Modern Language Association William Sanders Scarborough Prize for his book Exodus! Glaude is on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, African American National Biography, and Contemporary Pragmatism. Professor Glaude’s work also includes African American Religious Thought: An Anthology (2004) coedited with Cornel West.

Marla Washington, PhD

Washington holds a doctorate degree in sociology. She is an expert on the subject matter of daddyless daughters. As a sociologist who grew up fatherless, she spent almost two decades charting her own dating experiences and collecting stories from other women. Dr. Washington realized they had the same common denominator, that is, they were all dating without any advice of a daddy or father figure.

In Dr. Washington’s book, Dating Without A Daddy: A Guide For Fatherless Women Looking For Love, she offers a unique perspective as to why some women find themselves in unhealthy romantic relationships.

Shirley Perry-Church

Perry-Church is a devoted wife, proud parent, educator, author, and artist who dreamed about becoming a writer since she was a young girl. She is very excited to present to her parent and youth audience her first book, The Hunt for the Magic Pearl.

The goal of writing The Hunt for the Magic Pearl came as a result of teaching challenged 14 to 16 year old youths who were experiencing persistent difficulties in all levels of reading and writing. Perry-Church wanted to create fun, entertaining, and informative books that would spark imagination and creativity in youth who had often said to her, “Mrs. Church, I hate to read.”

Coretta Scott King Award Winning and Honored Books for 2016


On January 11, 2016 the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books, video, and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Boston.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

Book Reviews

For the Sake of Soul by Frederick K. Foote, Jr.

Sometimes short fiction can be a daunting task for the writer, especially when he decides to confront the challenges of plot, characterization, dialogue, and candor. Frederick K. Foote, a professor at California Community colleges and a traditional Black college in South Carolina, realizes this fact as he mines the details of his life for the printed page in his skillful short story collection, For The Sake Of Soul (Blue Nile Press, Oct 23, 2015). He knows his material well. He has lived it, so he understands if the reader can embrace his impressive imagination, then the tales of his ordinary men and women will grip his soul.

Comparisons to his work will be made to such stellar authors as Ernest Gaines, William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, Erskine Caldwell, and Robert Stone because of Foote’s effective use of time and place. He drops his people into the locales of the American South, central California, Vietnam in one of the significant time periods of the 1960s and 1970s. His vision is deceptively simple and authentic, and the overall effect is powerful. More

The Summer of my Fifteenth Year by Geri Spencer Hunter

There are so many gems to be discovered in independent publishing. Every now and then, you come across the book that makes your mind sit up and take notice. If a writer wants to put his or her focus on a loathsome cultural issue that society would love to be shoved under the run, the editors of the established publishing world usually step over it and look elsewhere. This book’s author, Geri Spencer Hunter, a retired Public Health nurse and a great-grandmother, has written a gem and it should have published by one of the big reputable houses.

Why is incest so despicable? Why is it about this abhorrent form of sex that makes people cringe? In Hunter’s second novel, The Summer Of My Fifteenth Year (Blue Nile Press, Jun 5, 2015), she concentrates on the Netters, a wealthy Black family in a small Iowa town during the 1930s, and the return of the favored son, Charleston Epstein Netter. At present, Etta, now eighty-six, is recounting that summer that changed her life and shattered the calm of her family with a scandal that would sink most households. She sits in her favorite chair on the porch where she was born, telling her story into a tape recorder. More

Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters by Jill Marie Snyder

Dear Mary, Dear Luther: A Courtship in Letters (AuthorHouse, Mar 5, 2015) is an epistolary love story of a 1930s courtship between Mary Brooks and Luther Snyder, the author’s parents. Their letters, which span from 1937 to 1940 tell not only their love story but they are also an insightful look at American and African American history.

Mary and Luther met in 1935 at a wedding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “After that first meeting, my father would frequently visit his aunt for a few minutes, then wander over to my mother’s front porch to spend hours chatting with her and her sister Sara. At first, they weren’t sure which sister was the attraction, but over time it became clear it was Mary.” More

Great Books Coming Out Soon

If you are looking for a preview of great reads coming soon, check out our list of soon to be released books. You find a curated list of books that will be published in the next few months. You will discover new books from established authors, as well as terrific reads from debut authors.

If you are looking for a new book that you can read today, you may use our list of books published in the last two months. As with our soon to be released list of books, this is a hand picked list of books across genres that have been recommended by industry professionals, book clubs, booksellers and avid readers.

