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 “Berkeley Branch”

Writing to be Read, Speaking to be Heard

I am speaking tomorrow (Saturday, 05/26) at the California Writers Club in Fremont on the Devry College campus, 6600 Dumbarton Circle,(rm 223) . All are welcome. I think I’m talking about The Accidental Activist and why I see ‘Fiction as a Vehicle to Social Justice.’

Often, however, the talk turns at some point to craft and book promotion. Last Friday I offered a list of books that colleagues have highlighted as being instrumental in improving their craft as writers. One of the groups that I facilitate is the monthly California Writers Club – Berkeley Branch Marketing group. We come together each month prior to the general meeting and focus on a topic that one of the members has prepared.

At one of those meetings, a businesswoman suggested that we each decide on a marketing model that suits our books and our own personalities. I’ve read a number of books and they definitely change with the times. I would like to point out three which. apart from anything else, are very recent and most up-to-date with an industry that changes almost monthly.

Get Published Today! An Insider’s Guide to Publishing Penny C. Sansevieri.

I have often shared my enthusiasm for reading from my kindle, but this time I must admit to feeling frustrated. I don’t seem able to flick forward or refer back with ease. This might be me, and if you are an e-reader expert, please share a few tips in the comments below.

Ms. Sanservieri comes from the industry but is astute enough to acknowledge the inevitable changes happening all around us. She does this with commendable objectivity, and also approaches Print on Demand in a similar way.

How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months John Locke

This book has inspired me. The guy comes with an attitude, but he has valid claim to having earned it. He writes very clearly and succinctly and shares his model in simple step-by-step methods. Be warned. Despite the title, I do not believe this is a get-rich-quick scheme, and have no doubt that Mr. Locke works hard and invested money to expedite the process. Still if I only sell a million books in five years, I will be very appreciative of Locke sharing his success.

Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (Smashwords Guides) – Mark Coker

If anyone understands eBook business it is Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, one of the few successful publishing stories of recent years not to include ‘Amazon’ in its title.

All three books have been published in the past 12 months,and can be purchased for less that $15 together (eBooks). Not a bad investment for a burgeoning business.  Now please excuse me. I have some books to read.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist 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 http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

The Drive To Write – Transformational Fiction

Al Levenson, Past President of the Berkeley Branch of the California Writer’s Club, asked me a while ago to write why I wrote. I pondered the question for a couple of days and wrote nothing. Then it just all came gushing out:

I write, first and foremost, for myself. I love the rush I feel when the story flows, when I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the thought process, when the characters leave the computer and shadow me at work, in the gym, at home. I love it when I am transported into their world. For a short time I am someone else.

But I also write because I hope to help create change in the world. I strive through my writings to highlight social and political injustice, and to inspire personal activism. My novels all include characters who have transformed themselves, taken on multinational corporations, overcome great personal challenges, and in my next book –  stood up for the homeless and war veterans. At a writing workshop, I think it was at the excellent Santa Barbara’s Writer’s conference, I heard the facilitator try to launch the term – transformational fiction. It never caught on in the writing world, but it spoke to me.

So I want to promote the San Francisco Writing Conference for Change. It is being held on November 13-14, and is organized by Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen , icons of the San Francisco literary community. I recently heard them speak, not for the first time, at the California Writer’s Club. These people have truly learned to fuse a passion with a business that is instilled with values.

Finally, if I’m truly honest, I write to stand out. I want people to see me as a person with something to say, to be enthusiastic about my stories, and for my sons to show their teachers and friends my books and say proudly: “My Dad’s an author.”

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist 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

 

Authors Helping Authors

Yesterday I participated in the first marketing meeting for members of the California Writers Club, Berkeley Branch. At the end of the meeting, we all passed around bookmarks, postcards and other such promotional materials. The idea, based upon the Business Network & Referrals (BNI) model, was for each of us to get acquainted with each other’s work, and pass on the literature to someone we think might be interested.

During the meeting, many of us had to fight the urge not to promote our own work or share pitches. It was quite challenging. After all, we were all there because we are highly motivated to promote our books.

I hope we can create a culture within the group of giving time to helping other authors within the group. This sounds obvious, but we never seem to have enough time in the day to promote ourselves, let alone others.

There are, however, a number of ways in which to do this. If every member of the group did one small thing each day to help promote another group member, then we would discover we are each receiving a lot of help.

Authors generally, if they are not on the A-list, need help from others. So let’s try and create a culture of helping each other. Here is a list of 10 ways we can do this.

1. Post a review of someone’s book on Amazon.
2. 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.
3. Mention their website or blog on whatever social networking site you are active.
4. Go to the public library. If their book isn’t there, request it.
5. Mention their book on Goodreads.
6. Again on Amazon – add some helpful tags or add them to your listamania.
7. Spotlight them on your blog.
8. Attend their book readings. Ask questions that make them look good and/or authoritative. Answering questions from someone you know helps the author relax and build confidence.
9. Link your website and their website.
10. Enter their book into a fundraising raffle as a prize.

This list took me less than 10 minutes (and it’s almost midnight – not when I am thinking clearest). If you can think of additional ways, please let me know and I will add them to the list. This is all about win:win. In the middle of a recession, and a ruthless industry that is in involuntary transformation, win:win is something we could all do with.

Good Writing,
Alon

ALON SHALEV’S HOME PAGE

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