Tag Archives: review

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.

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Bestselling Books for November/December 2015

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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

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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.


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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.


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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. ”


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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

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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

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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


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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


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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

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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

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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

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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


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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.


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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?


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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

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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.


Events

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.
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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.


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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.


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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.

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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,

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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

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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.

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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.

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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.

Notes:

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.)

 

Great Books, Events, Films & More – October 2015 eNewsletter

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AALBC.com’s Best Selling Books — July/August 2015news-childrens-bestsellers

We just published our ten best selling fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books for the period July 1 through August 31st. The photo above highlights eight of the top selling children’s books on AALBC.com. We are substantially increasing our commitment to children’s literature.

As part of this goal, we are compiling a list of The 100 Most Important African-American Children’s Books. If you would like to suggest books for our list, please visit our blog and share the books you would like to be considered for inclusion.


Book Reviews & Recommendations

Nonfiction

The Face That Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson — Book ReviewThe Face That Changed It All: A Memoir by Beverly Johnson — Book Review

Beverly was signed by the Ford agency which, in turn, led to her meteoric transformation into the first black supermodel. Her face would eventually grace the cover of over 500 magazines, including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Elle, Essence, Ebony and Harper’s Bazaar, to name a few. By 1975, she’d paved the way for models of every hue, inspiring editors and fashion designers to adopt colorblind hiring practices.

The Face That Changed It All (Atria Books, August 25, 2015) is a touching, warts-and-all autobiography in which Beverly recounts not only her considerable professional achievements but also reveals the litany of challenges she’s had to surmount in her personal life. Of topical interest, undoubtedly, is the chapter devoted to Bill Cosby, since Beverly was the most famous female and the first African-American to publicly accuse him of drugging and assaulting her with intent to rape. More


Rock the Boat: How to Use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Your Relationship — Book Review
Rock the Boat: How to Use Conflict to Heal and Deepen Your Relationship — Book Review

I’ve refrained from reviewing relationship books lately, basically because there’s been such a profusion of self-professed love gurus hawking lighthearted advice ever since comedian-turned-love guru Steve Harvey not only published Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, but turned the runaway best-seller into a hit movie, too. However, I’ve decided to make an exception for this relatively-sobering opus by Resma Menakem, a licensed therapist you might recognize from his appearances on Oprah, Dr. Phil and elsewhere.

Resma is a licensed clinical social worker whose approach to counseling encourages couples to confront rather than smooth over their differences. In Rock the Boat (Hazelden Publishing, April 28, 2015), a how-to handbook delineating his professional philosophy, the author starts with the thesis that marriage is never the happily-ever-after fairy tale suggested by the end of every romantic romp you see in the movies. More


African-American Philosophers: 17 ConversationsAfrican-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations

Originally published by Routledge in 1998; I’m finding African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations to be a fascinating insight into the minds of some of America’s great philosophers. The brilliant thinkers include; Anita L. Allen, Robert E. Birt, Bernard R. Boxhill, Joyce Mitchell Cook, Angela Y. Davis, Lewis R. Gordon, Leonard Harris, Joy Ann James, Tommy L. Lott, Hoard McGary, Jr., Michele M. Moody-Adams, Albert Mosley, Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr., Adrian M. S. Piper, Laurence Thomas, Cornell West, Naomi Zack.

I started reading this book in reaction to a conversation on our discussion forum, “Who has filled the intellectual void after James Baldwin?,” which I initiated in reaction to Toni Morrison blurb for Ta-Nehisi Coates new book, the Power List and AALBC.com best seller, Between the World and Me ; “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died…clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.”


Children’s Books

news-one-million-men-and-meOne Million Men & Me for the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March Written By Kelly Starling Lyons, Illustrated by Peter Ambush

Lyons relates the events of the 1995 Million Man March as told from the point of view of a girl who accompanies her father to Washington, DC, for the historic gathering. She begins, My cousin, Omari, said no girls were allowed. But Daddy took me.

…The description of the faces as a rainbow of chocolate, graham cracker brown and cream is accompanied by a spread depicting men of different ages, dress styles, and color, but their expressions of pride and hope are the same. Ambush successfully varies the illustrations to include both warm close-ups of father and daughter and wider views of the speakers she sees while sitting on her dad’s shoulders. An author’s note includes additional historical facts about the march. —School Library Journal. (Just Us Books, Oct 15, 2014)


news-poems-in-the-atticPoems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

During a visit to her grandma’s house, a young girl discovers a box of poems in the attic, poems written by her mother when she was growing up. Her mother’s family often moved around the United States and the world because her father was in the Air Force. Over the years, her mother used poetry to record her experiences in the many places the family lived. Reading the poems and sharing those experiences through her mother’s eyes, the young girl feels closer to her mother than ever before.

