Warning – Some may be offended by today’s column.
I used to get SO annoyed when somebody would send me an email asking me to “click here!” to vote for their story or book or whatever on some website that was basically running popularity contests. There’s something FAR worse now and it involves not begging for votes, but begging for CASH.
Last week, I received an email from an author who wanted me to help him raise money for his book. He’d joined one of those sites that lets people solicit “donations” for anything and everything. This author wanted me to announce his fundraising efforts to you, our WritersWeekly readers…and I’m sure he wanted me to donate money to his book, too. He also wanted to talk to us about using our company to publish his book.
I’ll be completely honest with you. I was VERY offended. This wasn’t some charity trying to feed hungry children. It wasn’t a person trying to help the homeless. It was an author trying to get other people to pay to get his book published (which would have been $517 max if he chose original cover design and only $317 if he decided to do his own cover). This was no different than my neighbor coming to my door and asking for a hand-out for a new business venture he started…where he offers me some cheap “prize” in exchange for my money (a “prize” worth FAR less than the money requested). It reminded me of Chuck E. Cheese. You spent money on pizza and tokens and your kids win “tickets” that are redeemable for the cheapest trinkets imaginable, like a sticker worth a fraction of a cent.
Here was my response to the author:
Hi (name removed),
I’m sorry if this upsets you but I am going to be completely honest.
We do not participate in, nor announce, fundraising ventures. We refer to these as “beggar” websites.
There are too many scams online and people using sites like these appear to be desperate (like beggars). It’s demeaning and unprofessional and it usually doesn’t work anyway.
At BookLocker.com, our charities of choice are food banks and an organization that assists families of killed service members. In my opinion, if an author wants to publish a book, they should do so, and then ask people to BUY THEIR BOOK. That way, the authors makes money and the customer gets a real product at the actual (not inflated) price – not an insulting, cheap “prize” worth far less than the person “donated”. Just asking for money is, well, it’s begging, plain and simple.
When I was really down on my luck many years ago, I was a single mom with three children and no incoming child support (my ex was a deadbeat). I’d just lost my job and I had a broken fridge. I couldn’t afford to fix it so I had to give the children cereal with powdered milk in the mornings and I would only eat what they left on their plates after dinner at night. Yeah, it was bad but I made sure my children never went hungry (though they do occasionally joke about that awful powdered milk cereal!). Even then, at the lowest point in my life, I never asked anyone for any help at all. None whatsoever. I was far too proud.
I would certainly never have stood on a corner asking for cash…and that’s basically what these types of sites are. They are virtual corners for beggars using sympathy to solicit cash. What’s most insulting is these aren’t all deserving causes, like charities that really help folks. They’re people asking others to give them cold, hard cash. Again, insulting.
You likely wouldn’t take your hat door-to-door in your neighborhood asking people to contribute a few dollars so you can publish a book. That would be too embarrassing, right? Posting something online, on a “beggar” website, is essentially the same thing. It’s a lot of desperate people asking for other people to give them cash. I get embarrassed for those folks just reading their requests. And, again, there are tons of scams online from people with pretend charities and such, so most people who are solicited become distrustful of anyone asking for cash online, even if they know them.
If an author did solicit funds in this way, and told people they were publishing a book with us – and if they then never followed through with finishing the book – our reputation could be ruined, too.
Again, I’m sorry if this offends you but I can’t sugarcoat stuff like this. I must be completely honest.
To add insult to injury, the author’s page on the beggar website was soliciting more money than was required to get his book published! It looked like he was just hoping to walk away with a ton of cash in the end.
You know how annoying it is when your neighbor or co-worker asks you to contribute to their kid’s school fundraiser, right? It’s even worse when the fundraiser is for an adult who is perfectly capable of working a job to raise their own money.
Authors should never, ever grovel for cash. It’s embarrassing and annoying for those being soliciting, and demeaning for the author.
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: “As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”
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