Tag Archives: writer

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.)


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AALBC.com’s Bestselling Books May/June 2015news-bestsellers-may2015We’ve made two significant to the best sellers list this period. First, we’ve removed our dependence on the Amazon tool, by building our own database. This allows us to more easily create and maintain our best sellers lists. This change also facilitated our second enhancement, the introduction of a children’s best sellers list.

Authors You Should Know

new-johnaJohn A. Williams

AALBC.com mourns the passing of John Alfred Williams, author of the classic, The Man Who Cried I Am, which was on our book club’s reading list back in 1998. This is how I discovered Williams’ work. Over a decade ago, Williams took an interest in AALBC.com and supported us (read: supported me) in a number of ways. That level of support from an author of his stature is exceedingly rare. I will always remember and miss him for it. Williams passed on July 3, 2015, at the age of 89, from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Also check out a terrific article Williams wrote, for Ebony Magazine, covering the Black literary scene back in 1963, “Negro in Literature Today.”

news-claudiiaClaudia Alexander, Ph.D.,

AALBC.com also mourns the loss of Claudia Alexander, who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 56 on July 11, 2015. Alexander was a scientist on the Rosetta Project, which landed a spacecraft on a comet (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) in November of 2014. She just 56 years old.

Alexander also published her own children’s science-learning books and her alter-ego, E.L. Celeste is a lady astronomer, and captain of space-ready aerocraft to the planets and beyond. By night she re-imagines the universe. She has written a number of steampunk short stories and a full length elf-punk novel.

news-bebeBebe Moore Campbell

Campbell, who passed back in 2006, was the author of three New York Times best sellers: Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, and What You Owe Me, which was also a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2001. Her other works include the novel Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the winner of the NAACP Image Award for literature. Campbell’s titles frequently made AALBC.com bestsellers lists as well.

Campbell was also spokesperson for mental illness a condition which her daughter, actress Maia Campbell, battled.

new-ursulaUrsula Rucker

Ursula Rucker is one of the premiere spoken word recording artists in the music industry today. As a poet and performance artist, Ursula has enchanted critics and fans across the globe with her diverse repertoire, captivating vocals and accessible poetic verse.

Since 1994, Ursula has shared her songwriting talent and mesmerizing voice with an array of recording artists and producers including King Britt, 4 Hero, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Josh Wink and The Roots. Each was drawn to the soft spoken eloquence and undeterred honesty which have become Ursula’s signature.

news-maritaMarita L. Kinney

Kinney is a best-selling author with over 25 books published. As a published author, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, Marita has inspired thousands of people to overcome adversity with triumph through faith and perseverance. While facing several life changing challenges herself, Marita had enough faith to conquer tribulations, coming out victorious.

She is best known for her Christian Fiction novellas and heart felt inspirational books. Loving God with her whole heart, she has vowed to live a life of transparency winning souls to Christ with the realness of her journey and the relatability of her testimony. In March of 2009 Marita published her debut book, The Unspoken Walk. Capturing the true essence of what it means to turn “lemons into lemonade”, she has taken the harsh lessons of life and developed a plan for successfully living.

Book Reviews

newbetween-the-world-and-meBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates garnered national attention a year ago when he published “A Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. Now, the progressive pundit is back with Between the World and Me an equally-incendiary assessment of the state of race relations in the United States.

The book is basically designed as an open letter from Ta-Nehisi to his 15 year-old only-child, Samori. The author fears the boy might suffer the same horrific fate as African-American youngsters like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis who were killed on a whim by white men for the “crimes” of walking home while black and listening to loud music, respectively (Spiegel & Grau, July 17, 2015, debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list).

news-stand-your-ground (1)Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas

The author opens the opus with a history lesson, tracing the source of the problem back hundreds of years to the birth of “Exceptionalism” in Anglo-Saxon England. Reserved for whites, that notion enabled Caucasians to adopt the concept of “Manifest Destiny” that led to the extermination of Native Americans (relying on the rallying cry “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”) and to the wholesale subjugation of Africans as property.