To let her mother know this, she creates a gift: a book with her own poems and copies of her mother’s. And when she returns her mother’s poems to the box in the attic, she leaves her own poems too, for someone else to find, someday. Using free verse for the young girl’s poems and tanka for her mother’s, master poet Nikki Grimes creates a tender intergenerational story that speaks to every child’s need to hold onto special memories of home, no matter where that place might be (Lee & Low Books, May 15, 2015).


news-mixed-meMixed Me! — Book Review

A few years ago, actor Taye Diggs and artist Shane Evans collaborated on Chocolate Me (see it on the new AALBC.com website), a children’s book about a little boy who was teased by his friends about having skin the color of dirt and hair that made him look like he was scared. That illustrated best-seller received critical acclaim for its sensitive treatment of the emotional impact of taunting on the young mind of an impressionable black child.

Now, Taye and Shane are back on behalf of biracial and any other kids of mixed ancestry with a story highlighting Mike’s struggle to fit in. A medium-complexioned boy with a ginormous orange afro, he’s being bullied at school by classmates who called him “Mixed-Up Mike.” They also make fun of the fact that his parents supposedly don’t match, since one is much darker-skinned than the other (Feiwel & Friends, October 6, 2015).
Fiction


 

news-rhythm-of-the-august-rainThe Rhythm of August the Rain by Gillian Royes

Shannon, a photojournalist on assignment for a Canadian magazine, arrives in the impoverished but beautiful fishing village of Largo Bay, Jamaica. But she’s seeking more than a tropical paradise: She wants to know why a Canadian woman named Katlyn went missing there more than three decades ago. So she calls on Shad Myers, the lovable bartender and town sleuth of Largo Bay, who hunts down clues to a woman’s mysterious disappearance in this fourth riveting novel in the Shad detective series.

As in her previous novels The Sea Grape Tree, The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks, and The Goat Woman of Largo Bay, Royes transports readers into a beautiful Caribbean setting where life is cheap, but religion is strong and one man is still trying to solve the island’s relentless questions. (Atria Books, July 28, 2015)


news-captin-blackmanCaptain Blackman by John A. Williams

Named “among the most important works of fiction of the decade” by the New York Times Book Review when it was first published in 1972. Captain Blackman was republished in April, 2000, as part of Coffee House Press’s Black Arts Movement reprint series.

“Captain Blackman chronicles the fevered dreams of a black soldier’s journey through time from the American Revolution to Vietnam. Published in 1972, it was the first book of speculative fiction that I’d ever read by an African-American, and I loved its power, its history, and that it was rooted in the race’s struggle to find dignity in a country intent upon denying that dignity by all means necessary. Williams was one of the finest unsung American writers of his generation.” —Beverly Jenkins, Author


daddy-homeDaddy’s Home by Janae Marie

Janae Marie is a writer, journalist and publisher. Born in Michigan, she’s earned a Bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Media Arts and working on another as well. She’s also wrote, produced, directed and edited her own film entitled, My Mother Donna. She is also the publisher of Young Urban Voices Magazine, an online publication for young adults.

Daddy’s Home is the second novel from Janae Marie. Abandoned, raped, homeless, and molested are just a list of things Danielle Turner has endured while growing up. Being sexually abused at the age of thirteen by her alcoholic father and ignored by her mother after she witnesses the act herself forces Danielle to run away from home. She later meets smooth talker Dante Willis who promises to take care of her. What she doesn’t realize is that his promises come with hidden agendas. Danielle finds herself being coerced into prostitution and abusing drugs to earn her keep in Dante’s house.


news-akaschic-booksAnything Published by Akashic Books

“Akashic Books is a Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers.”

Akashic, publishes authors of all colors, but continues to make tremendous contributions to Black literature. Their roster of authors reads like a veritable who’s-who list of significant Black writers including, Elizabeth Nunez, Bernice L. McFadden, Nelson George, Percival Everett, Preston L. Allen, Amiri Baraka, K’wan, Shannon Holmes, Courttia Newland, Colin Channer, Persia Walker, Kwame Dawes, Chris Abani, and many more.


 

 

Events — October 2015

news-events-october
The 11th Annual Cavalcade of Authors with Brenda Jackson, Beverly Jenkins, Lutishia Lovely and more. Hosted by Naleighna Kai and J.L. Woodson — October 2-4, 2015, Chicago, IL

Literary Festival of Charlotte Formerly the Charlotte Book Fair started in 2011 — October 3, 2015, Charlotte, NC (Postponed due to heavy rains and winds)

11th Annual African American Literary Awards Show Organized by Yvette Hayward the event’s goal is to recognize the accomplishments of African American authors and industry professionals. — October 3, 2015, New York, NY

The 2015 Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend — A two-day literary conference for authors and readers — October 16-17, 2015, Bowie, MD

National Black Book Festival 2015 Journalist Roland Martin, nationally-renowned model Beverly Johnson and New York Times best-selling author Lalita Tademy will headline. — October 23-24, 2015, Houston, TX