A Great Deal to Promote Your Book

The Large Book Cover Advertisement Includes a Free Author Profile!

1. Free Author Profile
2. Large Book Cover Ads (or customized advertising banner ads) run on virtually all our web pages
3. Large Book Covers are very prominent on the page
4. Up to 2 Large Book Cover Ads may rotate in one of three available positions
5. Campaigns may start on any date and end at midnight 32 full days later.

The large book cover ad will be a key advertising unit on AALBC.com going forward. These ads perform very well. Bang for buck, you are unlikely to find a better way to reach readers of Black literature. Read this article to learn more about the large book cover ad type, and advertising in general.

Related Articles & News

Ten Steps to Promote Diversity in Children‘s Literature

In October The New York Times released their list of the “Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015.” They failed to include a single Black illustrator.

Just this month, Scholastic Press, published, defended, then ultimately pulled, due to public outrage, the racially insensitive children’s book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington.

Wade Hudson, president and CEO of Just Us Books, an independent publisher of children’s books has some solutions. Hudson has given us ten ways we can help increase the number of quality children’s books that celebrate diversity, and how we can support the diverse books already available, This is sage advice needed during a time when our culture is, at best, marginalized and, at worse, under assault. More

Our Future is Cyberspace

“With the introduction of cyberspace, younger writers have the ability to reach audiences unheard of during the sixties when African American writers produced broadsides and saddle-stitched chapbooks. As access to cyberspace becomes less expensive, more voices will be heard and this period, the most prolific in the history of African American Literature, will rise to worldwide prominence, no longer having to obey the tastes of the outsiders in power or the dictates of the establishment-manufactured Talented Tenth.” —Ishmael Reed (Black Issues Book Review; November-December 1999)

After reading this again, over 16 years, later I couldn’t help but think that this vision has yet to be realized. I believe we have the potential—I’ve bet my future on it. However we have a long way to go, even to make up for the reversals over the last 10 years. I still miss Black Issues Book Review magazine.

Why Black Owned Websites Fail

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. Read the rest of the article to find out what changed?

Please take a few seconds to subscribe to AALBC.com’s YouTube channel. This won’t cost you anything; I need to add an additional 220 subscribers to enable paid content on our YouTube channel. Thanks!

Book Clubs Lead The Way

Literary Ladies Book Club (New Jersey)

Book clubs are a powerful force in the Black Book Ecosystem. With the loss of bookstores and media coverage, book clubs are increasingly a significant, if not the primary supporter, an author’s work.

AALBC.com will try to serve as a “book club of book clubs,” by providing a platfrom for clubs to, share information and ideas with other clubs, recruit members, leverage our collective buying power, and more.

Readers who are not members of a book club will benefit too. We can attend book club sponsored events like, The Literary Lounge, hosted by the Literary Ladies (pictured above). We can also benefit by reviewing the books clubs have selected for their reading lists (they don’t just read any ole book). In fact I discovered Mat Johnson’s latest novel on the Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society, from Austin, TX, reading list.


By the time the February eNewsletter is published, I hope to have completed the upgrade of the Events section of our website. I will not only include major festival and fairs, but authors signings and more. If you are hosting an event, and want it included on AALBC.com, just visit our African American Literature Discussion Forum and post your event’s details there. I will add it to our events section.
The National Writers Union’s Fifth Annual New York Conference – February 13, 2016 – New York, NY

I will be giving a presentation on publicizing your books.

The National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) is the only labor union representing writers in every genre. With chapters across the nation, the NWU works to advance economic and working conditions of writers – lobbying for legislation, initiating lawsuits, educating writers on their rights, networking, organizing picket lines, publicizing viable alternatives to unfair practices by both the traditional and Internet publishers, and by mobilizing members to fight for their collective self‐interest.

13th National Black Writers Conference Thursday, March 31 – Sunday, April 3, 2015 – Brooklyn, NY

Honorary Chair: Rita Dove, Former Poet Laureate of The U.S. 2016 Honorees: Edwidge Danticat, Woodie King Jr., Michael Eric Dyson & Charles Johnson

AALBC.com will host a seminar on book publishing, covering editorial, production, marketing, and more. Additional updates are coming soon.

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! AALBC.com’s website upgrade continues to progressing nicely—but it is killing me LOL!

