Tuesday, April 05, 2011

First Book

For those who missed it, last week I offered to donate $500 to First Book if my novel, ORIGIN, cracked the Top 100 on Kindle. It did, and I gave them the money.

This inspired some other authors to do the same. I urge you to support those authors, and First Book.

I've just lowered the price on my horror novel, TRAPPED, to 99 cents, and here's my new offer:

If TRAPPED breaks the Top 100, I'll give $500 to First Book. If TRAPPED breaks the Top 20, I'll donate another $500, for $1000 total.

So spread the word, and make me give away my hard-earned money to this worthy cause.

I recently contacted First Book and asked them a few questions about their organization, so my blog readers can better understand what they do.

Joe: What's the goal of First Book?

FB: First Book’s mission is to provide access to new books to children in need. We reach programs that serve kids from low-income neighborhoods, no matter what sort of program they might be: schools, classrooms, libraries, tutoring programs, shelters, food banks or church groups.

Joe: How did First Book get started?

FB: First Book was started in Washington DC by Kyle Zimmer (who is still the president of the organization) and some others in 1992, using donations from publishers and local volunteers. We have expanded the scope of our operations since then, and developed new channels that help us get books to the programs we serve more efficiently and at greater volume.

Joe: How many books have you given away so far?

FB: 80 million and counting, across the United States and Canada. It’s a number we’re really proud of, but we’re also well aware of the size of the problem, and that we’ve barely made a dent. There’s still a lot more work to be done.

Joe: Do you have any stories about giving books to children that particularly stand out?

FB: I think everyone involved with First Book, from staff to volunteers, has their own favorites, but what is most striking is that we hear a very similar story, over and over, from the teachers and program leaders who get the books, and the volunteers who help distribute them. The kids getting these books usually don’t have books of their own at home, and when they’re told that this book in their hands is THEIRS, to keep, they have trouble believing it at first. And, once they get it, you can literally see the excitement on their faces.

Joe: Where do you get the books you give away?

FB: We provide books in a variety of ways – some we give away, others we sell at steep discounts to eligible recipients – depending on the program in question and their resources. But all the books come from publishers. First Book would not exist without the generosity of the publishing industry and their commitment to helping us get books to these kids.

Joe: How can we help?

FB: Great question! We’re always in need of donations, of course - $20 will help us send 10 books to kids in need. And we love to see fundraising initiatives like the one you inspired.

Another way to make a difference is to help us get more programs registered. Any school or program that serves kids from low-income neighborhoods is eligible to receive books from First Book. But if they don’t know about us, we can’t help. So anything you can do to get the word out, from helping Title I schools and classrooms register to sharing the word about First Book through your blogs or social media networks. The more people know who we are, the more programs we can reach, and the more books we’ll be able to get out to kids that need them.

Joe: If people want to donate, is it tax-deductible?

FB: First Book is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations to First Book are tax-deductible.

Joe: As a writer, literacy is fostering a love of reading isn't just important to me, it's essential to my industry. Reading is one of the oldest, and most enjoyable, forms of recreation, and if we as writers want to continue to sell books, we need to make sure future generations appreciate them as much as we do.

Here's the book description for TRAPPED:


It was supposed to be a harmless camping trip. Six wayward teenagers who'd run into trouble with the law, and their court-appointed guardians, Sara and Martin Randhurst. Three nights on a small, deserted island off of Michigan's upper peninsula. A time to bond, to learn, to heal.

Then Martin told a campfire story about the island's history. Of the old civil war prison hidden in there, and the starving confederate soldiers who resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. Everyone thought it was funny. They even laughed when Martin pretended to be dragged off into the woods.

But Martin didn't come back. And neither did Sara when she went in search of him.

Then the laughter stopped.


The group soon began to realize that this deserted island wasn't so deserted after all. And perhaps Martin's ridiculous story had more truth to it than anyone thought.

What's the most horrifying thing you can imagine?

This is a hundred times worse...

TRAPPED by Jack Kilborn
It starts where other horror ends

A Word of Warning:

This is the long-awaited follow-up to AFRAID, one of the most horrifying books ever written.

