Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 12: Creating Something Good, Part 2

Part 2 of the journey to creating Something Good

Anastasia Vitsky

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On Wednesday for part one, I described how Something Good grew from an idea to reality. Today, I’ll tell you how we made a difference.

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EIGHTEEN KINDLES

Eighteen Kindles, cases, screen protectors, and earphones arrived to my home over the past few weeks, and it took hours to put everything together. Do you know how much I hate putting on screen protectors? Multiply that eighteen times. On the plus side, I am now an expert. But let me start this story at the beginning.

I put out a call for donations of money and LGBT books, and complete strangers contacted me with offers. Friends opened their wallets. Authors brought their friends to the effort. So much, in fact, that I contacted Amazon about charitable discounts. We received…

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Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 12: Creating Something Good, Part 2

Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 10: Creating Something Good, Part 1

Curious how Something Good began? Here is part one of our story.

Anastasia Vitsky

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Today is part one of a series on Something Good, a coalition formed to provide Kindles and ebooks to LGBT homeless youth. Look for part two on Friday.

CHOOSING WHICH STORY TO TELL

I meant to tell you the story of an interview and give you a professional account of someone else’s work.

I meant to ignore my work and that of the Something Good crew, in favor of highlighting everything happening at the homeless shelter for LGBT youth.

I meant to tell someone else’s story.

Instead, today (and Friday, for part two), I will tell you mine.

My story, and the story of 30 authors, readers, editors and publishers who raised $4,000 in 25 days.

The story of a woman who lives on a tight salary…

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Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 10: Creating Something Good, Part 1

How to donate your mobi file to Something Good

As I am beginning to transfer ebooks to the 18 Kindles for Lost-N-Found Youth, I’m realizing that the books will be much more accessible to readers if we have uniform information about the books.

If you are donating a mobi file of your book, please follow these instructions. (If you are a publisher who has already donated multiple titles, don’t worry. If you are an independent author who has sent one or two titles, please re-send it. Thanks!)

1. Recipient address: ana_stasia2007@yahoo.com

2. Email subject line: Something Good (Title of your book)

3. Attach the mobi file to your email. The title of your file should be Book Title. No underlines or other extra punctuation, no author name, no extraneous information.

4. Include in the body of your email:

  • Your name
  • Book title
  • Statement that you are donating the book with permission from your publisher (or that you are the publisher)
  • Genre, age range, and how the book fits into the LGBT spectrum (asexual, intersex, etc. are welcome)
  • Warning about potential triggers, such as sex scenes (only mild sex scenes permitted), self-harm, drug use, and violence.

5. Send ONE mobi file per email. Do not send zip files.

6. Be sure to include the brief description of your book! That will help readers decide whether your book is right for them.

 

I’m working with hundreds of files for many Kindles, so please don’t add to my workload. Don’t email me to ask whether you actually have to follow these instructions. Yes, you do. 🙂

How to donate your mobi file to Something Good

Something Good FAQ

What is Something Good?

 

Glad you asked! Something Good is an informal coalition of authors, readers, publishers, and editors that provides homeless LGBT youth with Kindles and ebooks free of charge. Read the press release and mission statement here.

 

Which homeless LGBT youth receive the Kindles and ebooks?

 

Our partner organization is Lost-N-Found Youth of Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Why do you say “LGBT” and leave out T, Q, I, and A?

 

Lost-N-Found Youth uses “LGBT,” so I do as well. It is an expression of convenience, not a political statement of exclusion.

 

Why Kindles and ebooks? Surely homeless youth need food, clothes, and cash more than reading material.

 

As professionals in the book world, we have access to book connections. We are able to maximize our donations by capitalizing on these connections. Food and clothes cost money to ship, while ebooks can be sent for free.

 

In addition, boredom is a big problem for those who are homeless. Imagine if you only owned a backpack’s worth of possessions. No television, computer, or money to spend on entertainment. Wouldn’t you appreciate having something to occupy your thoughts, instead of worrying endlessly about your situation?

