Procedural Notes For a Fund Drive

Now that people have pledged a whole stack of money to the “Counteract a Bigot” fund drive — we’re up above $60,000 in pledges at this point and I have to actually count out how much before I can say for sure what the precise amount is — there are some questions about how things will proceed from here. So: A quick rundown.

1. First: Look at that adorable Gamma Rabbit, drawn up by Greg Pak, who is awesome. Click on the picture to go to his site.

2. Right now, here’s what everyone who has pledged has to do: Nothing. Don’t send me money, don’t worry about anything, just go on about your lives. Dedicated volunteers will keep track of the number of times I am invoked over the year. In late December I will release a tally and tell you how much I am donating, based on that. I’ll post it here and I will probably send out a one-time e-mail. Those of you who are donating per invocation, as I am, will likewise add up your donation sums at that time. Then you will donate it to the organizations/charities I’ve listed, or the similar organizations/charities you’ve chosen. That way, you will get the benefit of any tax deduction (if applicable). And I don’t have to handle any money aside from my own. Everybody wins!

3. Speaking of the “team of dedicated volunteers,” I have yet to make a selection for that because this week got crazy hectic between work and the media interest in the fund drive. If you volunteered, trust me, I have your name and I will let you know. Probably not next week but definitely the week after. Don’t worry. The reason volunteers are needed will still be there, I assure you.

4. Remember that no matter what, you’ve promised to donate 5% of your maximum donation. So tuck that away now. Put it in the bank and earn interest.

5. However, if you don’t want to wait because waiting is boring, go ahead and donate as much of your pledge now as you would like, or donate it at any time during the year. The organizations/charities you’ve selected won’t mind if you jump the gun.

6. Some people have asked me: Okay, you have all this money pledged, but how can you be sure that people will follow through on their pledges at the end of the year? The short answer is: I can’t be sure, but I believe they will. The slightly longer answer is: well, look, it’s easier to lurk and watch on something like this than to put yourself (and your money) out there and say, yes, this is something I believe in. I think people who did say that will be good for it. Maybe some of them will have a rough year and can’t donate all they promised, and that’ll be fine if it happens. On the other hand, there are some people who said, hey, if things go well, I’ll donate more. That will be fine, too. In the end it’ll all even out and these organizations/charities will see the benefit.

7. On a personal note, wow, this little thing went off in directions I genuinely did not expect last Saturday, when I decided to use my money to bring some good out of someone else defaming my name on a regular basis. I was surprised when people asked to join in and genuinely amazed both at how many people came along and how much money has been pledged. At this point, I’m pretty sure it’s not about me and my name anymore. It’s about people in the science fiction and fantasy community, and in the online community, saying where their values stand — and what bigotries they as people stand against. And to that, all I can say is, genuinely and humbly, thanks, folks.

No, Wait, I Do Have Another Thought Re: Used eBooks

Which is this:

In the event that Amazon (or anyone else) gets into the business of selling used eBooks without compensating me (the author) for them, and you decide that you don’t want to buy the book new (i.e., I’m not going to get paid anyway), you know what? I would rather you pirate the eBook than buy it used. Because if you’re not going to pay me, the guy who wrote the book (or also the folks who edited it, did the cover art, marketed it and put it out there in the first place), why the hell should Jeff Bezos get paid? He doesn’t need the money; he’s a billionaire. Amazon doesn’t need the money either.

To be clear, what I would like for you to do is pay for the eBook new, at the very least if it’s your first time buying it. We don’t charge an arm and a leg for the things, and when you buy the book, I get to eat and keep a roof over my head and pay for my daughter’s (hopefully) eventual and no doubt ridiculously expensive college education. There’s a direct correlation between me getting paid to write novels, and me writing them. Just so that’s out there. But if you’ve determined you won’t, please don’t give Amazon (or whomever) money you won’t give me. That’s just mean.

Update: good point in the comments: The other option is to borrow the eBook version from the library! Yes, I totally support that.

Update 2: I just brought up a point in the comments that’s worth noting here: Amazon is among other things one of my publishers (they own Audible, which publishes most of my recent audiobooks), and in that role I’ve been very happy with them — heck, they pay for the shiny ads with my book in them on billboards and such — and they make me lots of money. The key here being that when it gets paid, I get paid. But if Amazon is getting paid for my work and I’m not, then I’m not happy about that. The real world! With its entangled business practices! It’s complicated!

Second-Hand EBooks

Yes, folks: I read about this. My first impressions: a) I’m awfully suspicious that it means nothing good for writers who want to get paid for their work using the current compensation model, b) If Amazon actually wants this to work they are going to have to become strikingly transparent in their processes, which they hate, or be slammed with class-actions suits from writers from day one, c) if I were a lawyer I would already be salivating at the class-actions suits to be filed the very first time it becomes clear that Amazon is reselling eBooks that are not, in fact, the sole versions of that specific, originally sold copy (i.e., buyer takes eBook file, copies it, takes original file and resells it to Amazon), d) if I were a publisher I really wouldn’t have any doubt Amazon wants me dead. These are only first impressions; further impressions may be more subtle.

Go ahead and discuss this in the comments. Do me a favor, please, and actually discuss this topic, rather than, as so often happens in any discussion of digital rights or publishing, pulling out your cue cards of standard talking points about ebooks and/or the field of publishing, either pro or con. Your cue card talking points are boring, and I might just Mallet you out of the boredom you will induce in me.

Today’s Very Cool Thing What I Got in the Mail

No, not the awards. I’ve had those for a bit. I’m talking about the fabulous artwork, from John Harris. Does it look at least slightly familiar? It should. Here, this is where you might have seen it before:

That’s right, it’s artwork for an upcoming episode of The Human Division. I’ve really enjoyed all the artwork Harris has created for the epsiodes, and this one especially, so I inquired whether I might be able to purchase it. Happily, the answer was yes, and now I have it and it is mine. One of the perks of being an author is sometimes you get to own the artwork that graces your work. I’m truly pleased to have this in my home, and soon on my wall.