Giving Money

Last week, over on the You Are Here anthology site, I announced we’ll be donating $400 to the Humane Society – that’s in addition to the $500 we donated to HS last year. (That initial amount was given in lieu of paying the wonderful Lindsay Buroker for an original story.)

As much as I love to give money to charities, especially the Humane Society (my dearly departed companion was a rescue dog), I wonder whether giving money is a good strategy for selling books.

cropped-11-12-2009-001.jpg
I miss him.

I mean, the point is to make money and give it to the authors, not charities.

The thing is, these anthologies do not make very much money. $400 is probably all the anthology will ever make.

Don’t get me wrong, because we offer the anthologies as e-books, they’ll always be available. Even if each one only sells once a month for the next 10 years, that’ll be something.

But it is not enough.

All the anthologies published so far have been a complete loss – meaning, I paid out more (way more) money than they will ever return – and that’s with putting them out as cheap as possible! I pay the authors a pittance. 😦

The hard costs far outstrip any revenue. And all the time I put into these things? Pfft! Yeah, I won’t get paid for that.

I don’t really expect to. The whole idea behind putting together these anthologies is to garner a larger audience for short stories.

But the only way to do that effectively is to publish them like a real book (or e-book, in this case).

And to do that, well, money gets involved.

Inevitably, what revenues the anthologies do produce have to go somewhere. I can just can’t keep it for myself. That just feels wrong. I’d rather distribute the cash to the authors. But after expenses, there’s nothing left to distribute. The authors would have to pay me!

That’s why I don’t pay royalties (I only pay an initial token payment for the story). It just doesn’t make sense to include royalties. Dangling that prize in front of authors when I know they’ll never see an extra dime just isn’t fair.

Thus – I came up with the charity idea.

You see, this way, I don’t feel guilty for keeping the cash (because I’m not) and the stories still get out in the world.

What do you think? Should I offer a token payment and royalties?

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11 thoughts on “Giving Money

  1. If you have not even recouped your initial investment in the anthology it is more than completely fair that you keep the $400. If the anthologies ever move into profitable territory then you could argue for royalties or donating the money.

    1. Ah, see, I do it backwards. I donate, then try to recoup my money, then I think about royalties. I kind of think of donating as an expense. But you are right! It isn’t. I should do it in the order you suggest.

      1. Ah, the slippery slope… the thing is, well, two things (so much to consider):
        1) I don’t pay SFFWorld.com anything. The site owner, bless his heart, lets me use the site name, the forum, etc without any payment to him. He spends tons of time reading through the submissions, too, and I don’t pay him for that either. Same with the other readers (two more); they are volunteers. If I get a cut, shouldn’t they?
        2) This was supposed to be for fun! I was willing to spend a bit of my own money because I LIKE to do this.

        But now that we’ve been doing it for more than five years (the next one is in the planning stages!), I need to be more serious about how I pay for stuff.

        Right now, I’m really leaning towards paying the authors semi-professional rates and paying a stipend to the readers/co-editors. I’m gonna do the math, but a proper budget together, the whole works.

        I always figured this day would come, when the anthologies might actually start making money and I’d have to DO something about it.

        I guess I should be happy. :/

  2. Nila, I think it should be one or the other, not both. Quite honestly, we write stories, and we deserve to get paid, but so do you. I think it’s crazy that you’re taking losses on this. I would rather see you get that money, especially with as much work as you do putting these together.

    1. I like Steve’s suggestion. For the money side of things, I should just do it the way anyone would run any business. Expenses paid first! One way I can up the author contribution is to offer professional or semi-professional rates. I’m gonna crunch the numbers and see if I can manage it this year.

  3. I’m self-publishing a collection of my own, so I know what you mean about the cost of production vs. what you can charge and expect to recoup. I’d caution against the thinking that it’s all for publicity and therefore you shouldn’t be paid. As other respondents have said, you’re working hard on this. You and your authors should be paid before making a donation.

    Some anthologies put their budget together and then run some form of Kickstarter or Patreon. You can give rewards for levels of support, and have copies pre-sold. Of course, the down side is, if you don’t make your goal you’d have to decide whether to publish and know it will be at a loss. I also don’t know if these anthologies are by invitation only, or if they just have a really short submission window to be able to turn the publication in and get the rewards done in a timely manner.

    Maybe browse on Kickstarter or GoFundMe and see what other anthologies are offering?

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