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Troy

AALBC.com Website Upgrade - What Would You like to see?

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I'm upgrading the website in a big way over the next few months.  If I get it done in the next 6 months I'll be happy, indeed the success of this upgrade will almost certainly determine the future of AALBC.com.  I don't mean from a technical perspective, I mean from a business perspective.

 

Is there enough demand for a website dedicated to promoting Black literature, to provide a 1/2 way decent living?  Over the last few years this has become increasingly difficult.  Some of the changes I have in mind, include more interactivity, a customized CMS, fully mobile ready (to make Google happy), as well as a ton of content spanning almost 2 decades.  The site will not fail because of technical execution.  

 

This is not the first major site overhaul.  I performed three website overhauls prior to this to this one, and many incremental updates but this one will be the biggest  Check out some screenshots from over the years

 

Currently I'm building out the book database which will drive the presentation of book information through the website.  My first target is our bestsellers list.  Currently I use the Amazon widget to present our book information (see current list).  I've always hated that tool because it is not very flexible and Amazon controls the data, but it is much faster to publish our bestsellers list than hand coding each and every list the way I did before implementing the Amazon tool (see early bestseller list).  In fact, one of the reasons I started publishing the bestsellers list every two months, rather than monthly, was because it took so long to create the page.  

 

The power list website, which I rebuilt last year iis completely database driven, and I learned a lot from that experience, the AALBC.com implementation will be superior. I also have to upgrade my php code as I'm using code that has been depreciated, so the site will be better on many levels.  The site will also be fully compliant with HTML5 and CSS3.  So while creating new bestsellers lists will be faster, easier, and utilizing superior code. This is all under the hood type stuff visitors don't care anything about. 

 

What visitors do care about is what will the site does, what information it conveys and how it looks.  Which really is the main reason I created this post.  Are there any features you'd like to see on a bestsellers list?  Please share you ideas here and I'll work them in.

 

Here is a new page, very rough and in the early stages.  I'm experimenting with presentation as the database is built out.  Again I'm looking for ideas: http://75.103.68.29/books/bestsellers.php 

 

Thanks for your help!

 

 

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I would like to see the blog integrated into the first page of the site and the books, even the paid ads, be featured as blog posts/articles. Basically I'd like the traditional banner, with ad at the top of the page, rotating slider featuring paid ads at the top, an AALBC power list box, a Huria Blog box and then the blogs beneath all of that. I mean really the biggest issue I see is that people are really getting used to the blog format on the homepage as opposed to being a click through. People scroll now and if there is an extra button to click to get to information then I think it hurts. If we can see an excerpt of the blog posts that would be great.  The site is so informative it will be hard to decide what to do, but you know how to keep it rocking. As far as making a living from the site, you might want to break down the advertising into a year long billing subscription. I know for a fact if you sent me a billing option that I would pay each month to keep a book on the front page. If the billing option doesn't show up then I keep kind of pushing forward and forget to do anything. (Does that make sense?) Whatever you do I will be ready to look at it and I will  help in anyway.

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Yeah a proper billing system would make my life easier.  I know, for example, that I lose clients who would re-up if I sent them a notice when their ad was about to expire.  I could also benefit from a system that can take place the ads without my intervention.  That will be a future enhancement as well, but I'll have to buy that solution, that is something I can't code that.  It would also be nice to have more dynamic pricing such that ads are priced as a function of demand.

I was thinking of charging people $1 per day for a book on the homepage, sold in quarters, just to make it simple--and even more cost effective for the author.  

The rest of the ideas are good too--thanks for all your suggestions.  

Google is testing a feature call matched content where they create ad like banners that highlight popular content on one's website.  I have those banners running right now, maybe I'll add one to the discussion forum.  They are designed to increase engagement on your website. It seems like a great feature for websites.

I just have not figured out Google's angle, their real motive, how this makes them richer yet--yes Google has made a cynic out of me ;-)

 

 

Edited by Troy

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I think Cynique's Corner has pretty much run its course. I've have no new theories or crazy opinions or hyper-criticisms to foist upon people. And I'm really sorry to disappoint you, Troy, when I confess that I am no longer your target audience.  I'm becoming indifferent to the literary world of books and authors; there's too much to sort out. When it comes to my PC, all that currently motivates me, besides e-mail and YouTube music, is the instant access it provides to information about things that I come across and am curious to learn more about.   And you know what that entails:the Terrible Two links that you hate. My enthusiasm for FaceBook and the Game sites is also dwindling, a good thing inasmuch as they are addictive pass times. 