 

From our press release and mission statement:

 

Our goal is to connect kids with books that show them, “It’s okay to be me.” Some of us never had that for our generation, and we want to provide that for the upcoming generation.

We will provide the shelter with Kindles that the residents can use to read, develop literacy, and find stories to give visions of a better life. We want to give each resident a personal library to fill his or her head with good thoughts instead of negative ones.

 

In December for Ana’s Advent Calendar, you will have the opportunity to contribute practical items (that are most needed by LNF) such as deodorant, feminine hygiene products, and razors and shaving cream.

 

Does owning a shiny new Kindle place the youth at risk?

 

The Kindles are small enough to hide in a pocket, and the youth all have backpacks. The Kindles have wi-fi capability, so they can be used to stay in touch with friends, family, and other support networks. In addition, reading and having consistent access to email and social media can increase the youth’s marketability for employment.

 

No solution will be perfect, but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks.

Will you donate Kindles and ebooks to other LGBT homeless shelters?

 

Sure! If Something Good receives enough donations on a consistent basis, I’d love to expand to other LGBT homeless youth shelters. If you can recommend any, please let me know.

 

Are you a 501(c)(3) (registered non-profit organization)?

 

Not yet. The paperwork is extensive and expensive, and for now I would like every cent to go toward Kindles and ebooks. If Something Good continues to receive sufficient donations to expand and sustain the program long-term, I will register our organization.

 

Can I donate money toward the non-profit registration fees?

 

Of course! The paperwork costs $600-$900. Registering as a non-profit organization will make it easier to receive funding and maximize our donations.

 

How can I get updates about Something Good?

 

Please find me on Twitter and/or Facebook. I will add you to the announcements group. I will also post general updates on governingana.wordpress.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

How can I donate money toward Kindles, accessories, and other expenses?

 

Please email an Amazon gift card to ana_stasia2007@yahoo.com. It must be for Amazon dot com (Amazon US) not for any other Amazon site (such as Amazon dot uk, au, or de for the UK, Australia, or Germany).

 

If you will be donating a significant amount of money (more than $100), please email me first.

 

How will the money be used?

 

Approximate costs include:

Kindle: $95
Protective case: $13

Screen protector: $3

Earphones: $10

 

Additional miscellaneous expense include postage, envelopes, and paper for mailing tax deduction receipts, shipping the Kindles to LNF, and (at least for the first delivery) including a small goody bag for each recipient. I want the youth to feel that they are receiving a gift, not charity.

 

 

Can I donate anonymously?

 

Sure! Email me and let me know. If you’d like to donate “in honor” or “in memory” of someone special, you can do that as well.

 

Can I and/or my business be credited publicly for my donation?

 

Of course! Tell me which name you want recognized. Your donation must be received before it can be publicly acknowledged.

 

I don’t have money to donate now. Can I donate later?

 

Yes, please! Just email me with your estimated time and amount of donation so I can adjust the budget. If I know you’ll send me $15 next month, for example, I may be able to purchase an additional Kindle now because I can buy a case with your donation.

 

Can I pledge a regular donation per month or quarter?

 

Sure! That helps me plan orders and shipments of materials. Send me an email so I can add you to the spreadsheet.

 

Can I get a receipt for a tax deductible donation?

 

Sure! Email the above address with the subject line “Something Good tax receipt.” Include the following information:

  • Your full name/company name, exactly as it should be listed on the receipt
  • Amount of money donated
    and/or
  • Items donated and their value
  • Your mailing address

 

The first batch of receipts will be issued (from LNF) in early December and sent (by me) in mid-December. Because this is work for me and will cost paper, envelopes, and postage, I ask that you contribute $50 or more in order to receive a receipt.

 

Can I donate my old Kindle?

 

That depends. Is it in very good condition or like new? Is everything functional? Does it still have the charging cord, and does the battery still last a reasonable amount of time? Does the keyboard or touch screen work well? If so, send me an email.

 

What kind of donations do you need most?

 

At present, we have funds for 17 Kindles and cases, and a pledge to provide 20 pairs of headphones. At the moment, we would like YA, NA, and non-erotic adult LGBT books to fill these Kindles.

