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The mission of #readingblack is to encourage everyone to read quality books written by Black people and to purchase those books from independent booksellers. We strive to develop strategies that will make it easier for book buyers to support our mission.

  1. What's new in this club
  2. Mel Hopkins

    Hey Indie Author! How can I get your book?

    "Finally! Five Secrets to Pitch Perfect (LY)" Podcast - uploaded Tuesday, October 23, 2018 Listening to Barbara Corcoran's (of Shark Tank) Business Unu$ual podcast, I noticed independent authors could modify her "5 secrets to a perfect pitch" to successfully present their books. Corcoran's 5 secrets are as follow: Good Hook To the Point Short & Clear Good Backstory Look the part Cite the Next Steps An Independent author can take these secrets and craft a pitch that will lay the foundation for selling a book or manuscript to anyone; anywhere. (Good Hook) When I hear "hook," I think music, specifically Rap. So, a book should have a catchy title. My first book didn't. #TitleFAIL So, I made my title into a meme. "You pray that love is heaven sent, but sometimes you end up Sleeping with a D-Man." BUT look at the bestsellers here on AALBC! Check out how many words in the title? Most have three words; 5 is the max. Choose wisely. (To the Point Short & Clear) Tell your audience what your book is about in 2 sentences or less. Who is this book about? What do they want? How will they get it? Or what's preventing them from getting it. Nicole, heart-broken and college-bound, will go to hell and battle demons for the man she loves. Literally. (Good Backstory) Every author knows why they're compelled to tell their story. My daughter was going off to college - I wanted to share with her how to avoid the perils of dorm and college life. Here's where an author can share the benefits of reading their book. Let readers know how the author hopes this book can help. (Look the part) Hire a successful book cover designer. We do judge a book by its cover. (Cite the Next Steps) An entrepreneur Next Steps is all "about the Benjamins" and funding. The same is true for independent authors, but our approach is a bit different. Our goal is to develop a relationship with our readers and also have them buy our books every time we publish. So, independent authors, we have to let our readers know how they can buy our book. [<-link to buy my book] Do it the Amazon way and make it as easy and conspicuous as possible. Remind them again of the benefit from buying directly from you, the author. I read once, that most successful panhandlers tell those who put money in their cup how they will use their generous donations. For Example: "Thank you for buying my book. With your purchase you make it possible for me to continue to write books to positively influence and empower young women." By the way, Corcoran says, "the same five steps were shared by every great entrepreneur that ever left shark tank with a fist full of cash. So, "Write On!"
  3. Exactly. Now one might think you'd have to be somewhat paranoid to be this be suspicious of Amazon for doing this, but one has not way to determining if this is happening. Plus Amazon takes the first $100 of all you sales, plus you earn less money for each sale, plus you can actually find less expensive printers depending upon the count. plus Amazon does not give a sh-t about you or your book.
  4. Twitter's @Jandralee went viral when she tweeted on 12 /12/17 "How to Support Authors with Spending Any Money." Here are some of her suggestions: Review the book on Amazon Review the book...anywhere Follow them on social media Post about the book online Tell a friend (or 20) about the book Say hi Ask your local library to add the book to their collection.. After a few twitterers took screenshots of her tweet and posted it as their own @jandralee updated on 8/7/18 How to Support Authors + Creators without Spending Any Money 2.0 Ask what helps them [Authors + Creators] most Be kind online Always give credit/attribution RT to boost their content Subscribe to [their] email newsletters Thank them Leave Instagram comments (seriously, it helps a *lot*) Please add tips of your own - because any way we can help each other actually expands our own network.
  5. Mel Hopkins

    Hey Indie Author! How can I get your book?

