CategoryMy Book

We Need a Change

Note: If you’re here for the My Pokemon Gym series that typically posts on the first Monday of the month, the next post in the series will go up next Monday, June 8th. Until then, here’s this post.

I’ve been thinking for a few days about exactly what to write here. And frankly, whatever I could write here will be inadequate for several reasons. But I recognize that not saying anything — and not taking action — is more problematic than stumbling over my own words.

The American culture of racism and police brutality is one that has cost countless lives and has continually held down an entire segment of the fabric of the country. It’s a fact of life that I was very much shielded from growing up and one that it took me well into my adult years to fully understand the scope of. Even though I saw what was going on in the world around me, a part of me felt like it couldn’t be as bad as I would hear from the news or from people that didn’t look like me. I felt this, at times, despite the rational part of my brain and the logical person in me seeing the preponderance of evidence pointing to the contrary.

I don’t feel that I can be inactive about this anymore. While I do my best to support people of color, in particular writers and other creatives in the communities I’m part of, I know I can do better. I’ve made an effort to do more to amplify voices that have better perspective than my own, and I do intend to continue to do so.

I also am looking to make an effort with my pocketbook. Part of the challenge that I’m running into there is that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as funding cuts that will impact my household income as soon as this month, money has become very tight for me. That said, I do have a source of income, albeit a small one, that is still purely discretionary. That is the profits from my first book, An Epilogue to Innocence.

Beginning today, June 1st, 2020, all profits from An Epilogue to Innocence will go to The Marshall Project. If you’re not familiar with them, The Marshall Project is a group that provides nonprofit journalism about criminal justice. Without groups like The Marshall Project, the dark underbelly of the American criminal justice system would remain shrouded in a veil of ignorance for those who do not live through the experience of being a person of color in the United States today.

If you would like to purchase An Epilogue to Innocence, you can do so at this link. If you would like to donate to The Marshal Project directly, do so by clicking this link.

Wherein I Write Messages In Books

In February of this year, I found out a really exciting thing was happening, though I couldn’t share it until now. I found out that 30 copies of my book were being given away as part of a swag bag for a corporate event. Which:

  1. Holy shit.
  2. My book is not a particularly work appropriate book, at least not in the case of specific short stories.
  3. Might be the coolest writing related thing to happen to be so far. AND
  4. Is definitely the most mentally overwhelming thing to happen to me to so far.

At this point, I was overjoyed it was happening. Thank you so much to Jeremy and Jon for involving me in this. As part of the agreement, I arranged to sign and add messages to all 30 copies of the books being given away. This lead to quite the mental quandry. What do I write in a book while signing it?

I’ve signed copies of my books before. I’ve written messages in them before. That said, in both cases, this was always for people I knew at least in passing. A total stranger has never — at least to my knowledge — acquired a copy of my book that was signed and had a personalized and/or handwritten message in it.

So what did I decide to do? Do I write the same thing in every book? Are my messages classy, uplifting, or inspirational? Are they legible?

No.

I wrote 30 unique messages across the 30 books. With the permission of Jeremy and Jon, I’ve shared what I wrote in the books below. You can click on the images of the pages to get a better look at them. This may be helpful in the case of a couple of the longer messages, like the one where I wrote out a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Note: Only 29 of the images are currently shown below. I had some issues with one of the pictures that I didn’t catch until after the post went up. I’m going to dig and see if I can find a good version of the final image.

My hope is that I’ll get the chance to do this with my current work in progress some day. I personally feel that said manuscript is already lightyears better than An Epilogue to Innocence was. That’s not to say I dislike my first book. Far from it actually. But I’m slowly getting the feeling that my WIP could be something really great.

2018 Book Charity Drive…and Then Some

I don’t talk about my first book much anymore. It’s not that I don’t like my book — I’m still quite proud of it, in fact. Even though the book is reviewed well on Goodreads and on Amazon, there’s still plenty I could have done better in the book. Hell, I wrote an entire post talking about what I’d change in various stories if I had a chance to re-write the book on the one year anniversary of my book’s publishing.

