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 “June, 2009”

Out of the Paddocks

Last week I wrote about feeling the launch – the adrenaline and the surge of energy as the race began. Anyone who has experienced the beginning of a race or marathon knows that feeling when the gun goes off and everybody goes from static to motion. The moments prior to the beginning of the race seem eternal, while the first step so powerful.

So, Oilspill dotcom is out. The book was launched in two stages: On Friday, June 12th, my 45th birthday, many of my friends and colleagues bought copies on Amazon and we watched excitedly as the book climbed from 1.2 million to 4,500 on the Amazon rankings. Thank you everyone who made this possible.

Then last weekend, at the official launch. I was able to stand before a packed room and talk about why I write, what Transformational fiction is (another time), and about the amazing court case on which Oilspill dotcom is based.

Friends, and friends of friends, read out parts of the book in character. Alan Black, author of Kick the Balls, added his Scottish accent to provide an authentic rendition of Professor McGoughen (see earlier guest blogger). We talked about the book, about writing and drank wine together in what I hope was a great evening for all.

Now the dust of the launch begins to settle. What next? Even the title of this blog screams the question.

For a year I have collected ideas of how to market Oilspill dotcom. While I am sure that Oprah and Jon Stewart are madly juggling their other guests to find me a convenient spot on their shows, I’m not sure I should wait around for them.

This week I began sorting out those ideas. Over the summer I want to put together a few readings in independent bookstores, garner reviews and articles in local newspapers, and build a schedule that will allow me to market Oilspill dotcom, finish editing Barista, and begin writing another novel.

Oh yeah, and excel at a full-time challenging job, be an involved father and husband, keep fit and sane.

But then, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.
– Jack London 1876-1916

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And They’re Off…

I really feel, in many ways, like a racehorse, fresh out of the paddocks and charging around the racetrack. Last Friday was the beginning. In the preceding days I sent emails to everyone I know and asked them to consider buying Oilspill dotcom on Friday, which happened to be my birthday.

My Amazon.com ranking improved from around #1,200,000 to #4,500, so it couldn’t have just been my mother! I promised myself that I would not go into Amazon to check more than once an hour – a logical decision given that Amazon only updates their numbers once an hour – and, well, I rarely went in more than 2 or 3 times an hour.

Along with the messages from friends telling me that they’d bought the book, were numerous emails congratulating me and offering many words of encouragement. I feel blessed with a large group of people who care about me and are excited for my progress.

Now I need to move on and focus on my book launch party, this coming Saturday night at 7.30pm. As already mentioned in past postings, the venue is the Bread Workshop, on University Avenue, Berkeley.

The Bread Workshop (1398 University Avenue, Berkeley) is a small community-orientated café and bakery that tries to use only sustainable products and produce. It is a favorite haunt of mine and I am proud that we are holding the launch at such a venue. There is a poster of me in the window staring out as you drive past (trust me and keep your eyes on the road) and I get a thrill every time I pass by.

I plan to have friends reading passages from the book and I am excited at the prospect of sharing the book face-to-face with people who are not in my writer’s group or family.

So if you are around on Saturday, please drop by and be a part of the experience.

It’s beginning to feel real!

Good Writing,
Alon

A Pit in the Stomach

It’s June and Oilspill dotcom has just been released! Everyday this week I have gone into Amazon.com, just to …well… make sure it is still there. In the next few days I will send out emails and blasts to all my family, friends and colleagues. I will post on the various social networking sites where I maintain a profile and on Internet forums in which I participate.

My birthday is next Friday (06/12) and I am hoping for an Amazon ranking on that day. As a gift for my birthday, I am asking friends to buy a copy of Oilspill dotcom for themselves, or as a gift for someone else on June 12th. If people buy from amazon.com, I might break into the top 1,000, which will be a feat and hopefully help attract some exposure. A few people have already purchased the book and, for a while, I broke into the top 250,000 – Oprah here I come! Currently, I think I am languishing around the 1 million mark, deep in what publishers call Amazon’s ‘long tail’.

I will continue to promote my book launch on June 20th at The Bread Workshop in Berkeley. I have posters printed and have sent press releases to local newspapers and magazines.

Everything is going according to plan, but…

There seems to be a small pit of fear that’s taken up residence in my stomach. I am not doing enough to promote…I will make a fool of myself…people won’t like the book…won’t take me seriously…won’t come to the book launch…won’t…

It’s cloudy here in San Francisco. It’s June – the sun should be shining.

Guest Blogger: Professor McGoughen

I’m really excited tae be com’g tae California for the book launch of Oilspill dotcom in a co’ple o’ weeks. Once I finished teaching law at Oxford, I had planned tae visit ma wee grandchildren in Edinboro’, but I could nae resist seeing the book o’ the trial an’ how y’ Americans perceive such a shenanigan.

Ma role was a wee one. I canna nae believe that computer wiz kid got me soo wound up tae get back intae the ring. I spent ma whole life fightin’ the multinationals. Me an Oxford law professor, an’ I still can nae imagine how two yo’ng rebels could have pulled it off.

Certainly the Internet was a powerf’l tool that I nae had in ma day. But the way that laddie harnessed it to involve so many people from all o’er the world, he deserves all the credit that this wee book gives him.

An’ I hope it gives a new generation o’ lasses ’n ladies t’ aspire an’ fight for what’s right inna way that’s relevant f’ them. Your President understood this ’n that’s why soo many people got involved in his campaign that had nae done soo before. I hear he still sends out updates to his supporters, still keeps them informed.

I want this t’ be the message that y’ people will take from Oilspill dotcom, that it’s possible to effect change, that y’ can influence what is happening. Ya need to know what is happening. When them corporate types know som’n is watching them, they might think twice ’bout their actions.

An’ remember: this trial mae have happen’d in England, but many o’ these multi nationals operate outta the US. This is as relevant f’ yoo as it is f’ Britain, Africa or Asia. Our world is all connected an’ we noo got much time. This Internet might jus’ bee the tool f’ change – an’ this is what young Shalev is tryin’ t’ tell us.

Read the book. Y’ nae look at the web in the same wae again.

Alistair McGoughen
Professor at Law, Oxford University

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