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Troy

Reaching Out to Discussion Forum Participants

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I just reviewed information on the people who've registered accounts on this discussion forum over the past 10 years. I will call these folks "members." Members are different from "Guests," people who post here without creating an account.

 

Over the past 10 years 8,050 members joined this forum.  However, only 3,131 members revisited our discussion forum after creating an account, and only 608 posted here. The fact that only 8% of the people who create an account actually post, always confounded me.  I think it may be that some visitors believe you have to create an account just to read the posts or maybe once they create an account and can't figure out how to post.  In any case, despite asking, I have no idea why so few members post.

 

As you might imagine, of the members who post, 10% of us are responsible for 90% of all posts.  Most of the top posters have not participated in over a year. 

 

As a result, I've decided to reach out, via email, to all 608 members who have posted. Two hundred members has have requested that they not be emailed or the email address they signed up with is no longer valid.  Thanks leaves 408 members you will get the email. If 10% of these member participated regularly we'd actually have a pretty vibrant forum, which I'm sure anyone reading this would like to see.

 

Of course lurkers (people who read the forums but never participate), you are free to join as well 🙂

 

Also, all discussion forum members are entitled to enjoy a 10% off everything in the AALBC bookstore just use coupon code: thumperscorner when checking out. This is on top of free shipping for orders of $40 or more and no sales tax collection (save the state of Florida).  This is a one-time use coupon. 

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Guest Dave Covin

Hi Troy,

 

    This is an interesting and informative post.  I can say about my participation, that one of the reasons I haven't posted in quite a while is that I got little interaction from the posts I made, and almost all the interactions were from the same people, and the interactions were often not responsive to what I was saying, and even those which were responsive were observations about what I said, and did not seem oriented toward a continuing conversation.

 

     Dave Covin

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Guest Dave Covin

Hi Troy,

 

    I'm posting as a guest because if I have a password, I don't remember what it is.

 

                  Dave Covin

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I simply stumbled across this forum while searching for sites that have a focus on books written about the African American experience.  I released a novel in late 2019 and wanted to bring it to the attention of audiences that would likely be receptive.

 

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) published my book Mathematics: Rhyme and Reason in 2018. All I did to support this book was make it known to family and friends that it had been released, and actually giving quite a few of them a copy. I left the general marketing to the AMS.  However, my novel is self-published and I'm a complete unknown in literary circles. Marketing is up to me. I know nothing about marketing, but I'm trying to do what seems reasonable.  Joining this forum seemed to be a reasonable step.  The AALBC may offer other benefits beyond being an opportunity to push my novel Just Before Too Late.  We'll see.

Mel Currie

 

 

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@Mel-Robert and @David Covin first thanks for sharing your thoughts.

 

Mel-Robert, marketing is hard unless you have a boatload of money. I'd argue today it is probably hard than in the past.  Forums and l=sites like AALBC can help at no cost or  relatively low cost, but there are FAR fewer AALBCs that there were 10, 15 years ago. 

 

David, yes I imagine most regular posters would agree with your points.  Sure there are some exceptions to your observations, but part of the problem is one too few participants and the forums could probably benefit from more active moderation.  I've always maintained a hands off approach, primarily because I don't really have the time to actively moderate. Moderate means not just removing bad actors or posts, but leading the discussion.

 

 

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Hello!

I am brand spanking new to this forum. Like Mel-Robert, I simply stumbled across this forum while searching for sites that have a focus on books written by African- Americans, in my case, children's books," after a colleague of mine asked me why I was not on a list of African-American authors. I decided to investigate.

 

I also released a self published book in late 2019 and wanted to bring attention to it and I know nothing about marketing.

 

I have yet not had the opportunity to explore the other aspects of this forum, but I look forward to checking it out.

 

Lori Elayne

new cover_Page_2.jpg

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Hello Everyone,

 

My apologies for not being as visible as I could be. Life has thrown me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. That being said, I am super excited for all that is taking place and for the path being an indie author has created. I thank those who have paved the way and continue to do so.

 

What's new for me? Well, I have three books in illustration with another 12 fully edited and ready to go. For those who have followed me, know that initially, my MC were various animals. Just recently, I added on actual people and more recently, children of African American and Latino decent. I have also published my first two chapter books (one is a book of faith) that are doing extremely well. I am also actively promoting my second annual book festival! This is super exciting news.

 

For those who have written chapter books, have you ever considered turning the book into a script for a movie? If so, what was your experience. I am chatting with two producers now and would like any insight you may be able to share.