She sees today’s Stand Your Ground law as a logical extension of the supremacist philosophy that sustained slavery, Jim Crow segregation, lynching and other institutionalized forms of color-coded oppression. Apparently, part and parcel of that shameful scheme was a “natural law theo-ideology” hyper-valuing whiteness while denigrating the black body as “perpetually-guilty chattel” (Orbis Books, May 10, 2015).

newsnyviewMy View From The Summit by Nicole Thomas

My View From The Summit is succinct and readable, and will probably be read in one sitting. Thomas’s tone is conversational, and her writing is straightforward, accessible, and uncomplicated. Although Thomas’s life has had its many ups and downs—the loss of loved ones, the dissolution of her marriage—she never looks back with regret. She sees each moment, good or bad, as a life lesson that has helped her on her journey to be the person she wants to be.

What makes My View From The Summit appealing is that, although told from a modern perspective some vignettes are filled with age-old lessons: Letting go, not taking on more than we can handle, being grateful, understanding that we can’t control everything and shouldn’t even try. These essays could help the overworked superwoman who is trying to balance being a mother, wife, sister, daughter, employee, who is constantly on the go, and doing it all. Thomas reminds us of the small marvels of life that we should be thankful for, even in the midst of our daily grind. And that, “You can lose your sense of self trying to please other people” (CreateSpace, January 20, 2014).

news-it-all-beginsIt All Begins with ‘I’: The “New Rules” of Thinking and the Simple Secrets to Living a Rich, Joyous and Fulfilled Life by Stuart K. Robinson

You’ve probably heard most of his common sense advice before in one form or another. Take, Rule #6: “I Will Fire the Announcer.” By that, the author means ignoring that distracting, negative voice in your head capable of discouraging you via a defeatist attitude. He suggests that, instead, you “Trust your heart, because you feel it.”

Robinson’s other axioms range from “I Will Determine My Habits” to “I Will Believe in Myself” to “I Am Who I Think I Am, and I Get What I Expect.” In terms of more innovative ideas, he devotes an entire chapter to the difference between the “I” (good) and “Me” (bad) mentalities (Tallfellow Press, June 22, 2015).

9780803740860I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer

Brad Meltzer was born in Brooklyn, which is where Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line when he joined for the Dodgers in 1947. But that’s not what inspired the best-selling author to write I Am Jackie Robinson. Rather, the father of a daughter and identical twin boys had grown tired of watching his children admire reality-TV stars and trash-talking pro athletes as if they were true heroes.

These attention-seeking celebrities were famous, yes. But were they worth emulating and looking up to? No. As Brad puts it, “I wanted my kids to see real heroes… and real people no different from themselves.” So, he decided to publish a series of books for young readers touching upon the real-life childhoods and achievements of such icons as Dr. Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks and Albert Einstein.

news-america-the-blackAmerica The Black Point of View by Tony Rose

Tony’s upbringing in Boston back in the Fifties and Sixties was way worse than merely modest, given how he and his sister were raised in a rough Roxbury ghetto they were lucky to survive.

His absentee-dad was rarely around after being caught molesting his daughter, not that the heroin addicted-pimp/Mafia hit man would have made much of a role model. Consequently, Tony’s mom was totally dependent on that bi-weekly Welfare check from the government. And up until she lost her mind in 1965, the emotionally-abusive woman was fond of routinely reminding her kids that they were “black and ugly” and that nobody wanted them (Amber Communications Group, April 28, 2015).

news-12-waysHow to Avoid the Superwoman Complex 12 Ways to Balance Mind, Body & Spirit by C. Nicole Swiner, MD

How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex bills itself as a how-to book designed to help working females at risk of spreading themselves too thin. Unfortunately, in a classic case of bait and switch, the actual advice dispensed on its pages bears little resemblance to what’s suggested by the self-help sounding title.

