So many causes, so few dollars

Requests from organizations appear regularly in my e-mail, my Facebook newsfeed, and my mailbox out by the road. Some send calendars. Some send return address stickers. A few still send car window decals. Most of them send a message that’s hard to ignore. Over the years, I’ve probably supported more conservation organizations than anything else: that explains all the free scenic calendars.

Many of them hope I’ll make a minimum donation of $25. That’s not so bad if there are only one or two nonprofits involved. But, doing this can get expensive when you see a lot of worthy causes. What do you think is best, giving $25 to ten organizations or $250 to one organization? I can never decide.

My website includes the logos for four organizations, beginning with PEN America on the home page: “PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.” For a writer, the freedom to write is basic.

Next is WaterKeeper Alliance. I like their focus on clean rivers and the fact that you can donate and/or volunteer: “Waterkeeper Alliance ensures that the world’s Waterkeeper groups are as connected to each other as they are to their local waters, organizing the fight for clean water into a coordinated global movement.” Many of these groups, called river keepers, focus on specific rivers, often near enough to make it easy to, say, participate in river cleanup days.

I support the Glacier Park Conservancy because I’ve worked in Glacier Park, helped with publications in an earlier incarnation of the group, and like the fact they not only help support park projects but put on their own programs as well: “The Glacier National Park Conservancy is the official non-profit fundraising partner of Glacier National Park.” Their website always lists ongoing and upcoming projects to help park friends understand the need.

Since I live in a rural area, I’m attuned to the fact that a lot of people buy horses and then leave them on the property when they move away, or if they don’t move, ignore the horses at their peril. Just up the road is Sunkissed Acres which rescues old horses that are often sick or takes on horses when owners can no longer afford them: “Since our official beginning in 2004, hundreds of horses have been rescued, rehabilitated, rehomed, and if their pain is too much to bear… a humane and peaceful passing becomes our mission. The horses teach us so many valuable lessons from life skills to kindness, and they have become an integral part of our work.” As they say, they are often a horse’s last, best home.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s coming-of-age adventure novel “Mountain Song” is free on Kindle October 15-17, 2020. The novel is set partly in Glacier National Park Montana.

Gurus say authors need websites

In previous posts, I’ve noted that sites for name authors and sites for little-known authors are often quite different. The main difference is that prospective readers are searching for name authors’ sites and, I suppose, stumbling across little-known authors’ sites. Name authors can do less to promote their sites because people are coming there anyway.

Little-known authors seem to do better with sites featuring non-fiction than fiction because non-fiction usually focuses on subjects people are trying to learn more about and, in fact, are often just a portion of a larger site that promotes the business itself.

Fiction is a bit harder to sell because it’s tied so strongly to author name (or evolving notoriety), to reviews from major sites, and genre. Little-known authors seldom get reviews from major sites, so nothing “out there” is providing any help for their sites.

I’ve never sold books directly off my website because I don’t have time to handle a business where time spent getting paid and then driving to the post office with a book isn’t worth it. Non-fiction sites seem to be better equipped to deal with direct sales.

Some years ago, I gave up my original website provider because they had two versions of their website publishing software, ultimately keeping the version that was probably easier for them to support, but that had fewer features. The provider offered enough analysis of visitors’ behavior for me to see that the website also wasn’t earning its keep. By that, I mean, that there were too few click-throughs to my books’ links on Amazon and elsewhere.

My current site’s software is cheaper but has no analysis. But, based on the visitor counts (which aren’t too bad), I see little evidence that people are being influenced enough by the information on the site to buy the books.

So now, as the time approaches for me to decide whether to renew or delete the site, I’m leaning toward deleting it because Amazon algorithms and associated book advertisement newsletters have made it harder to sell books; I find that keeping the site is likely to cause me to run at a loss in 2020.

If you’re an author, do you have a website? If so, can you tell whether it’s helping you sell books or not? If it isn’t, do you keep it because it’s rather expected for authors to have a site–or for some other reason?

Just wondering,

Malcolm