 

This comment is for Troy. Troy, is than an app for the site that I may add to my phone to have instant access? This would greatly help me to be more active by being just a click away :)

 

Florenza

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Troy

Well, it looks like I popped back in at the right time....lol.

Like you, unless they're promoting something.....I too question why so many people waste their time registering just to make a post or two and then disappear. Especially when there's so much going on in our community to talk about and get off your chest.

I believe many of these posters are trolls and agents who are "spying" on the site and realizing that you much be registered to get access to certain features and information...they'll register just to get deeper in the game.

But if your looking for solid answers to why such little traffic in the discussion forum......

I've said it time and time again but I don't think many people believe (or want to believe) it, but this site is too "intellectual" for a lot of our people. Too many tend to love high emotion and drama. They love sites where there is a lot of gossip, insults, and threats flying back and forth. They like sites where people can "clique-up" and form online gangs where they attack eachother over silliness. They also like sites where the moderators are more hands-on and when I say "hands on" I'm not talking about simply participating in the discussions are you do but hands-on in the form of heavy handed moderating where people who are not liked or offering unpopular opinions are banned or posts are deleted. It makes them feel more comfortable and they also like the power of being able to call on an authority figure to get someone else in trouble.

People should really be taking advantage of your online bookstore since so many bookstores across the nations are shutting down due to this man-made "pandemic".

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Guest Clarification, please.

When I registered for this site, it was with the understanding that as an African American author, I would have the opportunity for that single aspect of the vastness of who I am and what I do to be in a single location with others who share this one thing in common. Equally, it was to be where I could go as a small publishing house (again, just one of the many hats that I wear) to glean information that others who are of African American heritage offer words of advise based on what they are doing. It was never my understanding that this platform is a sole place for advertising (other than my festivals which is the way I found out about the site); I have a thriving website, eight Facebook pages, IG, Word Press, LinkedIn, etc.

 

Authorship, more correctly, effective authorship requires one to operate as a business. I am my own promoter, marketer, hype man, publisher, I coordinate five illustrators, book designers, formaters, I have printers in multiple countries, deal with transporting books across oceans, translators, conducting workshops, coaching up and coming authors, and that is just one aspect of my life.

 

Perhaps my registering and not engaging as much as others may appear to be "a waste of time" but I assure you, time is something I simply do not have time to waste. My first book is in 48 US States and 30 countries. I am currently publishing 15 books this year along. I successfully assisted 10 authors in publishing their books over the past 6 months, facilitated two book festivals with nearly 70 indie authors, am in the process of developing one of my books into a musical for middle schools, I advocate for our Veterans, am a wife of a 100% disabled Veteran, mother of two, Narrative Coach, and very soon a full time student (plus the rest)....and that again is just the beginning of my list.

 

This is but ONE platform that so many of us are involved with. Perhaps with the fact that it is the one site solely dedicated to being African American in this business, it should garner more of my time, (sadly, there are a lot of items such as this on my list). I hope the time I do have to invest here is not met with hostility, resentment, anger, and low-blows. This just simply should not be. It should be a safe place to share, learn, invest, plant, water, assist in growth, and gain insight. Otherwise, what is the point?

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I was made aware of this site a couple of years ago.  I'm an indie author with four books published and trying to learn how to make it a viable business. I will begin to visit this site more going forward.  However, I do believe the conversations I have read on the forums have not made want to jump and type a post.  I love to talk about reading fiction and power of stories in one's life.  I like to talk the business of publishing as well.  I don't have any big reasons why I don't post more on this site.  I will have to make a better effort.

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Hi @Florenza Lee can you send me a bio and the ISBN13s of your books for your aalbc page: https://aalbc.com/authors/author.php?author_name=Florenza+Denise+Lee

 

No, there is no ap for the forums but the mobile version works really well. Check it out. I usually post from my phone. I'm posting this from my phone.

 

3 hours ago, Lori Elayne said:

I simply stumbled across this forum...

 

😊 @Lori Elayne It actually requires a lot of work to get people to "stumble across" this site -- trust me, but I'm glad you found it. Yes you are brand spanking new! Welcome and thanks for posting.

 

3 hours ago, Pioneer1 said:

But if your looking for solid answers to why such little traffic in the discussion forum......

 

Hey @Pioneer1 just to be clear, it is not the lack of traffic that is hurting the site (you'd probably be surprised to learn what the most popular posts are here -- ill share a few in another post), it that small number of regular posters and the low ratio of members to posters.

 

I'm sure there have spies here and even agent provocateurs, but I doubt the numbers are large enough to be significant and it can't explain the thousands of accounts I'm talking about. I did not mention that I have rejected most accounts that were registered. If I approved 8,000 accounts, I'm sure I rejected at least 10,000.

