Cold Calling An Author Can Sometimes Pay Off

24 Apr


I once acted out of character and it paid off.

Let me explain: I am quite shy.  No, really.

It is easy to be gregarious on (I was going to say ‘paper’ but I guess technically it’s) plastic; much harder in real life when the person you are talking to is not behind a monitor six thousand miles away going ‘Huh? Wazzsheonabout?’ but standing right in front of you, rictus grin plastered on face, thinking, ‘Huh? Wazzsheonabout?’

I’m rubbish at cold calling; at asking strangers for something.  I once had a job as a Carpet Cleaning Saleswoman (it was the early Eighties; I wasn’t a person then). I had to go door-to-door to tell people that they needed me because their carpets were dirty.  All for an alleged weekly wage of £75.

I was so bad at cold calling and made so few sales (ten-day total sales: zero), they put me on commission at the end of the first week (it was the early Eighties; I had no rights that I knew of, being eighteen and stupid).  In one month I earned a grand total of £9.

If they had only asked me to write to the customers, it might have been a different story.  As this one is turning out to be, because it’s about my writing group.  No, really.


I saw an article in our local paper about a local writer who had just published her third book –  actually, it was her second book, although she has written her third book; the reporter got it wrong – may his rugs remain forever filthy – despite the author sending him the details in cold hard ether.  Fortunately, I didn’t know that at the time, or this might have been a different story (not really, but repetition is a good comedy device and I’m feeling facetious today, even a little lightheaded, not having blogged at you for five days).

I read in the Stockport Express that author Allie Cresswell had not only published her third book [not], but she lived in Stockport and had a website.  I moseyed on over to her website by way of dinner, dessert, crisps and a bar of chocolate, and thought she looked friendly enough, so I girded up my now ample loins and popped off an email.

That’s the bit that was out of character – I cold called an author.  Yo!  I said, I belong to Stockport Writers.  We have no money; will you come and talk to us for free?

Yes, she replied; I’d love to.  I’m pretty sure my charm and erudition won her over.

Emails were exchanged; details were organised (please run the whole session, however you like, but don’t arrive before eleven because the Art Gallery won’t let us in until then because of insurance issues, I think); cake purchased in honour of our guest.  The great day arrived…

DSCN1153All joking aside, it was a great day.   Warm and friendly, Allie told us a bit about herself (passing off the sloppy journalist’s carelessness as just one of those things…so magnanimous*), her writing background and her career. Then she read from one of her books – we enjoyed it so much, we asked for more.  After a break for tea and cake (these loins won’t amplify themselves, you know), Allie set us a writing exercise, which had everyone interested and animated.  To keep things fresh, we do rotate the chair each month, as in, a different person chairs each month’s meeting; we don’t sit in swivel chairs and circulate stationarily (the gallery staff keep those chairs to themselves; we can’t complain because they let us use the space for free).  To have someone entirely new set the prompt made us all a little giddy, and produced some wonderful freewriting.

*If I appear to be losing it a little here, it’s because I am.  Remember my magnum opus (I Went To London To Be On Telly And Get Free Stuff)?  It might have turned out all right in the end, but that sloppy – and somewhat vindictive – journalism has made me over-sensitive.  Besides, that Stockport Express journalist didn’t publicise our guest speaker like I asked him to in my second – and last – out of character cold calling email.  May his rugs remain forever filthy.


Allie brought some of her books and I felt, having strong-armed her into coming along, that I ought to buy at least one of the novels, but I didn’t have enough money on me.   Fortunately, she sells them for Kindle, and I was able to buy two for less than the price of one hard copy.   Even more of a bargain, the Amazon account is hooked up to the Hub’s credit card and not mine so, technically, I got them for nothing.  And I had cake!  What a great day.  Our guest also got a booking, from one of our writers who attends another group, so it was a win-win situation.

Now I come to the reason why I haven’t blogged for five days: I started one of the books, Relative Strangers.  As a pretty woman might say, big mistake; huge. You should see the state of my house – I’ve done no housework because all I wanted to do was read; and the dogs aren’t talking to me.

relative strangers book cover small

The book explores the dynamics of family life by gathering together one extended family in a large house for one week.

