#WW: Debating Giveaways and Donations.
By now, you probably know that Clean Teen Publishing is running a Goodreads Giveaway for 3 ARCs of Minutes Before Sunset. And if you’re involved in the publishing industry at all – and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this – then you already know how widely debated giveaways are. It doesn’t matter if you’re an author, a reader, or a publisher. I’m sure you’ve seen the debates about giveaways. I’m sure you’ve also seen a few debates about donations as well. We all have our opinions, and both topics are deeply complex – probably too complex to completely cover in this article below – but I did want to try to explain why I choose to participate in giveaways and donations.
I’ve considered both deeply, so much so that I’ve spent hours researching all the pros and cons. I’m sure you can already tell from my website that I am all for giveaways and donations. That being said, I want to start with donations.
Some like to call it panhandling. Others – like me – like to call it support. I never consciously started my website with the idea of donations in mind. In fact, two years of blogging passed before I ever added a page. The first time I considered it was when a blogger – who I had gifted one of my novels to – asked if I had a donate page because she wanted to support my writing. She informed me that she had already bought my books and shared them with friends, but she wanted to do more.
I was touched – and a little bit insecure. I didn’t feel like I was worth any extra help. I didn’t feel like it was “right”, and we spoke about it for a while. She explained that she does this for a lot of her favorite authors, and I remembered something. I donate to my favorite authors and musicians. I have, and I still do when I can. But I was always the donator – not the receiver – and the flip of the relationship felt odd and surreal.
That’s when I started researching.
While I can’t share every article I ever found on the topic, I will share THE ONE – the one that ultimately changed my mind. It was a TED talk: Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking: and I suggest watching it whenever you have the time.
She is absolutely right. The donations become an exchange – a loving exchange. It’s not forced or expected or lazy. I donate to show my appreciation, and when I receive donations, I like to give unique photos of Bogart to supporters to show how much I appreciate them. (Since I’m not a statue actress with flowers like Amanda Palmer).
Now – my addition to this topic is something I’ll never forget. Last year, when I lost my old publisher, my job, and my car at the same time, I was walking around in the rain with holes in my boots just to try to find new work – and you all saved me. Quite frankly, you all kept me on my feet. And you kept my feet dry. Without you, I’m not sure where I would’ve been. But with you, I was safe, and for that, I am forever thankful, and I hope I can continue to move forward and helps others in the way you all helped me. Helping and being helped out of the goodness of your heart – finding ways to support one another when we can – cheering everyone on – and working together for a better future, that is love.
Now, for giveaways: (whew)
The main judgment I see in giveaways is generally worded like this: “Giving away your work for free devalues your work.”
This saddens me. As an author, I trust my readers to bring joy to giveaways, to be positive and uplifting, and to enjoy the event. I do not feel like it devalues my work. To me, that is like saying all presents aren’t valuable because they were given to you for free. Some of the closest trinkets I own are presents. They are immensely valuable to me. If someone handed me a free book – a free trinket or free cake or free notebook – I would never think, “This isn’t valuable.” Instead, when I received a notebook from a reader, my day was filled with warmth, and I have been filling up the notebook with poems ever since – poems I send to that reader, poems we discuss, poems we talk about, poems we build friendship on. That isn’t just valuable. It’s invaluable. Giveaways are gift-gifting opportunities, but they are more than that: they are friendship opportunities.
Now, this is where another concern slides in. Some people sign up who just want to resell your work: no reviews, no reader connections, just people “stealing.”
We choose to give it away. It is a gift. We cannot have expectations for what people do with the gift. That’s just not how gifting works. Granted, I do hope that people stop entering giveaways just to sell work – because yes, that’s unfair to the readers who actually wanted it to read it – but we must trust the readers to come through for authors, and I trust that we can work together to make it a better gift-giving system.
On a side note, I mentioned TED talks earlier, and now I will mention them again. I’m a TED talk junky. I have spent many nights – probably too many nights – watching TED talks. I have learned from TED talks and grown from them and shared them, and guess what? They are all free.
I recently watched a collection of six on forgiveness, and another one about poetry in prison, and the danger of the single story. Arguably, the last one – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – is my ultimate favorite. The single story is damaging, and I think the “single story” theory goes beyond just hearing a single story. It stretches to any type of judgment, and that brings me back to Amanda Palmer’s speech, The Art of Asking.
We are quick to judge things like giveaways or donations and we are quick to praise them as well, but there are always two sides to the story, two sides to the pros and cons of an act, and two sides to debate.
I choose to stay on this side – as a reader and as an author – and I hope to stay on this side, even when things get tough.
And in case you haven’t entered the giveaway (and you want to), click this link to the photo below for your chance to win 1 of 3 ARCS of the new edition of Minutes Before Sunset. Clean Teen Publishing will be picking winners on my birthday! (Because what better way to celebrate?)