 

@Marion Hill thanks for replying, but please do not wait for a conversation to participate in. I encourage you to start one yourself 🙂

 

Guest Clarification thanks for the thoughful message. Also do you have an account? Please post a link to your company's website.

 

Also is your publishing company on our list  https://aalbc.com/books/all-imprints.php? If not, please provide share information of at least one of one of  your most popular or significant titles. Thanks!

 

Also must say that the earlier poster Dave Covin is a publisher, hosts the Sacramento Black Book Festival, and is the author of one of AALBC's top selling books. Raisins in Milk

 

9780984435074.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Guest Gibran

Good morning All:

Wow.... I hadn't truly realized how long it has been since i have allowed myself the pleasure of being  in the company of some of the most progressive voices on the net. Personally, I have practically become a cyber-recluse and hardly ever write. What has happened is that i am now involved in The Great Awakening, trying to spread the news about our true biblical heritage. By no means am I a bible thumper or a soap box preacher, but, yeah, these are the last days!

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Gibran


By no means am I a bible thumper or a soap box preacher, but, yeah, these are the last days!


Not going to divert Troy's thread into a direction he didn't intend for it to go, but let me say.....

These indeed are the last days, but the last days of the OLD SOCIETY and the beginning of a NEW SOCIETY.

This is the end of a world too!
The ending of the OLD WORLD and the beginning of a NEW WORLD.

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Yeah start another conversation @Pioneer1. However, let me assure you rumors (or hopes) of the Rapture abound at the first sign of strife WWI, WWWII, Y2K, 911, 45's Presidency, ... let me know when you want me to stop...

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On 3/17/2020 at 2:19 PM, Troy said:

As a result, I've decided to reach out, via email, to all 608 members who have posted.

 

@Troy I have not checked my email in weeks!

 

Nevertheless, just as some of the posters here in this forum, my initial draw to this community is because I want to come to a place where African American book writers and scholars and everyone else comes to contribute because I feel it will help me develop myself as I would like to publish a book one day. Also, my interest and passion revolves around my African American culture, so this was a great draw for me. 

 

23 hours ago, Guest Gibran said:

trying to spread the news about our true biblical heritage.

 

This is good.

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I forgot exactly why or how I came across this forum.

I was running for a local political office at the time and was probably looking for intellectuals in the Michigan area who may have been on this site to establish connections. I didn't get the position but I got hooked on the site after having so many interesting discussions without encountering the niggativity and fuckery so common on many AfroAmerican websites.

 

 


Troy

I assure you, my apocalyptic beliefs about where things are headed aren't based on  biblical prophecy or neo-Christian rhetoric such as the "rapture", but in ancient astrological as well as metaphysical research and predictions.

Human beings and their various civilizations have been on this planet for millions of years and these civilizations have expiration dates. Western civilization is no different and it's collapse is iminent in my opinion.

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@Pioneer1 I did not know you ran for office, now I have to look at you differently and understand why you've remained anonymous all these years. 😉

 

As far as the end of civilization, I've started a new conversation on the subject, cause I know you can't help hijacking this one

 

@Chevdove I wish more scholars and writers posted here more regularly. The ones who post regularly to social should absolutely post here. 

 

Also, if you don't read email how do people contact and communicate with you? Letter, telephone, Instagram?

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Troy,

 

First of all, THANK YOU for AALBC, all of your efforts and this forum.  When I first discovered the forum I posted a few times, but Brother, I got so busy finishing our (my wife and my) eBook that I didn't come back.

 

Several of the Members were quite encouraging to me, and I appreciate them for that.  I hope that I was able to add something to the discussion.

 

I think your email about this was actually genius, and the response shows its effectiveness.

 

I would suggest this:

  • An email from time to time offering
    • a new forum topic of interest to authors, or
    • an online (Zoom.us) live video presentation by an expert on a topic of interest to authors. 
      • Subjects like marketing, writing tips, etc.

That would most likely pull in those who simply 'lurk' or have not visited the forum in quite a while - like me.

 

Damani Keene

Clandestine-Life.com

 

CLANDESTINE COVER2.jpg

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Troy

I did not know you ran for office, now I have to look at you differently and understand why you've remained anonymous all these years


I did mention it briefly during my earlier days on this site.

Not sure if you remember, but me and Cynique had gotten into it over how homosexuals are to be treated and she accused me of wanting to harm them and I forced her to apologize because although I was anonymous because I was running for office at the time I didn't want to take the chance of someone tracing that false accusation back to me.