The Internet has always been a novelty to me because I lived so long without it being around, and then suddenly there was the cyber world where you could enter and do really cool things.  Now the novelty has worn off and I find myself back to where I began, which means I'm wallowing in the past, consumed by nostalgia and reminiscence, a mindset wherein my browser is replaced by my brain. Oh, well. But you have the skill sets to be a survivor, Troy, so you'll be fine. 

Edited by Cynique
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Cynique your perspective, is in some ways is similar to my own.  I remember the pre-WWW-as-a-commercial-entity-world very well.  I remember quite clearly what the world was like before Google, social media, Wikipedia, and Amazon was like.  I was a grown man with children, before any of this stuff was invented.

As each new thing came along I was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon, the prototypical early adopter.  Before the WWW, I was into PC's and before that I worked in telecommunications.  i just enjoyed technology. The internet helped me discover so much of our history and culture.  It is one of the things that fuel my passion for AALBC.com.  Similarly I learned about quantum mechanics, I had no clue what the world was like at the sub-atomic scale.  I could very easily have had a science website as I'm even more excited about that than I am about books.  

Today however, despite the advantages, I'm almost of the mind that we are actually worse off because of the web--certainly in the book world.  I mean Black people have lost so much in terms of what we actually own, careers, stores, newspapers, magazines, websites, etc that I'm constantly asking myself what is the point?  

Now I don't mean the world wide web itself is bad, but the people who run it are sociopaths.  They have no mission other than to make money.  Which is so very different than the way it started.

I'm no longer convinced that we, Black people in particular, are any better off as a result of all of this technology.  We have smarter phones and dumber people.  We allow social media to craft and curate our online existence into convenient bubbles designed to exploit our activity and optimize our consumerism.  I've seen people actually spend real money on virtual tools on Farmville. Just because people are willing pay for something does not make it right it.  Just because people pay for crack does not mean you should sell it to them any more than you should sell a mortgage or a student loan to someone who can not afford to pay it.  The web is run by ganstas, but most folks don't know it or simply don't care.

I hope you are right Cynique, I definitely don't have it in me to be a gangsta, so I'll never become rich online.  But I do think I can make a living. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

You will always have a have a place at Cynique's Corner :-)

By the way check out the most recent blog added to Huria Search: http://huria.org/blogs/blog-name.php?name=Patricia A. Patton you may find inspiration for your Blog.

 

 

 

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Fewer bookstores, more wing shops and a ton of money being spent on Jordans... that's my perception of the last 15 years. I once had a dream that I would be a writer. I no longer have that dream and I've pretty much relegated my aspirations to blogging and business writing. I don't think I will ever see the day that I make a living off of writing. I often feel like I should have attended an MBA and computer science program instead of an MFA. I mean, my living has gone from being a college professor to selling shoes in the last ten years. That was basically dictated by the difficulty I had in the publishing world. I feel Cynique 100%. The novelty is long gone and my energy is only spent on getting more shoes onto the feet of consumers. That's not a bad thing, but it's unfortunate that what was my world for so long (education/teaching/reading - things that matter), I don't see it providing me with a living so I've given it up pretty much.

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It is interesting Chris that I started teaching, because I needed the extra money.  Now I had the flexibility to choose teaching because of my education and ability, but I would much rather dedicate my time to making a difference on the web.  

 

Teaching the web design course at the college level has made me a better web designer, but the time I spend in front of students, grading tests, preparing for class, is time that I can not spend on AALBC.com.  This makes AALBC.com weaker.  

 

So I continue to pursue my passion at a great expense of time, energy and the opportunity cost of revenue I could be generating doing something else more lucrative.

Chris I would not lament not getting an MBA.  In general that prepares you to work in a corporation.  You are more entrepreneurial, which an MBA does not really prepare you to becomey.  My MBA gave me some insight on marketing, accounting, management, and other subjects I believe that have benefited me, but you don;t need the degree to get that.  The real learning comes from doing. There is little that my MBA could have taught me to prepare me for the world of the WWW, which did not exist when I got my MBA.

