Books for Charity

Every year, all year, publishers big and small, including self-published authors, are putting out books where proceeds go to charity. Sounds great, right? There are a lot of people doing this that I consider good friends and I know they’re passionate about it, so I’m not questioning their intentions with this write-up – it can be a great thing. If someone is going to buy a book and a particular title for charity catches their eye, might as well buy that, right? They get something to read, as intended, plus they helped a charity. Bonus! However, I personally don’t see much point, and here’s why:

See, most print books cost money to make, so when people buy them, a large percentage of that goes into the production of the book. If it’s a POD title like Createspace, and most of these charity books are, then the publisher gets whatever is left over after it’s been printed and distributed, and those are the proceeds. So a person pays ten or fifteen bucks for a book, thinking they’re helping a charity, and the charity sees a few dollars of that.

Wouldn’t it be more helpful if the person donated the full ten or fifteen bucks directly to the charity?

With ebooks, if they’re sold via Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other outlets, the stores take their cut before the publisher sees any money, generally around 30% plus some deliver fees. Say the charity book goes for five dollars. Then the charity will see about $3.30 of every book sold, depending on its size. This is similar to print and again, it’d still be nicer if that five dollars was sent directly to the charity. $1.70 a pop adds up!

Think of it in terms of a bake sale for a fundraiser. People bring goodies that they put hard-earned money and work into creating and sell them to the public for a charitable purpose. At the end, do they take out the cost for flour, sugar, etc, that was put into making the baked goods? Of course not. All of the money goes to the cause. Now think about these books.

Some people will sell ebooks directly on their site to gain 100% of the sales for charity, but it’s unfortunately difficult to get people to come to you for that. You pretty much need to go where people are buying all the books, like the major online outlets.

Then there are all the questionable charity book projects out there. They’re often start-up presses trying to get bigger names in their catalog with donated stories for the project, or simply trying to drum up positive press for themselves. Perhaps they’re trying to get free stories for an anthology while avoiding the stigma of being a 4-the-luv market. In those cases, one has to wonder if the charity ever sees the money.

I could talk about this all day but it boils down to this: if you love a charity and want to help, just donate. Then encourage others to do the same. Don’t be like General Mills where people have to buy your product to donate, and then only a portion goes toward the charity.

But Jerrod, you may say, some people need incentive. The reward of helping others isn’t enough. They need something in return as some sort of token for what they did, akin to ribbons and wrist bands. It gets people motivated to spread awareness!

Okay, okay, I get it. But again, selling a product where only a portion of the money goes to the charity is not the answer, in my opinion.

Not to mention, in this day and age, customers can’t always trust that you’re actually going to pay the charity.

So here goes…

Direct donations. Say it with me. DIRECT DONATIONS.

Here is my offer to everyone reading this:

Pick a charity that means a lot to you. Something extra special that really hits close to your heart. Donate something to it. You should get some sort of email confirming the donation, thanking you for your generosity.

Okay, forward that email to jerrodbalzer (at) gmail (dot) com but make sure to remove any financial information that may be in the email. Remember, you can edit a forwarded email before you hit ‘SEND.’

I don’t care what charity it is, and I don’t care how much you donate. Just do something to help. If I get a forwarded email from you showing that you did so, I will reply with the ebook files attached for Zombies, Werewolves, Whores, and More! in both mobi (Kindle) and epub (most others) formats.

If you don’t hear back from me after a while, give me another shout. Your email may have gone in my spam box or some such.


Now, just imagine if, instead of donating trunk stories to whomever asks for their charity anthologies, some of these authors with huge followings did something similar. They would probably get a lot of emails! But I think there would be a lot more money going to charities. It would be worth the effort.

So if you agree, pass this idea along to your favorite author as a suggestion. It can’t hurt, right?

  • hmmm

    How about those people whose motivation is actually buying the item. -like a good brownie. -like a good book for their kids. It’s bonus that the profit (gross OR net) will go to a charity.

    • JerrodBalzer

      See the latter part of my first paragraph 🙂