 

I want to donate my book. How do I do it?

 

Great! Thank you! Email me a mobi file with the subject line “Something Good (title of your book).” In the body of your email, include the following:

 

  • Your name
  • Book title
  • Statement that you are donating the book with permission from your publisher (or that you are the publisher)
  • Genre, age range, and how the book fits into the LGBT spectrum (asexual, intersex, etc. are welcome)
  • Warning about potential triggers, such as sex scenes (only mild sex scenes permitted), self-harm, drug use, and violence.

DO NOT SEND ZIP FILES! Send ONE mobi file per email. I am working with hundreds of books for (currently) 18 Kindles. Please follow the directions!!!

 

Is my book suitable for donation? What content is inappropriate?

 

Sex: Mild sex scenes between consenting adults only. For an example of a mild sex scene, please read this one.

 

Drugs, self-harm, violence, abuse, etc.: Because the youth may come from backgrounds of drug use, violence, abuse, etc. please make sure that your donated book does not glorify such issues. If you are unsure, send me your synopsis and I will discuss it with the team.

 

Absolutely no racism, xenophobia, rape for titillation, incest, pedophilia, non-consensual or dubious consent, or content that demeans anyone.

 

Could you read a copy of my book to determine whether the content is appropriate?

 

Send a blurb and synopsis (description of the story, including the ending with all spoilers), as well as an explanation of how you handle content that may cause concern.

 

Depending on time available, I may be able to read all or part of your book—but please don’t count on it.

 

*I will not read thriller, horror, mystery (except for cozy mystery), or books that will (frankly) give me nightmares.

 

My book doesn’t contain a LGBT main character. Can I still donate it?

 

Heterosexual romances will be accepted on an extremely limited basis and will not be eligible for tax deduction receipts. While there are a few heterosexual youth at Lost-N-Found (as LNF does not discriminate who can receive services), they can find stories everywhere. Our focus is LGBT.

 

However, if you have YA or NA fiction that is not romance-based (especially if it focuses on themes of growing up, feeling alienated, wanting to belong, surviving hardship), please send it!

 

*Non-erotic, non-romantic adult fiction (without LGBT main characters) is welcome as long as it is suitable for high school age.

 

My book contains a minor LGBT character, but the main story is heterosexual romance. Can I donate it?

 

See above.

 

Also: Is the minor LGBT character depicted in his or her own right, or is her LGBT-ness a shorthand for characterization? Simply put: Does it objectify? Would the character work as well if she or he were not LGBT?

 

How old are the youth who will receive the Kindles and ebooks?

 

18-25, but the typical range is 18-22. Last year, LNF served approximately 54% lesbian females, a few transgender individuals, and the remainder identified as gay males.

 

If the youth are 18+, why can’t I donate books that are adult content? I read steamy sex scenes when I was 18.

 

Non-erotic adult content is welcome.

 

However, these youth may have worked in the sex trade and/or deal with issues such as drug use, violence, and abuse. We want to fill their minds with positive, hopeful messages for survival and recovery. If the book is suitable to teach in a high school classroom, it is suitable to donate.

 

In addition, we want this program to continue for the long term. If LNF receives too many complaints about the content, we may no longer be able to send books.

 

Can I send signed print copies?

 

Yes, but please consider a mobi file instead. One mobi file is easy to transfer to all of the Kindles. A print book will only go to one individual. If someone has a backpack for his or her entire belongings, a print book takes up “prime real estate,” so to speak.

 

I don’t have a mobi file of my book. Can I send gift copies from Amazon instead?

 

Yes, but you will need to purchase a copy for each Kindle in the program. Currently, there are 17 Kindles and we hope to expand that to 23 by the spring. One mobi file costs nothing to transfer to the Kindles. However, if you wish to purchase a book from the Amazon store, you will need to buy 17 copies that I will have to transfer individually to each Kindle. That’s a fair amount of work for me, so I’d prefer to save that option for LGBT classics.

 

I am a publisher. Can I donate mobi files of multiple books from multiple authors?