 

One thing that I do notice is that less educated people, regardless of degree, are simply less prepared to operate a business and less desirable (or even willing) collaborators.  I'm not claiming the is a casual relationship, but there is certainly a correlation.  It also appears that our most educated people generally work for someone else.  Which my be we don;t own very much...

 

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I wrote this quote a while back, "Sensational is not information, but it wins in the battle of eyes and views. Sensational is a business now although it fails to empower or inform. Yogurt sells; no need to be sensational." For a long time I tried to decipher this. I thought it was just random thought until I began to realize that this is exactly what Cynique is saying and it is what we are talking about here. Black people live for sensational presentations. You can sell us through the promotion of the outlandish. However it is the subtle approach that has lasting power and White folks have mastered the art of accepting dry information. They realize that it's not the loudest or "sensational" that informs or empowers. While they allow Fox to cater to the impoverished base of the Republican party, they maintain print magazines like Money and Inc while we can barely keep in circulation any magazine that does not focus on celebrity or sensational news.

Black people simply don't know or want to know how to empower themselves. They want to make money, but without spending the time to build community. Unfortunately for  those of us who have crossed the threshold of time, our message is lost and caught in a volley between like-minded people. The ball is rarely hit to those who utilize the web at a rate where they could shift the balance of power that would generate the views and clicks needed to operate a literary website.

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Chris that last post was beautifully written.

We really could wield so much power on the web.  The ability to sustain many literary websites should be a trivial matter.

Edited by Troy

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It should be, but I just wrote on Facebook this statement:

The biggest issue for those who have businesses where they are creating a product is building a network especially when that business is in an area where there are dominant players. The idea of business is that you create something that is both needed and fills a need. The reality is that there is always something out there already and that unless you capture the market with a great slogan and a passion, reaching the buyer/client/market is an extremely difficult thing to do.

It's much easier to sell yourself because the investment is time and effort. When the investment involves purchasing and selling inventory that is not a known entity, the game changes considerably.

 

 

I've gotten the typical "Amen" or "Preach" or "Absolutely", but that will be the end of it. Running a literary website should be a profitable afterthought, but the bottom line is we don't value the things that supplies the world with information and entertainment. Here is an article that is about music that addresses what we are discussing here perfectly.

 

http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/10/02/doesntcare

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I just read that Jeff Price's rant.  The issues are the same in publishing.  The thing that gives the Amazon's and the Pandora's of the world so much power is that anyone can now get music to listeners and books to readers-ANYBODY.  In the old model many people were cut off.  Now that making music and books is so cheap and Amazon and youtube provide a platform for distribution there will be plenty of musicians and writers signing up to give their stuff away.  As Jeff pointed out the old model was far from perfect, but this model is worse.  As long as this is true, big these corporations will not have to pay for content.

...and I don't see this ending anytime soon.

 

As far as the website upgrade is coming,  I think I have the design for the top and bottom of the web pages completed: http://75.103.68.29/template.html now I have to work on a few templates for different types of content pages.

 

I trying to get my kids to help me with the data migration.  None of them are really into it, but they will probably help out a bit anyway :-)

 

 

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The top is nice, the bottom is still a bit busy, but as long as it's browser friendly that is all that matters. God bless you and your data migration. That's why I'm all inside of Wordpress because of the import export feature. All I have to do is fix links when I switch it around. I wouldn't want to be you. Sooooo much content, but it least moving it will give you a chance to tweet and share it all over again. On a different note, I know I keep saying it, but I really need to put more effort into the book stuff and the business books seem to be my lane into gaining ground since they are mobile friendly books. I will look through the packages again because I have to build that business starting now.

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Yeah maybe I'll cut back on the content on the bottom.  I don't really need the whole mission and about me statements when I can link to them. I spent quite a bit of time make the stuff on the bottom look good at various screen widths, but I'll will ultimately cut back on the content on the bottom, and probably eliminate it altogether for mobile platforms.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Yes you do seem to be more inclined to write about business I suspect as more people lose their jobs, become unemployable, or unable to earn a decent wage.  Advisory on entrepreneurship will increase in demand.  Those with a demonstrated track record will be most in demand. 

