Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Barnes & Noble.”

The Three R’s – Adopt An Author

‘Tis the season of goodwill and I’m thinking we should share the love. 

In Judaism, the teacher Maimonides offered eight levels of giving – the highest being to help a person find a sustainable way to lift themselves out of poverty. I have written numerous times about micro-lending, which I think is an amazing solution, but I want to focus on the world of writers. There are many new authors out there and they need a lift up to be noticed.

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I want to invite you to adopt the three R’s and adopt an author for a few months. Disclaimer – you are about to discover I am dyslexic!

R – Read the work of the author. There is no bigger compliment for someone who has spent years writing a novel than to have others read it. Believe me – when I receive a tweet or email from someone I don’t know and they tell me they are reading my books, I get so excited. 

R – Rite about the person. No put away that athame (Pagan ritual dagger) away, but make your computer your sacred space. (W)rite to friends recommending the author, blog about her/him, or comment on other people’s blogs, take to the twitterverse – it works!

R – Review. Despite the controversy surrounding paid reviews, it is still one of the most powerful tools that helps a person perusing amazon, smashwords, B&N, goodreads, etc.

 

Here are a few other ways to help a struggling author (I couldn’t find an R to begin the sentence!): 

1.     Buy their book, if not for yourself, then as a gift for a friend’s birthday, or instead of a bottle of wine next time you’re invited for dinner. Maybe as a Xmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa present. Did you know that you can buy an e-book as a gift and send it to your friend’s e-Reader?

2.     Know someone who is in a book club? Suggest that they nominate your friend’s book for the group to read.

3.     Donate a copy of their book in a fundraising raffle or silent auction as a prize. It is great exposure.

4.     Hug an author. It won’t propel them into the New York Times Bestseller list, but it means a lot.

This is my final post for the year. I want to thank each and every one of you for taking a few moments each day and sharing our blog posts, agreeing, disagreeing, laughing and sighing. Thank you to Tom Rossi and Roger Ingalls for offering different voices and enriching the discussion.

Wishing everyone a year of peace and meaning.

Alon 

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Alon Shalev is the author of three social justice-themed novels: Unwanted Heroes, The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

 

Help an Author over Thanksgiving

From Thanksgiving through December is a period of great festivities and socializing. We give gifts to our dear ones for whatever holiday(s) we celebrate. We are invited to people’s houses for dinner or a party, and often we go stay with relatives.

Now I admit that I love receiving a good bottle of wine or a special box of chocolates since these are rare purchases in our tight family budget. But I want to suggest that you look at the gift buying as a double opportunity. Provide a nice, meaningful gift, and help support a struggling author.

From this thought came a list of 10 easy ways you can do to help the author. I would like to share 3 of them that would be easy to do during this season of goodwill. Moreover, I firmly believe that what goes around comes around – when we help someone, we are in turn helped by others.

1. Buy your friend’s book, and if you enjoy it, buy it as a gift in the situations mentioned above.

2. Where should you buy the book? There has been a lot of discussion about where to buy books. Your local independent bookstore is probably struggling to survive. If it is important to you that such businesses survive, now is as good a time as any to patronize them. This is also good for the author as the bookstore will often order 2-3 copies.

The same actually goes for both Barnes & Noble and Borders. They are struggling and closing stores. Also when one store orders a specific book, there is a good chance that other branches in the region might buy it as well – you could start a chain reaction (pun intended!).

First choice: the independent bookstore nearest you (that will help your friend get her book into that store on a regular basis). Second choice: a chain bookstore like Borders or Barnes & Noble (if they start selling the book locally, they might buy books for more stores in the chain). Third choice: the author’s website (the author makes the most money when selling direct). Fourth choice: buy direct from the author. Fifth choice: Buy from Amazon.com (preferably from the link on the author’s website).

3. Recommend your friend’s book. If you like the book, recommend it to friends. Blog about it. Tweet a review or mention. Share a note on Facebook. Recommend the book to your book group. Post a review on Amazon.com, and other reader social networks. People do read them before making a purchase.

Word-of-mouth remains the most effective form of marketing. So when you are standing at that family get together by the fireplace with Uncle Moe, swirling your wine glass and trying to think of something you have in common beyond shared genes, how about this for a great conversation starter:

My friend just wrote this great book…” And you never knew that old Uncle Moe’s friend at the golf club has a son who works for Random House and is looking to discover the next John Grisham to impress his boss and save his job.

Happy Thanksgiving,

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

Author Interviews in Audio

I just heard a great interview with Terry Brooks (yes, I’m sinking into the world of fantasy) and then looked at the other names of authors who had previously  been interviewed.

Check out Meet The Authors for short and informative interviews that serve both the readers and those interested in writing.

Thank you Barnes & Noble. Your struggle to break out of the books ‘n mortar mentality and take B&N into the 21st Century is tough, but I admire your courage.

So here is a plug: Oilspill dotcom is available on Nook for $3.19 (same price or lower than their competitors).

Good Writing Everyone,

Alon Shalev

http://www.alonshalev.com/

The Seismic Upheavals We All Knew Would Happen (the Book Industry)

One needs to be careful writing headlines with seismic in the Bay Area – hence the clarification at the end. We all know that the book business is suffering and that brick-and-mortar shops are closing. I am sure that most of us mourn for an independent bookstore that has nostalgic memories.

So I am not sure why I am so surprised to hear the latest news out about Borders and Barnes & Noble. I prefer to walk into an independent bookstore when given the choice, but I need to admit, I also enjoy the inevitable comforts of a parking lot, a big bargain bin of hard covers that I could never afford otherwise, the bathrooms, and the occasional amazing deal. My local Barnes & Noble even has a fake fireplace that I enjoy sitting near in winter as I write.

