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 “May, 2010”

Breaking News!

The ink is drying on the contract. My novel, Oilspill dotcom has been picked up by Three Clover Press. The book will see a new round of editing, receive a new cover, new title and new author (okay – I got carried away at the end).

The new title will be The Accidental Activist, emphasizing the role and transformation of my protagonist from a self-absorbed computer programmer to a social activist.

The cover, still not finalized, will show him staring up at the towers of corporate America. I am really enjoying working with the graphic designer and would be happy to recommend her to other authors.

One exciting aspect for me is that my book will now be available in the UK. When it first came out, the publisher Booksurge put it up on Amazon.co.uk. Weeks later they closed their European operations. And Oilspill dotcom was just about to storm the bestsellers list! Seriously, with the novel based upon the McDonald’s libel trial that happened in London, I had high hopes of making a splash in England.

Other developments will include creating a broader Internet presence. The Three Clover Press president is a firm believer in blogging and has the experience (and statistics) to back it. In August I will launch a new blog that will cover West Coast voices who use literature and culture as a source for social justice. The blog will be on Word Press and I am already writing posts so that I can quickly make a splash.

The release date is scheduled for the NCIBA Trade Show in the beginning of October. But hold on to your copy of Oilspill dotcom. When I win the Nobel Prize for Literature, it will be a collectors item (as solid as most other investments these days!).

I’m stoked!
Have a great week,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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A Better Business Model

His publisher sent a friend of mine to Seattle for two book signings. They didn’t pay his expenses, so he drove up paying for gas, lodgings and food. He sold about 40 copies of his book (very respectable considering the average amount of books sold at a signing is eight) and returned home exhausted.

It got me thinking that there must be a better business model out there for non A-list fiction writers. There are very few such authors whose publisher sets up a book tour for them with all expenses included. A colleague of mine is married to an A-list author and the support she receives sounds amazing.

But what about the rest of us?

With this in mind, I was excited to see the website of The Pantheon Collective . Here is what they say on their homepage:
THE PANTHEON COLLECTIVE (TPC)
Three powerful individuals have joined forces to shake up the publishing world.
Their MISSION: to empower and inspire (aspiring) authors to take control of their destinies and make their dreams come true.
Their PASSION: getting their work (and the work of others) out into the published universe.
Their STRUGGLE: overcoming individual issues (personalities, distance, interpersonal relationships, finances, day jobs) for the good of the collective, while balancing their roles as productive authors and creators.
Their OBJECTIVE: successfully launch four books in twelve months while documenting every moment both wonderful and difficult.

I wonder if we can’t create such a group here? Ambitious, like-minded, committed and hungry for success. What if four authors:
– Shared a blog and were able to put out posts everyday (that’s still only two a week each). They could also share and regularly update a joint website.
– Read together at a bookstore. It would be a bigger draw than just one person, and from the bookstore’s perspective, sell more books. It will be easier for the bookstore to commit staff to keeping the store open that night.
– Shared a car, motel room and publicity for a 3-4 day book tour, each taking responsibility to book a venue in a city between San Francisco and LA.
– Each made a commitment to cultivate and maintain a relationship with bookstore/reporter/café owner/… and actively promote each member of the group. That would be four times the connections.

Now what if those four authors all had similar platforms: If we all wrote political, edgy, or social commentary fiction couldn’t we focus on a more specific platform and readership?

It would all come down to commitment and accountability. There could be no bystanders involved. Perhaps we would sign a contract?

However it would play out, there must be a better business model for the struggling author than what we are all pursuing individually. Any ideas?

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

My First iPad Sighting!

What I love (and often loathe) about the Internet Age is the ability to share in real time. A number of readers commented about my blog entry when I sat in a coffee shop in San Francisco and admired the various hand held devices on show. Alas, I lamented not seeing an iPad.

In solace, I went on a pilgrimage with my sons to the Apple store in Emeryville, where we all fondled the iPads on display. But even that isn’t quite the same.

I’m sitting in a new coffee shop in Berkeley: Local One Twenty Three, happily preparing my offering for tonight’s Berkeley Writers Circle and I saw it. Three tables down is a woman on her iPad. She just walked past me, possibly to the bathroom, holding her precious baby, and a thrill coursed through me.

My first iPad sighting! I’ll never be the same again.

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

Left Coast Voices

Alon Shalev is a left coast, social activist and fiction writer. His second socially conscious novel, Oilspill dotcom, addresses the power of multinational corporations and their power and abuses of individuals. This bi-weekly blog tracks the authors, organizations and events that are shaping the left coast culture, with an emphasis on the San Francisco Bay Area.


For more on Alon and his books, please visit http://www.alonshalev.com/
WARNING! This author believes that writing can help change the world.
To life and literature!

