Today I am honoured and thrilled to welcome LGBT author Brandon Shire to Off the Page chatting about something I hope will inspire other authors to get involved where they can.
Award winning writer BRANDON SHIRE is a distinct voice in contemporary gay fiction. Ten percent of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.
How Authors Can Help Nonprofits
by Brandon Shire
I am often asked how authors can get involved with nonprofit organizations. Many will ask what they can do to help; but sadly, the question frequently has a tone which suggests a disturbing belief that the writer’s voice cannot make a difference. I can’t begin to explain how absurd this idea is.
As an author (just starting out or a seasoned vet) you have the specific and unique ability to make words heard. It doesn’t matter what genre you write in, what your particular quirks are, or who you ticked off in the publishing industry. Words are your product, and that product changes minds, moves people to action, and raises voices for those who have no voice.
How Do I Start?
This is the easiest question to answer. Find a cause or organization you care about and contact them. Let them know you would like to help raise awareness or funds, or both. It’s that simple. Start local. Look around. Get involved. Yes, there’s a learning curve, so it will take a little more time initially, but once you get into the swing of things, have all your questions and concerns appeased, you’ll be left wondering how you didn’t have the time before. (For LGBT authors wondering where to get involved in LGBT causes, you can find a local US organization in your area via zip code at GLBT Near Me.)
Wrong question. If this is your only concern, don’t bother. You’ll just waste everyone’s time. But, the short answer is yes. Readers respond very favorably to writers who worry about more than the next sale. And members of the nonprofit will likely spread the word about your events, book tours, and upcoming publications. (Hint: It is not okay to ask the nonprofit to pimp your books in return for your interest. Let them make that choice.)
Must my giving involve money?
No. Nonprofits have many needs other than cash, but cash is necessary to run the organization. Raising awareness of the cause is a huge factor in reaching potential donors. A link in your next ebook has the potential to reach more donors and raise more awareness (over the 40 year life of your book) than any one single fundraising campaign. But let’s be realistic about this too. If you are willing to give up cash (say 10% of your book sales) it gives your interest and advocacy some validity. Let’s face it, on $2.50 net on a book sale, giving $0.25 isn’t going to break the bank, but it could change someone’s life. (Hint: Ask your publisher to send the percentage directly to the nonprofit when royalties are issued. You won’t miss what you don’t see.)
Can I market my involvement?
See them meme on the above right again. You’re not marketing your involvement; you’re promoting a cause you believe in. And for those authors who consider branding, this is a definitive factor in author branding. The pros call it cause marketing. But be warned, authenticity will be sniffed out by your readers quickly, and fakers are generally not tolerated.
I’m not sure which nonprofit to work with
Simple. Ask your readers for suggestions. This allows your readers to help you get behind the cause, eases them into the understanding that you’ll be promoting the cause, and gets them further involved in something which they may already have definitive knowledge of.
Common and lame excuses I’ve heard
I write in the wrong genre! I don’t have the time! I don’t have the money!
The one answer for all: Who does/doesn’t?
I mean really. Why ask the how you can help if you’re going to give yourself excuses about why you can’t get involved. There’s a little time commitment, maybe some monetary commitment, but I can guarantee that you’ll get as much reward from your involvement as you do from your writing. And your fans will love you more for it.
The Cardinal Rule
All authors (and potential authors) should already be familiar with this bit of advice: JUST DO IT. Getting involved with a nonprofit is the same as starting your very first novel. It won’t ever get done until you start. And, only you can get it started. And who knows, a few years from now you may be writing a post just like this one for all the authors asking you the very same question.
Good luck on your new journey.
Are you currently or would you like to be involved with a non-profit? What causes are dear to you?