By Thonie Hevron

A cold call. In marketing it means calling/contacting someone without an introduction to sell them something. I don’t have a sales or marketing history. I have always believed that I could not approach someone for sales purposes if my life depended on it. I can answer a 911 call with a woman screaming in my ear and send the appropriate help, but marketing? Not so much.

It’s funny how these self-perceptions can be so skewed. They can also be changed.

When I got serious about my writing about fifteen years ago, I learned that the publishing industry was in the process of changing. Technology has moved the traditional method of publishing to the slow lane. E-books and social media are mainstream. Indie books and small press publishing houses abound as do websites for book reviews, author interviews, cover art and the gamut of the process. One of the necessary byproducts of this evolution is that publicity budgets have all but evaporated. Unless you’re an A-list author, PR departments don’t set up book tours. If you self-publish, you’re faced with the same problem: the burden of marketing one’s books fall upon the author. Readings, speeches and book signings all put an author on a stage. Yikes!

Okay, so the landscape is painted. Now for how I fit in.

I’ve talked behind a microphone off and on for thirty-five years. Except for the first week I was on the radio, I’ve been very comfortable. Speaking in front of a crowd was another matter. I got butterflies, even froze one time in front of the Lion’s Club Speech Contest when I was in the sixth grade. It got so bad that when my best friend got married, I couldn’t be in the wedding.

Cut to July 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada at the Public Safety Writers Conference. My book launch! Knowing I’d have to jump in and do it, I volunteered for a mock-game show (CSI Jeopardy), panel moderator, and panelist. Butterflies in the stomach be damned. I’d have to put myself out there to sell my books. How badly did I want sell my books? Bad enough.

That includes cold calling. Today, I did my first face-to-face contact.

My husband and I spent the day kayaking at Bodega Bay. We were loading our boats on our truck when the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department patrol boat docked. I counted three deputies. Hm, I had an idea. Soon enough, a tall deputy ambled down the dock toward the truck and trailer. As he walked by, I hailed him and introduced myself. I told him I was a law enforcement retiree and mystery writer. In fact, I said, my two books are about Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies.

I handed him three sets of bookmarks for each book. “If you’re interested, here’s where you go to find the books.”

Whew! My minimal discomfort evaporated as the young man warmed to us. We had a great chat and the deputy said he’d be checking out my books.

That’s all I can ask.

A year ago, I couldn’t have done that.