    @Troy , Yes I agree! Getting books in front of readers was Amazon's specialty. Amazon actually trained us, the readers, to go to them first when looking to buy a book. I had to break the habit and search out books from authors, then publishers, then independent book shops then chain bricks and mortar to finally online retail. Other readers may not go through the hassle and ultimately, the writer loses. We've learned the amazon process discourages some writers from participating at all. So, yes I hope others will share their experiences. The bottom line in that case is when someone is printing off your book and selling to THEIR customers, you really can't be sure how many books you're actually selling. With that in mind, After my initial release in 2006, I also sold about 100 books on lulu.com, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. After 2008 through 2014, the numbers dwindle and averaged 3 per year - or at least that was what amazon was reporting. Lulu seemed to be more brisk in their reporting. I've since removed my title from all online retailers - and I buy my books so I can sell directly to others. This way, I can keep an eye on my inventory AND stay in contact with my customers. I've had the most success though Social Selling (social media) to my immediate network and their network. Social Selling led to promoters book me for their events where I found after a speaking engagement I was successful at direct selling.
  6. This is indeed a really good question. No one person as the answer, but collectively we do. Hopefully they'll be some good responses.
  7. Recently, an AALBC member asked how can I buy your book? While we authors may think it's obvious how readers can buy our book - it's not as obvious as we may think. So, how can readers buy your book? What's your most successful way to get your books into your readers hands? Social Media Sales? Handselling? Direct Sales? What's your selling Secret? Urban Fantasy, Signed by the author Buy Now $14.95 plus Shipping/Handling
  8. Mel Hopkins

    Welcome! Please Introduce Yourself.

    Welcome @Floyd Collins ! We have 35 members in the ReadingBlack club - I know I missed a lot of you who have joined, WELCOME!
  9. Hey @Valjeanne Jeffers please share the link to you page.
  10. That makes sense. Also, it's a great reference tool to have on hand. I've already added it to my site
  11. Hi @Valjeanne Jeffers, anything that helps booksellers helps book sales. The most common comment I get about this list is from people who were unaware of the stores that support black writers in their city.
  12. Hi Troy, thanks for posting this! Do you think the map help with sales too?
  13. Well a lot of authors need to be educated -- they dominated the responses against boycotting Amazon in the survey I took last year. Of course the reason was because they could only sell their books through Amazon?! It is like we are operating in some alternative universe...
  14. @Troy I just saw this on Ingramspark distribution page - "Entering into exclusive deals with Amazon and beyond limits your distribution and your book’s potential reach. While Amazon is a very large part of overall book sales, it is not the whole marketplace and we recommend not wagering your book’s future by ignoring every other retail option. Doing so could be turning your back on potential sales." 😄 Seriously, I'm so glad that aalbc is in the printing business too - because amazon is on some crazy ish! @Troy when I had a kindle book through amazon, I didn't enter any agreements that required them to have exclusive rights. For example, if an author agreed to the rent a book type program, I think it's called "Amazon prime reading" then you had to give amazon exclusive rights to your digital book. There was another program they promoted too but I can't remember the name. Needless to say I said "no". I don't give away my rights to anyone. ( I barely like writing "work for hire" lol). Anyway, I removed my books in 2014 or 2016, I think, because I didn't like the path Amazon was heading down.
  15. Yeah this process will jack up a lot of indie authors. The video (below) makes the transition it look simple, but even a simple process that is unfamiliar will cause a lot of frustration for the less than super tech savvy. Of course there will be no shortage of professionals to help authors make the transition. I already see that CreateSpace Cover Creator designs aren't compatible with Cover Creator on KDP. What is MOST amazing is the "Amazon Royalty." Here is where Amazon gets you and their own price calculator make the very plain. I will write more about this when i get a second. But here is the gist: For a 240 page book if you print with me (AALBC Prints Books) the unit cost is $3.87 per book (assuming a 200 book print run, less for larger print runs). If you sell the book you will make $11.13 (ignoring shipping). Now if you print and sell the books via Amazon, the pricing cost is $3.73/book, but Amazon wants an astonishing $5.27 or $7.54 (with expanded distribution) that is 2/3's of the profit of the book! @Mel Hopkins I gather KDP requires that authors give Amazon the exclusive right to sell their books -- unless the author pays for expanded distribution. Is that right? Amazon can get away with this because they monopolize the online sale of books. For Black books, they essential monopolize the sale of ALL book bt electronic and physical ebooks.
  16. CreateSpace and KDP to Become One Service CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) are becoming one service--making KDP the single place to publish and manage your print and digital books. To learn more about the move, see the topics below. Lulu.com has their own take how this merger may impact the independent publishing world and it doesn't look too favorable.
  17. Even if you've registered your manuscript under Copyright TX or PA form, you will still need to register it as a sound recording too. Audiobooks require an SR form copyright registration. I'm not an intellectual property lawyer, but it seems prudent to record the manuscript (nothing fancy) and send the tape (phonorecord) along with your copyright registration. Further, this is an additional way to earn royaltie$ and performance licensing royaltie$$$ too. Use copyright SR form to register the sound recording of your manuscript. This way, no one else will be able to register your audiobook as their own.
  18. @Wendy Jones The fact that it was repeated is troubling...It's good they started to write and publish books if for no other reason than to change their own minds. This is a excellent illustration that we are the first reader and customer for the books we conceive.
  19. Mel Hopkins

    Bye, Amazon, HELLO BLOCKCHAIN!