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...What visitors do care about is what will the site does, what information it conveys and how it looks.  Which really is the main reason I created this post.  Are there any features you'd like to see on a bestsellers list?  Please share you ideas here and I'll work them in...Thanks for your help!

 

 

I'm too new to really know what to offer right now, but just want to say that I did order a book off of the list and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts after I read it. It is about a woman who raised her sons in a thug propagandized world. Since i have sons, and this was and still is a challenge for me, I am so interested in reading this book. 

I know that Amazon offers the opportunity to sample the book and also, comments about the book by others. So I love to read other people's comments, perhaps, that might be a feature, a caption, or something, that could be easily seen. but again, I'm new at this, and this feature may already be in place. 

 

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I would like to see the blog integrated into the first page of the site and the books, even the paid ads, be featured as blog posts/articles. Basically I'd like the traditional banner, with ad at the top of the page, rotating slider featuring paid ads at the top, an AALBC power list box, a Huria Blog box and then the blogs beneath all of that. I mean really the biggest issue I see is that people are really getting used to the blog format on the homepage as opposed to being a click through. People scroll now and if there is an extra button to click to get to information then I think it hurts. If we can see an excerpt of the blog posts that would be great.  The site is so informative it will be hard to decide what to do, but you know how to keep it rocking. As far as making a living from the site, you might want to break down the advertising into a year long billing subscription. I know for a fact if you sent me a billing option that I would pay each month to keep a book on the front page. If the billing option doesn't show up then I keep kind of pushing forward and forget to do anything. (Does that make sense?) Whatever you do I will be ready to look at it and I will  help in anyway.

I don't know if you touched upon this as far as billing, but I had a little bit of a problem seeing how I ws billed on the book that I just recently purchased. I used paypal through some unfamiliar site to buy my book and did not get a transaction number, the usual process. but I feel pretty okay because I saw paypal statement on my email.  

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Fewer bookstores, more wing shops and a ton of money being spent on Jordans... that's my perception of the last 15 years. I once had a dream that I would be a writer. I no longer have that dream and I've pretty much relegated my aspirations to blogging and business writing. I don't think I will ever see the day that I make a living off of writing. I often feel like I should have attended an MBA and computer science program instead of an MFA. I mean, my living has gone from being a college professor to selling shoes in the last ten years. That was basically dictated by the difficulty I had in the publishing world. I feel Cynique 100%. The novelty is long gone and my energy is only spent on getting more shoes onto the feet of consumers. That's not a bad thing, but it's unfortunate that what was my world for so long (education/teaching/reading - things that matter), I don't see it providing me with a living so I've given it up pretty much.

That's scary, 'not wanting to write'. I love to write but yes, this technology world has caused me problems too. The thought of living off of writing has left me many years ago, but I still believe that writing [& reading] is paramount to having a better quality of life. It's just that, I believe that there are some who deliberately write useless material to deter people from wanting to write and read about the issues that count, and this has played against the human race as a whole. And, this is disheartening for me, but nevertheless, I love to write, I have just got to get myself in the mood and this is taking a little longer than it has in the past.  

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I am still writing. I just don't think about the writing as a career. I am working on a plan that requires Troy to help me considerably and will require a bit of investment on my behalf, but I think it will be well worth it. 

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I ran a query to see when I actually started this website's upgrade.  I've been saying 18 months but it has been two years and I'm still at it!  It was interesting to reread my thoughts and the comments.

 

Part of what has slowed me down was that the scope of the upgrade has expanded substantially.  Despite the delay the upgrade has actually gone far better than I anticipated.  The site is better on every single level.  I still have content to migrate from static pages to my database, but I should finished that this year, for the number of pages needed to be migrated now number in the hundreds rather than the thousands.  Once all of the content that I can find has been migrated I'll consider the update completed.

 

Of course that will not be the end of updates to, but they will not longer consume most of my time as they have for the past year.  I'll be able to focus much more on content creation and maybe get back into the gym ;-)

 

Rereading my notes it seems I underestimated the value, teaching web design, has been to the sit'e upgrade.  I've learned more about web design in the last 2 years than I have in the previous 10.  The technology changes so rapidly; teaching forces me to keep up which has benefit the site more than I could have anticipated.

