All right, I admit it. I’ve been scarce. Not much bloggy-woggy out of yours truly the last few weeks. And sure, sloth is partly to blame, but I have actually been up to something, and I’d like to tell you about it.
With a huge assist from fellow author Deb Gross, whom I met at Joelle Charbonneau’s SKATING AROUND THE LAW kickoff party, and from crime uber agent Stacia Decker, I’m working to establish a crime-fiction-based charitable initiative called Autism: Solving the Mystery.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you right up front, I’ve got a dog in this fight. Two of them, actually. My oldest son has Aspergers while my second child has full-blown Autism (both of these are Autistic Spectrum Disorders, ASDs for short.) I’ll save the school-science-project description, and just refer to you Autism Speaks, where you can read or link to all the information you’d like on ASDs.
So here’s the idea. April is Autism Awareness Month. It’s also not exactly one of your barn-burning bookselling months. The holiday’s are over, beach reading season hasn’t started, taxes have everybody bummed out. So we’re talking with crime/mystery publishers about kicking in a percentage of their April proceeds from sales at participating independent booksellers to Autism-related causes. We’ve already approached a large, national organization supporting persons with Autism and their families, about participating in this effort. And we are working to find local ASD service agencies to partner with each independent that chooses to participate. The Autism: Solving the Mystery team (right now, that’s me, Deb and Stacia, but we’ll be recruiting, so this would be a good time to change your phone number and e-mail address) will provide marketing support to promote the event, and we will leverage the resources of our national ASD partner and the local fund raising prowess of the service agencies to drive traffic to the booksellers. Finally, we’ll establish a dedicated e-store portal so that those who can’t make it in to one of the participating indies can shop on line. The portal would explain the event, and then shoppers would choose the link to one of the participating independents to complete their orders. All funds raised through this effort would be split 50/50 between our national ASD partner and the service agency on a location-by-location basis.
If we can pull it off, then everybody wins. Crime/Mystery authors move more titles. Independents sell more books. And we raise some money and generate awareness for a very worthy cause.
We’re planning on making this an annual event, and we have some pretty exciting ideas on how to expand the model in the years to come. But we’re on a short clock right now, so we’re focusing on getting the process described above in place for April.
A caveat. We’ve approached people, and I’ll be reaching out to more independents at Bouchercon later this week, but I don’t want to create the impression that anything is set yet.
So why am I blogging about it? Because I need help, that’s why. Know a good indie? Know a deserving local service agency? Just want to help? Drop a note in the comments, and I will get in touch. Any hey, I don’t usually ask this, but throw me a link, OK? Tweet this sucker. Pimp it on Facebook. Let’s get the word out far and wide.