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 “social networking”

Tweet Tweet

“What! You’re not on Twitter? Why’s that?”

This response is usually elicited from someone who tweets and is either very proud that they are so cutting edge, or need to justify the time they are spending each day on social media. I try and explain that I blog daily, am on Facebook, maintain a website, and try to add an opinion post at least weekly on one of the LinkedIn e-groups where I hang around.

All this while editing one manuscript, writing another and trying to sell the novels I have already published (and I haven’t mentioned family, full-time job, and those annoying staples like sleeping, eating, doing laundry and hitting the gym).

Why are there only 24 hours in a day? But then again, why only 140 characters in a tweet?

Twitter is defined by Tweetnet as “a social networking and microblogging service” in which you can update your friends and followers with up-to-the-minute accounts of what you are doing.

Now I can understand why a celebrity like Charlie Sheen or LeBron James attract attention, but why me? My mother is extremely interested in what I have to eat for lunch, but it probably stops there. My original blog was about Alon Shalev, the author, and it had a very small following. While I am sure that a lot of the people I network with are interested in my imminent rise to fame as a leading social commentator of our time (in other words as someone who is very opinionated), they are not interested in the mundane activities that we all share.

Tweetnet also suggests that Twitter allows for “informal collaboration and quick information sharing that provides relief from rising email and IM fatigue.”

Excuse me, I need to move the laundry over to the dryer (that’s a 56 character tweet). I’m back. Admit it, you were on the edge of your seats wondering if I would remember to remove the wool garments before turning the dryer on. I did. You may resume breathing.


So the question is: How does someone like myself leverage Twitter? Are you on Twitter (I realize these are two questions)? I would appreciate your feedback and I shall stalk a few authors in their Twitter accounts over the next couple of days and let you know what they do.

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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).

 

 

 

Seriously Left Coast – The Casual Carpool

It doesn’t get more left coast than this. We congregate daily outside the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stations on the East Bay, standing in two orderly lines of commuters, as the drivers swoop in and pick us up. One line is for people who want to be dropped off in the San Francisco Financial district, and the other near the Civic Center.

In some cars there is a shared silence, listening to National Public Radio, while in other cars the driver might initiate a conversation. Usually, Monday mornings are quiet, and Thursdays are optimistic.

There is a website where protocol suggests the radio station and that the driver should have the prerogative to initiate conversation. You can complain on the website about certain drivers’ abilities, or a passenger who lavishes himself with too much aftershave.

On the passenger’s door of my car there is a magnetic advert for my book, The Accidental Activist. A few times a month someone asks about it, and I have a captive audience of two to ply my pitch. I keep it short, as I feel mildly guilty that they have no escape. It’s a long way to jump from the Bay Bridge, though I would hope that my pitch isn’t quite that excruciating.

Sometimes the discussion might be about politics, a book that the passenger is reading, or the latest performance of the Warriors, Giants, 49ers, or Raiders. It can get intense. I once drove two lawyers who discovered that they were soon to face each other in trial, only because I innocently commented on an NPR story about tenant/landlord rights.

It doesn’t matter what the conversation is, or even whether it takes place. Online networking has replaced the social commentary that traditionally transpired in coffee houses or bars, headphones have cut off the opportunity for spontaneous discussion, and perhaps a greater need for guarded self-preservation has also erected walls.

Still, in a car for twenty minutes a day, three strangers share some time together. Whether in silence, listening, or talking, they are still spending some time together. And in a world of growing isolation, even as people pack into smaller geographical areas, that is a welcomed relief.

But these people took car sharing to another level

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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

Summer’s Over!

It went so fast. Five weeks on the road: vacation, family visits, book promotion, and work. Now it is all over and we are back into the routine of life. It has been an eventful time, but it is also a watershed. Here is an overview:

1. Oilspill dotcom will be withdrawn by the end of September. After just over a year in print, it has been picked up by Three Clover Press. They will publish the novel under the title: The Accidental Activist. It has a wonderful new cover and has gone through numerous rounds of editing, both human and computer editing programs.
The Accidental Activist will be launched at the NCIBA trade show (Northern California Independent Bookstore Association, I think!) in mid October.