I appreciate all of the feedback that you have provided. It will all contribute to making our website world class. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section of any page or simply email me at troy@aalbc.com.

Please link to AALBC.com from your website and share any content you find valueable on social media platforms, via word of mouth, or in any fashion that makes sense to you.

Most importantly, please consider purchasing, or renewing, your paid subscription to this eNewsletter.  The ability of AALBC.com to thrive, or die, is literarlly up to you Troy. Your support is needed.

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,

Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


Serious Problems With Facebook Promotion

Writers, if you are using Facebook to promote your work—especially paid promotion— invest 30 minutes of your time to watch these two videos, and read the article.  It will probably change the way you think about Facebook and save you some time, energy, and money.


AALBC.com’s Last 3 Million Visitors

As a content publisher, marketing is part of the job.  As an independent publisher, with limited resources, it is critical I use my resources wisely.  My website’s analytics is an important tool for me. Below is a Google Analytics report which shows the source of AALBC.com’s last 3 million visitors.   last-3000000-visitors

Organic Search Brings AALBC.com 75% of Our Visitors

Ranking high on Google and Bing’s search engine results contributed to bringing AALBC.com more than 75% of our last 3 million visitors.

Creating high quality content, results in higher rankings in search engine results¹. The creation of high quality content is perfectly aligned with AALBC.com’s goal.  No writer or content producer could reasonably argue against a system where the creation of higher quality content results in more visitors.  Visitors, of course, are a primary driver of revenue for a website.

Direct Traffic is Not Too Shabby Either at 13%

The source of our direct traffic is trickier to nail down precisely, but it does result from visitors who come to AALBC.com, by clicking a link on my emailed newsletter, through a bookmarked page, typing an AALBC.com page directly into the browser, and any instance where referral data is not passed².

With all the hype surrounding social media, and Facebook in particular, many writers are ignoring time tested marketing techniques, like a solid mailing list.  Our mailing list has just under 11,000 subscribers, and 100% of them have opened an email within the last 6 months (we actively remove subscribers who haven’t).  Open rates for a typical mailing is at least 20%. This means every mailing will be opened by at least 2,000 readers.  In addition, many of our subscribers are generous enough to be paid subscribers. We also send a mailing, once a month, that is sponsored.  Not only is our eNewsletter an effective way to reach our audience, it is a revenue generator.

Approximately 90% of our traffic is generated directly and through organic search.  The remaining 10% comes from other websites including social media.

Facebook Brings AALBC.com 1% of Our Visitors

It is interesting to note that Wikipedia and Rottentomatoes (RT, a film review aggregator website) sends us just about as many visitors as Facebook.

Publishers have the ability to post links back to their websites on related Wikipedia articles. In general this practice is considered “promotion” and is purportedly against Wikipedia’s guidelines.  Despite that, I’ve followed the lead of major corporations and posted links back to related AALBC.com content.  As the report shows the tactic works as well as engaging on Facebook, but with a fraction of the effort.

Side Bar: I actually stopped posting on Wikipedia over a year ago; the last straw was a battle I had with one of Wikipedia’s editors who seemed hell bent on promoting Zane’s tax liabilities and marginalizing her numerous achievements.

I post interesting AALBC.com content on Facebook almost every day (I’ve shared this article on Facebook too). Again, Wikipedia, where I have not posted a thing in over a year and is free, drives as much traffic as Facebook where I post almost every day and have paid for promotion.

If I add Facebook mobile, Facebook made up just 1.3% of my overall traffic (40K of 3M+ visitors). Of course it is better to have those visitors than not, right?  Well that depends on the effort it takes to get those visitors, and what those visitors do when they visit AALBC.com.

Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach³

Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach

One major problem with Facebook is that the quality of your content is of little significance. Facebook controls who sees your content. Search engines control who sees your content too, but search engines are motivated, and rewarded, by giving visitors quality search results.  Facebook, on the other hand, is motivated by maximizing their revenue and engagement on their website.

I have watched AALBC.com’s Facebook page “likes” quadruple over the last couple of years, while organic (free) post engagement has dropped substantially.  This is Facebook’s way to create an incentive for marketers to pay for post promotion.  I have experimented with paying for post promotion, but I have yet to reach the level of engagement I enjoyed organically, a few years ago, with far fewer fans.