At first, I was confused by the sheer number of characters but I soon worked out who was married to whom and had which children and which in-laws and which rooms and cars and grievances and grudges.  The book is packed with incident and was a really interesting and fun read, but not fun in the way – I hope – this post is fun.  It was a fascinating exploration of relationships: the characters, for the most part, were neither good nor bad, but human, with foibles and faults like we all have.

The ending surprised me.  And that’s all I’ll say, because I don’t want to give anything away.  If you like surprises, don’t read the blurb on the website because it tells you in which direction the ending heads.

There were more typos than I usually approve of but I let them pass because I enjoyed the book so much.  I only mention them because I want this to be a balanced critique.  Definitely recommended.  You can trust me; it’s not like I’m a journalist (sorry, Kateshreswdaytheexception).

You can find Allie’s website here; and her books on Amazon here; and here. They are available on as well as the UK site.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post because you may not get another for at least the next five days: I have her other book to read.


36 Responses to “Cold Calling An Author Can Sometimes Pay Off”

  1. terry1954 April 24, 2013 at 20:28 #

    you didn’t get too much money did you cold calling……..i can do fairly well at talking to strangers via phone, I would probably not make it to the door to sale in person, hehe, and i love the thought of a writing class


  2. slpmartin April 24, 2013 at 20:38 #

    Sold books door-to-door as summer job after my first year of university…did quite well..but not sure why since I change the company’s sells pitch to “Hi..I’m selling books… do want any?”


  3. benzeknees April 24, 2013 at 20:40 #

    Congrats on getting a great speaker for your group & big high five for being brave enough to cold call!


  4. Laurie Nichols April 24, 2013 at 20:51 #

    I was wondering what you were up to, I knew that it was something fun. Good for you with the cold e-mailing!! I could not do anything with cold calling, my tongue would get all twisted. I hope the dogs forgive you, who cares about the house, but the doggies are missing their mum, don’t forget to throw them a bone here and there. hee, hee


  5. viv blake April 24, 2013 at 21:25 #

    Well done Tilly. Your adventure sounds like a lot of fun and I love the pictures of all those talented writers.

    I can do most things by email – including inviting Alison Brackenbury to come and give us a workshop. She replied that she doesn’t do workshops, so I said it could be a poetry fest with lots of laughter and fabulous food (Kay). She like that idea much better. I also send my poetry to all and sundry. But I’ve never earned any money selling cold calling, f to f or any other way!


    • The Laughing Housewife April 25, 2013 at 08:53 #

      So did she come? And where to? Your house or that place where you have attended other workshops?


  6. gigihawaii April 24, 2013 at 22:04 #

    What a terrific win-win situation for all concerned. Congratulations! I didn’t know you were a shy person. You seem so gregarious.


  7. timethief April 24, 2013 at 22:33 #

    Wow! As an introvert I am so impressed with what you did. I’m almost as impressed with it as I am by the authenticity of your writing. If we were buddies I would {HUG} you, so please accept this online substitution that and for shared giggles and grins.


  8. colonialist April 24, 2013 at 23:06 #

    Oy! Read more sparingly and post more often!
    I have stopped regarding typos as an indication of second-rate since I have been discovering any number in modern best-sellers. In the good old days the editors would have been tortured and then shot.


  9. Al April 24, 2013 at 23:17 #

    Tilly, I’m not a stranger but I’d love to be a guest author at one of your meetings (I’m not published, but I’m thinking of writing a best-seller). However I can’t quite make it for free. But if your club would like to hold a bake (or Malteser) sale or something to raise the fee it breaks down thus:

    1. Round trip airfare – $12,000.00 (you wouldn’t expect a future famous author to fly coach, would you?)
    2. Hotel for two weeks – $2800.00 (I know you’d want me to stay to enjoy the local flavor.)
    3. Museum and touring fees – $1000.00 (It is England, you know)
    4. Meals – $75.00 (lucky for you, my wife still has me on that vegan diet.)
    5. Limousine rental – $1500.00 (you know you can’t get a cab when it rains…it always rains in England, right?)