Instead, this opus is filled with a lot of the sort of boiler plate medical advice you might find on pamphlets in a general practitioner’s waiting room. And the author, C. Nicole Swiner, MD, just happens to be a physician with a family practice (C.Nicole Swiner, December 29, 2014).

Book Recommendations

news-ghost-summerGhost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due

“Ms. Due accomplishes the hardest thing of all with deceptive ease, creating characters we care about on their most human level.”
—Stephen King

Named one of Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror titles for the fall! Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due’s work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories-one of which has never been published before-Ghost Summer: Stories, is sure to both haunt and delight. The title novella, Ghost Summer, won a Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society (Prime Books, September 15, 2015).

garden-of-unfortunate-souls (1)The Garden of Unfortunate Souls by Eddie Mark

In 1980s Buffalo, New York, the recession has transformed the city’s proudest African American neighborhood into a ghetto. Loretta Ford, an eccentric single mother and religious fanatic, survives for years by masquerading as the owner of a dead woman’s house. Her reclusive life is interrupted when an unlikely incident brings the mayor of Buffalo to her home in the middle of the night. Their secret meeting sets off a chain of events that will leave two families altered forever.

With all the passion of a Shakespearean tragedy and a cast of characters never to be forgotten, The Garden of Unfortunate Souls vividly depicts the consequences of violence, sex, and gender conflict in African American communities (Booktrope, April 17, 2015).

newbottle-topBottle Cap Boys Dancing On Royal Street by Rita Williams-Garcia

Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city’s French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food and Mardi Gras. For generations, Black youngsters have danced for tourists on the streets of New Orleans some because they enjoy it, but many others to earn money for their families. Instead of dancing in store bought tap shoes, young boys and girls stamp and grind bottle caps into the soles of their sneakers until the bottle caps stay firmly in place at the toe. And they don’t miss a beat! Clickity-clack, Clack……tipity-tap, tap tap……tipity-tap, tap In Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia introduces two bottle cap dancers, brothers Randy and Rudy. Through rich and upbeat rhyme, Williams-Garcia gives voice to the dancing and the youngsters who keep this unique New Orleans tradition alive. Damian Ward’s exuberant illustrations are perfect complements to Williams Garcia’s perfectly pitched poetry (Marimba Books, October 15, 2015).

new-friendship9.No Fear For Freedom: The Story Of The Friendship 9

SC raised Confederate flag in 1961 to insult nine black protesters — and took it down to honor nine slain
South Carolina put Confederate flag above capitol in 1961 after 9 students held sit-in at segregated lunch counter. A peculiar historical symmetry exists between South Carolina’s decision to raise the Confederate flag in 1961.

The Friendship 9, a group of college students and activists in Rock Hill, South Carolina, claimed a rightful place in history by challenging inequality and unfair laws. In 1961, their decision to help place into motion the Jail, No Bail strategy empowered many communities (Frown-Free Publications, March 1, 2014). Watch a video of Their Story.

news-stand-your-groundStand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray

Janice Johnson is living every mother’s nightmare. Her seventeen-year-old son was murdered and the shooter has not been arrested. Can the DA and the police be trusted to investigate and do the right thing? Should Janice take advantage of the public outcry and join her husband alongside the angry protesters who are out for revenge?

Meredith Spencer is married to the man accused of the killing and she sees her husband and the situation with far more clarity than anyone realizes. What she knows could blow the case wide open, but what will that mean for her life and that of her son? Will she have the courage to come forward in time so justice can be done? Published by Touchstone, June 30, 2015.

news-mamas-boyMama’s Boy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

When her son is in trouble, a heartbroken mother finds the courage and faith to save him, in ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s powerful family drama—a novel as timely as today’s headlines.

The breaking TV news rocks Jasper, Texas, to the core: a white police officer is fatally shot in a scuffle with three black youths—and a cellphone video captures Jamal Jones, the sixteen-year-old son of esteemed Reverend Elton Jones, escalating the tragic encounter. Now, as the national spotlight shines on a town already rife with racial tension, Jamal is a murder suspect on the run. And all of Jasper—even the Reverend’s congregation—rushes to judge the boy they thought they knew (Gallery Books, 8/30/15).

