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 “fundraising”

Telemarketers, Cell Phones and Hobbits

At a recent fundraising seminar, I was told that the best time to call people and solicit donations is between 6-8pm. Allow me to describe my house during this time. The entire family is just getting home. The kids are tired and cranky. Mum and/or Dad is making dinner and very tired. Other parent is helping kids with homework and/or doing other chores (pay bills, clean house, fold laundry). Between all this activity, family tries to find time to sit around a table and ask how each other’s day went, what we learned, or discuss some monumental change in the world.  


The phone rings. It is surely a friend who needs help, another kid asking our kids a question about homework. It is certainly NOT a stranger trying to sell me something, or a good samaritan trying to engage me in a conversation that will lead to me wanting to support their cause. At least the good samaritan is trying to do some good in the world. But the telemarketer…


And here are two gripes:

1) How dare you use an automatic voice to call me! If it is not worth your time to pick up the phone, why do you suppose it is worth mine! I’m sure you are busy right now – maybe making dinner for your family or helping your kids with homework.

2) I am paying for these calls. At least when it comes to my cell phone. I didn’t ask you to call and you are not my friend. Why should I pay? 

So here is my suggestion:

1) If it is automated … hang up!

2) If you have a cell phone, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. Remember, you must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

Remember the old days, when business was done down the pub and cemented with a round and a handshake. No? Me neither, but I would like to. Then again, I think the world would be a better place with hobbits. And I bet they don’t spam your cell phone.



Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  


Authors Helping Authors

Yesterday I participated in the first marketing meeting for members of the California Writers Club, Berkeley Branch. At the end of the meeting, we all passed around bookmarks, postcards and other such promotional materials. The idea, based upon the Business Network & Referrals (BNI) model, was for each of us to get acquainted with each other’s work, and pass on the literature to someone we think might be interested.

During the meeting, many of us had to fight the urge not to promote our own work or share pitches. It was quite challenging. After all, we were all there because we are highly motivated to promote our books.

I hope we can create a culture within the group of giving time to helping other authors within the group. This sounds obvious, but we never seem to have enough time in the day to promote ourselves, let alone others.

There are, however, a number of ways in which to do this. If every member of the group did one small thing each day to help promote another group member, then we would discover we are each receiving a lot of help.

Authors generally, if they are not on the A-list, need help from others. So let’s try and create a culture of helping each other. Here is a list of 10 ways we can do this.

1. Post a review of someone’s book on Amazon.
2. Buy their book, if not for yourself, then as a gift for a friend’s birthday, or instead of a bottle of wine next time you’re invited for dinner.
3. Mention their website or blog on whatever social networking site you are active.
4. Go to the public library. If their book isn’t there, request it.
5. Mention their book on Goodreads.
6. Again on Amazon – add some helpful tags or add them to your listamania.
7. Spotlight them on your blog.
8. Attend their book readings. Ask questions that make them look good and/or authoritative. Answering questions from someone you know helps the author relax and build confidence.
9. Link your website and their website.
10. Enter their book into a fundraising raffle as a prize.

This list took me less than 10 minutes (and it’s almost midnight – not when I am thinking clearest). If you can think of additional ways, please let me know and I will add them to the list. This is all about win:win. In the middle of a recession, and a ruthless industry that is in involuntary transformation, win:win is something we could all do with.

Good Writing,


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