January 1st 2016 kicks off the third Authors Supporting Our Troops event, and we’re hoping it will be the biggest year yet to collect author-signed books! #ASOT2016 has a modest goal: beat the 3,000 books we shipped in 2014 and the nearly 3,500 books we shipped in 2015.
Let me explain the program again so I don’t have to spend so much time this year telling helpful people what we do and do not need to make this another successful year.
First off, we never really stopped collecting author-signed books. Whereas, in 2014, I had a definite end date in mind, in 2015 I just kept collecting books thanks to the permanent Facebook group. This year I won’t be doing an event page because it becomes too much work and it also becomes redundant once interested parties join the permanent group, where I happily post the pictures of the signed books as they arrive, post pictures of the boxes as they are shipped and update news about where we stand on the event.
So, what are we looking for?
YOUR books. If you’re in an anthology and want to sign your story, we’ll take it. If you put out a release, sign it and we’ll take it. We don’t want you sending us your dog-eared copies of Stephen King. We don’t want books you weren’t involved in unless you’re the publisher or collecting other author’s books to ship to us at once.
While we know troops overseas could use new toothbrushes and soap and Dorito’s, we aren’t collecting them. Neither are we collecting eBooks and e-readers. Print books only. There are many other organizations who collect necessities for the troops, but we aren’t one of them. Our modest goal is to put 3,500+ print books into the hands of soldiers in remote areas of the world like Kuwait and Afghanistan. If a soldier is stationed in Germany or San Diego, they can easily buy a book or have access to TV, games, e-readers, etc. This event is for the men and women of the military who don’t have easy access to read. It’s something for their downtime between hostile situations.
What genre(s) do you accept?
Everything but blatant porn. Nothing taboo or racist, nothing pushing the envelope. Anti-military books might not be so popular. Last year many authors didn’t think their romance books would fit, but they did. Soldiers will read anything if its the only book around. There are also many women in the military. They like to read a good paranormal romance, you know.
We ship through USPS.
We have a nice and easy system setup for us through Craig and Suzanne at Change Jar Books in Flagler Beach Florida. It gives them some business and they do all of the hard work by setting the boxes with tags and mailing stickers, etc. Last year so many people tried to be helpful and let us know about alternate ways to send books. None of them were as cheap or easy as the USPS. No carrier ships boxes for free. No carrier can get close to the cost we send them through the mail for and the ease we can ship them. For a box of books (about 50 books per box) it costs us about $25.00 to ship. Add in the ease to ship for me and there is no alternative that makes sense.
Donations are accepted and welcome.
I am not a non-profit and we are not a business. We are a couple of people who want to help soldiers. We don’t go through the USO or have contact with military groups. I’ve never served in the military but my wife Shelly (the other half of the team) has a Godson, James, who is serving. it started because she wanted to send him books. This all comes out of our pocket less donations and sales of t-shirts (more on that below). As an example: 3,000 books shipped means about 60 boxes. At $25.00 each to ship. So about $1,500.00 is needed. That doesn’t include buying the shipping boxes and the stickers to place on the boxes. Any monetary donation is accepted and welcomed. We really do appreciate it.
Yes, we will be doing the shirts again in 2016. The first one will kick off on January 1st 2016. We’ll have several colors this year. We try to keep the price as low as we can so more people will buy them and represent. The small profit from the shirt sales goes towards the shipping cost. Last year over half of the shipping was paid for thanks to the shirt sales. We’ll also do like we did last year and post your picture in the shirt and probably do some prizes and whatnot for those helping us out like give away bumper stickers or a new bookmark we’ll have in 2016.
Can you send books and/or donations now?
Of course. But the real fun will begin on January 1st 2016 when the event is officially open. Just send me an e-mail with ASOT2016 or something similar in the subject line asking about the information. I will not be putting my home address on this post or on Facebook. But I will respond as quickly as I can to any queries. if you have questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
How else can you help?
By helping spread the word about the event. Even though we hit so many authors the last two years (about 650 or so) that is such a small blip of the writers and publishers out there. If you belong to an organization, let them know about it. Ask your publisher to get in touch. Many of them sent us boxes of books last year, which was great.
What branch of the military do you send to?
We’ve shipped to all of them. If a soldier is in a remote area, we want to reach out and hand him/her a book. We find one contact soldier in the unit and ask them to hand out the books when two boxes arrive. We also hope they can take time to send us pictures of the troops holding some books. That is one of the best parts to me. The smiles on their faces holding an author-signed book. Be aware in 2015 almost no pictures we able to be published on social media because of the security needed to keep our troops safe, but I will get e-mails from time to time thanking us for what we are doing.
How do you get the soldier’s addresses?
From you. Like we said, we don’t work with a company or the military. We rely on family and friends of soldiers overseas to get in touch with them to make sure they’re interested in handing out the books. Then we need their COMPLETE address (including their name and APO/FPO) to ship to them. That’s it. The goal is 35 soldiers in 2016 or more.
What’s the Facebook address to stay in touch and see all the pictures?
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASOT2014/ and also friend me on Facebook so I can tag you in any pictures we post anywhere on Facebook, too!
We’re hoping the Authors Supporting Our Troops 2016 blows away all estimates. Here’s hoping 3,500 books gets passed by thanks to the generosity of authors.