 

Yes, of course! Thank you. Please send an email to the above address with the subject line “Something Good (your publisher name)” and let me know the titles of the books you want to donate.

 

I want to donate copies of other authors’ books. How can I do that?

 

The most effective way for getting books to as many youth as possible is with a mobi file. Do you know the other authors? Could you contact them and ask if they’d be willing to donate the file?

 

If you want to purchase other authors’ books to donate, please see above.

 

Can I donate gift certificates toward music, movies, or audiobooks?

 

Sorry, that is not available at this time. (That’s due to Amazon restrictions, not Something Good’s policies.) However, this might become available later. I’ll update this FAQ if that’s the case.

 

In the meantime, free music applications such as Pandora and iHeartRadio are available on the Kindles.

 

Why do you need earphones?

 

See above. J

 

Can I donate gift certificates for individual youth to use on their Kindles?

 

At this time, no. For various reasons, the Kindles cannot be used to make store purchases while the youth are at LNF.

 

After the youth graduate from the program and receive ownership of the Kindle (and if they choose to stay in contact with Something Good), then it will be possible to send individual gift cards.

 

There are many books available for free on Amazon. Can those be put on the Kindles?

 

Yes, if the content is appropriate. If you would like to suggest any, let me know.

 

Can we get updates about how the recipients are doing?

 

I hope so, but I’m not sure. Initially, it’s going to take a lot of work to get the Kindles running, teach everyone how to use them, and handle the technological needs of the Kindle users. Because I don’t want to place any burden on LNF, our warm fuzzy needs will have to wait.

 

However, I will take photos of the Kindles once they are ready to donate. We may also have a professional photographer and press releases available for the delivery in early December. Stay tuned. J

 

I don’t have money, but I want to help. What can I do?

 

Spread the word! Tell your friends, tell your favorite LGBT authors. Tell your readers. Use the hashtag #SomethingGood and post links on your social media.

 

Also, don’t underestimate the impact of a small donation. $1 will purchase two first-class stamps to mail tax deduction receipts.

Something Good FAQ

Something Good press release

Something Good is an informal coalition of authors, readers, publishers, and editors that provides homeless LGBT youth with Kindles and ebooks free of charge. Our mission statement reads:

 

This group is dedicated to providing Kindles and LGBT ebooks for Lost-N-Found Youth, a non-profit in Atlanta, Georgia that helps homeless LGBT youth.

Our goal is to connect kids with books that show them, “It’s okay to be me.” Some of us never had that for our generation, and we want to provide that for the upcoming generation.

We will provide the shelter with Kindles that the residents can use to read, develop literacy, and find stories to give visions of a better life. We want to give each resident a personal library to fill his or her head with good thoughts instead of negative ones.

 

Rather than handouts, we wish to provide incentives and positive reinforcement for youth who are committed to changing their lives. For that reason, the Kindles will be used in one of three ways:

 

  • Two to three Kindles will be placed in the drop-in center for youth to sign out on a temporary basis. This will provide reading material for the widest audience.
  • Six Kindles will be given to the current residents of the live-in center for use during their stay. If they complete the ninety-day program successfully, the Kindle will be theirs to keep.
  • Additional Kindles will be available for use by other program registrants. When the shelter expands to an eighteen-bed capacity in March, additional Kindles will fill the need and replace those given to graduating residents.

 

Lost-N-Found Youth will receive the Kindles and deliver them to youth most likely to make good use of them. The youth will be able to opt in to a mailing list that will deliver LGBT books on a regular basis. These books would include young adult, new adult, and non-erotic adult LGBT fiction and non-fiction. Goals include:

 

  • Engage kids in positive activities. We want kids off drugs and hooked on books.
  • Reinforce self-worth and affirm identity as LGBT youth.
  • Promote literacy and open the door for education.
  • Provide access to technology that will increase marketability for employment.

 

 

To donate money toward Kindles, mobi files of books, or in-kind support, please contact Anastasia Vitsky at ana_stasia2007@yahoo.com with the subject line “Something Good donation.” @AnastasiaVitsky on Twitter. Thank you!

Something Good press release