At the YMCA today after my Nia class, I spoke with a woman who did what may be the most blatant self-promotion I've ever heard of, and she was apparently successful with it. She wants to publish a book on wildflowers of a certain country (I won't mention details, as I don't want to diss her online.) So she held a fund raising party for herself, charging $20 admission to help her pay her publication expenses upfront. She says most of the profit will go to a charity after she makes back her own expenses, but of course that will be a long way down the road. Yet 75 people came, and she also had a silent auction with over 20 donated items, which made her still more money.

Apparently this book (which will be illustrated with color photographs) will be produced by a publisher that specializes in this kind of deal. Has anyone ever heard of this? I was thinking of going, but when I got her e-mail invitation, I balked at the $20 admission, and it turned out I was busy anyway. Today I asked her how it had gone, expecting her to say it bombed out, and I was amazed at what she told me. In her other life, she's a psychotherapist. I told her this was so amazing that I wanted to post it to my online writing community, and she was fine with that.

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Last time I paid a cover charge to go to a private party there was free ecstasy, really cool music, and a disco ball. And a lot of girls taking their tops off. The one you're talking about sounds comparatively lame, if you ask me. I think you did the right thing in avoiding it. On the other hand, I'm relieved that the whole ecstasy thing is pretty much over: all that drug-induced affection for relative strangers just got embarrassing after awhile.
I'm too old and monogamous to have experienced the ecstasy era. On the other hand, I was single, in my 20's, and living in a SoHo loft during the 60's, so... Those were great times, but I wouldn't want to go back!
Jesus. How much did she make? I'm just curious because I've spent the last nine months planning a fundraiser to benefit an actual non-profit--the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation -- Dystonia is a rare, but disabling, condition--so rare that many doctors haven't heard of it. Because there's so little awareness of this disorder, I had to overcome, not only recession-era problems with charitable giving, but the lack of awareness of the problem. I had to educate people about it and ask them for money for a disease they'd never heard of. (I'm getting close to covering my upfront costs, but still falling a bit short.) And I managed to get about 20 or more door prize donations. Through relentless efforts, I might add. It took a lot of phone calls (some repeated). And this woman holds a fundraiser to pay for her book publication expenses? And people gave to her? WTF??????

One piece of good news: this past week dystonia was featured as a topic on Oprah, Today and last night's Dateline.

I'm still shaking my head over this one. Sheesh!
I didn't ask her, but I just did the math - $1500 from the admissions alone, plus the silent auction. I'm with you in saying WTF. I'm administrator for the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region, a branch of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, which educates and advocates for affordable funerals ( if anyone wants to check it out), and we made just over $3,000 with our last fund-raising appeal. Our annual meeting is free with voluntary contributions. I agree, fund-raising for not-for-profits is difficult and getting more so.
I wasn't sure if the event was at the Y or in her home, or in some rented venue. The Y, being publicly supported, probably has rules against private fund-raising. She clearly has many local friends. If they spend money like that, they may expect something in return. On the whole, it strikes me as an extreme case of vanity because she is so sure that the book will be a major success.
It was in her home, by word of mouth. I don't think she expects the book to be a big success - she just wants to see it in print. You're right, the Y wouldn't support something like this.
This sounds a lot like the Seinfeld episode where George asks everyone to make donations to The Human Fund, which is, of course, him.
LOL! That's one thing about dystonia. My joke is, so few people have heard of it, I'm afraid they'll think I'm collecting for my own version of The Human Fund.
Gee, I should charge admission to book signings and promise to give a percentage to charity and auction off all the clunker manuscripts in my drawer that never went anywhere! What a novel (ahem) idea. :-) But hey: it worked out for her. Very unusual.
This reminds me of an old I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel tried to raffle a TV so Lucy could go to Europe. She found out it was illegal then since she was operating under false pretenses.
Suzanne Arruda
Thanks to all the people who've left great comments on this post, some of them really witty. Sorry I haven't had a chance to reply to all of them - I've been preoccupied with Blog Book Tours, which I'm going to describe in a new topic. (Go to - I haven't figured out how to add a hyperlink here.)
I'm actually impressed by her. Keep in touch with her. If she has this much confidence as is able to motive others so successfully then get her as your agent.


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