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Wendy Jones

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Everything posted by Wendy Jones

  1. Troy, I am so glad that you found this helpful. I don't see independent publishing as a competitive business, but a collaborative one. And so many people have given me suggestions and information, I am compelled to return the kindness when I can. Also, if I have made a mistake, there is no need for others to make the same mistake. I appreciate your company on this journey. I will keep aalbc.com posted.
  2. Troy, Thank you for making your argument so clearly. The owner came to IBPA touting the website. I looked at it, but I wasn't interested in steering readers away from my website and I am not interested in Ingram. So wonderful that you are supportive of Black bookstores as a whole, not just your own. This is what social action on the part of the community means. My hat's off to you. Bravo.
  3. Every book is different, but I thought it might be helpful to you, my fellow writers and independent publishers, to come on this journey with me. I feel as if I am perpetually falling behind schedule in doing what’s needed to get The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones into the hands of readers who will be uplifted by it. THE BOOK Since here at aalbc.com you have been surrounded by advertisements, a description, and a review about the book, I won’t take too much time talking about it. But here is a summary in one place. The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones– where art and food intersect. Neither a cookbook nor a how-to-book , the book is a portfolio, with ready-to-frame prints, of the culinary art created by Josephine E. Jones with photography by the late John Turner. Opposite each photograph is text, which includes the ingredients, the process used, and a story about my mother’s culinary art. My illustrator, Natalie Marino, gets the credit for suggesting that the photographic pages be perforated, so they could be framed. The text pages on the left hand side remain even after the photos on the right hand side have been removed. This results in periodic blank pages, but they are there by design. THE PROMOTION SCHEDULE First, I researched the promotion schedule by reviewing archived articles from ibpa independent, the Independent Book Publishers Association magazine that comes as part of membership, researching online, and reviewing the IBPA webinars I took that covered the subject. I usually attend them in person so I can ask questions, but all webinars are recorded. IBPA offers monthly hour-long webinars for $19 each if ordered singly and 50% off if ordered annually. I order annually. There were 9 month, 6 month, and 3 month deadlines. CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS--HA Nine months in advance, I researched and wrote to two well-known people in the subject area of the book. I already had two friends lined up to write the other two endorsements. One was a culinary historian and the other was a professional cook whose radio cooking show-- with the original host--our son and I had listened to for years. In fact, it was our son who had first recommended the program to me when he was in grade school. I genuinely enjoyed reading the culinary historian’s books. And I had a fine time listening to the show with the new-to-me host of my favorite cooking show, as well as researching the host online. Neither person responded to my painstakingly-written concise emails. This highly-touted practice is a waste of time. Writers should stop doing this unless they know someone who knows someone who knows someone. My guess is that in a traditional publishing situation, the agent or editor has a contact who is a friend of the well-known person. That well-known person then writes the endorsement as a favor to the friend of the agent or editor, not because s/he knows the unknown writer. I don’t blame the well-known person. S/he is inundated with requests from people s/he does not know asking for endorsements. However, when I wrote the late Maya Angelou years ago for an endorsement for a novel I was writing, I did receive a response. Her assistant sent me a note politely declining, explaining that Ms. Angelou had too much to do. The tone of the note sounded regretful, not haughty. Now it is true, a few years before, I had bumped into the late Maya Angelou in Charleston, S.C. when she was somewhat lost, a situation which accidentally graced me with her presence. But I doubt if she remembered me. I just think she was more considerate than most people. NETGALLEY REVIEW PROGRAM Moving on to the six month deadline. I still needed two more endorsements, but now it was time to consider an IBPA review program I knew nothing about. I researched NetGalley. The program allows you to send your digital galleys to be reviewed by librarians, reviewers, and book buyers. With the IBPA discount, I paid $400 for six months on the site. Since my book has three main potential audiences: food