Launch Date 08/01/10

Thank you for checking out this blog. It will launch on August1st. Meantime, check out Alon Shalev’s other blog: Countdown to a Novel Published which describes his personal journey as an aspiring author.

For more on Alon Shalev, please visit his website.

Oilspill / Oil spill

I am passionate about New Orleans as you will know from reading this blog. I organize groups of students to travel to Louisiana for a week of volunteering. I have traveled every year but one, and even that year I recruited students and raised money to help them make the trip. Our program, beyond hands-on work, includes meeting people impacted by the hurricanes and helping to rebuild the community.

So you can imagine how sad I am at the impending disaster to the Louisiana community if and when the BP oil spill reaches the coast, and the damage already done to the seafood industry. I listen to the stories on National Public Radio and my heart goes out to them.

My car sports a magnet on the passenger door with Oilspill dotcom in big black letters and the words: “Maybe there is a way to hold big business accountable for its actions.” In the world of marketing, my book is “trending.” The key words are in the news, on the web and in conversations among activists and concerned citizens.

But I feel bad every time someone comments on my car magnet and rather than lamenting the Louisiana disaster, I direct the conversation to talking about my book, in hope of the next sale. Honestly, I need the sales, the exposure, anything that can help me promote Oilspill dotcom. I want and need to make money from my writing and shouldn’t feel ashamed doing so.

And yet I feel guilty highlighting my needs when perhaps I should be highlighting my passion for a community about to be consumed in its second natural disaster in five years, when it hasn’t even recovered from the first.

Hillel, a great Jewish teacher, has a famous quote.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?

To me he suggests a balance. So now I alternate, talking one time about my book, the next about the Gulf Coast.

But the community there needs serious help if it is to preserve its heritage, its uniqueness, and its culture. And if not now, when? Now, absolutely now. There may not be an opportunity later. If you are interested in helping, I have worked with this agency (Jewish Funds for Justice) in the Gulf Coast Area since Katrina, and I have great respect for their work.

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

"For The Times They Are A-changing" (Bob Dylan)

Firstly, thank you to those of you who connected to my blog (see last entry) and helped to get the blog recognized by Facebook. Not sure yet how this will affect my blog, but any exposure helps.

And thank you to those of you who offered words of support and encouragement when we heard that Unwanted Heroes didn’t make the Amazon Breakthrough Novel semifinal.

Oilspill dotcom has been selling despite my relative inactivity. There is a possibility of the novel being picked up by an independent publisher. Exciting! If this goes through the book will be released with a new cover and title. It is also undergoing a round of editing.

Part of these changes will include a change of direction for this blog and that I hope to outline in the next posting. But the overall concept is to reach out to people interested in the book world, rather than just in me.

And the book world is certainly changing. I am sitting in a Starbucks on the corner of Sansome and Greenwich, under the shadow of Coit Tower. I have a meeting in another hour for Hillel. Looking around, this is a young business crowd. Though clothes are relatively formal (this is California), people are groomed and sharp.

It is, however, early. Another hour before they must enter their offices and cubicles. Time to unwind, read a book or newspaper. But as I look around, I feel a thrill. An elderly gentleman with graying curly hair has the large kindle. I remember reading how older people are buying the bigger model, the 9.7″ version (don’t be impressed, I looked it up). They are not techno-geeks, but enjoy the option for bigger font.

Near this man, someone has another white tablet, but I can see it is different. Perhaps it is the Barnes and Noble nook. A woman with a bright read umbrella has a matching device, which I can’t help laughing at. Did she really color coordinate her accessories? Was this the Sony Reader? Alas, I never saw an iPad, which would have rounded off the experience. Still last Thursday, after a meeting at the Boudin café in the Stonestown Mall, I had slipped into the Apple shop and fondled one of their new, shiny devices. Quite a thrill.

The world is changing. And I am excited about the change, excited for the environmental impact, for no longer having to schlep books in your bag, the ability to lower prices and therefore make more books more accessible. I am also upset that the book I have been carrying around for the last week, brought brand new, is now creased and bent.

But I haven’t bought a device. It is partly financial, partly that I am sure the models in a year’s time will have ironed out the kinks, but also that I love holding a book and browsing a bookstore. And I love the bookshelves in my house (and other peoples). It is hard to explain. Financially, while I do buy books, I also lean heavily on the public library to satisfy my literary thirst.

Still the times are changing and I am feeling the pressure to change with them. So here is my question:

Do you have a kindle, nook, sony reader or iPad (or another model that I am not aware of)? Please let me know if you do, when you use it, how happy you are with it and whether it has really replaced the physical page.

Also, do you take it with you into the bath?

Good Writing,

Alon

Update 07/01/2010: Oilspill dotcom is currently selling on Amazon’s Kindle for $3.19.

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