Originally scheduled to be released in paperback in 2010, the publisher read the first version of the manuscript and refused to release it. The author made extensive changes, rewriting much of the story. The publisher still refused.

This is a disturbing, terrifying book. You may think you're brave enough to handle it. But you're probably not...

Contains bonus excerpts from ENDURANCE by Jack Kilborn, and AFRAID by Jack Kilborn, as well as DESERT PLACES by Blake Crouch.

But that's not all...

Taking advantage of ebook format and technology, the author is also proud to offer as a bonus; the entire original first draft of TRAPPED.

This ebook package contains two versions of the same book, dramatically different in parts. See what was cut. See what was changed. Read new characters, new scenes, and a different ending. Decide for yourself which version you prefer.

This is the very first time an ebook has been made available in two different versions, for one low price.

This is specially formatted for Kindle, with an active table of contents. With both versions, this ebook is over 180,000 words.


Gary Baker said...

Count me in - I have two novel length works on Kindle. The Ardly Effect - Mitis Green (SF), and Nurse Becky Gets Shot - Gary Baker (Thriller). I too will donate $500 for each book that cracks the top 100. I'll place your splendid idea on my pages asap - with links etc.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

So good to see this. I'm on it. Off to Amazon.

(I gotta tell you on a side note: Look for Innis and Gunn at your local beer store. If you're interested, it's beer aged in oak barrels. Certain kinds are aged in Whiskey barrels. Such a wicked tasting beer.)

Thanks and this one's for you. Cheers!

Burritoclock said...

I had actually bought Trapped last week after reading The List and Origin. Finished it last night, my power had gone out and I was reading my kindle by candle light, couldn't stop reading and finally finished around 1:00am.

Blew out my candle and entered complete fricken darkness, good times! haha

Donna said...

Thanks Joe!

@ Gary. Thanks to you, also. I just added you to our page.


Steve said...

Joe you are a good man.

Sebastian Dark said...

Another good idea. My book's going up on Amazon shortly, will be interested in running something like this in the future.

Peter Spenser said...

I just bought it, and I blogged about it here: http://thewritingkind.blogspot.com/2011/04/99-book.html

Darlene Underdahl said...

Got it! Not much frightens me these days.




L. David Hesler said...

Do you know what I love?

I love that you keep raising the stakes on yourself, Joe. You up the ante and, at the same time, raise the bar for the rest of us.

Good luck on this pledge!

JGByars said...

A Fantastic book and cause.

Win/Win for everyone.

Sebastian Dark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Myers said...

Count me in, Joe.

I've made the pledge for my mystery, At Wick's End. I started with ebooks because of you, and owe you a great debt of thanks.

At Wick's End by Tim Myers
Temporary Price 99 cents.

Agatha Award Nominee and IMBA National Bestseller!

Harrison Black is stunned when he learns that his Great Aunt Belle has been murdered. The shock runs even deeper when an attorney informs him that he's inherited At Wick's End, a candleshop housed in the River's Edge complex. As he learns the art of candlemaking, Harrison also tries his hand at solving her murder.

Sebastian Dark said...

Joined the cause. Emailed Donna from "No Trees Harmed" to join the list of authors you linked to in your post.

It's for my book The Targets, a fast-paced thriller about a grizzled detective chasing a serial killer in a small Minnesotan town (uploaded to KDB yesterday, so look for a link in my profile soon).

As I told Donna, I'd be happy to pledge $700 to First Book if The Targets breaks the top 90.

Here's a link to the cover:

Ty said...

Added my epic fantasy City of Rogues. I'll donate $500 if I break the top 100. The novel has been in the 600s before, so who knows?

Donna, thanks for the opportunity. And Joe, thanks for letting us know.

Blake Crouch said...

I LOVE Trapped....my favorite of all of Joe's books, and that's saying something because he's written 743 to date.

Sharper13x said...

I'm on board w/ King's X.

Great idea for a great cause, Joe. First Book is an excellent community service, needed more today than ever. Raising awareness of it like this is probably even better than the money. If this helps my book too, great. If it doesn't climb that high (that's a pretty tall goal), I'll make some kind of contribution anyway. A lot of people will. Good work, sir.