One thing I wouldn’t change, however, is that I’ve used the proceeds from my book as a way to raise some money for charity. In 2016, I raised money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, while last year I raised money for UNICEF. As you might imagine from the title of this post, I’ll be doing the same thing this year, only with an added twist that I’ll get to in a bit.

Let’s start with the basics. If you buy a copy of my book, An Epilogue to Innocence, between now (November 19, 2018) and Christmas, all proceeds from your purchase will go to charity. I’ve chosen to put all proceeds to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, just as I did in 2016. I made the active choice to go with UNICEF last year, and though I don’t regret that choice in the slightest, I feel that the work the AFSP does is incredibly valuable.

I’ll do an update post at some point in the drive to give you all insight as to how the drive is going. I likely won’t do weekly posts like I did in 2016 (as I just don’t have time for it this year), however I will make sure to give some updates as to how things are going. For those unaware, CreateSpace and Amazon merged this year, so unlike previous years were there was a preferred link to buy my book, that isn’t the case this year.

Additionally, all pledges to my Patreon for the months of November and December 2018 will also be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This won’t just the the amount I get at the end1As Patreon takes a small cut of pledges., it’ll be the whole pledge made. I’d like to do something additional as a thank you to patrons who pledge during those months, so if you have any ideas, share those in the comments. If you don’t already support me on Patreon, click the button below and start doing so. I’d love to see you stick around past December 2018, however if you want to just pledge to me when I’m donating to charity to get the perks, that’s fine by me too.

And…rather unexpectedly since I initially wrote this post in early October, some other creators and authors have decided to also donate proceeds from their work, money based on viewer/listenership, or their time to help us out. A current list of those also taking part in this event can be found below.

Creators

Folks Helping With Marketing

Finally, if you see this post, anything you could do to spread the word would be immensely appreciated. I feel like part of why I saw such a drop off from the 2016 drive to the 2017 drive was the more limited word of mouth marketing I could do during that time. While I’ll be more active pushing the charity drive on social media this year, any help you all could provide would be greatly appreciated.

2017 Book Charity Drive

Hi all.

From today, November 12th through Saturday, November 18th1Which also so happens to be my 30th birthday., all profits from my book, An Epilogue to Innocence, will go to benefit UNICEF.

Buy it hereAmazon (Paper Copy) | Amazon (Kindle Copy) | CreateSpace | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | IndieBound

For those not aware, UNICEF is a charity that does a ton of work around the world to improve the lives of children. Their goal is to provide every child with safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster and conflicts, and equality. I also realize that last sentence comes directly from their site…that said, it’s difficult to put into words the profound impact that UNICEF has across the world.

Last year’s charity drive for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention did okay. It didn’t raise much, but even the $50 gift the charity drive was able to reach helps. I’d like to match, if not exceed that goal this year. To do so, around 25 Kindle copies of the book would need to be sold…or around 22 physical copies2There’s different royalty rates depending on book type and sales source. See the IAQ section for more info.. If you can buy a copy and help out, awesome. If you can’t, but want to share this post to help out, that’s great too. If you just want to donate to UNICEF because it’s a great cause but don’t care about my book, wonderful3Though I, admittedly, do like when people buy things I worked hard on..

That’s the main point of this post. I’ll publish results sometime early next week. I’ve also listed some IAQs below, for those who care…or wish to read my rambling more.


IAQs

Q: Why not donate to the AFSP again this year?
A: I likely will personally. That said, I wanted to use my book to raise money for a different group this year.

Q: You did a Twitter poll taking suggestions for who to donate to. Planned Parenthood won. Why not them?
A: I had been debating really hard between UNICEF and Planned Parenthood even before that poll went up. The low number of votes on the poll made it harder. Ultimately, I chose based on which charity had the lowest overhead — meaning the best percentage of money being donated actually going to its programs. UNICEF’s total is 87%, while Planned Parenthood is 76%.

Q: Wait. Why is this section called IAQs, not FAQs?
A: Because I highly doubt most people actually thought these questions. Or cared.

