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 signings”

Anytime, Anywhere

A writer’s life divides between three stages: creation (writing the book), editing (making it readable) and promoting (this might be looking for an agent, or social media, or even book signings).

When a writer has a number of books out, or with different publishers, or even in different genres, s/he rarely gets to focus on just one of these stages. Chances are, they are juggling between deadlines, commitments, and the drive to leave everything and do what they love best – write.

I’m in this situation right now, and like many of my colleagues, also have a demanding job and a wonderful family, the latter of which is, I am sensing, is fast becoming a passing opportunity as my sons grow up.

There was a recent article in The Writer Magazine wherein the writer suggested that for many people they needed a sense of ritual: a sacred place to write, certain music, etc. I am not like that. When I am creating the story, I can work anytime anywhere.

This theory was tested this week, as I have been on the road, spending most of my time in an intensive executive coaching program in Washington ‘DC (hence the blog focus on the President this week).

I wrote on an airplane with a disgruntled baby next to me, jet-lagged in a hotel room and sitting in freezing cold coffee shops. I wrote before I went to bed and when I got up. It is a tribute to the engaging workshops that I participated in that I didn’t have the urge to whip out my laptop and disappear into the world of elves, dwarfs and magic.

The ironic part of all this is that I hadn’t planned to start writing until later in the spring. I am working hard on utilizing Author Salon as a platform to market my epic fantasy novels and had expected Unwanted Heroes to come out at some point in the spring/summer.

But when the urges grab you, when the creative juices begin flowing, when the characters call out for resolution to their predicaments, an author can’t help but answer their call.

It’s all part of the wonderful world of writing.


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).

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:
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,

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