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About This Club

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. I've soured on the associates the commissions are now negligible. As a monopoly for online booksales Amazon does not have competition to worry about a competing bookstore paying affiliates more. I guess the data is valueable -- what little Amazon shares. There are others not willing to sell on Amazon. But third party sellers easily subvert the author/publishers desires which Amazon encourages.
  3. Mel Hopkins

    Hey Indie Author! How can I get your book?

    Thank you @Troy ! No, I'm trying something else ...I figure if folks feel strongly enough about the content they will share it. Right!!! I like that you mentioned to one of the members - to become amazon associate. As an associate there's more customer insight available. I don't think I'll sell my books on amazon because to them, it appears books are like "giveaways" to them. I do appreciate the associates program. It allows me to see customers in a new way.
  4. @Mel Hopkins you don't allow comments on your site? The difference between Anazon and everone else is that Amazon does not have to generate profit from the sale of books. But it does mske sense to use Amazons data and tactics whenever the possible i know i do 😉
  5. Mel Hopkins

    Hey Indie Author! How can I get your book?

    Book Selling in the Amazon Age (blog post) Independent book selling is hard in the age of Amazon. But if you think you can’t be profitable, think again. Amazon provides customer-centric tools booksellers can use to build their own community of readers. You just have to know where to find them. Visit me at theleadstory.net for more tips.
  6. Mel Hopkins

