Category Archives: Website Tips and Recommendations

We Must Patronize Black-Owned Websites or Lose Them

The Top 50 Black-Owned Websites

Part of AALBC.com’s mission is to help support Black-owned websites.  Historically, I’ve focused on sites related to books including, publisher sites, authors sites, and even other bookseller sites. I support other booksellers, because no single site can possibly cover all the great Black books available, and each site brings a unique perspective to how they cover Black books.

As the number of large Black-owned websites that cover Black books began to decrease, I expanded the scope of websites that I supported to include Black-Owned Magazines and Black-Owned Newspapers. While newspapers and magazines do not cover Black books as deeply, or as frequently, as a dedicated book site would, they still are important platforms for Black writers and their books.

Black People are not profiting from the great wealth generated on the web.Many of our Black-owned newspaper and magazine websites began publishing less original content or shutting down.  So I decided to open up my support to include even the largest Black-owned sites.  In 2013, I compiled a list of the top 10 sites and called it the crude but traffic generating name, “The 10 Best Damn Black Websites Period!

I discovered during my research many of the most popular websites focused on Black culture were not Black-owned. It became clear, Black people are not profiting from the great wealth generated on the web—even when the content is directly related to Black culture.

Perhaps worse, I found the most frequently visited websites owned by Black people were enjoying great success by providing very salacious, celebrity driven content.  Comments in reaction to an article in Black Enterprise celebrating the success of one such site, MediaTakeOut, illustrates this point:

“Black Enterprise should be embarrassed to do a story praising this man [MediaTakeOut’s Founder,  Fred Mwangaguhunga] like he is some type of role model for the black community. Did you even look at his website before writing this article? It is extremely racist against white people, very degrading to black people, homophobic, and constantly making fun of people. I don’t know when publishing this type of offensive trash on a low budget website became worthy of so much praise, or how the lies on his site can be considered “celeb news”. Black Enterprise just lost a lot of credibility and better realize that Media Take Out is an embarrassment to black people.”

“When I think of minstrel websites such as MTO, BlackPlanet, BET, and WorldStarHip (actually, all of their clones, quite frankly), and the collective devastating effects of ZIP COONERY on our people, I think of the UNCF slogan: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

These comments were not cherry picked to make my point but are reflective of the overall reaction to the article, (Black Enterprise, June 21, 2011, “Former Lawyer Succeeds Online as Man Behind MediaTakeOut”).

Black Enterprise

MediaTakeOut is not alone.  In fact, as far I can tell, Worldstar Hip Hop, is the most frequently visited Black-owned website, but their content is arguably even more prurient than MediaTakeOut’s.

Fortunately, the World Wide Web is vast and there is plenty of room for all types of websites. However, because of the dominance exerted by a handful of extremely powerful corporations, independent, Black-owned websites that produce serious content are crowded out and are effectively rendered undiscoverable.

As a result, when it comes to informing Black people of important issues, determining how Black people are portrayed in the media, and sharing in the wealth that is created on the web, Black people are largely excluded.

Some Black folks take great pride in our dominance of #blacktwitter, but no one mentions how little we profit from that activity or even asks how Twitter actually serves the Black community.  Many websites have turned to Facebook to bring visitors to their websites; they built large Facebook followings, only to have Facebook tell them that organic reach has ended, and that they must now must pay to reach the audience they worked so hard to build.

If we are to regain our agency and share more equitably in the revenue generated on the web, we must make this happen ourselves.  AALBC.com’s contribution is to help spread the word about hundreds of popular Black-owned websites as well as sharing detailed information about our Top 50 Black-Owned Websites.

We all can do something to help increase the influence, revenue, and quality of Black-owned websites. The solution is quite simple:

We Must Patronize Black-Owned Websites:

  • Identify one or two websites that you like and visit them regularly,
  • Leave comments on their articles and engage on their discussion forums,
  • Subscribe to their publications,
  • Send them feedback,
  • Buy their products, and
  • Share their content with others

The solution is not more engagement on social media—that just enriches social media at our expense. The solution will not come from government legislation—they are part of the problem and any potential solution will come after the damage has been done.

