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I came across a post by Holly over at Book Binge, that I have to say, surprised me somewhat.

The subject was authors asking for personal donations on the web.

Holly starts:

With the economy being what it is, we’ve seen an increasing number of authors asking for help from their readers. The reasons are many and varied: because of the death of a loved one, because of a spouse losing a job or just because they’ve fallen on hard times.

I’m obviously not reading as many blogs as I used to, because I can only remember two author requests for personal donations in the last year, one of them being the Sharon Cullars one that I supported on here (and to be fair, that was driven by Roslyn Holcomb, not Cullars herself), the other being the request for help for Dee Tenorio’s sister who died.

Holly Continues:

But should these authors ask us, as readers/fans/bloggers, to help them to keep theirs?

Because on the other hand, I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable visiting the blog of a favorite author and seeing him/her begging for money. I really do understand that sometimes you don’t have a choice – that all other options have been exhausted and so you set your pride aside and do what needs to be done. But is taking your problems online the answer?

I understand where Holly’s coming from, and if I had financial difficulties, asking for money online, probably isn’t the way that I would go about trying to resolve my issues, but then again, my pride is such that I’d probably rather starve than ask for money from you guys to help me personally, but for some people though, casting one’s pride aside, and asking for help, may be their only hope.

Holly goes on to add:

Or maybe it’s the fact that they’re asking that bothers me? Because if I see another author asking on behalf of someone s/he knows, I don’t have a problem with that. I also don’t have a problem with authors raising money for worthy causes (such as Brenda Novak’s diabetes auction or Colleen Gleason asking for donations for CF). I think what I’m uncomfortable with is authors asking for money for personal reasons.

I think it’s ok to be uncomfortable with an author asking for money for personal reasons, but then surely all you have to do is to ignore the requests in the first place? Why the condemnation?

I think it’s interesting that she mentions being ok with charitable requests like the Brenda Novak diabetes fund-raiser, due to Brenda not personally benefitting from the donations, because it suggests that, if somebody who wasn’t involved with let’s say, Katrina, started a fund-raiser on behalf of a neighbour who’d suffered greatly during the storms, we would be more likley to respond to the Good Samaritan, than to the victims themselves.

And I have to say, I find that status quo quite sad, because that kind of attitude probably stops millions of people all over the world from asking for help, even under the most dire of circumstances.

Quite a few of the commenters were also ‘uncomfortable’ with authors asking for money, unless it was for a “good” cause.

Here are some of the comments:

“Public begging is gross.”


“When I see an author asking for money from readers for personal reasons, it disturbs me. On one hand I’m cringing thinking “Don’t you have any pride?” and on the other hand I’m thinking “What makes you so special?”.”


“I think that authors that ask readers for money on their own behalf are taking advantage of the very people that support them. It really disgusts me.”


“That is just shocking that authors are doing that!”


“I guess the cynical bitch in me wonders why they don’t have the money to make their house payment to begin with. How do I know the money they’re asking me to Paypal them isn’t really going to go toward a new pair of shoes or a drug habit or..whatever.”


” if I was really broke and exhausted all the other solutions, yes I would be asking my friends for a loan… However, in this case, I feel that the authors are taking advantages of their “public” figure status.”


“It makes me wonder though, how desperate do you have to be to make such a request? And as much as I would like to help, everyone is going through some harsh times right now, so why should I give you my money when I have already purchased your book. I think that is support in and of itself.”


“Helping out a friend is one thing. Asking for help from a friend is one thing. Asking strangers when you need to pay the mortgage is a whole other ball park.”

Most of the comments are valid, and I know that when I sent my e-mails asking for help on behalf of Ms Cullars, there were a few people out there, who resented being asked in the first place, but I have to say, I personally find it quite difficult to condemn/pass judgment on an author who’s brave enough to come out and ask for help in such a public manner.

Firstly, I don’t actually have to respond to the requests for money, but also, as ‘uncomfortable’ as I may feel about them ‘begging’ for help, I’m pretty sure it’s nowhere near as bad as they feel having to ask for that help in the first place.

Listen, I understand that people all over the world are suffering terribly during this economic downturn, but personally, if I’m in the position to, I’d sooner help somebody I at least ‘know’, than a faceless beneficiary. Of course if I had to choose between helping a loved one, or helping an author on the web, my loved ones win hands down every time – but these requests aren’t asking me to make that choice. They really aren’t.

I admire Holly for having the guts to tackle such a difficult subject in the first place, (Let’s face it, there are probably plenty out there who feel the same, but wouldn’t dare say it out loud) but I have to totally disagree with her views, and most probably the views of the majority of readers out there on this.

Although, I would rather starve than ask for help on the WWW, if I had a child who needed to be fed, there’s not much I wouldn’t do, in order to feed them. And that probably includes ‘publicly begging’ for help.

I think that some of us forget that authors are merely human beings who happen to write for a living.

