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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Writing For a Cause - 5 things to consider by Jamie Leigh Hansen

Many of you know Childhood Cancer Awareness is near and dear to my heart. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Another cause, genetically mine, is Friedreich’s Ataxia. International Friedreich’s Ataxia Day was September 25th.
I spent the first 28 years of my life ignoring my FA and barely aware of the devastation cancer can wreak on patients and their family. But the day after Thanksgiving 2003, our 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor and a whole new, terrifying world came alive around us. But so did a world of caring and support. Both for her cancer and for my progressive disease.
In the past ten years, I have wanted to “Pay It Forward” somehow, some way. For Childhood Cancer Awareness, I wrote a story, Death Is Becoming, and I am offering it for free. More information about the book itself can be found on my website.
Here,I’d like to discuss the process of writing a book for charity. I have done this twice, for both diseases. The International Project to Fight Friedreich’s Ataxia is a group of 17 writers from around the world affected by FA. We have spent the last two and a half years crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries to create a novel, The Legend of Marie Schlau. During these books, I have developed a few conclusions.
1. If the book is put together with a group, have a clear guide on what the purpose is. Is it for literary value, personal accomplishment, raising awareness or raising funds? And yes, those last two are very different. This choice effects the writing itself, are you going for literary beauty or mass appeal that has literary beauty?
2. A group of writers can be diplomatic throughout the entire process, but inevitably there will need to be one person “in charge” for a final say. Even while working for a common cause, there are different ideas for how to accomplish the end written product. That’s just how people are. We think differently, believe differently and have different live experiences informing our choices. Picture a group of writers who feel strongly about first or third person POV. Now get the opposing sides to write a book together. It’s painfully comical.
3. Creating a “fundraiser” for certain groups can be done. Such as with Give Kids the World. You create it and can have a page on their site to share, tweet and such. You can also get a widget to put on your blog. Make sure you allow plenty of time to communicate before publishing the book if you want it all posted about the same time. But sometimes it’s better to have the book easily available for download beforehand, so it’s a “depends” process. Either way, allow time.
4. On the “Donate” page, contact the fundraising coordinator and explain what you want to do. They will help in any way they can, from setting up links, to adding your book to their newsletter. Be prepared to offer copies for the coordinator to read, so he or she know more about what you are putting out to help their foundation. This person is your friend. You both have a common goal - fundraising and awareness. Working together will increase the success of your project. This seems obvious, until you both become hampered by various unexpected rules and hurdles that must be jumped. These aren’t arbitrary barriers, so try not to become too frustrated.
5. Money. Do you charge for the book? If so, how much? And what accounts are hooked up for the book’s payments? Is it your own account? I have heard from others this can create a nightmare of accounting. Personally, for Death Is Becoming, I chose to bypass this by making the book free and concentrating on awareness. There are links inside the book to Donate pages wherein the foundation can handle the necessary accounting.
However you choose to put it together, enjoy the process. You are doing a wonderful thing. :)
BIO: Jamie Leigh Hansen is a multi-published, paranormal romance author best known for dramatic, heartfelt stories with intense emotion and engaging, unforgettable characters.
Her newest work, Murder Tales, is a series of urban fantasy short stories set in Metalline Falls, WA that features Mary, the only human ever saved and raised by the Murder, vampires and werewolves who work together to police the rogues of their world. Currently available are The Murder King's Woman and The Murder King's Summons, with more planned.
Jamie is also currently involved with BabelFAmily, co-writing The Legacy of Marie Schlau with other writers around the world. They hope the International Literary Project to Fight Friedreich's Ataxia will raise funds for FA research.
She loves to hear from friends and fans at JLH@JamieLeighHansen.com. Updates on her projects and links to social media can be found on her website at www.JamieLeighHansen.com.


Debra Elise said...

Hi Jamie, what an inspiration you are! Great blog.


Jamie Leigh Hansen said...

Thank you, Debra. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

NLB said...

I did not realize how much goes into a group book, yet it is similar, I suppose, in putting together huge charity events. Know your objuective, and work together to achieve the goal. Great!