    Hello. My name is Gibran Tariq

    In this world, as a woman you must employ both ... and if you're a black woman you must use both as weaponry. Welcome, @Gibran Thank you for joining us ! I hope you will also share your talent with the rest of us who #dothewritething !
  7. For most of my life, I was the guy most wannabee thugs wished they could be. Officially declared a "menace to society", I was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for my role as mastermind of a series of daring bank robberies in the 70s. Two involved shootouts. One with the police. The other with a citizen in a bank parking lot where I narrowly missed being killed. While confined, I took part in an even more daring prison escape. Despite this seeming penchant for violence, I consoled myself with the notion that I was merely a poet trapped in a gangsta's body and oddly enough, this wasn't far from the truth as I had evolved from a family of teachers, four of whom taught English. As such, I learned, early on, to respect and to appreciate language since my grandmother was very strict and would not tolerate improper grammar under her roof. From the start, there appeared to be a household conspiracy to convert me into a writer. By the time I was ten, I possessed a private library fit for a scholar, had a new typewriter, a big desk, and plenty of blank paper. By 11, I had mastered the dictionary, was a whiz at Scrabble, and was a honor roll student in school. At twelve, I had completed my first novel. By my 13th birthday, I had discovered hustling and I immediately dropped out of school and adopted "the streets" as my home. By 14, I was in reform school for assaulting a police officer. While there, I was a star journalist, the first black deemed smart enough to work in the print shop and on the in-house newsletter. I served one year and a day. Upon my release, with hardly any delays, I embarked on a personal crime spree, and at the age of 15 years-old, I was sent to prison where I was the youngest convict there. While in the Youth Center, I acquired my high school diploma at 16 years-old, wrote my first play, turned militant, and when released at 19, went to New York to join the Black Panthers. In New York, I discovered heroin. Writing and the revolution would both have to wait as a drug habit left little room for anything else. When I tired of being a junkie, I kicked my fascination with getting high, but years later would emerge as the "alleged" kingpin of a notorious heroin distribution ring. Finally brought down by the FBI and DEA in 1997, I again was sent to federal prison. This time I would be gone for a decade, but once more I turned back to what I had turned my back on: writing. I studied journalism, started a writer's colony, mentored other aspiring prison writers, four of whom are now published, one a bestselling street-lit author. I edited and founded various newsletters, performed freelance editorial services for outside writers while quietly perfecting my craft. Hailed by some as one of the greatest prison writers ever, I was interviewed by numerous tv and print outlets. My writings have even been studied in an English class at an university where I was invited to lecture. While in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, I published two novels, but soured on traditional publishing after a deal gone bad with a well-known publisher. I also developed two programs. One, PROJECT UPLIFT, which deals with drug-dealer addiction. The second, GIRLSMART, a community service program concerned with at-risk, teenaged, black girls. This program is a counter to the BET-inspired video vixen syndrome where sisters opt to employ their booty rather than their brains. At last, I have finally gone from wrong to "write"
  8. This is precisely what is happening. The only difference is the government was willing to break up Standard Oil. Amazon is a monopoly in multiple industries without any indication they will be constrained by the government at all. Their are plenty of people who have a better understanding of Amazon'd dominance than I. I can speak to the Black book ecosystem, but Amazon's dominance extends way beyond this...
  9. Wow, brotha Troy, I 'm absolutely convinced that if anyone understands the problem of Amazon's dominance, it is you. I imagine that Amazon's business model was conceived from the same type of greed and selfishness that propelled the "robber barons" from decades ago who put the squeeze on the oil and steel industries. Man, I wished there would have been more like you trying to wake up those like me who had no idea what was coming.
  10. @Gibran Amazon has already won man. It is over. Even the amount of money I make as an Amazon affiliate has dropped substantially over the years. I could see it coming years ago -- I just could not do anything about it. Amazon is the greatest hustler there ever was. Rather than being locked up, they are rewarded. They have even convinced us "marks" to believe they are good. Again, authors, the ones with the most to gain, were the harshest critics against boycotting Amazon. No, the KDP consolidation was far from seamless there are countless articles by writers complaining about this, but again there was nothing any of us could do about it. Amazon is a monopoly for online sales of books and they are a monopoly in eBook production and sales -- they are even a monopoly in the eBook reader hardware and software sales and manufacturing. Collectively Black people are not sophisticated enough to see the problem. We are not dumb, but it is something we don't know enough about to have an opinion. See everybody feels they can have an opinion about, say, the game last night, but once you start talking about monopolies people eyes glaze over. It is not only Black people who are being effected, but we suffer more than other group as a result of Amazon's dominance. The other problem we have is that we do not have have the platforms (websites, newspapers, TV, Radio) with the resources, ability, or consciousness to teach enough people why Amazon's dominance matters. Sure, they can cover the antics of Cardi B or Kanye West, but when it comes to stuff that really matters which requires a bit of explaining -- forget about it.
  11. Wow....Brotha Troy, I see that you are 100% committed to the mission of exposing Amazon. Continue to teach. I remember clearly when you first informed me personally of Amazon's penchant for dealing from the proverbial bottom of the deck. That was many years ago before I stepped away from writing and all related activities. It was you who told me how authors leave money on the table when dealing via Amazon, and that got my attention because as a hustler, I never enjoyed the thought of someone taking something from me. Being that I considered your advice valuable, I even managed to open my own online bookstore for a while. I, currently, am embroiled with the company in question over certain of their practices. For a fact, the transition from CreateSpace to KDP was by no means seamless. During the conversion process, the interior of some of the books were disfigured. In some places, there were blank spaces between sentences, In other places, entire sentences were squeezed together as if a single word. One book that was previously printed is now blocked. Herein lies the problem. Writers, such as myself, who are not tech-savvy are eager to turn over the reins to someone else, especially when the major publishing houses are seemingly out of reach, and writers, such as myself, viewed Amazon as the McDonald's of the self-publishing world so the lure is practically irresistible. To a rookie in the game, such as myself, finding a One Stop Shop for all my publishing dreams was better than getting "fries with my milkshake. Man, this was Wal-Mart! I don't care what the industry may be, but any time a single business entity can make you believe, whether by clever advertising or by brute force, that they are the future, then total control is there for them to seize. In any event, writers, such as myself, are mortified at the notion of having to do more work after finishing the book, and Voila, there is Amazon, the "too-good-to-be-true" babysitter for your book. Yes, brotha Troy, you need to teach! Writers must be educated to know that success in writing a book must be accompanied by the success of getting the book into the hands of readers.
  12. Yeah James is an iconic figure in the Book industry. It is hard to believe it is the ONLY Black owned bookstore in Los Angeles, CA -- a city of more than 400K Black people.... Then again NYC have 5 times that many Black people and only has one general interest Black owned bookstore too (if you don't count church book stores). @Cynique james was the Black Pack Party in Chicago that you attended.
  13. “Co-owner James Fugate reflects on his evolution as a bookseller and how Eso Won came to be the city's unofficial literary headquarters for Black writing. “ And for inquiring minds he shares the meaning of the bookstore’s name. Listen here - Source: The RunDown | Reporter: Neyat Yohannes
  14. This is good news. Access to capital is always a problem for Black indie businesses so it is good to see a community step up and support an institution. The previous owner of Wild Fig, Crystal Wilkinson is an accomplished novelist. @Mel Hopkins, it was refreshing to see read article you linked to reference AALBC as the source of the count of Black owned bookstores. The article reference another article which writes on WUKY's site which says, "Publisher's Weekly reports at least 108 were open in April of this year." Publishers Weekly is not, nor do they claim to be, the source. However WUKY attributes PW. This is sloppy journalism at best and racist at worse. Again I'm glad to see this data correctly credited for change.
  15. Wild Fig Books & Coffee in Lexington, KY finds new life after owners raise $35,000 and convert the bookstore to a worker-owned cooperative business model. Read on | Source: Next City “Black-owned bookstores are making a comeback.
  16. 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!"
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. This is indeed a really good question. No one person as the answer, but collectively we do. Hopefully they'll be some good responses.
  21. 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
  22. 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!
  23. Hey @Valjeanne Jeffers please share the link to you page.
  24. That makes sense. Also, it's a great reference tool to have on hand. I've already added it to my site
  25. 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.
  26. Hi Troy, thanks for posting this! Do you think the map help with sales too?