Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Join other Writers in Supporting "Room to Read"

Every year it seems bloggers across the globe use their first “post” after New Years to encourage their readers to make personal goals for the coming year. Many writing websites are encouraging us to make goals for what we hope to accomplish professionally in 2010. I like this strategy, somewhat. Afterall, as writers we sometimes do need to make goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year to keep ourselves on track so we will keep writing during the slump days, or when rejections roll in. It’s helpful to have a goal like “I’m going to finish my current novel by July,“ or “I’m going to write 6 pages a day until next Christmas.“ This keeps us accountable and keeps us moving forward. But what about the big world that’s out there, outside of our houses and outside of our books. Can the writing that we’re doing make an impact there as well?
I think so. The other week I received in the mail the sponsorship magazine for Heifer International. Heifer uses donations from folks in the industrial world (us) to help families in third world countries develop farms of chickens, cows, ducks, rabbits, bees, or other animals that can provide them with ways to make a living, grow crops, and feed their families. In the center of the magazine I found an article called “A Novel Approach.” It told how two adult fiction writers (Pat Rothfuss, and Laurie R. King) used the publications of their recent books to raise more than $150,000 in donations for Heifer’s international relief work.
And that got me thinking. Why can’t those of us writers who are out here slugging away typing word after word each day use helping others as the motivation for keeping our writing moving along in 2010? I think we can.

So here is my idea. There’s a non-profit organization based in the U.S. called “Room to Read.” Room to Read believes that putting books in the hands of children in developing countries can change the world by increasing educational levels and thus improving communities‘ abilities make a more sustainable living. Room to Read uses donations from people like you and me to build and stock children’s libraries and classrooms in third world countries, to promote elementary school programs for girls in countries where females often have to stay home from school to run their households, and to publish children’s books in languages that don’t have many available.

This year I want to support Room to Read, and I’m hoping some of you will join me. I’d love to see us children’s writers build a library in a part of the world that needs one.
So this is my plan. From February until April I plan to donate 1 cent to Room to Read for every 2 words I write on my current novel. This won’t amount to a lot of money, because frankly, it’s a tough economy right now and I’m not J.K. Rowling. : ) But it only takes $2,500 for Room to Read to build a children’s library in Africa or South East Asia. Every penny adds up.

So...if FIFTY of you and your writing friends join me, even if each of us only writes 10,000 words from February-April 2010 (which it‘s likely we could write much more), at 1 cent per 2 words written, we could build a whole library through Room to Read.
Yes, 50 of us, at 10,000 words, at 1 cent for every 2 words, could build a library!
Of course, we will have to actually raise money and pay it in to Room to Read, (1 cent for every 2 words written) or it won’t help children in another country get books at all. But we can do it.
If you think this sounds like an expensive endeavor, it's not. Ask people who want to support and encourage you as a writer to sponsor you. That will make this a community event and we‘ll raise even more cash for Room to Read! Get your mom, dad, your husband or wife, your great aunt Sue, your son’s youth group if they like your writing, (and for those who have books published, invite the fans who are awaiting your next book,) to each sponsor you for a penny for every 2, 5, 10, or 15 words you write. Your editor might even think it's a great marketing campaign! Either way, it will help you get a lot of writing done, and it will help kids who don't have enough books to read get a library.
So here’s the math:
10,000 words@ 1 cent per every 2 words = $50.00
10,000 words @ 1 cent per every 5 words = $20.00
Get 5 friends to sponsor you and that turn into $250.00 or $100.00 And you’re off to a great start!
Get 10 friends to sponsor you, and you’re off and running!

20,000 words@ 1 cent per every 2 words = 100.00
20,000 words @1 cent per every 5 words = $40.00
With 5 friends to sponsor you that turns into $500.00 or $200.00. Not too shabby, even in a bad economy!
Can’t think of five friends to sponsor you? That's not a barrier. Sponsor yourself. You’ll be getting lots of writing done, while changing the world one children’s book at a time.
And hey, if you write 500 word picture books, : ), get your friends to sponsor you for 5 or 10 cents a word. We can all play at this game, to help build kids a library. : )

DO YOU WANT TO JOIN ME? It’s easy: I’ve given us a name through Room to Read (“Children’s Writers United”) and we have a webpage on the Room to Read site already set up (click on our name, above).

You can download the widget THERMOMETER that will track the money as it comes in. You can place a "thermometer" on your website or blog (like the one on mine,) so that your blog readers can see our progress and join up as well. (If you have trouble downloading the thermometer, let me know). And remember, the thermometer will probably remain low until the end of April, when hopefully all your sponsors will pay you, and then it should shoot up. I’ve started us off with $25.00. Let’s see where we can take it from here!
Please let me know if you’re taking this challenge. And please make a note about it on your blog to spread the word.
Let's make all our words, whether beautiful or "really first-drafty," be worth at least a half-penny!


Jennifer said...


What a great idea. I wish you well on your quest for donations in the name of writing and helping others have access to books! I thought you might be interested in this kidlit contest. Here is the address:
www.kidlit.com and click on contest

Hope you and the rest of the goalies are doing well.

Jennifer C.

Janelle said...

Thanks Jennifer! We Goalies miss you!!!! Are you still writing??

Thanks for the contest info!

Hope to see you at the Goalies' Raleigh SCBWI Schmooze at Quail Ridge Books this Spring!

Janelle said...

Hey Ya'll,

I've gotten a bunch of emails off-blog from many of you who think supporting Room to Read is a great idea, but who have already sent in recent donations for the Haiti Earthquake and therefore are feeling financially drained. No worries. The main idea with this is to support a good cause while moving on ahead with our writing.

And the people of Haiti certainly need the help right now!

So, I would encourage everyone to support SOME kind of aid to others this year -- whether through donations to Haiti, through this Room to Read idea, or through some other non-profit organization. (One of my friends is doing the M.S. Bike Tour, raising money for multiple sclerosis.)

And let's keep our writing flowing too! Use this idea of donating funds based on your word count IF it helps you keep motivated. Either way, God bless all the many writers out there who are reaching beyond their computers to support the world.

Beverley BevenFlorez said...

Count me in! The idea of contributing cash to building a library sounds awesome. I'll mention what you're doing on my blog. :)

Janelle said...


Thanks so much for joining the Room to Read writing challenge!

Hey Everyone,
read Beverley's great blog post @ http://www.bevenflorez.com/

Beverley BevenFlorez said...

Hi Janelle,
Just wanted to let you know that I contributed to your Children's Writers United Room to Read fun. I hope others contribute, too! :)