AALBC.com Last (and Final) Promoted Post Statistics

Despite having more than 20,000 fans and almost 5,000 friends, I reach less than 300 people organically with a typical post.  If I spend $7, I can increase this to 2,000.  But still, this is less than 10% of my fan base and I have to pay to reach them.

Keep in mind this is an audience that I built through my efforts of actively engaging with people on Facebook.

Again, I used to achieve this level of reach without having to pay for it. But those days are over as Facebook has made it clear that organic reach is a thing of the past³ .

And of course all of this assumes you can trust the data the information being provided to you from Facebook.  As the videos above assert there is a lot of click fraud occurring on Facebook.  Are the 2,310 people I paid to see my ad real?  Are the 19 who clicked the link real?  If you ask me, I’d say, “no.”

Take a look at a report (below) which shows the “people” who clicked on my Facebook advertisement. The ad ran for 7 days, from October 1 to October 7, 2015. You will see that the Avg. Session Duration is 00:00:00—this is ZERO time spent on the website!  Whatever clicked the link on my Facebook advertisement didn’t even wait for the page to load.  Needless to say, my content could not have possibly been read, nor could a book purchase have taken place.

The average session time for my websites is measured, not in seconds, but minutes.  A zero second session time is absurd.  Even someone visiting a page by mistake, will take second or two before realizing it, and leaving the page.


Sadly, there is no shortage of social media marketing “experts” who promise to help you maximize the effectiveness your advertising campaigns on Facebook.

Few of us are sophisticated enough to evaluate the effectiveness of these experts or the effectiveness of a Facebook advertising, particularly when the data supplied by Facebook is suspect.  Indeed, many social media marketers would claim, “We got you 2,310 views for only $7.” When in reality, what I got, in this case, was ripped off.

Someone looking at this report may notice that all of the Facebook referrals came from mobile users (m.faceboo.com/) and claim, well Troy your website, AALBC.com, is not optimized for mobile displays.  That is true, but the page I was advertising is optimized for mobile displays.  In fact the link is to a newly redesigned version of AALBC.com which will be officially rolled out in early 2016.

For writers and other content producers managing their own websites, with limited resources, adding the additional effort of maintaining a Facebook page comes at the expense of maintaining and publishing content on your own website.  A compromise that few of us can really afford to make.  That $7, I wasted with Facebook, could have gone toward paying a writer for content that a reader visiting my website would enjoy, and that another website link to.

Why would I continue to take precious resources away from the production of quality content on AALBC.com, which is responsible for 90% of our visitors, and generates revenue, and redirect those resources to Facebook, who we have to pay, to bring of 1% of our visitors, many of whom are probably fraudulent?

On top of that, by promoting posts (a form of advertising on Facebook), I’m literally paying Facebook to provide them with free content.  Continuing to do this defies all reason and logic, so I have stopped.

As mentioned in the first video above, the YouTube social network pays content producers for publishing videos on their platform.  This is the way it is supposed to work. Facebook should be paying us for publishing content on their websites.

Independent Websites Send More Visitors to AALBC.com Than All of Social Media

otherwebsites-linking-to-aalbcIf you were able to scan further down the list of the sources of AALBC.com last 3 million visitors, you would to see the impact of other websites.  If all of the visitors, from hundreds of others sites, that link to AALBC.com were added together they easily exceed all of social media referrals—not just Facebook!  Here is a google search showing other sites with links to AALBC.com, excluding Facebook and Twitter.

Individually, none of these sites (see a short sample listing on the right) are sending as much traffic to AALBC.com, as Facebook, but collectively they send much more—and therein lies our potential.  We just need to recognize the power we have and use it.

Often, the only effort on my part, to get another website to link to AALBC.com, is to publish content that the website’s owner feels is valuable enough to link to.  AALBC.com links to thousands of other websites; rarely do we publish a document that does not link to another website.  Sites linking to each other naturally (organically) is the true nature of the World Wide Web.

Another strategy get referral traffic from other websites is to engage on their discussion forums or comment on their articles.  To be clear, I’m not saying spam the comments section of websites with unrelated promotional material. What I am saying is look for articles related to what you may have written and comment in a meaningful or helpful way. A properly curated and managed site, welcomes this type of interaction.

There are websites however that don’t recognize our collective strength and actively avoid linking to other websites. Once I ran into a problem with Ebony Magazine, posting in their comments, and got my feeling hurt 😉  But websites that react the way Ebony are exceptions and definitely not the rule.