lovers, art lovers, and black history lovers, I listed the book in those three categories. IBPA administers it, so you need to email them if you need anything changed or to request reports, but they are quite efficient. No more than a day or two elapsed between a request and completion. The monthly reports give details about the reviewers: emails and affiliations. Early on--with information from these reports--I contacted two reviewers who had given the book highly positive reviews. I asked them for permission to use review excerpts on the Praise page. They both agreed. I now had my two missing endorsements. I didn’t need any quotes on the back cover, because I was using a photo on the back. Altogether I received 23 reviews, most of them favorable. Several of the reviewers had their own websites or were also sending the reviews to Good Reads. One reviewer even showcased the cover and her review on her cooking blog. The last time I checked, last night, there were 11 reviews on Good Reads. I still have lots of work to do with these reviews now that the program has ended. Sending the reviews to libraries and potential readers will get the word out. Lessons learned: I should have scheduled NetGalley for three months before the book’s original publication date–May 20– and three months after. I scheduled for December 2 to June 2. AALBC.COM PROMOTION Just by accident, I stumbled onto the Books Coming Out Soon section. I was delighted to find out that it was free. As soon as I had a cover image, I sent it along with my codes that give the data about the book and a description. Here at aalbc.com, I made a better decision about scheduling. I scheduled the ads from May through July. Troy advised me to move the requested date for the book review a little later to give the reviewer time to read the book and write the review. It worked out just right. The aalbc.com review link will go to my email list with a request for friends and family to send it to people they think would be interested. IBPA MEDIA KIT PROGRAM I started the three month deadline a little late. In February, I signed up for the Media Kit Program, which is a digital press kit. It includes a cover photo, a description, the story behind the book, an author bio, and an author photo. Once I completed the kit, my materials were sent out in March. I used this program for my first book, An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones. As a result of that Media Kit mailing, I was interviewed for the online edition of Black Enterprise, which led to an interview with a journalist writing a book about Black women in corporate America. That journalist recommended me for a discussion on the NPR affiliate in Boston. The magazine interview , the journalist’s book interview, and the radio segment all resulted in book sales. In the Media Kit Program, you can choose which categories of online newspapers, blogs, and online magazines to send the kit. My choices: Women, African American, Art, and Food. I received 10 review requests. So far, I have had one interview for an Art blog, which will be posted soon. BOOK LAUNCH - SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC LIBRARY ONLINE - MAY 20 - 7:30 - 8:40 I had a fine book launch with wonderful sister and brotherfriends from several decades of my life, as well as a couple of people I didn’t know. With the technical and creative assistance of my life partner, I presented a slide show of the pictures in the book, which took about 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was spent answering insightful questions from the audience and the librarian. At the end of the hour, I offered bonus materials to anyone who ordered that night. People who had pre ordered or were “makers” (developmental editor, copy editor, illustrator, volunteer publicist friend, copyright advisor) also received bonus material. The librarian kept the online room open an extra ten minutes so everyone could order their books. A malfunctioning printing press delayed the publication until June 4. But now, a little over a week later, nearly all the pre orders have been sent out. BUDGET I am $1,000 over my $5,000 budget, which includes the print run, but most of the spending is behind me. I still have to place ads in the Black newspapers and decide which awards programs to enter. Awards programs are expensive, but I can put aside money monthly to cover the costs. The radio programs I am considering cost nothing and are excellent for selling books. While working on this book, I have appreciated all the people who have given me discounts on their services or volunteered their services because they believed in the book. It has been an uplifting experience. NOW THE WORK BEGINS Even though states are opening up, COVID-19 is not completely over. I don’t feel comfortable indoors with large crowds even though I am fully vaccinated. So, I will figure out how to promote the book during this transitional period. My fellow writers and independent publishers, I hope even some of this has been helpful.