 

My kids never did join in the effort to help.  They are both smart, but this was largely my passion.  No one else in the family really shares my passion for what I do,  indeed most people don't, but there are enough who do, so I continue to work to find my tribe.  Both of my kids have actually moved out on their own since I started this project :) 

 

I'm still not satisfied with the homepage layout.  A lot of people like the the slider which scrolls through a bunch of large pictures.  While it looks good but it is trends and does not do much for SEO. Did I say SEO (read: making Google happy) is incredibly important. It is the most important thing behind the website's content--perhaps more.  Chris suggested a Blog format, which is a better idea, which I may try after the upgrade is complete.

 

The homepage is just one page, so I'm not stressing over it too much. Besides it is no longer the most popular page on the website.  Indeed, many of the most popular pages today did not exist prior to the site's upgrade, which is one of the reasons the site's traffic will almost certainly be the highest ever.

 

As I knew when I started this project, two years ago my challenges would not be technical.  

 

Despite the site's enhancement and increased number of ,visitors and ability to reach readers, authors simply do not take of the platform. 

 

The other problem is that Facebook, Amazon and Google's power has only increased.  While I've eliminated all dependencies on Amazon and Facebook, Google could easily put me out of business tomorrow--and there is nothing I can do about it.  I've made appeals to readers, webmasters, booksellers to try to support each others website to reduce dependency on Google search, but this effort has largely failed so much so that I don't devote much time to the effort longer.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Troy said:

Despite the site's enhancement and increased number of ,visitors and ability to reach readers, authors simply do not take of the platform. 

 

Poll authors regarding their professional and personal goals.  

 

Is it reader engagement?  Sales?  Market expansion? Introduction?   Once you get responses, you'll be able to promote AALBC features that will help them achieve those goals. 
 

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Makes sense. In fact yesterday I started collecting email addressed for a author and publisher email list.

 

However, I already have a lot of insight into the motivation and needs of authors already and provide, or can provide, some of the services that can help.  It is not a matter of providing authors with services they need it is getting them to use them.

 

In other words, I can run a survey, collect the data, create and promote the services, but the challenge of getting people to actually use them still remains.  Indeed I've done this before. Again, the issues are not technical...

 

Here is an anecdote to illustrate the point:  We determined that authors were really interested in a bestseller's list that covers Black books.  I got together with then Mosaic Books and Cushcity and created a list called the Power List.  The list gathered sales from a variety of sources and was far better than any of the bestsellers list' Essence, Blackboard of anyone else produced from a methodology perspective.

 

Some suggested that I should simply promote my list more.  I wanted to have a list that was not tied to a particular sources to I teamed up with others.  

 

At any rate, the list was published once a quarter for over two years.  The list failed to gain any traction with Black authors, ultimately I killed the list, shut down the website and archived the data on AALBC.com.

 

@CDBurns, used to describe the "white co-sign."  I believe the list failed to catch on because it did not get the elusive white co-sign.  Today, authors are still describing themselves as "Essence Bestselling" authors and Essence has not produced a bestseller since 2009!  When they produced a list it was never more that just that a list so content supporting content or even information about the books themselves.  But Essence had the white-cosign (maybe because they are white owned).


Side bar: when running a query to figure find out when Essence actually stopped publishing their bestseller's list I stumbled across a website the American Library Associations website describing AALBC.com's list;
"The people who are viewing the site must be the people who are interested in this literature, and so it follows that those using the site as a vehicle to make book purchasing decisions are part of the African American book buying market. They are truly 'best sellers.' There is a certain straightforwardness to it."
I never saw this quote before but I appreciate it.

The Powerlist bestsellers list was mentioned on Publishers Weekly, but not a single mainstream published referenced the list in their marketing materials.  Now I would argue that acknowledging the list would have created buzz for their titles, but that is besides the point.  Because mainstream publishing did not embrace the list, Black authors did not embrace it. I can't prove it but that is my professional judgement.AALBC.com Bestselling Book Seal

 

Just this week I posted a newly created AALBC.com Bestselling Books seal 

 

There is no other entity that has published a bestsellers list focused on Black books for as long as AALBC.com has.  I have made these list available, continuously, for 20 years.  Almost 1,200 books have made the bestseller list during that time.  Every book is backed by a detailed description of the book, the authors many are reviewed. Yesterday I emailed my mailing list information on how to use the seal.  