BTW, I'm really enjoying Origin!

Kendall Swan said...

Just bought it. It's currently 338. Tho it's #4 in Occult, #8 in Horror, and #17 in Action/Adventure.

Annie Bellet said...

I've pledged also (I contacted the blog you linked to, so hopefully I'll show up there soonish).

Here's my pledge:
I have three books up on Kindle. I'll pledge 100 dollars to First Book for each of mine that hits the top 5,000.

Here are my links:

A Heart in Sun and Shadow- fantasy novel

The Spacer's Blade & Other Stories-science fiction collection

The Light of the Earth As Seen from Tartarus-science fiction novella

If all three hit the top 5,000, I pledge an additional 200 (for a total of 500).

That's my pledge :)
Annie Bellet

anthony newman said...

Great cause. I'm firing up the kindle and ordering "Trapped".
Very nice to help the kids.

a said...

Thank goodness I didn't read the description of the first one, before buying it! I don't even want this one (Trapped) on my Kindle LOL!

(Can you tell I'm a chickenshit? Hehe)

Joe, do you have anything light and pleasant that was refused by NY because it's just "not you?" Could you maybe offer it as an alternative for those of us who are going to have nightmares tonight because of that blurb? :P

Donna said...

Hello again. Thanks to everyone who contacted me. Your books will be posted tomorrow morning. Keep 'em coming!

Unknown said...

What an amazing idea. I applaud you for this.

Megg Jensen said...

You're awesome! I love all of this giving back. I want to do this as well when my next book releases, but I'd probably donate to my local Friends of the Library group. They sponsor awesome programs for kids in my town. :D

Megg Jensen

JGByars said...


Have you ever thought of having tie-in product made for your books? Some of your book covers would make excellent T-Shirts (I listen to metal and can never have enough black ones), and on the topic of Trapped, I think a 'pet' plushie would be amazing. Though obviously a niche product, I would buy one... Just imagine that on the coffee table as a conversation piece.

Unknown said...

The List is also back to 99cents?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I'm on board too. I absolutely will donate $500 if my book cracks the top 100.

And btw...Congrats, Joe, on making it into Writer's Digest's 101 Top Websites for Writers. It would be nice if they would list Amanda Hocking in their Breaking In section, for Pete's sake. I think she broke out and led the pack.

JA Konrath said...

The List is 99 cents again. That's the danger of dropping prices. Kobo matched the 99 cents, then Amazon matched Kobo.

Dave said...

Sigh. Sadly, once again, no nook love. I picked up Origin last time, but had to get it from Amazon. Getting a kindle book loaded onto a nook is always interesting.

Any chance of nook price drops?

Unknown said...


I used Calibre to convert "The List" from Amazon's format to Epub for my Nook. I don't think Joe's books have any DRM, so the process in Calibre is pretty trivial. I bought it at Amazon for $.99 instead of $2,99 at BN. I think that for PubIT books at BN, this is technically not allowed. One of their terms of service is that the publisher will not offer the e-book at a lower price anywhere. Since Joe is doing this for charity, I'd probably buy it at Amazon anyway.

Dave said...


Thanks. I already knew about (and have) calibre and have already bought both The List and Trapped on Kindle, and know several methods of loading them onto other ereaders.

However, what I do I wouldn't necessarily recommend to my non-techie family and friends who aren't going to go through the process and have nooks.

Selena Kitt said...

Ooo Ooo I want to play!! :)

Tell you what - I don't have to make the top 100.

I'll donate all the proceeds of my brand new one:

A Modern Wicked Fairy Tale: Alice for the next week!

It's a short cheapie (or a cheap shorty?) at $0.99... a hot little bdsm twist on a classic fairy tale. Sex and charity... what could be better?

I love this cause.

You rock, Joe.

(Have you really written 743 books??)

Gary Ponzo said...

All right Joe, I'm in. I'll donate $50 bucks just because I'm a sucker for a good cause.
And should "A Touch of Deceit" crack the top 100, I'll donate another $500. I've gotten close before so who knows.