  4. NO SURPRISE--PUBLISHING INDUSTRY STILL LACKS DIVERSITY Diversity, equity, and inclusion were central components of several workshops and one of the two keynote speeches. A little over 100 out of approximately 3,700 members attended online April 7 - April 10. One keynote panel composed of women of color from various publishing houses spoke of the continuing lack of diversity among the staff and executives in publishing as the main reason for the lack of diversity in books published by people of color, differently abled people, LGBTQ+, and people who are gender non-conforming. A panelist from Lee & Low-- a minority-owned, family-owned, independent publisher of diverse children’s books since 1991-- published its first diversity report on the publishing industry in 2015. Here is an excerpt from the analysis of the 2019 report, the most recent from Lee & Low’s website: According to the survey, 76 percent of publishing staff, review journal staff, and literary agents are White. The rest are comprised of people who self-report as Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (7 percent); Hispanic/Latino/Mexican (6 percent); Black/African American (5 percent); and biracial/multiracial (3 percent). Native Americans and Middle Easterners each comprise less than 1 percent of publishing staff. “The 2015 survey reported that overall, 79 percent of people who work in publishing self-report as White. Given the sample size difference, this 3 percent change in White employees does not meet the bar for statistically significant change. There is no discernible change to any of the other racial categories. In other words, the field is just as White today as it was four years ago.“ For more details on the report and hyperlinks to various recent publishing controversies, please click on the link below for the Lee & Low website: https://blog.leeandlow.com/2020/01/28/2019diversitybaselinesurvey/ Panelists felt there were problems concerning the practice of using “sensitivity editors,” free lancers who review manuscripts to catch cultural, racial, and ethnic blunders. By hiring these freelancers, companies avoid hiring full-time staff members from diverse populations. Also, these independent contractors are often underpaid. After all, without these sensitivity editors, publishers could end up recalling 10,000 books and dealing with a public relations debacle. NEW POLICIES FROM BARNES & NOBLE The other keynote speaker was Jim Daunt, the head of Barnes & Noble. Daunt said that B & N’s stores would focus on their local areas instead of having book-purchasing decisions emanate from headquarters. In other words, books from local writers and the book-buying habits of each area would be paramount in managers’ purchasing decisions. Daunt was asked about the return policy, in which bookstores are allowed to return unsold books, instead of discounting unsold items as every other retail business does. He said that returns would now be “rare” and seen as a sign of failure. However, he did not jettison the practice altogether. IBPA IS TAKING THE SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT SERIOUSLY Trainings, workshops, evaluations, revisions of values statements, revamping committee criteria, all are ongoing at IBPA. Those of us working on these committees are doing all that we can to make change that is structural, not cosmetic. Some members have left because they felt the organization was getting too “political.” IBPA did not try to convince these people to stay. I know, we have seen this many times before: Reconstruction followed by Jim Crow laws, When the Negro was in Vogue (Langston Hughes’ s chapter about the Harlem Renaissance in his autobiography) followed by the First Depression, the Civil Rights Movement followed by backlash. But this time is different. In the aftermath of the January 6th unsuccessful coup and the flood of voter theft laws, enough people have had their eyes opened that lasting change is possible if we’re willing to do the work. And many of us are. That work is both inner–-reading true American History, working on the racialized trauma in the bodies of all Americans (“My Grandmother’s Hands” by Resmaa Menakem is highly recommended)– and outer–joining local political organizations, making phone calls, or sending postcards to urge others to take different types of political actions There is nothing easy about any of this, but together we can do it.
  5. Thanks, Mel, (someone please tell me how to do the name + @). I have looked at zaji's portfolio and will contact her. I really appreciate this recommendation. Yes, a marketplace would be wonderful. After all, this is where I found my editor and publicist for Ida Bell Publishing LLC's debut publication: An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones. Will return this weekend for a post of the interview I did with Candace Waller about options to the Big A.
  6. Wonderful ideas. Thanks for this. As a reforming clutter bug, I like the idea of giving and receiving something that is not material "stuff." You might also share links to interesting sites that fit in with your book's theme. For instance, songs, youtube clips, something from Internet Archives https://archive.org/index.php , which includes movies, books, and videos. Much success on your event.
  7. Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. It appears that most of the writers are on the big "A" and don't have their own websites, but we did have a webinar about how to set one up and what to put on it. More people are going to be getting off of "A" if they can. A fellow writer tells me that the method of payment for the e-books has changed. Writers used to get paid their percentage when the book was sold. Now the writers are paid as the reader is reading the book. In other words, if the reader reads three pages, the writer receives that percentage of the total book payment. So now, like Spotify, people are being paid in pennies instead of dollars. The writers are screaming. I was interviewed for a fellow writer's blog two years ago talking about how to sell one's book without "A". Over 1,000 people have read the article and people are still reading it today. My writer friend is posting an update from me in a few days. I will send the link when she posts it, a link to aalbc.com is also included in the article. My digression puts this squarely in the "A" section now, but I trust you will put it where it belongs.
