Giving Back: Using Writing to Help Others

I had a recent conversation with a dear friend, about a project she wished to undertake and the concerns about paying for it. While we were on the subject, we talked about how crowdfunding has been so overused and abused (I wrote about it in a previous post), that the people who would benefit from it are now at cross purposes because people are loathe to contribute. Then I had a lightbulb: perhaps I could use my writing to help her.

Writers helping others in need isn’t anything new. Acclaimed fantasy writer Terry Brooks gathered a group of fellow fantasy writers to produce Unfettered, a collection of short stories. The sales of this book went toward relieving the debt of author Shawn Speakman, who had accrued massive medical debt for treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This was a cool way of using one’s job, so to speak, to do a solid for not only another person in general, but for a member of one’s tribe.

My thoughts are to write a short story, which is not one of my strongest writing forms, and have the proceeds going toward her project. Of course, I’m nervous: my book isn’t even out yet, and who’s to say that the short story will take off (or even that the book will)? How will I fit this story into the other writing projects I have in the near future (finishing the first draft of book #2, Camp NaNoWriMo, Clarion Write-A-Thon)?

To help a friend, I will be forced to step up my game. I have to be better. And that’s a good thing.

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Other People’s Money: Crowdfunding and the Writing Life

Crowdfunding is all the rage these days. Indigogo, Kickstarter, and now GoFundMe have made many an author’s dream come true. But all that glitters isn’t gold, and crowdfunding isn’t necessarily a cure-all for shallow pockets.

Depending on your publishing path, most (if not all) of your expenses will be taken care of, one way or another.

When I interviewed author Bill Campbell, of Rosarium Publishing, he mentioned his initial ambivalence toward crowdfunding for his latest work, Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond. He saw it as more of a marketing tool, than as a means of bringing dreams into practical fruition.  I suppose that could be true (especially since some of the lower-levels of donation compensation involve acknowledgement of said donation and donor via social media).

The concept of crowdfunding is a great one: instead of relying on bank or framily loans, you ask people to donate a few bucks to The Cause. In turn, donors get a hookup that is directly proportional to the size of their donations.  It could be something as simple as a public “Thank You” when the project finally launches, or as major as a personal “free” copy of the book/film/gadget when it comes out. It’s a great way to not only raise money, but also to garner awareness of whatever you are trying to bring to the public.

As with all things, crowdfunding can lead to an assumption of the Golden Rule: S/He who has the gold, rules. Or rather, megadonors (those who donate at the higher levels) can easily cop an attitude of, “I paid X amount to help you get on. Ergo, I own you, even a little bit.” Even those who donate at the lower levels can see themselves as the pillars who are keeping your house aloft. To an extent, that is true. However, the spirit of crowdfunding is to help someone else’s dreams take flight out of a sense of altruism, not quid pro quo or positioning as some sort of status symbol, like a Birkin handbag or a Rolex watch.

And before you ask: yes, I have considered crowdfunding, but I am hesitant. The concept is being abused, what with people asking for donations for graduate degrees, vacations, cars, etc. I’m loathe to reach out to my network, since they are being bombarded with such nonsense. I’m not ruling out ever doing crowdfunding, but there’s not much I can give to donors other than a free book.

Meh…I guess I’ll just do it the old-fashioned way: hustle and flow.

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