And to the person who wrote:

You didn’t see Nora Roberts asking for hand outs when that fire happened



  • Karen Scott
    March 12
    4:16 pm

    Ames, Shi, the people who condemn those who ask for help seem to be bothered about the ‘appropriate-ness’ of asking for help in the first place, but what they seem to be struggling to understand, is that when you’re on the verge of going hungry or losing your home, or any number of tragedies that can befall a person, then the last thing that you’re going to worry about is whether or not your actions are ‘appropriate’.


  • I wonder if more people fail in this economy if it’ll become less or more irritating to people to be asked? I don’t mind being asked but It’s because I’ve learned how far I can go, so I can say no without discomfort. That’s what 11 years of dealing with refugees will do for a person.

    Maybe that’s what gets to people–they take on the guilt of turning their back when no one asked them to feel bad.

    Or maybe they’ve been scammed, and once that’s happened it makes it really really hard to be touched for cash or time again. That basic trust is really precious because when you give money to a con artist, you lose more than money or time–you lose the warmth and interaction of the experience which is valuable. (Yup, that one’s happened to me too)


  • Zora
    March 15
    4:58 am

    Regarding being judgmental — we all make judgements every day. I don’t get why one would admonish another for being judgmental, when they are equally as judgmental. Perhaps on a different matter, but judgmental, nonetheless.

    On the flip side, I wonder if a reader went to one of their favorite authors, and asked for a financial donation, due to an unfortunate hardship, would the author be as charitable.


  • Not that I’m interested in dragging this topic out, but I think it should very much be on record that authors are some of the most generous people I’ve ever come across. They donate signed books, time, personal effort. In my near 12 years in this industry, I have seen–time and time again–authors put themselves out for readers, for each other and for strangers.

    They give when they have nothing left to give. Because to them, like everyone else in any job, they see themselves as people first, and go where their hearts lead them.

    If you haven’t found evidence of that charity, either you’re not looking or you’re not looking with the right eyes.



  • shirley
    March 17
    1:46 am

    Within hours, to my shock and awe, the romance community responded. People I’ve never spoken to in many cases. People for whom I cannot find the right words to show my gratitude. Because of them, my sister was able to be buried. Her children have food. For that, I am willing to accept backlash from any who seek to offer it. They are welcome to it. Because without the help that was so graciously given, neither would have been possible.

    Ms. Tenorio, you are phenomenal. And though I know (at least from personal experience) the words don’t offer much comfort, I am sincerely sorry for your unexpected loss.

    About the rest of it, Karen (et al) are 15000% right about the begging. When the asker is looking down the tunnel to misery the likes of homeless and hungry, there isn’t ANYTHING they won’t do to at least TRY to stop those things from happening. People who say they wouldn’t either haven’t been there or would rather see their families suffer than set their pride aside.

    As to why the asking stirs so much emotion, my guess is that a lot of folks figure if one has ‘published author’ behind their name, they must be rich. Wouldn’t that be nice, were it true.


  • On the flip side, I wonder if a reader went to one of their favorite authors, and asked for a financial donation, due to an unfortunate hardship, would the author be as charitable.

    one author, I forgot her name, found out somehow that a reader of hers was homeless, or nearly there. I can’t remember the details, but the author ended up sponsoring an auction to help raise money for that reader.

    This is the second year that a group of authors (and their agents) have donated both their advances and all royalties made off the sale of an anthology to a certain charity. last year it was a women’s shelter. This year it, I think, it is for a no-kill animal shelter.

    I’ve seen authors doing fundraisers when disasters strike.

    The year Katrina hit, JC Wilder up and left her home, driving hell bent for leather to get to people in Louisiana, taking food, water, clothing.

    Not sure, but I think this was also related to katrina-Nora Roberts sponsored a matching ‘gift’ donation for Habitat for Humanity-for every dollars readers donated, she’d match it.

    I can’t speak for every author out there, because I don’t know every author out there. But I can say that I’m very proud to know quite a few who give of their money and even more precious than money, they give of their time to help out when they can.

    So yes,I can say with absolutely no hesitation that there would be authors willing to help out. Some have been asked, and have helped. All authors? No. But then again, not all people are always willing to help.

    And in the long run, authors are just people, just like anybody else.

    Some won’t help.

    And some will. Some are willing to help, as much as they can and often as they can. Some of them already do.



  • As to why the asking stirs so much emotion, my guess is that a lot of folks figure if one has ‘published author’ behind their name, they must be rich. Wouldn’t that be nice, were it true.

    Man, if only….


  • I don’t mind asking for help online; I’ve actually got a bit of admiration for the cajones, humility and foresight it takes to do it before things get unresolveable.

    It’s just easier to help out, though, when there’s something I’m paying i.e. it’s much easier to psychologically justify paying 50 dollars for a 1000 word short story from an author-in-need than 10 dollars for “nothing”; actual goods give you some palpable evidence of how much they need this. So ebooks or auctions, please, if you can possibly make it happen. If it’s an author-in-need, I do have trouble understanding why they can’t do a simple short story I buy directly from them perhaps on a ‘donate as much as you like and this is the gift that goes with it’ basis.

    I remember wanting to get a Sharon Cullars book… and not finding it that easy to get a copy here in the UK (amazon helps!).


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