  8. As usual, on this site not only do I get encouragement, but I also receive a thorough education. That is why I recommend this website to every writer or publisher I talk to. I feel a warmth in this community I have not found anywhere else online. Thank you, Mel. Both your counsel and your excitement about the book are much appreciated. I looked at your links and, of course, wandered off into the discussion about fictional characters and defamation. Quite intriguing. It's always good to have a plan B, so it's good to know about the Kraft Foundation. Though people who give you money always think they own you. I have no idea what the copyright office will do, but my legal advisor has a plan if the copyright turns down my request. Don't ask me what it is, I am envisioning receiving the copyright. Just sent an announcement for preorders to my email list. I am aiming for 25 preorders minimum by January 4, 2021. In 24 hours, I had 12 orders, so it looks good. The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones, where art and food intersect, will be sold on this website as well as Ida Bell Publishing, LLC,'s after the book launch on May 20, 2021. Although I have posted this in another area on this site, I think I was not in the correct section, so I will post it again here. I am looking for a black website designer willing to work within the constraints of an existing design. In addition, s/he must be able to set up a new book page within the woo-commerce environment (not sure that's the right terminology, but I hope it's clear what I mean). Now that Ida Bell Publishing, LLC, has two books, I would like to have the book page set up in the same format as other publishing websites that I've seen. One page has all the covers, the reader clicks on a cover and the information about that book comes up on a separate page. In other words, the same set up that Troy has here. Please email me at idabellpub@gmail.com if you are interested. May you, your family, and friends stay safe and stay well.
  9. Wonderful. It's about time. Maybe others will leave now, too.
  10. Here's what I found out about work for hire while registering the copyright for Ida Bell Publishing, LLC's next book, The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones, where art and food intersect. The portfolio includes ready-to-frame professional color prints, which can be removed. Josephine E. Jones, now deceased, was not only possibly the first black woman in management at a Fortune 500 company, she was also a culinary artist. What's does that mean? She made food look as good as it tasted, potato salads that looked like wedding cakes, fruit platters that looked like still life paintings. Josephine E. Jones was also my mother, so we ate like this at home, too. In 1975, her work was photographed by the late John Turner for a healthy eating event that the company held for the employees. Mr. Turner was the professional photographer for Standard Brands. This is the company that made Chase & Sanborn Coffee, Royal Gelatin, and Planters Peanuts. The company is Kraft now. In 1977, the photographs were enlarged to grace the walls of the new employees' cafeteria, which was moving from the 10th to the 11th floor. Josephine was the manager of the employees' cafeteria. Her main duties were supervising and training five staff members who made lunch for around 300 people a day, ordering the food, setting the menus, and paying the vendors. That is what she was hired to do. So who has the right to register the copyright for the photos in the book? Remember, as soon as you create the art you own the copyright. All you are doing at the copyright office now is registering it, to prevent people from using it or selling it without permission or payment. Who owns the copyright? Standard Brands? The late photographer John Turner's estate? Josephine E. Jones's sole heir (that's me)? If you do work for a company while working for that company, you are doing work for hire and the company owns the work. But if the work you do while working for that company is not in your job description, not what you were hired to do, it is not work for hire. The work you do belongs to you. My mother was not hired to create culinary art. She did it because she was inspired to do so. As the sole heir, I own the copyright. With legal advice, I am registering the copyright for the sculptural materials that the art is made of, the food. Notice, I am not registering a copyright for the photos, but the underlying work that was photographed. I have already received the copyright for the text that describes ingredients, process, and anecdotes which include not only my mother's philosophy about food presentation, but also her positive words of wisdom about life. I am waiting for word from the copyright office about the copyright on the culinary art. I will let you know how it turns out.
