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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 posted a video of the conversation and a transcript of the chat here
  3. You all have heard me talk about the importance of the Black Book Ecosystem Strong, and why it is so important to us as a culture to maintain our agency when it comes to determining who an how our stories are told. #readingblack is one effort and the community conversations are another. THIS Sunday, March 22, 2020, 6 - 7:30 pm Eastern, I to invite you to participate our first community conversation, “Keeping the Black Book Ecosystem Strong: Black Books in the Age of the Corona Virus.” The conversation will take place online in the form of a video conference using Zoom and will be by Paul Coates (Black Classic Press in Baltimore), Kassahun Checole (African World Press in Trenton), James Fugate (Eso Won Books in Los Angeles), Shirikiana Germina (Sankofa Video and Books in DC), Cheryl and Wade Hudson (Just Us Books West Orange, NJ, and Troy Johnson (AALBC.com, Tampa). This will be the first of several conversations. You will need to register in advance it you are interested in joining us. https://zoom.us/meeting/register/v5AlcuqprTIrCWOmPSMLh5fwrZ6HBNLM_Q
  4. ah good, definitely tell all what she reply so we can all know @Mel Hopkins
  5. @Troy thank you! @richardmurray I don't see it -here in either. I sent a message to @Wendy Jones for assistance too. It's a great feature to follow the topic.
  6. ahh thanks @Troy I checked other functionality, it must be available to club posts:)
  7. @richardmurray she means this tag at the top of the post.
  8. @Mel Hopkins when you say book promotion tag, what do you mean? You mean the linked graphic?
  9. I dunno @Mel Hopkins. Try asking @Wendy Jones. After I perform the next upgrade I'll take a look and get back to you if you do not learn before then.
  10. @Troy how do you add tags? I noticed there is a book promotion tag on this thread.
  11. @Milton I apologize if this a duplicate message. Would you edit your message to include your website link? I've noticed including your website link to your store is like adding an #easybutton. Thank you. @Troy , here's more information on the widely read ePub format. Dropbox dot com launched an ePub viewer. I formatted one of my short stories in ePub format and sent the link to my dropbox and I could read it!
  12. Thanks for the info. Very helpful. I hope to make Sisters but will definetly visit the other two that I mentioned.
  13. Sorry I missed your emails @Maurice I probably did not recognize it as coming from you. All of the stores in NYC are small. The Schomburg's store is park of the iconic research library. It would be good if you catch an event there. Revolution is just down the street so both can be easily visited together. Revolution is focused on Markist and or communist literature (don't quote me on the focus but they are a niche bookstore) they have hosted events featuring Walter Mosley and Cornel west. Sisters Uptown is across town. You can walk, but is a hike: a ride sharing service is probably the easiest way to get there. If Janfer is there tell her Troy from AALBC sent ya 🙂
  14. Troy, contacted you a couple of times regarding the best black owned bookshops in NYC. Perhaps,you didn't receive the messages. Any recommendations ? Revolution and Schomburg seem decent enough. Oh,and Sisters. Thanks.
  15. Marketers in publishing houses tend to use social media for online promotion. This is easy, but it is not the best way to reach Black readers -- shoot it isn't even the best way to reach me and I can't promote book I don't know about. I can't tell you how many people discover a book, I thought was popular, for the first time on AALBC.com or through my newsletter. Brilliant.
  16. @Wendy Jones the three quotes I pulled actually illustrate what Troy and what most marketing professionals advise. Know your why, who and how. Marketing (promotion) doesn’t dictate WHAT an author should write just that they should have a group in mind when they do. You intuitively crafted a market and wrote your story for them. Your narrative indicates what you wrote, why it’s important and to whom it would matter. The through-line looks a bit like this: Oral History - African American Women - during early part of 20th century - with a hot button issue that is still relevant today - social security - and how one black woman over came an inequitable system meant to assist all americans - with a twist of mystery (because who knew it didn’t?!?!). If I were the script reader and wrote the coverage it would pass because its “marketable” .
  17. @Troy this is so true! Sadly, those authors could probably sell well if marketing wasn’t an afterthought. In fact, there’s an article I think you posted here about “black book marketing matters” even in big 5 publishing. Unfortunately those authors - (writing while black) even when they’ve received the guidance of who they are writing to and for, the marketing and publicity departments still don’t know what to do with them. The reason is they don’t have black marketers. In fact, I was the only one at both Penguin and Putnam back in the day. Probably none or one today. This is solid advice - period. There’s no getting around it. It would be malpractice for any promoter to consult or advise otherwise.
