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 “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months!”

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.


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).

Locked Down

As mentioned previously, my weekend blog post relates to what is happening in either my own or the writing world in general.

I have already blogged about John Locke, congratulating him for becoming the first self-published author to sell one million ebooks. Now Locke has decided to share his business model in a new book – How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! – and it is a great read for anyone in the business.

Locke is an entrepreneur and has already made his money in other ways. He seemed to take as much satisfaction from proving his sales model as he did from writing his novels. In fact when someone commented that it was easier for him because he chose a popular genre (detective), Locke went and wrote two Western novels (considered the most difficult genre to sell) and applied his model to marketing these books.

John Locke


I’m not going to give everything away here as Locke deserves your $3 for sharing his ideas. But I do want to focus on one important aspect that is the basis for any measure of success – identifying your target audience.

Who are the people that buy your books? I mean the audience who will consistently purchase, enjoy and recommend your book at the water cooler the following day. In May, a colleague of mine, JoAnn Smith Ainsworth led a workshop on creating a business plan for authors. She also stressed the need to identify your target audience and it was surprising how, even after JoAnn explained why this is important, so many of the participants were resistant to the assumption that everyone wants to read their novels.

JoAnn Smith Ainsworth writes historical romance.

I am spending quite some time defining the characteristics of my target audience and it is not easy. Who are the people that get excited about social injustices in fictional form? What is the profile of the reader drawn to characters who go through a transformational process?

If you have a moment, please help me out here. Whether you are one of my target audience or not, please leave a profile of the sort of person I should be focusing my marketing efforts in the comments below.

On another note: Happy Birthday, Dad – 86 years old today and can still out-foxtrot most on the dance floor.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) 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).

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