Theodore Jefferson said...

This is a great cause. Makes me wish it were possible to donate ebooks generally to public libraries. What would be really cool would be some kind of switch we could set that would allow non-profit accounts to obtain free copies of ebooks for their literacy programs.

LadyStar: The Dreamspeaker

J. Austin said...

You know which offer I admire the most? Selena's. No strings, just proceeds.

Good on you, Selena! I bought a copy, and I thank you. Let's hope all the others, instead of vying for the top of the charts as conditions, will follow your lead!

craighallam said...

This is a brilliant idea! Well done for thinking of it!

If I had something to publish, I'd be with you ;oD

S.J. Harris said...

Great, Joe!

Just as a reminder, my donation is not contingent on any ranking. I'm donating all profits from sales of Journey Into Darkness for the month of April.

Kirsten said...

OT, Joe, but did you see this? Someone's having a bit of fun. Made me chuckle :-)

Robin Sullivan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Werner said...

Hi Joe,

I bought TRAPPED and AFRAID. Looking forward to being horrified!

David Gaughran said...

Hey Joe,

I love what you do and the way that you do it. I read this great article today about How To Steal Like an Artist. I think it will be right up your street. http://www.austinkleon.com/2011/03/30/how-to-steal-like-an-artist-and-9-other-things-nobody-told-me/


Jess said...

Count me in on this project. My first book With Proud Humility (historical romance) if it cracks the top 100 I'll donate $500 to Firstbook.

Now to go update the blog to say so and inform the readers I know about the whole thing

Angela Carlie said...

What an awesome idea!

Dream Smashers, my debut YA novel, was released this week and 10% of my profits has been pledged to the Share House (a homeless shelter) of Vancouver, Washington, for the life of the book. It is posted on my blog under the "Giving Back" tab. Each book I publish will have a different charity assigned to it.

First Book, however, sounds like a wonderful charity. I'd like to participate by donating $100 when Dream Smashers in ebook reaches the top 1000 on the Kindle Bestsellers Rank.

Selena Kitt said...

You know which offer I admire the most? Selena's. No strings, just proceeds.

Good on you, Selena! I bought a copy, and I thank you. Let's hope all the others, instead of vying for the top of the charts as conditions, will follow your lead!

Well it wasn't as selfless as you might think. There's no way that little $0.99 book is going to make it to the top 100. I haven't been in the top 100 in over a year and doubt I'll make it there again. And I wanted to give something, so it didn't make sense to make it conditional.

For those, like Joe, who were close - his book was at 191 when he made the offer - it was kind of a given it would make it to the top 100. So that act wasn't as selfish as it might sound either.

But thanks for the sale! I hope First Book gets lots of sales this week! :))

Gabriella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie Bellet said...

Hey, Joe- your link to the list of authors also doing this on the No Trees Harmed blog isn't actually leading to the correct page.

The correct link is here: http://notreesharmed.com/?page_id=340

So you might want to update the link in your blog post. Thank you!

Deborah LeBlanc said...

Great cause! Congratulations!

Ceri Clark said...

I read the free Whiskey Sour from JA Konrath's main website and recommended it to my work book club. A couple of the book clubbers are going to buy the series now! :-)


Linda Hawley, Author said...

Joe, I started reading your post, and jumped down and though (only for a nanosecond) that you were interviewing your pen name. I thought it was hysterical until I realized that you were interviewing First Book. (My first book is being self-published in two weeks, and I am over-tired from getting my last edit back to my editor. I'm tired, and therefore, a little goofy.) Anyway, I thought you really should interview your pen name!
Keep speakin' the truth!
Linda Hawley
Author of The Prophecies Trilogy

Coral said...

I've supported the charities on here, so I hope you don't mind me plugging one for charity as well.

Twelve Worlds - Anthology for Charity

All profits from the eBook go to Reading is Fundamental!

Glad to hear you hit your first First Book charity mark!

kathleen shoop said...

How can do you suggest getting into the First Book mix? Just say I'm going to donate and just send a check in or is there something, some mechanism in place for authors to donate--like a paypal key for the organization to take money?