  18. To be clear, are you saying that one does not need to define an audience for their book? I ask because on this forum, just the other day I wrote: "If your goal is to make money with your book, marketing should begin before the book is written. The author should consider who the audience for the book is, how large the audience is, how will they reach the audience, and how much it will cost. Independently published authors rarely do this. After some analysis you may determine not to write the book. Indie authors produce the book then struggle with figuring out how to sell it." I do know this is common advice and the reason I share it is because I believe it to be sound advice. Of course I understand that some indie authors -- most perhaps -- have a book in them that they must to get out and issues of marketing are of little concern. In fact, issues of how to properly produce a book and sell it are of little concern as well ... until it is too late. I'm including a link to your book here on AALBC: An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones by Wendy Jones
  19. Siteground is much better than GoDaddy. Here is the link: https://www.siteground.com/
  20. Hello, Promoter Before I begin, I want you to know that, for me, the language of “marketing”—even the word itself--is too close to the language of enslavement: branding, selling yourself, which I see as different from selling your book. Wherever these terms would appear, I will replace them. For this letter, I will only deal with nonfiction books. Yes, as a writer I will at some point need help selling my books. But I do think that if you, the promoter, understood me, the writer, better you would be more successful at promoting my books. Here is what I heard most often: “Figure out who is going to buy the book before you finish writing it.” Sure, there are some books that are rather concrete and straightforward: “The 10 Best Places for Fly Fishing in North America,” "Starting your Business on the Kitchen Table,” “Scientific Hair Care for Women of Color.” All of these books could conceivably have a promotion plan before the writer even set fingers to keyboard. For instance, fly fishing clubs and places both online and offline where fly fishers gather, people in unemployment support groups, and women of color who frequent beauty salons and read magazines, blogs , and websites, with information about hair care for women of color. All of these are obvious places to start. Note, I am not saying that creativity and imagination would not be essential for how to go about finding these readers. What all these books have in common, as different as they are, is it is pretty clear what these books are about from the beginning. By that I mean they are giving straightforward information about concrete topics. However, there are other types of nonfiction books. I will use my experience as an example. An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones began as a simple oral history. It was modeled on All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw by Theodore Rosengarten. Even though my mother raised me alone after my father left the marriage when I was six months old, was burdened by family members who borrowed money they never repaid, and worked on three jobs to ensure I had a superb education--the combination of her savings, my scholarships, summer employment, and work-study jobs resulted in a debt-free education for me through graduate school—until that spring day in 1993, I had never seen her depressed. This South Carolina sharecropper’s daughter, born in 1920, who arrived in New York in 1946 to work as a cook in private homes, became perhaps the first black woman in management at a Fortune 500 company, Standard Brands, now Kraft Foods. Her statement: “I don’t feel my life has come to anything” spurred me to write the book. Although I was honing down my mother’s story, focusing it while retaining her voice, something was missing. But I didn’t know what it was. Only after my mother casually mentioned that black people did not get Social Security—which began in 1935-- until 1951, did the book take a turn into a slightly different direction. This was several years into the writing. While reading history books that spanned my mother’s lifetime, I found this quote, which I included in the book, in Blanch Wiesen Cook’s Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 2, The Defining Years, 1933-1938: Social Security was virtually segregated racially, and women were discriminated against. Agricultural and domestic workers…’casual labor’ or transient, part-time, seasonal, and service workers (such as laundry and restaurant workers)…and local, state, and federal government employees, including teachers, were excluded from the only ‘entitlements,’ old-age and unemployment insurance. As a result, 80 percent of black women were excluded; 60 percent of black men were excluded, and 60 percent of white women were excluded. Only half the workforce was included” (281-82). After that I read works on the Great Migration, the Red Summer of 1919, the role of black women in the suffrage movement, and the histories of the companies she worked for, among other books. Now the writing crackled. This simple oral history had now become a book that examined the history of African American women through the lens of my mother’s life. How could I possibly have started promoting the book earlier in the writing? The book had not yet become itself. The writer and the book are engaged in an intimate dance. Promotion requires leaving this dance to look at the book through the world’s eyes. If this is done too early, it is dangerous for the creation of the book. Once the rhythm of the dance had been established, I felt comfortable enough to temporarily leave it. Now I could see the book on library shelves, in the homes of the many people interested in women’s history, African American history, culinary art (there are stunning color pictures of my mother’s food creations in the book), and in college and high school classes featuring female voices, mother and daughter stories, and the Great Migration. Now in its second printing, and already in several libraries across the country, the book was accepted by the New York Public Library’s SchomburgCenter for Research in Black Culture in 2019. Books are not bricks. Some of them grow organically and become very different as they grow. We can not possibly figure out who is going to buy the book before we even know for sure what the book is. I hope this helps us work together better when we start promoting my next book.
  21. Thanks Mel you are right in that the money I make contributes to Black writers not just in the form of book sales but for reviews, editing, and other assignments. I'm going to have to out source the book order processing I simply can't do the work. I think I have a compensation model that will be worth it to someone looking to earn a little extra money and get some free books.
  22. @Wendy Jones me too! I'm so proud of us and @Troy for this "writer's write to be read and profit too" movement!!! :D
  23. Thanks @Wendy Jones I was talking to a publisher and they told me "A" would order books send them back before the payment terms (that A defined) expired only to reorder the same books just to avoid paying for the books by extending the terms. The publisher loses money on each book they sell through A. They were forced to increase the price of the book. In the meantime, given the lack of competition the publisher is selling far fewer copies. Everyone, including the publisher, author, reader, and bookseller are worse off. The only one benefiting in this scenario is "A." The real problem is that readers don't appreciate how they are less well off. In an world with "A;" books are more expensive than they would be otherwise (save the most most popular titles), and readers are exposed to fewer titles because of a lack of competition.

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