Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm a retired teacher turned writer. Ferradiddledumday (my Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story) and Stuck (my middle grade paranormal novel) are available from Cedar Creek Publishing.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Unhappy Reader

Today I received a comment about one of my blog entries. It seems someone took offense at my response to an unsolicited email I received. Rather than post the lengthy comment, I’d rather examine it a bit more closely.

I just came upon your blog and had to answer to the false claims against our organization, Authors For Charity which you are maliciously spreading across the internet.

I blogged about it once. (OK, this entry makes twice.) That’s hardly “maliciously spreading” information “across the internet.” (Wouldn’t “via the Internet” be more apt?)

I’m really surprised that you would write something like this without the courtesy of even contacting me or one of the other members to ask us about Authors4Charity.

When I find an unsolicited ad in my in-box, I don’t bother to contact the sender. Otherwise, I’d have a slew of Nigerian penpals. Plus there’s no telling how much money I’ve forfeited by not contacting all those barristers who are holding my lottery winnings in Europe. I simply don’t have the time to contact every stranger who emails me.

I thought writers had more class than to read something and then make a quick judgment.

Many writers—at least the ones I hang out with—often make quick judgments. Writers of reviews often make quick judgments. So do agents. Beside, I write redneck humor—a genre not generally considered classy.

We’ve been listed in the Predators and Editors under their organizations for years as being reputable.

I checked P & E and saw the former name of the organization listed with an out-dated link that doesn’t go to the current website. I didn’t see a “recommended” or a “highly recommended” notation by it.

As far as I know all writers organizations have a membership fee.

I’m a member of two local writers’ organizations that don’t have a membership fee. I’m a member of a statewide group (Virginia Writers Club) that does have a fee ($35). I just joined the SCBWI that also has a fee. The thing to keep in mind: what do you get for your fee?

Romance Writers of America charges 100.00 to join and then each chapter charges another 35.00. I haven’t run across any that are free to join. And yet, you made a big deal that Authors4Charity charges 55.00 to join.

Romance Writers of America offers its numerous members quite a few benefits. And I doubt that RWA sends unsolicted emails.

It takes money to run any organization and we are no different. We plan on doing a lot of advertising which cost. We also plan on hosting some seminars which will also cost money to put on. Since we’re offering to give all our authors discounts, plus two listings of talk radio shows and some school listings for those authors who do speaking at schools,which come to five hundred dollars, I don’t see as we’re taking money for nothing like you claimed.

Speakers at schools get $500! Wow! I speak at a lot of schools and I don’t get that much per visit. Not even close.

There’s a lot more. The writer (who, just for the record, wasn’t one of the two who signed the original email) seems sincere and has published eleven books, some of them by small commercial houses, some of them self-pubbed. Her email included a couple pages of her life story. I’ve omitted all that here. But here are a few more things I’d like to address:

So when you say the money will just go into my pocket, it aggravates me, and especially since you never even contacted me to ask about it.

I never said the money would go into this lady's pocket. Why would she say I did? I assumed the money would go to the organization. I never gave anyone’s name on my blog entry. I made my judgment by the email I received and by a quick look at the website. Another blogger got the same email and also looked at the website–and formed an opinion very similar to mine.

Some more excerpts copied and pasted from the lady’s comments:

So don’t say I’m scamming anyone. Check it out. Don’t knock an organization until you check it out. Talk to the members. At one signing in NC, we had a member of Make A Wish Foundation there, with her pamphlets to pass out. She was in charge of the raffle tickets and all the money taken in was for her charity. All the authors put in their percent when the two day signing at the mall was done.

Again, we are trying to help out others by giving to a charity of our choice. Any other author can do so as well without joining us, but that is their choice, but we as a group have more than one author at these signings and we go into malls, dept stores and other places that we’ve been allowed in as a member of this organization. Some have had music at their events, some had up to ten authors, and others do the raffles, so it’s not just a book signing event with us.

So, if it’s not “just a book signing,” why not just send a check directly to a charity?

I visited the website again. No best-selling authors seem to be members. I wonder why not? I’ve heard of many big name authors supporting charities. Why haven’t they joined this group?

The lady concludes:

I hope I’ve explained this to you and everyone else who are spreading the lies on the blogs out there.

Expressing my opinion hardly qualifies as “spreading lies.” If any organization doesn’t want me to use its email as blog-fodder, it shouldn’t send me unsolicited stuff.

I shouldn’t have had to do this. With a phone call or email I would have told it to you alone. The person who sent out the invitations might have misspelled words, and it might not have been in the most correct English. Perhaps if you’d care to offer your expertise in correcting our web site, it would be appreciated.

Actually, I have quite enough writing chores to keep me busy. I’m not taking on any editorial jobs that I don’t get paid for. There was no phone number on the original email. I didn’t find a phone number on the website’s main page or “About Us” page. I didn’t see a phone number for any of the eight members listed.

I’m sure there are plenty of mistakes in this as well. I do the best I can and that’s all any of us can do.

I leave it to you, dear and faithful blog-readers, to make your own judgment of this organization. Be sure to check it out.

But that's just my opinion.

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