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 “book launch”

New Author On The Block

My friend, John Byrne Barry has a novel coming out. John is a political activist and has channeled this passion into fiction. We bonded through a shared aspiration to help inspire people to act through affiliation with characters who fight for social justice. 

Perhaps you can join me at John’s book launch on Sunday at the Mo’Joe cafe in Berkeley – I can attest to the good coffee and healthy Middle Eastern food.   

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

Happy 60th Birthday to City Lights Bookstore

I find the death of the bookstore to be sad. I have found myself taking my sons to my local independent bookstores and even having pit stops when we are on the road at a Barnes and Noble. It makes sense – B&N have good bathrooms, passable coffee, and we can walk around.

I am as much to blame for the demise of the bookstore as anyone. I deny any connection to my first public author signing at a Borders and their announcement the next day that they were closing all stores.

Borders 0211I buy most of my books online and as ebooks. It is not just a matter of convenience or price: I genuinely believe in the environmental necessity of ebooks. As an author, my focus is on creating an online platform and this translates (outside the first week or so of a book launch) into consistently selling more ebooks than tree books.

But I realize that I am increasingly treating these trips to a bookstore like a visit to a museum. I will tell my children how you can make spontaneous choices this way, ask advice from staff who are always genuine book lovers (they would not work there I assume otherwise), and enjoy the smell of the bookstore.

My kids know that I am not exactly telling the truth. We rarely buy books on these visits, scouring the bargain bins perhaps, and I often resort to their please to purchase something that I will look it up used online.

I recently went to a book launch of a friend and bought her book at the store, standing in line to get her autograph. It is the actions of a good friend showing up for someone they care about. The book was one-third more expensive than it was new on Amazon. But this is a friend and, in a strange sense, I felt an appreciation for the staff of the bookstore for hosting her.

But one bookstore stands alone, at least in my stomping grounds. Last month City Lights celebrated its 60th birthday. There is a great article here and I don’t want to simply hash out the same story.

imgres-3When I first came to the US and told someone that I dreamed about using fiction as social activism and commentary on our society, they smiled: “You gonna be another Kerouac?”

I could see the disappointment on their face when I asked: “Who?” I looked around, half expecting the immigration police to appear, tear up my green card, and deport me to Canada.

Patriotically, I devoured On The Road and The Dharma Bums, and this began a long and wonderful journey into the beat movement. I feel privileged to still meet men and women who were beatniks. The sequel to Unwanted Heroes is a modern day tribute to the beat generation.

When I told someone of my new interest, they promptly sent me to City Lights (and the Jack Kerouac Alley, and the museum, and oh those delicious Italian pastries in North Beach!).

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I often return to City Lights and always buy a book. I stand in reverence on the top floor, which is dedicated to the beatniks who gathered there under Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I wrote a scene in the sequel to Unwanted Heroes, which I really witnessed as an elderly couple came upstairs and were looking through a coffee table-type book of the beatniks in Paris. They found a photo that included the old man. We spent a wonderful hour together as he reminisced. It was a very special hour and one I will never forget.

That doesn’t happen at an online bookstore. Even if this gentleman had crafted a well-written article about his time in Paris, it could never compare to sitting and listening to him telling it in his own voice.

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It was a magical moment – so thank you to City Lights for still being around. I will bring my sons to the bookstore and they can buy any darn book they want!

Happy 60th birthday.

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of GalbriethAlon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter. For more about the author, check out his website.

Vacation – A Time to Chill

My first month since Oilspill dotcom was published has been a rollercoaster. The highs of seeing the book move up the Amazon.com rankings and the excitement of the book launch party at The Bread Workshop in Berkeley. Both were very successful.

Since then it has become more challenging. I have spent the last few weeks trying to garner interviews, author meetups and generally networking beyond the Bay Area bubble.

Perhaps it is the slowing pace of the summer months, the call of vacation, but everything seems slower and more difficult. And, in truth, I am feeling it too. I thought it was the anti-climax after the excitement of the first month, but perhaps there is an accumulating exhaustion, trying to juggle a new commitment amidst the general chaos of a challenging full time job, a young family, and the desire to keep writing.

I need to find a way of incorporating the marketing of Oilspill dotcom, into an already packed everyday routine, without it taking the fun out of writing and being an author.

I am going on vacation and when I return, I will create a more realistic marketing plan, one that is sustainable and compatible to my everyday life. I do not intend to blog over the next few weeks, but take a break both physically and mentally. On my family vacation I plan to write, just get back to being creative, and getting the energy back.

After all, this is what a vacation is about. And marketing Oilspill dotcom can wait two weeks. In order not to burn out, I need to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

See ya’ all in a few weeks.
Alon

http://www.alonshalev.com/

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.

Update on Launch: Oilspill dotcom

Friends and colleagues who are following this blog and the approaching launch of my novel Oilspill dotcom have asked for an update. This is, after all, the point of the blog.

The book is ready and out there. With my birthday approaching (June 12th) I have decided to make the announcement in the week leading up and will ask friends and colleagues to consider purchasing the book on amazon.com on June 12th. The idea is that I will be able to secure an amazon.com ranking as a birthday present.

My book launch will be the following week on Saturday, June 20th at 7.30pm. It will be hosted at The Bread Workshop (1398 University Avenue), a typical local Berkeley creation. In their own words:

The Bread Workshop creates sustainable food in a context that is community oriented. The community includes customers, neighborhood, schools, workers, vendors and producers. We are also dedicated to understanding sustainability; environmentally; socially; and economically. In doing this we are developing a cohesive logic in deciding what is sustainable or not so that we can maintain a truly sustainable production and integrate it into society.

I have a plan to avoid forcing my guests to listen to me and I am on the lookout for people with English accents (actually a Northerner, a Scotsman and some Londoners), if you fancy your acting talents. No Oscar nominations, but the appreciation of a struggling writer.

I would like to hold a launch party the following week in San Francisco and am looking for a venue. Any ideas?

For now, my time is being spent on press releases and designing promotional items (?), social networking, promoting my website (www.alonshalev.com) and, of course, my blog. I find this all to be exhilarating. It is where I have wanted to be.

But I am also itching to return to writing. There is another novel completed which, while I am very proud of it, is in dire need of some severe editing. And then there is a firm idea for the next novel and a desire to lose myself at the keyboard.

Good Writing,
Alon

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