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I received the following email in regards to the ongoing work of a semi-well known libertarian author. This is not a scam, it comes from a known (libertarian/objectivist) source. (I've redacted the author's name)
I am sending this e-mail to you because I think you may be interested in assisting ******** complete his major work on freedom. I have been aware for some time that **** is currently in the midst of
his most ambitious book. It is intended to be a major work on freedom. I expect it will be a big seller. However, **** called me today and informed me he is having financial difficulties because the book is taking longer than expected. I proposed to him that he allow me to solicit contributions in the amount of $500.00 from selected people. In exchange for the contribution, **** will mention your name in the book's acknowledgements section as well as send you an autographed copy expressing
his personal thanks. I have pledged the first $500. This is a time sensitive issue. If you are so inclined, please mail to me a check ...

I like the author's previous work, and I would like to see this project come to fruition, but I find the underlying premise of the letter offensive. What kind of objectivist begs for donations to complete a commercial venture? I can almost see asking for donations for political work when the value received can be neither quantified nor guaranteed, but for writing a book expected to be a "big seller"?

I sent the following response, in all seriousness.
Based on his reputation from ****, I'll send him $500, for a cut of the proceeds, in writing, and an autographed copy upon publication. Royalty percentage can be negotiated based on projected sales and risk. Please contact me about providing sample chapters, a complete outline, and a detailed verifiable record of progress to date, along with publication timeline, sales projections and copy of letter of intent (or equivalent) from a publisher.

Or does Mr. *****'s notion of freedom not include capitalism? If not, I probably wouldn't even buy a copy let alone invest.

Does anybody have advice on investing in this kind of market? Risks, typical royalties, expected returns etc? (Let me know what such advice will cost me)


<a href="">JPFO</a> solicited contributions for their excellent documentary <i>Innocents Betrayed</i>, but your situation seems quite different. As far as I know, no royalties were paid to their supporters, but they were repeatedly, publicly thanked for their support.

Unless there are new circumstances regarding this author's ability to create his book, it would seem the risk of investing is relatively low.

All the same, it still strikes me as bizarre.

Posted by Sunni Maravillosa at Tuesday, August 30, 2005 04:37 AM

"Innocents Betrayed" was purely political, with no profits anticipated. You can't "invest" in something like that, donations are the only option. I question the value of <em>anything</em> done not-for-profit, but that is what JPFO chose to do, and thus no "investment" was possible. In this case, I'm sure you're right that the risk is low - this author has a good track record. That just makes the donation approach more bizarre, as you aptly put it.

I've even decided some time ago that if I ever try to get any money out of this blog, it won't be from one of those asinine "donate" PayPal links so many so-called capitalists use. If I can't afford to do it for free, and if I can't make it into something people value enough to pay for (directly or via advertising), then I shouldn't be doing it at all.

Sunni, thanks for dropping by, I've enjoyed your writing in the past, though I haven't been to your site lately. I'm not even sure I know where your site is anymore. Feel free to post a URL here.

Posted by kylben at Tuesday, August 30, 2005 05:20 AM
Posted by Billy Beck at Wednesday, August 31, 2005 12:10 PM

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