But Barnes & Noble has now been put up for sale. I cannot help but wonder who would want to invest in such an industry. You can only assume that they would have quite a strategic business plan in place.

Borders have already closed all their stores in the UK and apparently came close to bankruptcy in the US. Both companies have entered the digital market with the Nook and Kobo respectively, so even a change of strategy suggests a move away from brick-and-mortar.

As an author, I have not had many opportunities to read at a bookstore. I find more interest at community centers, writer’s meetings and political groups. I rarely sell a book through a bookstore. So I am not sure why I mourn the possible extinction of the bookstore.

There are/were two legendary bookstores in the Bay Area. Cody’s was an untouchable institution and when I first came to live in Berkeley, I was surprised how when going out for a coffee with a friend, we would often spend a part of that evening talking while browsing through the shelves. Cody’s was mourned by the enlightened peoples of Berkeley when it closed its’ doors a few years ago, but apparently not enough to keep it open.

City Lights survives in San Francisco. It hit the headlines as a beacon for the beatnik writers who used the shop and publishing arm, and sat next door writing their works at Vesuvio. I love the store and seek an excuse to go in when I am in the vicinity. I almost always buy a book – even on my limited budget – because I don’t want to see it fall. There is something immensely valuable in the history and energy amassed there. I’m sure it was like that at Cody’s, but energy and nostalgia doesn’t pay the bills.

Not that I understand the stock market, but I believe that one of the few companies whose stock has steadily risen over the last two years is Amazon.com.

Is the writing on wall, the screen, and in the stock portfolio?

Good Writing,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

Venting Emotions

I am part of a LinkedIn discussion group and found myself involved in a thread that has got quite emotional. Good. It shows we care. I want to share with you one of my responses – I didn’t mean to pour so much on to the page, but I think it is quite revealing.

Charles,
Thanks for the compliment. The thread has already mentioned the essential advantages of PoD, and I largely agree with them. I want to mention some areas not covered, and again, this is my personal opinion.

1. A writer needs to write. S/he needs to develop his/her craft. S/he needs to tell the other stories that s/he has to write. Once you have finished your novel, had it edited, and sent it out to 50-60 agents, you need to think there comes a point when you must move on.

You can then put that manuscript on a shelf to gather dust, or you can put it out there. On the shelf seems pointless to me – it gives you nothing and has you stagnating. I think it is preferable to PoD the book and gain experience in the inevitable promotion and marketing world.

If I had not Pod’ed Oilspill dotcom, I would not have begun to build my author’s platform. In the 6 months since the novel came out: I built a website that I am proud of (alonshalev.com), maintain a modest blog, have spoken at 8 forums, been interviewed/mentioned in 5 newspapers/magazines, entered 5 competitions … all while holding a full time job and being an involved father to young children.

I believe I am more confident, more professional, and building a reputation (in Northern California, at least) because of these actions – and I have learned a lot. A few weeks ago, I met with two people in the hope of addressing their group. One said that they couldn’t agree as they haven’t read the book. His colleague responded that he had read it and gave me a great verbal review. He had heard about my book from a friend who had been moved by my Veterans Day blog entry.

2. I am not convinced that placing my novel in every bookstore is going to result in sales, so there’s little point complaining about it. There are thousands of books in any store (100,000 in the average Barnes & Noble). I believe people often buy the author as much as his/her book (assuming they’ve never read anything from the author). If you are charismatic, funny, profound, whatever, you will sell. People want to take a piece of you home with them (please don’t tell my wife). If you have not published a book (no matter which way) you have nothing to sell them.

3. A final comment. PoD, ebooks, consignments, advances – the industry is in flux and will take a time to work itself out. I do not believe books are going away, but neither do I think we yet know where the industry is going. An author/writer needs to write, needs to develop. S/he cannot stand still and wait for the rest of the world. Furthermore, I believe (hope) that in the future, the fact that you have put yourself out there and have a fan base, will be a plus when a big publisher considers picking you up. Your website, blog, appearances etc. are testament that you can go the distance with the right backing.

4. A final, final point: You have to love what you do. If you are not proud of your website, blog, pitch at parties and spontaneous meetings and, above all, if you are not proud of your books, then maybe you shouldn’t be here. It’s okay to complain a bit (who doesn’t?), but if it is paralyzing your progress, you have a serious problem.

Sorry this is so long. Thank you for reading.
Good Writing,
Alon
www.alonshalev.com/

Exciting New Direction

My novel, Oilspill dotcom, has just been published as an e-book by Smashwords. It’s available for an introductory price of $3.99 and can be downloaded to Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone or any computer. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/5684. Feeling very 21st Century!
Advert aside – this is exciting!

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords has “meat grinder” technology (his term). You provide him with the manuscript and he puts it through his grinder, producing an e-book that can work on any e-book format currently available. He is committed to enable Smashwords books to be compatible with the new Barnes & Noble electronic reader due out this month and the new Apple reader due in January.

Being an author himself and committed to the e-book revolution, Coker offers authors up to an unprecedented 85% royalty, thereby encouraging his authors to price their book at a lower level, representing the savings in materials, distribution, storage and marketing.

I am excited to be part of the revolution. The reality is that most of us buy our books used, borrow from the library, or pass along to friends. None of these methods provide royalties to the author.

$15-$30 for a book is not sustainable and we are no longer surprised to see many ‘bestsellers’ now deeply discounted in bins at the front of B&N, Borders, or the supermarket.

So, I’m feeling very 21st Century. Over the next few weeks I hope to offer a few insights into the e-book revolution (as I research it myself).

One request: Please go into the Smashwords website, check it out, and let me know what you think. Comment here on the blog or shoot me an email to alshalev at Bigfoot dot com.

Good Writing & Reading,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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