Billingsley’s, Novel Let the Church Say Amen has been adapted as a film and will debut, August 30th, on BET.

news-memoirsMemoirs of a Mad Black Educator Bobby R. Dixon

A critical reflection on the education reform movement through the personal experiences of this African-American educator. Dixon fictionalizes some of his experiences to delineate the emergence of a new educational power structure, which entails the marriage of philanthropy, federal government policy, charter school operators, new forms of teacher training and administrator training programs, the profitable testing industry, mayoral control of large school districts, among other entities. This new educational power structure not only advocates the privatization of public education, but forces it down the public’s throat. The consequence is the growing obsolescence of the public school and the public school teacher. There are massive firings and layoffs of skilled, veteran teachers and principals nationwide to make way for alternatively trained teachers and principals. Likewise there are nationwide closings of schools in minority and poor communities to make way for charter schools and special school districts (CreateSpace, September 11, 2014).

newgirls-write-now-2015Voice to Voice: The Girls Write Now 2015 Anthology

From one of the nation’s top after school programs, an acclaimed collection of poetry and prose showcasing the voices of young women and their mentors in a powerful exploration of the theme of Voice to Voice. Distinguished twice by the White House as one of the top after-school arts and cultural organizations in the nation, and recently honored by Newsweek in their article on “After school programs that make a difference,” Girls Write Now works to empower underserved teen girls in New York City by pairing them with professional writing mentors (Girls Write Now, May 19, 2015).

news-raising-black-boysRaising Black Boys to Men: A Mother’s Guide to Raising Thugless Sons by Patricia Joseph

One mother’s journey: her successes, trials, and errors, in raising her three boys, in a society that glorifies thug-life. Author, Patricia Joseph, who successfully navigated the lives of her three sons, through the ever so present negative influences in society, felt compelled to write about her experience in raising thugless sons. Patricia credits much of her success to just “good, ole-fashion child rearing.”

In her book, Patricia provides simple anecdotes and tips, to help mothers faced with the challenges of raising Black boys. Patricia cleverly sprinkles humor throughout the book, and provides laughter to the role of parenting. The book is a short, quick-read, which can be read in a few hours. At the end of each chapter, Patricia provides “Mom Tips,” which are little nuggets of information, for moms to reference long after reading the book (BookBaby, December 5, 2014).

news-still-a-pygmyStill a Pygmy: The unique memoir of one man’s fight to save his identity from extinction

The unique memoir of one man’s fight to save his identity from extinction

Still a Pygmy is a story of love, pride and prejudice that traces the journey of BaTembo Pygmy Isaac Bacirongo from the forests of Central Africa, through the brutality of dictator­ship and war, to arrival and settlement in Australia’s melting pot. Isaac’s inimi­table style and voice draw readers into the heart of this memoir, his relation­ship with his wife, who survived his mother’s attempts to kill her to help Isaac through experiences of appall­ing violence. It is full of warmth, wit and wise insights about life (Finch Publishing, July 1, 2015).



news-bcala-program9th National Conference of African American Librarians – August 5-7, 2015 – St. Louis, MO

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association is excited to return NCAAL to its original biennial conference schedule. New to NCAAL 2015, is a Wednesday through Saturday schedule, allowing conference goers to take advantage of lower transportation rates typically available on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The new schedule also provides a wonderful opportunity for attendees to stay over and explore the city of Saint Louis once the conference concludes Saturday afternoon. Black Caucus of the American Library Association 9th Conference Program is available

Exhibitors are invited to participate in the 9th National Conference. The association continues to work to make its conferences relevant and enjoyable for the hundreds of librarians who attend.

Film Reviews

news-boundBound: Africans vs. African-Americans

Bound opens with a folk tale about two loving brothers, born in the land of warm waters, Africa. Suddenly one brother is torn from the other never to be seen again. The one brother waits at the water’s edge all his life then charges his son to do the same. This goes on for generations until several hundred years later, in the land of cold winters, America, when the daughter of one brother walks towards the daughter of the other brother and with every step they get closer until they walk past each other, one never noticing the other.