  11. I could not find a category for this, so here goes. I am need a black web designer who is willing to work within the design constraints of an already- designed website. The book page needs to be redone so each book (I will soon have two books) can have its own page. The same way Troy has it here. The web designer must be able to do this using the woo-commerce plug-in. Please contact me at idabellpub@gmail.com. Here's a link to Ida Bell Publishing, LLC's bookpage: https://idabellpublishing.com/shop/
  12. Just read the hardcover copy of "Caste" from the library, engrossing with laser-sharp insights. How is it that even the traditional publishers can't or won't stand up to A?
  13. You and your friends are cordially invited to the Independent Book Publishers Benjamin Franklin Award Ceremony. Watch writers receive awards in more than 50 categories. The ceremony takes place from Tuesday, May 4 to Friday, May 8, from 4PM- 6PM Pacific Time. You don't have to dress up or catch a plane to California (not that you could). It is free. All you have to do is register. And you don't have to attend all four days. May 8 is the last day you can register. Click on the link below to watch the 1minute 35 second video. Scroll down below the video to click on the link to register. I was told I could invite the world. I am trying my best to do so. Hope to see you there. Here's the link
  14. Today I attended Independent Book Publishing Association's Annual meeting remotely. In the open forum, I asked if IBPA could wean writers away from "A." Considering what happened at Christmas time with delayed orders and the "non-essential" designation during this time of the corona virus I thought it should be a priority. The head of the organization asked for members to comment before she gave her opinion. There was dead silence from the other 106 members at the meeting. The head of the organization then said that IBPA had prevented "A" from using Audible caption on books not in the public domain. True, this was a victory. But reacting to each outrage one by one is not as effective as not using them at all. She then went on to say that IBPA encourages members to "diversify, diversify, diversify" and pointed to an article that one of the members had written. This is true. She continued that the association could not tell members which distribution channel to use. Another panelist said that if you did business with "A" you were "restricted in the way you talked about them." She added that they had the best lawyers around. The next question was from a member asking if IBPA could set up a committee to study "A"'s algorithms. That did it for me. In the chat, I asked if a webinar could be given to let members know about alternatives to "A." I have taken two webinars in which the presenters stressed that trying to get an appearance on "Oprah" or a review in the "New York Times" is probably not likely, but your local station or newspaper is a more realistic possibility. In other words, there are other options. I didn't stay to have an after discussion with the panelists on this issue because I hadn't eaten and didn't think I could continue to be diplomatic. The head of the organization had not read aloud my comments comparing "A" to enslavement. Probably considering them too inflammatory. As for taking "A''s money, this is the stuff novels and plays are made of. Do you stand on principle and go bankrupt or do you take the money and stay in business? Saying no does not just involve the owner. The business has employees and those employees have families. Taking the money and letting them stay anonymous means probably not making negative comments about them. You took the money didn't you? What would I do? I don't know. If I were writing this, I'd have a scene where the owner is going to give in because of her concern for the employees and their families, and they refuse to let her. They raise some money, but not as much as if they had taken the "blood money." But they end with their integrity. There is nothing that upsets wealthy people more than finding out that everyone does not have a price, that money can't buy everyone.
  15. A wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf. In 1892, during the Homestead, PA, strike against Carnegie's steel company, women and children were killed by Pinkerton guards when they joined the strikers to support their sons, brothers, spouses, and fathers. Carnegie--in his native Scotland at the time--hired the Pinkertons guards and Henry Clay Frick ordered them to shoot into the crowd. When Carnegie began funding libraries in small towns, which would then be named after him--the industrialist now turned philanthropist--many would not accept the money. The towns did not want his "blood money" and insisted on raising money for their libraries themselves. You don't have to be a New Yorker to have heard of Carnegie Hall and the Frick Museum. Even if, as a friend of mine says who worked for the Carnegie Endowment, in later life Carnegie saw the error of his ways, it should not mean that what he did to make the money he gave away should not be forgotten. Tell both sides of the story. The same is true of "A."