 

My hope is that publishers large and small will recognize the achievement of being an AALBC.com bestseller and use it as a tool to help create buzz for their books.  Of course this will help raise AALBC.com profile when will then allow me to better promote great Black literature.  Win-win right?

 

I will continue producing bestsellers list whether they are acknowledged by mainstream publishing or not.  My hope is that Black authors and publisher recognize the lists If we embrace it, readers will, and mainstream publishing will have to recognize it.  

 

We must claim our own agency and be the ones who validate our work.

 

Now @Mel Hopkins, I know full well this may be more than you asked for, but often when I write here I'm not just replying to you, but I'm replying to other readers interested in this subject, and even to my future self.  

 

If you are in an Amazon bookstore one day and see this seal on a book, you know it took decades and a lot of work to make that happen.

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On 8/16/2017 at 6:47 PM, Troy said:

Makes sense. In fact yesterday I started collecting email addressed for a author and publisher email list.

 

I hope you get enough responses. Then you'll be able to collect information on what authors really want and need.  

There are different stages and different needs for each of those stages in the business of writing.. It stands to reason if authors don't currently use the aalbc.com  platform ,as you mentioned, then they don't have the need to use  it...  

Therefore, the survey questions become  "As an author, WHY don't you use AALBC.com services... You can even provide reasons  +  other  as options.  I think you'll get a better understanding of where there's a disconnect.   And there's a disconnect, if like you said

On 8/16/2017 at 10:18 AM, Troy said:

Despite the site's enhancement and increased number of ,visitors and ability to reach readers, authors simply do not take of the platform. 

 

As for me, AALBC boost my name ranking on google but that ranking doesn't draw people to my website.    My links and features on website about aalbc - get visitors to my wordpress.org site "TheLeadStory.org "  but my referrals and traffic come from other sites such a baidu,  and tessgerritsen's website and a few other popular website where I've made comments.  

Now when I threw up a page on facebook - traffic to my website literally increased overnight.   I didn't even visit facebook - I just used the publicize feature on wordpress and it posted my blog posts in my feed.    If we are looking at marketing efficiency - I don't even have to connect to any other website but facebook to increase traffic to my personal platform. 

It's an active choice to  post my work on my aalbc profile as I would facebook but there's no traffic from my aalbc profile page post returning to my website... 

So If this is what other midlist nonbest-selling authors are experiencing too - then I can see why it's easier to have their books posted here, advertised here and let the readers peruse the page like a catalogue...but for authors to go further than advertising . It then eats away at a chunk of time we could be writing.   Best -selling authors don't need to participate here and the rest of us selling  a few books may be able to get better visibility elsewhere.  

 

 So this is why I mentioned find out WHY  "authors, simply don't take of the platform"

 

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Yes Mel you are right authors are indeed at different stages, and aalbc cannot help every author at every stage equally.

 

I disagree with the premise that if an author is not using AALBC then they don't need it. For example, I have never used the services of a publicist. However, that does not mean that I don't need one. I don't use one because I can't afford one. The site suffers as a result.

 

Many authors I encounter, perhaps most, cannot afford to advertise. they have spent all their resources on producing their books and unless the ad results in more sales than the cost of the ad it is difficult for them to justify the expense of advertising--even for branding. To address the issue of cost I've made available a number of very low-cost options (less than $50 bucks), But these are not as effective as the higher-priced ads run over a longer period of time.

 

There are a few things to consider when looking at your traffic from Facebook; if you generally don't have a lot of traffic say less than a couple hundred unique visitors a day a day then Facebook might make up a more significant portion of your traffic. But if you have several thousand visitors a day the same level of traffic from Facebook is of no real consequence.

 

Most of my traffic for example comes from search. The beauty of SEO is that the more you focus on the web site's content the better off you are. I also get more traffic from other sites then I do from Facebook. Now we are talking about hundreds of sites sending a handful of visitors a day. But that beats the hundreds of visitors that come to my website from Facebook each day.