Oilspill dotcom is about to become a collector’s item: Hold on to your copies!

2. Blog: While this blog will remain to share my triumphs and…well triumphs, I will focus my marketing through a new blog on Word Press. Left Coast Voices will focus on politics and activism here on the West Coast. While writing entries for the group identified as potential readers, I hope to expose them to my novels and they won’t be able to stop themselves from flocking to the bookstores, and e-book sources.

This is an interesting approach. Other authors at Three Clover Press are doing this with encouraging success. However, it is a lot of work. Blogs succeed with a certain formula: multiple daily entries, links, and social media promotion. It feels daunting given that I manage to carve maybe an hour slot each day to write my new novel, edit the one being read at the Berkeley Writers Group, and market the books published.

3. Social Networking: I have been focusing my social networking efforts on various author e-groups around the ‘net. The idea is to offer constructive responses and leave a signature that will encourage people to check out your website and possibly to buy your books.
I will continue with this, but focus on groups that reflect my writings such as political activist groups. This is going to take a while to research and find the right groups. With the growing success that I am seeing for fellow authors myself and with Kindle, I will begin with groups on Amazon.

4. Website: It has been a few months since I updated www.alonshalev.com/. With the new book being launched, it high time that I work on this. Please take a moment over the next month to check it out and feel free to offer any suggestions to help improve it.

5. Alliance: This is where it gets complicated. Why didn’t I do all these aforementioned tasks over the summer when things slowed down? Actually they didn’t really slow much, but this is not the issue. I wrote in an earlier blog entry that my son Pele and I started writing a fantasy novel together.

The reality is that I have really got sucked into this and, as with my last novel – Lost Heroes – the story is pouring out. We have written over 45,000 words in the past few weeks and there is no sign of slowing down. It is constantly on my mind and I am having a hard time focusing on anything else in my writer’s world.

So, summer is over. At Hillel the next few months are intensive and I need to be totally on board for my students, staff and our stakeholders.

I’ve always thought sleep to be severely overrated!

Good Writing,
Alon

http://www.alonshalev.com/

Promotional Materials – What Works?

To promote my book, Oilspill dotcom, I have designed business cards, fridge magnets, postcards, a big magnet on the door of my car, and now T-shirts. It is not clear to me what works and what does not, but I’m sure having a lot of fun with them.

I believe I can attribute at least one sale to each of these promotional tools, but my favorite so far happened on Labor Day. A dear couple that lives around the corner has kindly taken it upon themselves to create a neighborhood community. We get together every few months and celebrate living in Berkeley. In a world of intense social networking, of full calendars and work deadlines, it is refreshing to get together with people with whom you share nothing other than geography, and with whom there is no particular agenda.

So come Labor Day, this wonderful couple invites the neighborhood to a potluck in their garden. Armed with a salad of locally grown vegetables, my family and I stroll to our hosts’ house.

I just so happen (well, strategically planned a week beforehand) to wear my Oilspill dotcom T-shirt. One of the guests asks me what I am wearing and I begin to explain. Our host, upon hearing our conversation, promptly returns inside his house and brings out his copy, which he then makes sure everyone sees, while exhorting my novel.

For 10 minutes or so, I am the main attraction: me, Alon Shalev, the author. And best of all, someone walks us back home when we leave, to purchase a copy.

Now I devour marketing books, especially those ‘guerrilla’ or ‘grassroots’ marketing books. But if I learned anything that Labor Day weekend, it is that there is nothing as powerful as word-of-mouth, and no asset like a friend who believes in you.

In these days of detachment, when the mass media and Internet control so much of our social connections, all transpiring through a screen, the question I have is how can we facilitate more face-to-face opportunities to pass on the message we want to share? Or to change the world? Or even to promote something that we believe in…like a struggling author’s work?

Good Writing,
Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

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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