  16. Thank you, Mel. You have made my day. Yes, the text next to each picture gives ingredients, process, and an anecdote that includes a quote from my mother or a story that illustrates not only her philosophy about food, but, of course, about life. From the beginning, I make it clear that it is not a cookbook or a how to book, but a book that will inspire some to create their own culinary art, others to enjoy the art when they frame the perforated large format prints on their wall, and everyone to be touched by my mother's story. It is a companion book to the first book, An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones. The talented illustrator has created an elegant cover that is a work of art, just like the contents of the book. Now if I can get the emergency loan-grant to pay the publicist, I won't have to attempt to do it myself. Thanks again.
  17. Hello, Mel Gladys Mae West is another Hidden Figure. She reminds me of my mother. Quite a story. I read your reply earlier, but I Just found this. Thank you. Having another example is helpful. I will refer to your questions to create the promotion for my next book, The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones. I have mostly finished the text. It just needs one more revision before I send it to the developmental editor. What I came up before asking your questions was this: The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones with Ready-to-Frame prints, where food and art intersect. This is my revision after using your questions. Please let me know if I'm on the right track. Who, Why, and How: The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones with Ready-to-Frame prints The first black woman in management at a Fortune 500 company in 1967, who overcame racism, sexism, and classism, to create food that looked too good to eat.
  18. FORGIVABLE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY LOANS At a recent Independent Book Publishers Association Committee meeting, I received the following information which I would like to share with you. As an independent publisher, if you hire developmental editors, copy editors, illustrators, and/or publicists to work on your book(s), you qualify for the emergency loans described in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The introduction of the Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide Checklist states the following: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. The administration soon will release more details including the list of lenders offering loans under the program. In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan. In other words, if you use the loan to pay your independent contractors, the loan becomes a grant. If you don’t use the loan to pay your independent contractors, the loan will have to be repaid with interest. No loan requests over $10 million will be considered. (I had a good laugh when I read this.) There is more information in the link below to the Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide Checklist, on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, which you can download as a pdf. I wish you much success. https://www.uschamber.com/report/covid-19-emergency-loans-small-business-guide Sorry, this is in the wrong forum. It should be in Ways to Share.
  19. I am in complete agreement with you. Why did booksellers, writers, and independent publishers decide to hand their power over to one distributor? When "B" started the business he said that he was going to destroy the book business first. He said it would be easy, because it was full of English Majors.
  20. WRITERS – CREATE A STAY AT HOME RESOURCE KIT Fellow Writers, I suggest that you create your version of a STAY AT HOME RESOURCE KIT. What is that? It’s any combination of links, essays, videos, music that fits in with the theme of your book. Everyone is home working, attending classes online, or not working. Think about what these various people need and how that dovetails with your book. My title is generic, I am sure you can think of something snappy and original for your kit: Mazie’s Amazing Marble Cake for Staying at Home Recently, I was in a webinar sponsored by the Independent Book Publisher’s Association. According to one panelist, who was a publisher, there are three categories of books that readers want right now: Young Adult non-fiction, cookbooks, and escapist literature. I am sure she is right, but all sorts of people are looking for all kinds of books right now. Your book could be one of them. Is there a single parent trying to work at home and supervise homework for a fourth grader? Of course, the school has sent home curriculum, but maybe you have a children’s book that would fit right in with this grade level. Lead with various activity suggestions or links that would be useful. At the end of the list, send a chapter of your book or a description of the book and a link to your website where the parent can buy the book. If you don’t have a website, now is the time to set one up. (See LATEST BLOW TO BOOK INDUSTRY- posted on Amazon Forum) What about people who want to use this time to create more home cooked meals? For instance, a cookbook writer could include easy-to-cook recipes for nutritious meals, with emphasis on the best foods to boost your immune system. End with information about your book and a link to your website. Okay, so you get the idea. An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones tells my mother’s life story interspersed with African American History. It traces the racial, gender, and class discrimination that she faced and overcame. I write a (mostly) monthly article, including sources, on