How did these descendants of two loving brothers become so isolated? The journey to the answer begins with Africans and African Americans recounting personal, hurtful experiences with each other. It immediately identifies the media as the source of the negative perceptions we have of each other. Throughout its young history, celluloid has depicted people of African descent as childlike, stupid and violent, pretty much how we have come to view each other.

news-tang-negroTango Negro, The African Roots of Tango

The word “tango” mean “sun” in Congolese. Given that derivation, it comes as no surprise that the dance thought of as South American might be traced back to Africa.

That explains the mission of Tango Negro, a labor of love marking the writing and directorial debut of Dom Pedro. What makes the project of educational value is the fact that Argentina, the country most closely associated with Tango, has generally been averse to admitting its African heritage.

Related Articles & News

news-amazon-sad“Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers…”

The Authors Guild, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of Authors’ Representatives and Authors United said in letters and statements being sent this week to the Justice Department that “Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.”

newrobert-l-johnsonRobert L. Johnson — The “Urban Movie Channel” Interview

Troy Johnson asks, do you think it would be possible for another Black owned media conglomerate, like BET, to emerge in today’s environment?

Robert L. Johnson: It’s definitely possible, but it would be very difficult to do in this environment. It was difficult when I started BET. Today, the internet makes it possible for a lot of African-American content to flow freely to the consumers since there are no gatekeepers, and it is global in terms of its accessibility. We at RLJ Entertainment are laying the foundation to be sort of a BET in the Digital Age by creating the distribution platform of the Urban Movie Channel, by licensing content from independent producers of urban content, by helping them produce that content, and by promoting the awareness of it. We believe that as a first mover in this space, RLJ Entertainment has the potential to become a success story like BET and, obviously, I have a lot of experience in making that happen.

news-black-caucusNew Self-Publishing Literary Award to Promote Diverse Books in Libraries

The Black Caucus of the ALA (BCALA) and BiblioBoard announce the creation of an annual self-publishing award. Following the model of the current BCALA Literary Awards, the new award will honor the best self-published eBooks in fiction and poetry by an African American author in the U.S.

Authors who enter the contest will have the opportunity to opt into the SELF-e program and their own Indie State module, providing them with an invaluable resource for promotion and exposure of their work. SELF-e is a partnership between BiblioBoard and the Library Journal and is aimed at finding the best self-published books and making those books seamlessly available to library patrons.

news-discussion-banner-redOur African-American Literature Discussion Forum is Now Mobile!

Join the conversation and talk about books you’ve written, or books you’ve read. You may exchange views with authors, avid readers and those who wish to learn more about Black literature and publishing. You can share rich media content without worrying about being bombarded with ads, having your privacy invaded, or having what is presented to others (or two you) determined by efforts to maximize revenue. Also read our article “Our 10 Most Popular Discussions (and Why Discussion Forums Matter)”

Authors, this is where you need to share information about your books: Since 1998, Thumper’s Corner has been a very special and popular area of our web site. In fact, each month I discover interesting books to share with our eNewsletter readers. Check out our recent conversations 

news-troy-signoffDear Reader,

This month as been extremely busy as I continue to rebuild AALBC.com from the ground up. This major upgrade is scheduled for completion in early 2016. It is a massive undertaking to redesign a completely new website, migrate almost 20 years of content, while keeping both sites updated (say a prayer for me).

As always if there is a feature you’d like to see on the new website me know by emailing me or posting a comment on our discussion forum.

Remember, your support is absolutely mandatory for AALBC.com to continue. A paid subscription to our eNewsletter is a great way to help and lets me know there is indeed demand for the information covered in this eNewsletter and on our website.




Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
Support AALBC.com, Support this eNewsletter

AALBC.com eNewsletter – July 30, 2015 – Issue #227

Marc Lacy Releases Curse of the Whiskey House

Curse of The Whiskey House made AALBC.com Best Sellers List for May/June 2015!


