From Fear to Publication

This blog entry is not a motivational speech. It is a layer of my opinions and wanderings of random thoughts about one aspect of publishing a book — the ego and the fear.

I believe there are many well written books that could be classics and loved by many. However, the writer’s only copy is sitting on some electronic device or printed and gathering dust somewhere. It is almost like the best writers do not want to be published. It is almost like the best writers are the ones who fear publication the most.

Of course, there are many books that should remain unpublished. I wrote two of them. There are also a lot of books that should not have been published. I have read some of them. In the end, I think the difference between publishing and not seems to be the ego.

Those with the biggest ego appear to find it easy to publish. I don’t mean “ego” in the negative sense. These authors want the world to know they wrote something and have no fear of the public reading what they wrote. Is there a link between ego and fear?

Over the years, I have met some very good writers who never published. They saw publishing as a barrier they could not overcome. Also, almost none of them had strong egos. Some even told me they feared where the publication route would take them.

I have no answer for how people without strong egos can overcome their fear and get published. (Except overcome their fear and publish, but that’s a motivational speech.) I have three books sitting alone on my computer and printed out that are ready to be self-published. They’ve been sitting there for too long.

Defining Success

If a nonprofit achieves success, foundations and donors are more likely to continue investing and the mission can continue. But, what is success?

Among the many definitions of success is the accomplishment of set goals. The key to meeting established goals are the measurement of specific objectives aligned with the goals. An example of a goal is to feed the hungry. Objectives would include receiving pounds of food so people will have something to eat.

Yet, most of the time there is limited or partial success. As an example, during the week there will be days when everyone is fed, some days when most of the people are fed, and days when some or none of the people are fed. Also, the variety of food on any day may not be enough. Was the week a success?

There is no absolute success in anything. Instead, there are different levels of success. While the goal could be to feed all the people all the time, there is still success if most of the people are fed some of the time.

Just setting goals and tracking objectives is rarely enough to determine success. It is the people working the mission who know if success has been achieved. Yes, there may not be enough food on some days and the variety may be lacking. However, the people in need could have other resources to get food. It could be that just helping them some of the time was enough to not go hungry.

The point of this blog is for nonprofits to put value in what is accomplished and relay this back to foundations and donors so they will understand. Numbers tell only part of the story. The people involved tell the other part.

Join a Writers’ Group

Writers’ groups are opportunities to encourage and inspire writers along with providing a means to network. As president of a writers’ group, we provide benefits to motivate people to join. We have luncheons with guest speakers, on occasion writing events, and a discount on our writing contest. Member dues help pay for these things.

Our group, like many others, offer author representation on the website, a monthly newsletter, and we support several critique groups. More things member dues support. Yet, even with being in a large population area with a vibrant writing community we struggle with membership.

Writer groups are needed so a writer has a place to go to for support. Yet, I know many writers who do not belong to a writers’ group.

I think it is important for writers to join one. Most membership fees are reasonable and the opportunities to join can mean more than the money. There are opportunities to make writing friends and learn from other writers.

I belong to several groups, some too far away for me to attend the meetings. Yet, they still provide a way to network and learn. They are an outreach asset with diverse benefits.

I would encourage all writers to support at least one writers’ group in some way. However, I won’t suggest starting one unless you are so motivated. As a president of a writers’ group, it can be rewarding, but also challenging.

In-Kind Costs

There are many definitions for in-kind costs. For this blog post, I’ll define in-kind costs as non-cash contributions from individuals or organizations to a nonprofit for a specific project.

I do not consider in-kind costs as non-cash donations. While the definition between in-kind and donations can be similar, I consider donations as supporting a nonprofit’s operations. Like donating clothing, food, or books. In-kind costs help a project become successful. Such as a washing machine and dryer, a stove, or a bookshelf. Also, in-kind costs can include volunteers and donations never.

On some grant requests, foundations ask for in-kind costs in the budget. I identify these costs in the narratives where I write about the number of hours a volunteer worked or the benefits of a donated product.

I avoid reporting in-kind costs in the budget because putting a value on non-monetary resources is subjective. As an example, what is the salary of a volunteer or should a product be priced retail or wholesale or other? While, there are cost guidelines, they are not exact.

Second, in-kind costs can mistakenly inflate a project’s budget and cause a foundation to misunderstand the need for funding. As an example, a nonprofit may receive less funding if they identify donations as in-kind costs. The former helps with operations, but does not support the long-term goals of the project where funding is needed.

Third, donations are not guaranteed while in-kind costs are obligations to the project. Donations may or may not come. In-kind costs usually do arrive.

In the budget portion of the grant request, I stay away from any costs that can be subjective. I provide only cash figures in the budget and cost areas. All other non-monetary resources I leave to the narratives.