a black woman or man in American History on my website for my email list. Because I was so active celebrating Black History Month in the physical world, I had not done it online. And here it was near the end of March and I hadn’t done anything for Women’s History Month either. I knew Ida B. Wells would be upset with me. The kit was my atonement. I listed what was in the kit ending with information about The Culinary Art Portfolio of Josephine E. Jones with photographs by John Turner, my next book. I am offering a link to the kit here not just as an example, but because I think you’ll find the information worthwhile. Click on African American Literature Book Club’s s link on my website and you’ll come right back here. Here, along with my wish for everyone’s good health, was what I sent to my email list: STAY AT HOME RESOURCE KIT: 4 - Inspiring Quotes 2- African American Biographies Black History Month Baptist preacher and civil rights advocate (Not the one you think.) Women's History Month Protested segregated transportation system (Also not the one you think.) 2- Links and descriptions of two incredible websites: Internet Archive and African American Literature Book Club - access history, literature, film, discussion groups, book clubs and more. At the Internet Archive I saw a 1905 silent short, read part of Henry "Box" Bibbs' 1849 enslavement narrative (he shipped himself to freedom in a box), looked at several Oscar Micheaux (the first African American feature movie director, producer, author - 44 films) film posters (couldn't find the movies here, but Youtube has a few), and watched Trevor Noah's March 24, 2020, Covid-19 Program (interviews guests only on video). All that on my first visit to the site. Thanks to my life partner for discovering this nonprofit site. I have highlighted African American Literature Club before, but they have new features, such as the online book club, so it's worth taking a look again. Information about my next book Consider it like a box of chocolates, a plate of oysters, or a basket of strawberries: take what you want and leave the rest. Feel free to pass it on. This is safe to spread around. Please scroll down below Pauli Murray's picture--which jumped from further up the page where it belongs, but it does make the STAY AT HOME RESOURCE KIT easier to find. If you click on the links for the missing pictures you'll leave the website. You will need to click on the link below to come back. Here's the link to my website: https://idabellpublishing.com/thoughts-updates/ Fellow writers, I hope this has been helpful.
  21. LATEST BLOW TO BOOK INDUSTRY Update- 3/31/2020 - “A” has ordered a few books from a publisher I know, one tenth of their usual order. There is no such thing as a “kind” slave master. Sell your books through your own website. Hello from Amazon, We are closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on our customers, selling partners, and employees. We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock and deliver these products to customers. Beginning today you will see: Reduced Purchase Orders: We have temporarily paused ordering for products that are not household staples, medical supplies, or other high demand products. Extended delivery windows for existing purchase orders: We have extended the shipment/delivery windows for some existing purchase orders to give you more time to fulfill the order. Please ship your products toward the end of the extended window. This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly. We are working around the clock to increase capacity, and on March 16 announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US. We appreciate your understanding as we prioritize the above products for our customers. Thank you for your patience, Amazon (Okay, Troy and Mel, you were right. It is a tag. But the box with the pull up menu is on this screen, it's not on the other one.)
  22. DISCUSSION FORUMS STELLAR - SCREEN FATIGUE IS THE PROBLEM Before I let you know why I haven't been participating in the discussion forums, I want to express my gratitude to African American Literature Book Club. I found my editor and publicist here. Troy did the research to include the WBAI David Rothenberg interview on my author’s page, even though I had forgotten to send it to him. The review that was published on AALBC, though not completely positive, was professionally written. A professional review gives the reviewer’s opinion of the book with supportive evidence from the book while giving enough information for the reader to decide if s/he is interested in the book. The reviewer did that, which resulted in sales of An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones. One of those sales resulted in a reunion with a beloved writer mentee. Another sale resulted in a fine correspondence—which continues until this day—with an admirer of the book who has also been very supportive of my career. Thank you. I was briefly on Facebook and LinkedIn for business, but ran away screaming. Facebook seemed intrusive to me. After I left, they followed me for six months online. LinkedIn sent emails to everyone in my inbox, which resulted in contact from someone I never wanted to hear from in this life or the next. Although I am still on Goodreads, I am not very active. When I visited their forums I was appalled at the childishness of the exchanges. It reminded me of third grade playground fights. Then I came to this community. Discussions were at a high level, included sources, and--whether I agreed with the writers or not--the conversations were always civil. There was so much variety, and you could start a new topic. Engaging people with