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 month “January, 2009”

The Author’s Website

With Oilspill dotcom safely in the hands of my publisher, I need to turn my attention to marketing and creating a wide Internet presence. Clearly, a website that promotes my books and me as an author, is the first task.

Many moons ago, I went through a time of building websites for fun – remember What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)? – and had a lot of fun doing them. None of them exist anymore and I should probably be relieved. They were philosophical, world changing, and political. I can’t remember much about them.

This time it’s different. An author’s website sets his persona. S/he either sees her/himself as a professional or s/he doesn’t – and you can tell by their website.

I’ve spent a couple of evenings perusing through authors web pages. Some are impressive: others are not. The clear dilemma: do I pass it on to a professional and pay from my limited financial resources budgeted, or do I try and do-it-myself?

The first people of good advice that I received was to ensure that whatever is created, I will be able to enter and easily update by myself – add reviews (the good ones!), interviews, announcements of awards garnered (let me enjoy myself for a moment – it’s cold, gray and raining right now!).

Thankfully there seems to be some middle ground. I have found a couple of interesting companies that cater for authors:
Web for Authors (http://www.webforauthors.com),
The Author’s Guild (http://www.authorsguild.net/),
and Authors Tree (http://authortree.com/)

I have a good resource book that I want to share with you: The Author’s Guide to Building an Online Platform – Stephanie Chandler. At first glance Chandler’s book seems very no nonsense and I suspect that it will be well worn before it begins to gather dust on my bookshelf.

Finally, I would like to share with you some of the author’s websites that have most impressed me so far in terms of design and content. By this I mean sites that I have gleaned ideas from:

Michelle Gagnon http://www.michellegagnon.com/
Robert Dugoni http://www.robertdugoni.com/
Michelle Richmond http://michellerichmond.com/

And of course, one of my heroes …

John Grisham http://www.jgrisham.com/

Let me know what you think of these sites, any advice you might have, and any novel ideas for content on the site. I do need help.

Good Writing,


The Empty Nest!

It’s gone! Left home!

My little manuscript, all bundled up, with its lunchbox full of meaningful prose, backpack full of plot and suspense, gone. It walked out of my computer and made its way to the publisher. It was so quick – an attachment, a few answers and the click of the enter button.

It’s grown up so fast. It seems like only yesterday when I was staring at a blank screen, when the first couple of chapters were coming into their own, when my plot took its first tentative steps.

Oh those sleepless nights! Oh those sick days with contagious writer’s block! But now its gone. No point perusing over old drafts, regretting scenes that were cut, ideas never added.

But neither is it time to sever the ties. There is still a long process of book size, cover, images, style … And it’s time to seriously lay out a marketing plan.

Oilspill dotcom has left home and is on its way into the big, wide world. I hope it will travel widely, make many new friends (preferably the book-buying type), and even create a reputation for itself.

Bon Voyage – Oilspill dotcom.


The Holiday Party Season

Like many writers, I am not the party swinger. During the year, the kind of parties that I am invited to tend to be kids birthday parties, where the grand sum of conversation circulates around … kids. Perhaps I’m not the greatest father (though I do try to be), but somehow, it seems there is only so much to discuss with almost-strangers about your child or theirs, generally theirs. I guess if I were invited to writer’s parties, I would have a ball. But I’m not, so I don’t.

The holiday season presents an intense season of parties, not necessarily revolving around children. Being in the Bay Area, Xmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, all neatly intermingle and we all seem comfortable if not excited at joining each other’s religious celebrations. It’s not hard: we all utilize light, presents, food and wine.

We also socialize.

Like most writers, I’d rather be writing, but I decided this year to approach the parties with a goal. I will present myself as an author. Fresh from the conference I attended in Baltimore (see blog entry: Elevator Pitch), with my well-practiced elevator pitch, I slipped some business cards that promote this blog into my pocket and, so armed, went into battle.

I failed. Even my wife took pity on me and tried to bring up Oilspill dotcom in every conversation that we shared, but to little avail. Twice, I never even got to finish my elevator pitch, once a child fell down and began crying near us, and one woman even spilt her plate of food (I would like to think this was an accident, rather than an act of desperation).

People do perk up their ears when I mention my blog. But they are not interested in my book or me; they are interested in the phenomenon of blogging. And all too quickly the conversation turns to: “What do you people have to say?” “Who reads them?” “My friends/family/colleagues think I should blog. Who has the time?”

And then they turn away to fill their wine glass and replenish their plate with turkey and cranberry sauce and I’m left surreptitiously returning the blog business card to my pocket and sighing.

Happy End-of-Holidays & Good Writing!


New Year’s Writer’s Resolutions.

I’ve always considered it kind of kitsch – making New Year Resolutions. In fact, every December, I make a pre-New Year’s resolution not to make any next month, but always do. This is based on my struggles and attempts to be efficient and to set goals that guide me through each month. And the reality is that this accountability is what enables me to produce at the level I do, while holding down a demanding job, being held down by the demands of a young family, and demanding from my body to think it is still in its 30’s when it isn’t.

But there is something empowering about setting goals at the beginning of the year and outing it in Blogosphere. The accountability grow considerably. So here goes:

1) Oilspill dotcom will be published in March.
2) I will hold two launch parties – one in Berkeley and the other in San Francisco
3) I will market intensely until the end of the year, following a marketing program that I will finish developing in January.
4) I will sell 500 copies by the end of the summer.
5) I will continue to edit Lost Heroes (my next novel) and finish it by the end of the summer. I will then spend 6 months shopping it around.
6) I will begin writing something new during the summer.

FINALLY: I will identify myself as an author and seek every opportunity to promote my work and myself.

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful New Year,


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