Curse of the Whiskey House

The highly anticipated fiction-thriller novel, the first book of a trilogy (Whiskey House Trilogy), has arrived! Curse of the Whiskey House may be ordered at marclacy.com or via amazon.com. For more information, please email AVO Publishing, LLC.

Curse of The Whiskey House is the first book of the Whiskey House Trilogy. It is a page turner of the ages that reads quickly and easily. Curse of The Whiskey House is not for the faint of heart, spiritually weak, or closed minded. This book is gripping, chilling, controversial, action-packed, heated, scary, graphic, and bold. Curse of The Whiskey House is a fiction thriller tale (with a hint of paranormality) that incorporates VERY REAL societal issues. The elephant in the room is exposed ten times over in this book. If you are churched/unchurched, a believer/non-believer, married/single, or traditional/nontraditional, and a MATURE READER, this book will have “something” that will catch your attention.

Curse of The Whiskey House is guaranteed to challenge you to open your eyes, and take a good look at yourself, and your surroundings. Once you finish reading it, you will NOT be the same person you once were (whether that is good or bad).

“Do you dare challenge yourself and brave the wrath between the pages of Curse of the Whiskey House? Hmmm. Consider yourself warned.” – Marc Lacy, Author

Jesus once saved Lazarus, but some wonder if the City of Lazarus is beyond saving. This historic Bible Belt homestead located in Hawthorne County, Alabama has a population of 45,000 and is nationally renowned for its fine whiskey. Lazarus, a lively city that was once a resting spot for the Buffalo Soldiers, has a lot of heritage, history, and religion. Maybe too much of each.

The Hawthorne County Whiskey Stop, the city’s most profitable tourist attraction, gets thousands of customers per year from in and out of town. But the Hawthorne County Whiskey House, its counterpart, is anything but good and sacred. Just ask the beloved Mayor of Lazarus, Samuel Justice, who has enough skeletons in the closet to fill the local cemetery. The level of treachery and mayhem spawned within the whiskey house is uncharted despite the fact that Reverend Jackson Jones, the pastor of the Central Baptist Church, owns it.

Many believe that a lot of spirits are uneasy and that a curse lingers around Lazarus and Hawthorne County because of the crass circumstances that surround the whiskey house. There’s an old saying around Lazarus, Once you enter the whiskey house, if you should ever come out, your life goes south. There is also an eerie prophecy tied to the whiskey house that no one wants to acknowledge; they keep quiet about it hoping it will just disappear. Detective Brock Taylor is the only hope in saving Lazarus from total destruction. But will he be able to extinguish the curse and bring happiness back to the lives that have been maimed by the misgivings at the whiskey house? Or will he be another victim of the devastating curse? This time, even Jesus may not want anything to do with Lazarus…

news-marcMarc Lacy
Huntsville’s own Marc Lacy, a graduate of Alabama A&M University, is a nationally renowned, award winning poet/author and a lecturer. He has performed all over the country at many national literary events and spoken word venues. Marc is also a seasoned freelance and fiction writer as well as a blogger for The Man-Ologist Blogs. Along with writing and performance, Marc utilizes his wordsmith talent and poetic flair as he facilitates lectures, conducts workshops, and delivers motivational speeches concerning writing, communication, and self-development. Additionally, Lacy is a cast member of the new hit webisode, The Men’s Room. Marc credits his faith in God and love of family for providing the energy he needs to succeed. More 

Over the years, I’ve seen Marc in action in various venues across the country. He is best described as a renaissance man. He is an accomplished athlete and a scholar. He is an entrepreneur, a DJ, a poet, and a talented novelist. He is tall, handsome, hardworking, and just a really decent man. (firstname, fallback=Reader), check out Marc’s latest novel, Curse of the Whiskey House and let me know what you think. Maybe I can use your quote on our Marc Lacy profile page.

Troy Johnson
Founder & Webmaster,

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