differing perspectives was exhilarating. I will never forget the series of discussions Troy, another community member, and I had with a young man about his views on gay people. We didn’t change his mind, but I hope he at least reexamined his beliefs. Who could forget the life changing discussions about “A” and its devastating effect on booksellers, readers, and writers? Your discussion forums increased my brain cells. I spent days creating responses in my head. Then I typed them up in Word and revised them. After that, I cut and pasted them into the forums. Recently, I created a STAY AT HOME RESOURCE KIT on my website for my email list. I will discuss the details of that in another post. I think a custom tailored version of it would work for other writers. One element of the kit included recommended links. Here is what I put on my website: Discover the joys of the 21st Century’s version of the 18th Century salon. Then I copied the block of text from AALBC’s website giving details about the site and put the link on my website. For the past two years, I have been giving readings of An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones for Black History Month Programs at libraries and added a college this year. In addition, I also scheduled my first Women’s History Month Program this year, which was postponed because of COVID-19. Wherever I go, I have been telling writers and readers about your website, with particular mention of the forums. In other words, although I wasn’t on the forums, I was sending as many people to them as I could. I don’t think the discussion forums can be improved. They are already excellent. The problem lies not with your discussion forums, but with my screen fatigue. Like most people, I spend a great deal of time on screens: the computer and the phone. I don’t have a TV, but watch movies, documentaries, TV programs, and videos on the computer. I am looking forward to watching an Oscar Micheaux film on Youtube later tonight. Except for occasional trips to bookstores, most of my research is done on a computer screen at home or at the library. I don’t have other devices, but still spend more time than I’d like on screens. When I was working on An Extraordinary Life: Josephine E. Jones, I had to get special computer glasses to ease the fatigue of reading the digital proof files my copy editor sent me. I felt as if I my eyeballs were walking on sand. I am wearing those glasses now. After awhile, I don’t want to see another screen. I just want to put on my regular glasses, sit in my wing chair, prop my feet on the footstool, and read Looking for Lorraine. (If this ends up with a "tag"[I don't think that's the correct term-my research described the "at" sign with the name as a tag] it will be another accident.)
  23. Siteground is much better than GoDaddy. Here is the link: https://www.siteground.com/
  24. 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.
  25. If you haven’t heard about A’s latest dastardly deeds, here are two of the most recent: A (no need to keep repeating the name, the initial will do) was not ordering the number of books from various independent bookstores and publishers that they had placed large orders with previously. To have this happen just before the holiday season was a disaster. This is not in the update, but I recently heard from an independent bookstore owner that orders were now larger than they had ever been. I didn’t say anything, but I have a feeling the returns are going to be larger than they’ve ever been, too. Here’s the link to the response from the Independent Book Publishers Association: https://www.ibpa-online.org/news/news.asp?id=478273 As many of you know, writers’ rights to their work are bundled, like pickup sticks held together with a rubber band. For instance, you can sell the rights to the e-book, the rights to the audio book, the rights to the hardcover, and the rights to the soft cover. All these rights are sold separately, one pickup stick at a time. In the case I’m going to describe, writers sold the rights to the audio book version of a particular book. However, now A has decided to create an Audible Captions Program. What’s that? Instead of just listening to the text, the listener can also read the text on the screen. The sentences are broken up into a few words at a time. Then they disappear. A trumpets this as a way to help remedial reading students gain fluency in reading. Besides the disappearing text, the other problem is an “acceptable” error rate of 6%. On a page of three hundred words, there will be 18 “acceptable” typographical errors or otherwise mangled words. A intended to do this with all the books it had control over, not just those in the public domain (the writer is dead and the estate no longer owns the copyright). In other words, A was going to make a version of the book for which the writer had not been paid and had not given permission for the work to be produced (destroyed) in this way. Since September, A has been in court fighting a lawsuit waged by the writers and publishers whose work it had intended to steal. For now, A has agreed to roll out this program only for books in the public domain and the books it publishes. Look at the hypertext to see what happened to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Here is the link to the article from the Independent Book Publishers Association: https://www.ibpa-online.org/news/news.asp?id=467194 I am so pleased that so many of us at AALBC.COM are working together to break free from A’s chains. Troy, thank you for making this possible. I wish you continued success with your online bookstore.
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