 

Also the fact of the matter is many authors promote Facebook far more actively then they do their own websites and they engage on Facebook daily. Indeed the entire culture promotes Facebook. Today it is not uncommon for me to have to visit Facebook when looking for information about authors--and these are authors with websites! So it's not a matter of authors promoting Facebook, Facebook is winning and search. In many cases Facebook deserves to win because they have better content then the other site does-- seriously!  In addition to that many authors use Facebook as their primary web presence. So all of these factors and more combine to make Facebook a much better draw of traffic than any other, website especially for websites with low levels of traffic.

 

In order to address this I have begun promoting a free service which allows authors to register a domain name and direct it to their AALBC profile page. I just got tired of people sending me links to their Facebook page or their Amazon profile page. Last week a couple of authors did this but I also noticed they had domain names registered that were not pointing anywhere so I offered to direct those domains to their aalbc profile, which is obviously better than going to some default Go Daddy page. Both authors immediately took advantage of the offer  so I made it an official service.

 

Not only does this result and potentially more traffic to aalbc it gives the author a proper website. And more traffic to aalbc means potentially more traffic to the other profile pages. Do you see what I mean? there's a residual effect that benefits all the authors not just the one. Still if the author does not promote their own domain hosted on aalbc they greatly diminish any potential benefit.

 

As you mentioned different authors are at different stages. A midlist or extremely successful author published by a major house will always fare better then an unknown self-published author, whether they actively engage on Facebook or aalbc. There is a little I can do to change that dynamic.  However I do believe that a stronger aalbc would benefit the self-published author more than Facebook, who is about as powerful as you can get.

 

There are a number of New York Times best selling authors who advertise every book they publish on the site. Authors who are that successful advertise on aalbc because they know the platform can let a great number of people know about their books. The authors who don't need to worry about name recognition benefit from the site by using it to alert readers about new books. I argue any best-selling author interested in connecting with their fan base could benefit from aalbc.

 

Again it's not a technical issue it's just one of informing the author of what's available and helping them understand how they can benefit from the services.

 

Now of course a great publicist can do a better job then I, but you already know that story :-)

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Troy said:

I disagree with the premise that if an author is not using AALBC then they don't need it. For example, I have never used the services of a publicist. However, that does not mean that I don't need one. I don't use one because I can't afford one.


@Troy, This means you don't  NEED a publicist.   No one has convinced you how it can be worth the expense. Since you've paid for other things on this that relate to this site it's  because you've made the connection between the value and your money.    

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2 hours ago, Troy said:

There are a few things to consider when looking at your traffic from Facebook; if you generally don't have a lot of traffic say less than a couple hundred unique visitors a day a day then Facebook might make up a more significant portion of your traffic. But if you have several thousand visitors a day the same level of traffic from Facebook is of no real consequence.


Yes, this appears to be the case with the majority of author websites.    They write books so why would their individual websites attract several thousand visitors a day?  If their websites were attracting several thousand visitors a day - why would they need AALBC?   This is the point I'm making... find out why they would need AALBC - determine how AALBC can remove the pain-point.  Facebook is providing them something they need.  

2 hours ago, Troy said:

In order to address this I have begun promoting a free service which allows authors to register a domain name and direct it to their AALBC profile page. I just got tired of people sending me links to their Facebook page or their Amazon profile page. Last week a couple of authors did this but I also noticed they had domain names registered that were not pointing anywhere so I offered to direct those domains to their aalbc profile, which is obviously better than going to some default Go Daddy page. Both authors immediately took advantage of the offer  so I made it an official service.


THIS!  Yes... You found  how to ease one of the pain-points!!!  

2 hours ago, Troy said:

However I do believe that a stronger aalbc would benefit the self-published author more than Facebook, who is about as powerful as you can get.


The self-published author with no audience is the one for your congregation - This is the group that is searching for a church home... You just have to prepare a sermon  to communicate to them, the services and support (a la carte ) they would get from aalbc.com as  if they were under a publishing house.      

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Mel I need a publicist.  All of the fixed expenses required to run the website are much less than what a good publicists costs.  If I actually had the money that would be one of the first professionals I would hire. 

 

I think a good publicist could craft that sermon  you say I need to appeal to the indie published author.

 

Sure, I could sell my car and hire a publicist.  So no, a publicist is not that important to me.  I'm not willing to bet that hiring one is worth going without a car and risking not not being able to afford another one as a result of their efforts.  "Need" is not the best word.  Perhaps not willing to make the tradeoff (sacrifices) describes it better.