14th Annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards Ceremony Mistress of Ceremonies, S.Epatha Merkerson; with Special Guests Nikky Finney and Yusef Komunyakaa; and Edwidge Danticat, Recipient of the 2015 North Star Award — October 23, 2015, Washington, DC

2nd Annual Independent Authors Book Expo Independent Authors Book Expo is a free event open to the public where independent authors, poets, publishers and writers can promote their work. — October 24, 2015, Elizabeth, NJ


Film Reviews

news-the-black-pathersThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Film Review

…The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (In Theaters: Sep 2, 2015), a warts-and-all documentary directed by Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders). The film is fascinating not only because of its copious archival footage, but on account of the many revelations exposing the dark underbelly of an outfit often given a pass in spite of myriad flaws in terms of misogyny and machismo. More

David Hilliard the executive director of The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, founding member of the Black Panther Party, and chief of staff of the Party during the time Huey and Bobby Seale were incarcerated says, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is not the story of the BPP, like many other academic and mainstream media interpretations of the Black Panther Party it is an inaccurate, external description of the BPP and it’s legacy.” More ▶


news-warroomWar Room — Film Review

In 2011, Pastor Alex Kendrick produced, directed, wrote and starred in Courageous, a very compelling, action-oriented, faith-based drama. With War Room (In Theaters: Aug 28, 2015), he’s opted to play only a supporting role in the flick, thereby freeing himself to focus more on his duties behind the camera.

The film revolves around protagonists Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) and Tony Jordan (T.C. Stallings), a couple we meet already in the midst of a relationship crisis. Most of their marital woes are of the husband’s making, as he is a workaholic who’s emotionally and physically unavailable to his wife and their young daughter, Danielle (Alena Pitts). More


news-malalaHe Named Me Malala — Film Review

Initially, she blamed her dad for her plight, since he was the one who’d cultivated her activist streak. “I am a child,” she said, “You are my father. You should have stopped me. What happened to me is because of you.”

But eventually her health was substantially restored, and she became a stoic and serene symbol of resistance to radical Islam. With continued death threats hanging over their heads, the Yousafzai family (including Malalal’s mom and two younger brothers) was forced to resettle in England where she would become a champion of oppressed females all over the planet (In Theaters: Oct 2, 2015). More


Related Articles & News

news-black-panther-comicTa-Nehisi Coates to Write the New Black Panther Comic for Marvel

Created in 1966, Black Panther, who is from the fictional African country of Wakanda, is the first Black superhero.

Ta-Nehisi Coates the; #1 Power List bestselling author; AALBC.com bestselling author; #1 NY Times bestselling Author; 2015 National Book Award Winning Author (AALBC.com prediction); and heir apparent to Jimmy Baldwin; will write the new Black Panther comic for Marvel! Coates definitely has “the juice” right about now.


news-bloggers-helpHow Bloggers Can Help Each Other

In 2011, I created a website, Huria Search, to showcase and highlight the websites of Black content providers including, magazines, newspapers, major websites, bookstores, and most recently bloggers.

I completely understand the difficulty bloggers, especially those just starting out, face attracting readers. Many excellent writers no longer maintain blogs, as they are unable to attract readers or generate revenue. Without the contributions of these writers, the World Wide Web does not reflect the richness of our culture and is a less interesting place.

Some bloggers are migrating to Facebook, but the creativity and unique design of a blog is simply impossible to replicate on a Facebook page. In addition, Facebook is solely revenue driven, so if your writing is not designed to engage the maximum number of people—good luck getting it seen by other readers, without paid promotion, no matter how substantive, creative or important it is. Of course there are also the issues of ownership, revenue, privacy, and control to consider on Facebook.

This was not always the case; the web started to become more challenging for independent entities about a decade ago. We can—indeed must— do more to support each other, otherwise our online platforms will continue to grow weaker and the power of the web will coalesce into the hands a few powerful corporations, and this does not serve any of us.

So visit a blog, comment on an article, share articles with others. If you need help finding a blog you’ll like, visit the Blog section of Huria Search.


Troy Johnson, AALBC.com Founder and webmasterDear Reader,

If book websites, and physical stores that focus on Black literature are going to survive (there are not many left), Troy, you have to support us. This is the only way our stories will be recorded and shared widely.

The new version of AALBC.com, planned for official launch in March of 2016, will provide book buy links to independent booksellers, not just to Amazon, the way we are setup now. Sure, we will provide links to Amazon, but we are committed to ensuring independent booksellers have a chance, and will highlight links to those sites when we can.

Check out the “Buy This Book” button for Buffalo Soldiers by Robert H. Miller you will find an option to purchase this book directly from Just Us Books. Buying this book directly from Just Us Books benefits this independent publisher more than buying the book via Amazon. More profit for Just Us Books more books for us in the future.

As always, remember to help us support for the writers and institutions we cover, with your paid subscription to our newsletter.

Peace & Love,
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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
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AALBC.com eNewsletter – September 29, 2015 – Issue #228

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