    Anyway, I know you are brave enough now to go around asking for donations. I leave it to you to convert this into pounds sterling. Let me know.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 25, 2013 at 09:08 #

      Al, you know I love you but, at today’s conversion rate, that adds up to £11,348.05

      That breaks down into 11,348 boxes of Maltesers @ £1 each or

      1361.76 kilograms of Maltesers or

      3002.166902 pounds of Maltesers or

      214.440493 stones of Maltesers, since we’re talking English.

      As much as I love you, that’s almost a whole month’s supply…not sure I want to see you THAT much. Though, if you brought Patty along, I could be tempted…

      And yes, I really did do the maths. Or ‘math’, since we’re talking American.


      • Al April 25, 2013 at 13:43 #

        You’ve given me a great idea! Why not software for currency conversion that converts money denominations into Maltesers? It could become the universal valuation. Ex: In Russia, a bottle of Vodka would cost 3.671 Maltesers. I’ll work on the international patent, you work on the programming since you’ve already started it. Euro schmuro!


      • Allie Cresswell April 26, 2013 at 20:47 #

        I like Maltesers


  10. Katharine Trauger April 25, 2013 at 02:34 #

    Yes! I did enjoy this! 😀

    I’ve let things go to read a book, before, and I know exactly how that can be! I was som embarrassed by the passage of time, I did NOT us a bookmark so hubs would not know how much I had read! (Do not worry, I never dog-ear pages!)

    So glad you got some enjoyment! We all need it sometimes. 🙂

    ❤ K


  11. jatwood4 April 25, 2013 at 05:58 #

    Great experience you’ve shared here! Than ks!


  12. Elaine - I used to be indecisive April 25, 2013 at 12:25 #

    Great post – and well done for girding your loins and cold emailing. What a result.
    I think I want to read that book too. Not only does the author sound like a nice person (which makes me want to like her work), but the novel sounds like the sort of thing I might enjoy. The temptation is to order it right now…in fact, why not? I’m off…..:)


  13. mairedubhtx April 25, 2013 at 13:17 #

    On the strength of your recommendation, I have just received a sample of “Relative Strangers” on my Kindle Fire and I shall read it and decide whether or not to go ahead and read it (usually I do go ahead and purchase the book after I get a sample). The author sounds like a lovely woman to come to speak to your group and you were very brave to cold-email/call her and ask her to come to your group. I know you say you are a shy person, but you are a bit less shy than I am. I couldn’t do that. But good for you. And thanks for the recommendation.


  14. sanstorm April 25, 2013 at 16:41 #

    I am breathless with vicarious enthusiasm, Tilly.


  15. Three Well Beings April 26, 2013 at 06:48 #

    I applaud your cold call! I have never been good at things like that either. Great book review and I enjoy an introduction to a new author. New to me, anyway!


  16. Nikki April 26, 2013 at 12:50 #

    Well done you! And what a lovely review of your day with one of my great friends, Allie (yes, she is just as nice as you describe). I am glad you all enjoyed meeting her and sharing your thoughts and ideas – all with cake and tea. Fabulous! I have enjoyed reading Allie’s books too and would recommend them to anyone. Thanks for sharing.


    • The Laughing Housewife April 26, 2013 at 13:20 #

      My pleasure, believe me! She was brilliant and lovely, and I really did enjoy the first book. Can’t wait to start the next one.


  17. Hattie April 26, 2013 at 17:50 #

    What a wonderful thing you did here. I am quite in awe of your ability to bring this event into being.


  18. Grannymar April 27, 2013 at 21:17 #

    It was worth the silence to be able to read this post. Very well done you on all the hard work. You deserve and extra helping of Maltesers.


  19. May 9, 2013 at 21:49 #

    Yes I enjoyed it very much as a cold caller and also your quote “may his rugs remain forever filthy” !! You ARE a writer!


I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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