Q: How much money goes to the charity per book sold?
A: Without getting too much into the weeds about CreateSpace/Amazon merging together, it looks something like this. Profits do vary slightly for non-US sales.

  • New paper copy sold on Amazon = $2.26/copy
  • Kindle copy sold on Amazon = $2.06/copy
  • Paper copy sold on CreateSpace = $3.86/copy*
  • Paper copy sold on Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or Books A Million = $0.66/copy

Q: What’s with the asterisk on the CreateSpace line?
A: CreateSpace is becoming part of Amazon’s KDP publishing and inheriting their profits, which are very similar to the Amazon royalties above. I don’t like that less money goes to a charity just because I’m making less money, as this change occurred November 1st, even though I wrote this charity post in mid-October. So. If you buy the book off CreateSpace, UNICEF gets the old royalty rate. Because children who need immunizations > profits.

Q: Can this section be over?
A: Sure. Here’s a link to go see a bunny.

When You Give Up What’s Yours

A couple of months back, I made a plea on Twitter asking for post ideas. I took one of those ideas — a short story prompt challenge — and have run with it. That said, I wanted to start getting to a few of the others. One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter, Eve, suggested I talk a bit more about self-publishing. I have a couple of different posts in mind where I want to do that. One of those posts, which will come at a later date, will go into deeper detail on my experience as a self-published author1Which, to be fair, is more of what Eve was looking for, I think., expanding on this post I wrote last year.

As for this post though, I want to go down a different, more philosophical path. In a recent Vlogbrothers video, John Green talked about how he felt knowing that his newest book, Turtles All the Way Down, was going to the printer for final printing, meaning he wouldn’t be editing it again from that point forward2Apologies in advance to my wife, who generally reads my blog posts, but will be caught by surprise by watching a video that features the sound of John Green’s voice — which she strongly dislikes..

Around the 48 second mark of the video above, John talks about how Turtles All the Way Down was his book and his alone for the better part of six years. But, from the point at which it got to the printer forward, the book was no longer his. It belongs then (or now?) to the reader.

I hate that feeling — the feeling that your work, your creativity, and your art no longer belongs to you. I know part of why I dislike it. No matter how hard you try, no matter how good of a writer you are, and no matter how well you vet your work for any problem that might arise, someone is going to hate your work. It happened to me and it took me the better part of a year to get to the point where I could talk about it without sounding like a total asshat.

I know that I have plenty of room to grow as an author. I know that my writing will continue to improve as I put more work, more time, and more effort into it. I know that most people don’t write a book that’s considered to be a classic as their first work3Unless you’re Harper Lee, apparently.. I also know that reception of my book has been generally positive, at least if Amazon and Goodreads are to be believed. But still…there are critiques that have been made that I can improve upon. And I hate that I can’t do that.

There’s plenty I can do better going forward. I can flesh the short stories I write out better — be that as a novel or just as longer short stories. I need to do a better job of writing more diversely. Even from a non-writing standpoint, I need to learn how to market myself as an author and writer better. I absolutely can work on those things going forward. Even if the effort that it will take to complete those actions is significant, I believe I have the capability to do those things.

But the work I’ve already done…that eats at me just a little.

As John Green says in the video a bit earlier in the post (and I’m paraphrasing here for brevity): I just really want people to like my work, but if they don’t there’s nothing I can do. And I agree with that sentiment, mostly. I do really want people to like my work. I’d love for them to love my work, to tell all of their friends about it, then those friends tell their friends, and eventually I get picked up by an actual publisher4Again.. That’s the dream. The sales over the last six months tell me that said dream is not realistic — not with this book, at least.

To say there’s nothing I can do is a complex thought. On one hand, there really isn’t anything I can do about the book that’s already out. Unlike John Green, I’ve re-read my own book a few times since it published. Doing so has allowed me to see how my tastes for my own writing have changed, not to mention to take ideas from previous works and build ideas upon those thoughts for future works. On the other hand, there’s plenty of things I can do to work to improve myself constantly as a writer, as a person, and as a citizen of modern society. After all, in order to be a successful writer, its critical to understand that those three roles do have overlap. I’m still learning what that overlap is.