There is still a wealth of interesting content on the web. Indeed I trust AALBC.com is contributing to that wealth, but it will not continue if the current trends persist unabated. If we don’t determine what is important, then someone else will do it for us.

The power to increase Black ownership and control on the World Wide Web is in our hands. Lets use our power!

A Special Note for Authors, Publishers, and Book Promoters

“There are some online services that specialize in books for blacks…The most successful is the African American Literature Book Club (www.aalbc.com), which was started in 1997…”
The New York Times

The quote above is from an article which appeared in the New York Times, on January 11, 2001. AALBC.com has only grown larger and more comprehensive since then.

This email is written for authors, publishers, and anyone interested in book marketing to help them take advantage of AALBC.com’s features and services. Join our new Authors and Publishers Mailing List to receive emails like this once a month (at most).


Introducing AALBC.com’s New Seal for Bestselling Books

AALBC.comn Bestselling Book SealOur bestseller seal may be used on any AALBC.com bestselling book. To see if your book qualifies, you may review a complete list of AALBC.com bestselling books. A high resolution version of our seal with a transparent background is provided here for your convenience.

AALBC.com bestselling publishers and authors are free to use our Bestselling Book Seal on their book covers and promotional material, in physical and electronic formats, without prior permission from AALBC.com. AALBC.com bestseller status is conferred to the book’s title independent of its format.


Horizontal Banner on Every Page $50.00 for 40 Days

Supreme and Justice Ad Banner

728×90 Ad Banners are displayed at the top and bottom of every AALBC.com page. The sample banner, Supreme & Justice 1 & 2 by Ernest Morris, shown above, is a banner currently running and is shown here at only 70% of the actual size it appears on the site.

Banners will be displayed at least 100,000 times– that is less than $0.50 CPM—a terrific deal (if I do say so myself). Get started now.


Let AALBC.com Be Your Official Web Presence

Authors are best served by maintaining their own websites. I have always assisted authors, as a courtesy, by serving as their de facto official website. Authors Martha Kennerson (marthakennerson.com) and Cavis Adams (cavisadams.com) have recently taken advantage of this free service by pointing their domains to their AALBC.com profile pages. If you are one of the more than 3,100 authors with a profile on AALBC.com and don’t have a website, just ask and we’ll take care of it. If you don’t have a profile on AALBC.com we can create one for you.

You can also enhance your existing author profile by including your social media feeds, events calendar, and customizing the buy links for your books. You will effectively have a full featured website, for a fraction of the cost, and without worrying about a disappearing webmaster. Join award-winning author Elizabeth Nunez (elizabethnunez.com) and independently published author Christopher D. Burns (chrisdburns.com), by taking advantage of this service. I use it myself, troydjohnson.com.

I’m a GoDaddy Pro with over 20 years of web development experience. I also teach web design at the college level. You’ll be in good hands. Learn more here.


Related Links


Join the Authors and Publishers Mailing List

I will limit the number of mailings, designed solely for authors, publishers, and book promoters to just one per month. The goal is to help this specialized audience learn how to take advantage of AALBC.com’s platform and to provide insight on how to take advantage of the web in general.

We are building a dedicated list so that our regular subscribers will no longer receive information specifically written to benefit authors and publishers.

Add Me to the List!


Troy Johnson AALBC.com Founder and Webmaster

 

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


Recently Reviewed Books

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

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

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


Recommended Reads

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

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

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

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


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

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


We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes

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


130+ Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences

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

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

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


Win Two Books by Kimberla Lawson Roby

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

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

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

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


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

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


Two Terrific Ways to Promote Your Books on AALBC.com

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

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

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

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

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

Get your book noticed by avid readers today!


Dear Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Huria Search supports web independence