    @Wendy Jones T Thank you for responding! What exactly has you squeamish about bitcoin? My mother says she doesn't trust anything that she can't hold in her hand. lol. Anyway, here’s a good resource. https://bitcoin.org/en/getting-started Bitcoin is the original decentralized cryptocurrency. Altcoins (alternative coins) are cryptocurrency coins that are not bitcoin. Cryptocurrency coins can be traded (bought and sold) and stored on a cryptocurrency exchange such as Coinbase, Bitstamp, Kraken et al. These digital transactions are secure because Blockchain technology is difficult counterfeit or hack. Every block in the chain serves as verification for the block that came before it.  If someone adds a wanky block to the chain that doesn't include the transaction information of all that came before it; it will be rejected. Aside: this is where bitcoin mining comes in; which is a lot like a lottery because any available computer can mine bitcoin but only one will get the reward. No one knows who will be awarded bitcoin for processing the transaction either. Also, there is a total of 21-million bitcoin available for mining period. Bitcoin (or altcoins such as Ethereum Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash) rise in value based on demand. Yes, cryptocurrency trading is volatile. And no, it's not regulated by a central banking system. Decentralized means there is no middle person. Blockchain technology is what makes bitcoin cryptocurrency possible. After the housing crisis of 2008, the bitcoin creator wanted to make sure the world wouldn't have to depend on the central banking system ever again. With bitcoin we don't have to - well as long as we can communicate via wireless technology. See this article: bitcoin without the internet You and I can make a transaction through our digital wallets without ever involving centralized agencies. We are virtually anonymous to the centralized banking system unless they can track us through our cryptocurrency address. Now, once the transaction is made; it's final. Our transaction is subject to a mining fee - but it’s a trade between you and I. If you say, I change my mind, oh well. But since you and I know each other I could send you the value you sent me. -Note: The value we originally exchanged could be worth more on less on the day the new transaction is made. For example, I bought $5 of bitcoin - and minus the transaction fee (mining) I ended up with $4.20... at the time I'm writing this my bitcoin share value is $4.02 USD - I need to include 1 – bitcoin is currently valued at $6,146.30 , But I digress. There are also tokens in the cryptocurrency system and that's where it gets tricky. Tokens are NOT cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency exchanges won't except tokens for trading. But to understand the concept of a token, consider this; a token represents something of value in the system. For example, in the 90s, you needed a NYC subway token to ride the train. You gave the token booth clerk $1 and s/he gave you a token coin to ride the subway. That token had value but only in the NYC subway system. Take that token elsewhere and it isn't worth the money you paid for it. That's how tokens work in the cryptocurrency system. A token is programmable digital asset that has value within the owner's system. It can serve as a utility, equity, security or service token. For purpose of this post we'll discuss utility tokens. The token functions within newly created software application built on blockchain technology. But tokens aren't mined like bitcoin or Ethereum. A founder of a startup can sell tokens for cash or cryptocurrency to fund their cryptocurrency or technology projects. It appears startups such as Publica is using utility tokens. When startups sell tokens to fund their project it is called an ICO (Initial Coin Offering). In this case, Publica is offering a Book ICO to would-be authors. The author sets the price for the token in their crowdfunding campaign. Once the book is finished it's published on blockchain technology. Patrons investing in the author's proposed book will purchase tokens with centralized cash i.e, dollars. They will receive something like a digital coupon in return. The author gets the cash to work on their manuscript. When the book is complete the patron will receive a copy. So of course, trust is factor. We are writers/publishers not software developers building an application on blockchain technology. We must trust that all these moving parts will add up to actual cash for us and a book for our readers. I also need more information on publishing on blockchain. I will continue to publish updates here. I'm new to cryptocurrency and blockchain but this represents my current understanding. Feel free to ask me anything - but please understand this is information is not for investment purposes. It's just an overview. But if you choose to sign up for a Coinbase account – here’s my referral link. https://www.coinbase.com/join/5b11cf8faa08ff01f4db26b8 Thank you!
  20. Wendy Jones

    Getting Your Book Into Public Libraries

    You're welcome, Damani. Also, there are 18,000 libraries in the United States. Libraries BUY your book (not merely taking on consignment as independent bookstores do) and they don't return them (as bookstores will if they haven't sold in a specified amount of time). All the Best, Wendy
  21. Wendy Jones

    Bye, Amazon, HELLO BLOCKCHAIN!

