creature for the day december 18, 2010

Rant warning or don’t ask for a free book

Gentle Reader, this may have nothing to do with you, but my inbox has been flooded with all manner of requests for free book donations in the last few weeks. It’s becoming a real bore, please, don’t ask for a free book.

Nearly all of these people don’t actually know me. They have a “good cause” they are raising money for and “selected” me for their plea because of any number of excuses. They want me to send them signed books, or signed books and money or just maybe money or maybe a piece of original art, because, well they have this good cause they are just sure I will want to support.

Let me do a little bit of math here. A book costs me money. To keep things simple let’s say a book is $10. Now any book I buy for myself, I don’t receive a royalty on. At 5% that’s another 50ยข I don’t earn. To ship that book, I have to pay for the envelope. And if I want it to arrive in good condition bubble-wrap or some other form of padding. And then there is postage. I don’t know how often you ship packages, but it’s not free. All of that adds up to another $5 or so. Then I have to spend time I could be drawing or working on a new book to package up the book, print the shipping label and drive it to the post office to mail it. Let’s round that off to about a half hour. At minimum wage that’s another few dollars. I’m not saying I earn minimum wage, it’s just a rock bottom average for pay of a working stiff. Add all this up and it comes to close to $20.

That’s not all that much you say. On the face of it you are right. But in today’s in box I got 3 such request. That’s $60. Only this week I had an additional 10 requests. That’s $260. I don’t know about you, but I can use that money to feed my family and put gas in the car. In the average month I receive a request to send a donation at least 20 times. There are 12 months out of the year for a total of 240 requests. At $20 a pop that adds up to a nice tidy sum of NEARLY $5,000. That is a LOT of money in most any normal, average person’s book.

So, Gentle Reader, if you are tempted to ask me to send you a book or donate to your cause and you are NOT a close personal friend and we don’t have a relationship already, please don’t. It’s not that I don’t care about your cause, it’s that I simply cannot afford to support every good cause plea that crosses my path. It’s a matter of economics. I’m sure you understand. And honestly, I could really use your support by you going out and buying one of my books and donating it to your local library. If everyone who has contacted me in the last five years had done that my royalty checks would be much bigger. And my husband wouldn’t be quite so cranky at tax time. And the few places I do choose to make donations to would also benefit.

And on a more cheerful note: today’s daily doodle.

daily doodle for July 2, 2010

2 thoughts on “Rant warning or don’t ask for a free book”

  1. Performers also get requests to work for free for a “good cause.”

    We NEVER take unpaid gigs. The minute you start doing it, you devalue yourself (and every other performer out there). Never work for free. Ever.

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