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On 3/20/2020 at 8:06 AM, Troy said:

if you don't read email how do people contact and communicate with you? Letter, telephone, Instagram?

 

Yes, through my phone as well, but I do read my email, but I need to be more regular. 

I need to commit myself to checking it more regularly. 

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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.)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for helping to spread the word Wendy that is the only way the site can grow.

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On 3/17/2020 at 2:19 PM, Troy said:

Also, all discussion forum members are entitled to enjoy a 10% off everything in the AALBC bookstore just use coupon code: thumperscorner when checking out. This is on top of free shipping for orders of $40 or more and no sales tax collection (save the state of Florida).  This is a one-time use coupon. 

@Troy thank you for the discount!  I know  didn't share with you all the recommendations I have for this forum/website but here's one.  Is there a way to have a wishlist in the bookstore AND have those books appear on our profiles? 

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You mean a wish list on the profiles here?

 

OK here is the thing; my shopping cart software is run by Big Commerce. The website is by Troy Johnson, and he discussion forums are by Invision Power. three separate databases. AALBC is really quite unique in that it is built by me.  That offers many advantages and some disadvantages.

 

Most web based book sellers use software from companies like Big Commerce to run their entire website. This provides the ability for anyone to run a bookstore but much less flexibility than a custom website.  Software like big commerce is more likely to have a wish list feature because that is a popular feature for ecommerce sites. Since the forum and my shopping cart are developed by two different vendors tying these features together would be tough.  Other platforms used by online book stores include shopify (which I can't use because it really is not designed to integrate easily with existing websites), and the platform provided by Indiebound for ABA member brick and Mortar bookstores. I'm not aware of another web based book store using a custom designed website and database, as AALBC does.

 

Most websites running discussion forums use discussion forum software to run the entire website.

 

I thought about tying the logins created here to the rest of the website, but now that I'm collecting customer information through bookstore sales, it might be better to use those logins.  

 

I;ll look info it -- thanks for the idea @Mel Hopkins

 

 

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52 minutes ago, Troy said:

You mean a wish list on the profiles here?


@Troy yep!  I only made the suggestion because I know you can get these web content management systems to "sing"...

Sometimes, I wish I knew how to code.  But because I have no skills it makes it easier for me to imagine what would be cool if it could be done.  So, a wishlist on the profiles would also advertise the books in the aalbc.store .   Even if we can use the wishlist feature in the store - then maybe adding a widget to the profile and even personal website would be a win for #readingblack.com  🙃

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Here is a link to a page on AALBC's my bigcommerce site: https://aalbc.store/9781982126674/   One can create a wishlist here, with the account that you create on my store. But roughly half of book order are made by "guests," people who don't create accounts. Again, I only use bigcommerce for my the buy bitton on my book page: https://aalbc.com/books/bookinfo.php?isbn13=9781982126674 which is dynamically generated when I add a book to the site.

 

Now a developer could probably figure out a way to pull the wish list over here, but that really would be in the realm of companies who create their own custom shopping carts and discussion forums. That is were the real value comes in.  That level of development will be the next phase of AALBC. 😉

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19 hours ago, Troy said:

Here is a link to a page on AALBC's my bigcommerce site: https://aalbc.store/9781982126674/   One can create a wishlist here, with the account that you create on my store. But roughly half of book order are made by "guests," people who don't create accounts. Again, I only use bigcommerce for my the buy bitton on my book page: https://aalbc.com/books/bookinfo.php?isbn13=9781982126674 which is dynamically generated when I add a book to the site.

 

Now a developer could probably figure out a way to pull the wish list over here, but that really would be in the realm of companies who create their own custom shopping carts and discussion forums. That is were the real value comes in.  That level of development will be the next phase of AALBC. 😉

I'd really like to purchase some books in the future but what's the shipping to the UK ?

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email me your mailing address @Maurice and I'll let you know what it costs to mail a typical book.  Generally it will always be cheaper to purchase your books domestically.  Now if there is a book that is not available domestically (has not been published in the UK), then I can help in those circumstances.

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On 3 April 2020 at 4:34 PM, Troy said:

email me your mailing address @Maurice and I'll let you know what it costs to mail a typical book.  Generally it will always be cheaper to purchase your books domestically.  Now if there is a book that is not available domestically (has not been published in the UK), then I can help in those circumstances.

Most if not all of the books I've looked for in the last few months I've found available in the UK. Occasional ones in the States but the book could be pricey plus there's the shipping. I'll check out your shop all the same.

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