    At the IBPA Publishers' University I sat at a table where a small group was listening to a speaker talk about block chain. We did not get anything like the detailed explanation that I just read in your post, Mel. Whenever someone asked him to explain how it would help us sell books, he just said, "Put it in the Blockchain!" We walked away with the feeling that this was a scam. Now, it's true maybe this person had more enthusiasm than knowledge, but he reeked of con man. The articles that you have posted give a much clearer picture of what Blockchain is and how it can help people sell books directly to readers and cut out the middle person. However, when I saw it was based on bitcoin and digital currency, I once again smelled a scam. I will look for cautionary tales to post about bitcoin. I don't expect anyone to be persuaded because of my skepticism without any evidence to back it up. I also know that everyone reading our posts will do their research before they leap into this. But so many of us writers and publishers are so desperate to get our stories and our books out, it would be heartbreaking if some of us fell into a trap. Yes, I am sure I would have been the last to ride in let alone buy one of those "new-fangled autoMObiles," so you should know that about me. But let's all look carefully before we leap. All the Best, Wendy
  22. From April 5- 7 of this year, as a member, I attended the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Publisher’s University in Austin, Texas. The association has an annual Publisher’s University in different areas of the country each year to educate members on various facets of the independent publishing world. The speakers are all volunteers from the industry. I applied for and was able to obtain a scholarship to cover the tuition. Through my research I had found a hostel in walking distance of the hotel which seemed suitable. The “discount” rate at the Sheraton Hotel at the Capitol was not in my budget. When I asked friends who lived in Austin to confirm or deny the wonderful descriptions of the hostel, they kindly offered their hospitality instead. I will report here on the first of the five workshops I attended, with others to follow separately. 1. Multiculturalism in Publishing Nataly Michelle Wright, Angeleno Ave Publishing; Alyssa E. Wright-Myles, Co-Author, The Audacious Little Princesses These two sisters from California, whose heritage is African American and Indigenous, told this family tale. Another sister, who was a little girl at the time, while taking a bath, began vigorously scrubbing her brown skin. When their indigenous mother asked her what she was doing, she replied, “I’m trying to get the dirt off.” Years later when she had a daughter, of her own, the same scene was repeated. This led the other two sisters to write a book about girls of color taking pride in their heritage. The book, The Audacious Little Princesses, became the debut publication of their newly formed publishing house. They shared the statistics on books by and about people of color (African American, Latinos, Asian/Pacific Islanders/First Nations/ Native Americans) collected by Cooperative Children’s Book Center from 2002 to 2015. This wasn’t part of the work shop, but I found the history of this tracking and think you may find it interesting, too. History In 1985 the Cooperative Children's Book Center began to document the numbers of books we received each year that were written and/or illustrated by African Americans. Then-CCBC Director Ginny Moore Kruse was serving as a member of the Coretta Scott King Award Committee that year, and we were appalled to learn that, of the approximately 2,500 trade books that were published in 1985, only 18 were created by African Americans, and thus eligible for the Coretta Scott King Award. As a statewide book examination center serving Wisconsin, the CCBC receives the majority of new U.S. trade books published for children and teens each year. In the early years of gathering these statistics, we used the CCBC's collections and worked in conjunction with the Coretta Scott King Award Task Force of the American Library Association, to document the number of books by and about African Americans published annually. Starting in 1994 we began also keeping track of the numbers of books by Asian/Pacific and Asian/Pacific American, First/Native Nation and Latino book creators as well. We also began documenting not only the number of books created by people of color and First/Native Nations authors and illustrators, but the number of books about people of color and First/Native Nations, including the many titles that have been created by white authors and/or illustrators. I could not get the chart that showed the results from 2002 - 2016 to show up in a coherent fashion here, so please go to the link at the bottom of the page for that information. 2017 Of the approximately 3,700 books we received at the CCBC in 2017, most from U.S. publishers, here's the breakdown: 340 had significant African or African American content/characters. 100 of these were by Black authors and/or illustrators. (29.41% #OwnVoices) 72 had significant American Indian/First Nations content/characters. 