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 “Publishers Weekly”

Why I Write by Karl Marlantes (Veterans Day 4)

I took the following interview almost verbatim as it is so powerful. The link brings you to the full article.

Why I Write by Karl Marlantes — Publishers Weekly, 1/25/2010

Having read a galley of my novel, Matterhorn, about Marines in Vietnam, a somewhat embarrassed woman came up to me and said, “I didn’t even know you guys slept outside.” She was college educated and had been an active protester against the war. I felt that my novel had built a small bridge.

The chasm that small bridge crossed is still wide and deep in this country. I remember being in uniform in early 1970, delivering a document to the White House, when I was accosted by a group of students waving Vietcong and North Vietnamese flags. They shouted obscenities and jeered at me. I could only stand there stunned, thinking of my dead and maimed friends, wanting desperately to tell these students that my friends and I were just like them: their age, even younger, with the same feelings, yearnings, and passions. Later, I quite fell for a girl who was doing her master’s thesis on D. H. Lawrence. Late one night we were sitting on the stairs to her apartment and I told her that I’d been a Marine in Vietnam. “They’re the worst,” she cried, and ran up the stairs, leaving me standing there in bewilderment.

After the war, I worked as a business consultant to international energy companies to support a family, eventually being blessed with five children. I began writing Matterhorn in 1975 and for more than 30 years, I kept working on my novel in my spare time, unable to get an agent or publisher to even read the manuscript. Certainly, writing the novel was a way of dealing with the wounds of combat, but why would I subject myself to the further wounds all writers receive trying to get published? I think it’s because I’ve wanted to reach out to those people on the other side of the chasm who delivered the wound of misunderstanding. I wanted to be understood.

Writing to be understood is a powerful motivator for anyone. For one who served to defend his/her country, it is so hard to return and be scorned by those you believe you were defending in the field. I experienced this when I would return on leave from my service during the first Intifada in Gaza. This is what brought me to a war veteran writing to be understood in Unwanted Heroes.

I hear you, Karl. I just wish so many others could find such an outlet to heal themselves.

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 www.alonshalev.com


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,

Some Ebook Developments & Updates

As the ebook market continues to expand, new battlegrounds are opening up throughout the market. Here are two interesting articles:
1) Jim Milliot explains about one such battle between two giants, Amazon and Penguin, in Publishers Weekly at this link
2) Michael Stackpole then takes everyone to task regarding the percentage that the publishers and distributors are taking from ebooks at this link.

By the way, if you are in the writers business, you would do well to keep an eye on Michael’s blog.

My ebook update is less dramatic than the great wars being played out, but at least I’m involved…somewhat.

Kindle – the ebook provider of Amazon.com has reduced the price of Oilspill dotcom (ebook version) to $4.99 for a limited period. I don’t know for how long this sale will continue, but it brings it into line with my other e-outlets.

Smashwords – have signed a deal with Apple that will make them distributors for the iPad. I am i-excited about this. Smashwords have done a great job positioning themselves (and us, the authors) with Sony, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and just about everyone else.
I am also proud of the fact that the next soldier to rake advantage of Operation Ebook Drop, and download my novel for free will be the 50th soldier to do so. Know someone deployed in a combat zone? Please refer them to my website for a link to this great program.
Finally last week, Oilspill dotcom was accepted for Smashwords’ Premium Catalog. This has many marketing advantages for me, but is also validation of the level of my work.

Scribd – nothing much happening with my book through Scribd. I suspect that I am not utilizing it properly. If you use Scribd, please drop me a line and offer some advise.

In fact, I would love to hear from anyone who is seeing success with their ebook. I’d be happy to share your secrets (with your permission of course) and in doing so promote your book on my blog.

Viva La Ebook Revolution!

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