AALBC.com has operated a discussion forum for over 15 years. Authors are encouraged to post information about their books  and engage with readers. However, author have turned to my Facebook page instead of using my website.  I’m seriously considering removing the Facebook page as it is cannibalizing visitors to AALBC.com.

Posting information about one’s books on related Facebook pages or another user’s wall is a strategy many use.  This has resulted in many groups degenerating into a places where writers make “drive by posts,” sharing content from their own pages without even visiting the groups that they are posting to.

Even if many people engage with your content on Facebook, this serves to highlight Facebook’s site, not yours.  A very small fraction of people will actually leave Facebook—and why should they if you are constantly posting on Facebook.

Unfortunately, a Facebook page is becoming the ONLY web presence for many writers and even businesses—they don’t maintain a website at all.  Even a simple website is far more feature rich than a Facebook page can be.  If we factored in Facebook’s invasion of our privacy, selling our personal data, and controlling access to updates; the choice between a Facebook page and a website should be a no-brainer.

If this trend continues the world wide web will be a far less rich place as folks migrate from maintaining websites to creating Facebook pages. Profits generated on the web will be concentrated at the top, greatly reducing the potential for independent websites to grow and for new ones to get started.

For a content producer having a Facebook page as your only web presence is a mistake. Because you are limiting your audience, not just to Facebook users, but to the Facebook users (real or otherwise) you pay Facebook to show it to.

Many writers will tell readers to “follow me on Facebook” and fail to mention their own website, or blog.  Some writers even put the Facebook logo on their business card and marketing material.  Even AALBC.com has Facebook icons on virtually every page.  We give no other entity, save Twitter, as much free promotion as we give Facebook.

All of this attention paid to Facebook reduces attention paid to websites.  In fact many excellent writers, have just given up blogging, or their blogs languish in obscurity, because they not getting enough visitors to make it worth the effort to maintain.  Engaging more aggressively on Facebook, to increase blog readership, is not helping.

The Facebook Game is Rigged

Some might suggest that if you are only getting 1% of your traffic from Facebook, then you must be doing something wrong.  Well you are not.  The game is simply rigged against you as I hope my reports, these videos, and perhaps your personal experience has demonstrated.

Now if Facebook was sending AALBC.com thousands of visitors, who spent time on the website, this article would not have been written.  If there were countless stories of bloggers, magazines, newspapers and writers who realized tremendous success and an increase of readership through their efforts on Facebook, this article would not be necessary.

Instead what I’m experiencing, witnessing and learning in my research is a very different story. It is also a story that is not being told, especially in the Black community.

There is Hope

AALBC.com’s time, energy and money will continue to be directed to two primary activities moving forward;

  1. Producing Quality Content
    I first started AALBC.com exactly 18 years ago today (October 10, 1997).  Providing a platform to connecting readers with books about Black culture is what attracts people to this website. Our planned website upgrade will allow us to share information on books in a way that no other website is currently doing.
  2. Advocating, Sharing , and Collaborating with Other Independent Websites
    Spread the word about websites you enjoy.  Figure out ways to collaborate with other websites.  Post comments in the comments section of those websites. If we don’t have an network of strong, independent websites working together, none of us will survive, and our only option will be a Facebook page (or a page on whatever platform has the most power at the time).

    Despite all the caution described about Facebook, we can, for now at least, make Facebook work for us, rather than the other way around, without spending a penny, by simply sharing content on the platform.

If you found this message helpful (or not), please comment below and share it with others.


¹ Of course this is a simplification.  There are other strategies one can employ to rank higher in organic search engine results, without producing high quality content.  Search engines are engaged in a constant effort to defeat those that “game” the system, to rank higher in search results, with lower quality content.  Search engines don’t always get it right, but it is a very difficult task.

² I really should take advantage of tagging URLs.  This will help me identify of the “Direct” traffic in my analytics reports. In fact, I’m also contemplating paying writers by the traffic they help generate to the website, through the use of tracked URLs.

³ In 2012, Facebook famously restricted organic reach of content published from brand pages to about 16 percent. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced it even more.  By February 2014, according to a Social@Ogilvy analysis of more than 100 brand pages, organic reach hovered at 6 percent, a decline of 49 percent from peak levels in October. (All of the detailed data, analysis and practical recommendations are in their white paper.)