38 of these were by American Indian/First Nations authors and/or illustrators. (52.78% #OwnVoices) 310 had significant Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American content/characters. 122 of these were by authors and/or illustrators of Asian/Pacific heritage. (39.35% #OwnVoices) 216 had significant Latinx content/characters. 73 of these were by Latinx authors and/or illustrators. (33.8% #OwnVoices) A female character in a picture book was highly likely to be wearing pink and/or a bow, even if she is a hippopotamus, an ostrich, or a dinosaur. A child with a disability appeared in only 21 picture books, and only 2 of those were main characters. Most others appeared in background illustrations. We will continue to evaluate the data for the 2017 publishing year in the coming weeks and will post additional information on this blog. At the same time, we are expanding our diversity analysis in 2018 to include a deep dive into all of the books we receive: picture books, fiction, and nonfiction. In 2016 we began what we are calling a "deep dive" into picture books, and we continued that work with the 2017 publishing year (excluding books that are classified as nonfiction). The deep dive analysis also looks at other dimensions of representation, including gender, religion, (dis)ability, and LGBTQ. The results have made for some stunning--and unsettling--comparisons. For example, an early-November analysis of the 698 picture books we'd received so far in 2017 from U.S. publishers revealed: A character in a picture book was 4 times more likely to be a dinosaur than an American Indian child. A character in a picture book was 2 times more likely to be a rabbit than an Asian/Pacific or Asian/Pacific American child. Here’s the link to the CCBC for a more in -depth discussion and that chart I mentioned above: https://ccblogc.blogspot.com/2018/02/ccbc-2017-multicultural-statistics.html This workshop was well attended. The workshop leaders pointed out that it is important not only for African American, Asian, Latino, and Indigenous children to see themselves reflected in books, but also for European-American children who will grow up to work with colleagues, managers, and business owners who are people of color. I hope this has been helpful. All the Best, Wendy
  23. Blockchain Technology may cause the next disruption in book-selling and "Put Authors At Center of Publishing Universe". Blockchain, the underpinnings of the bitcoin launched in 2009, "is a decentralized ledger of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network. Using this technology, participants can confirm transactions without a central authority. Potential applications include fund transfers, settling trades, voting and many other uses. " Source: PwC (see the infographic) As we all know, one of the centralized authorities in bookselling is an online retail store, namely Amazon. With blockchain technology, books will contain smart contracts between the author and publisher. Also spelled out in the block, will be subsidiary rights, payment etc, essentially cutting out the middlemen (maybe even bowker's isbn too! But I digress. From Publisher's weekly: So how would blockchain work for books? Basically, a digital book created in the blockchain holds both the text, and also all the terms of a book’s contract—referred to as a “smart contract”—including but not limited to commercial terms of sale (and even resale), author credit and other information. The Alliance of Indepedent Authors (ALLi) has published a white paper on blockchain for books. When a user purchases a blockchain book, the transaction is direct between author and reader—no middleman, like Amazon. The reader gets the text within an app. The text cannot be tampered with or transferred outside of the contract terms coded therein. And the author is paid immediately, with payments divvied up according to the smart contract—for example, the contract might call for 10% of the book's price to go the author’s publisher. And yes, payments are made in cryptocurrency directly to the authors “digital wallet.” By the way, this isn't years away; it is happening now with one of the first books launched in April at the London Book Fair. Also from Publisher's Weekly: Josef Marc, CEO of upstart blockchain publisher Publica, announced that the company had just gone live in the Google Play Store with author Sukhi Jutla’s Escape The Cubicle: Quit The Job You Hate. Without getting too technical, Publica offers the service to authors to crowdfund their publications through ICO (initial coin offerings). So who knows, maybe , @Troy will use a blockchain platform to publish authors and create AALBC tokens too? Decentralization is putting the power back into the hands of the people. For the times they are a-changin'.
  24. Thanks everybody! Don't have anything to add right now because I'm too busy considering how to incorporate all these great strategies into my marketing plans.
  25. Thanks for popping by @CDBurns, please posts some links here from time to time and share the news of your successes -- especially the interviews. Keep up the great work. I may make it to Memphis this summer and will reach out.
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