 

I also need someone to do some of the basic research required for the website.  

 

I need someone to handle sales.  Most of my transactions are done online.  But I could sell much more if I had someone to pitch the services.  I'm not even talking about cold calling I'm talking about following up on phone inquiries I can't follow up on.

 

I also need an editor too much of my copy contains typos.  Sure I fix them eventually but it would be better if they did not exist in first place.

 

Shoot, I need someone to moderate Thumper's Corner.

 

As you can imagine, I perform all of the tasks above, and get by, so I think I understand what you mean by "need." I've been doing this 20 years--obviously I don't "need" a publicist.  I'm understanding you?  If that is what you are saying, I agree, but I sure can use use one ;-)

 

Every author needs to promote and advertise.  J. K. Rowling advertises for the same reason Coke and McDonald's does.  Again NY Times bestselling authors and their publishers use AALBC.  If you are trying to reach readers of Black literature I think AALBC.com is better than Facebook.  At least I have not seen any evidence that it is--and I'm looking.

 

But Facebook is selling something I can't compete with. Facebook appeals to some authors for the same reason some want to be authors; If that makes sense.

 

I'm going to publish reviews of your book you might not like.  You already know from these discussion forums your ideas will be challenged here.  Facebook, on the other hand, will make sure everyone wishes you happy birthday and feed you things to reenforce your world view.

 

I'm working with a company that will contract the service of another company that touts its ability to effectively promote content on Facebook.  The strategy they intend to use is nothing I have not heard, or tried, before but it will be great to have the additional data points. 

 

Of course if they are successful, I'll be the first to promote the company!

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Troy said:

 

As you can imagine, I perform all of the tasks above, and get by, so I think I understand what you mean by "need." I've been doing this 20 years--obviously I don't "need" a publicist.  I'm understanding you?  If that is what you are saying, I agree, but I sure can use use one ;-)

 

YES!!!  We're communicating now (sending and receiving)... but you do need-need a literary publicist, though :D 

Actually, you  really do need a staff!  MAN!!!

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{smile} It took me a minute but I'm glad I finally heard you.  I read the article Del linked to and I'm working on listening (and breathing deeply).

 

Yes I can use a staff.  If I ever get to a point where I have a paid one, you won't be able to talk to me :-) that would also mean the site would wouldn't need me.  That is my long term goal.

 

 

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It is now October of 2017, and as we speak I'm still migrating old content to the new format.  As far as I can tell I have less than 1,000 pages of content to move, but I as I move stuff I discover all types of problems, from technical issues to out of date or stale content.  An upgrade I thought would take 6 months will take two years and six months.

 

For the life of me I really don't know what drives me in this effort.  Someone looking at me from the outside might legitimately think I'm obsessed.  It does not feel this way and the last two years have flown by but it has been quite an effort.

 

I actually started the website on this day 20 years ago.  @Delano, I guess that makes my website a Libra, opposite me on the Zodiac.  I bet that means something huh? :-)

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Guest Wendy Jones

Troy,

 

Thank you for doing this. I am a rank newcomer and have just barely scratched the surface using this richly endowed website. All creative enterprises are labor intensive.

 

Browsing the discussions here at aalbc.com, I see people engaging intelligently even when they don't agree. Specifically, I am citing a discussion you were having with two gentlemen that began with the subject of white male sperm counts, but ultimately became a discussion of racism. The original study was mentioned and evaluated. It was a fascinating back and forth.

 

On the other hand, I just finished reading a discussion on racism on GoodReads that reminded me of kindergartners having a spat. The only item missing was a thrown milk container.

 

So, yes, it's a lot of work, but I don't think it is thankless work. The work you are doing for black writers and readers is vital. You also clearly enjoy what you are doing.

 

So, once again, thank you.

 

 

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Wendy thanks so much for taking the time to say that.  I know people read the forums, even conversations abandoned years ago. But it is not "thankless" when people like you actually express those sentiments.

 

@Delano, Hmm that is not exactly a positive aspect is it?

 

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Troy Saturn isn't all bad. It's also about structure and successful. So you have created a structure for people to communicate. Also probably a few months prior to that things were organised in a way to make the site possible. 

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