I stumbled across a blog post for the Publishing Gives Back online charity auctions at the end of last year and decided to participate. There was a week of bidding, with different agents and editors offerings each day. Lots of different items were available: critiques of first pages, query letters, full manuscript review, follow-up calls. It crossed many genres, including mystery, young adult, non-fiction and others. Operating much like an EBay auction, I found that monitoring the cutoff time was crucial since there was a flurry of last minute bids on all the items I was interested in. I was lucky enough to win three bids – one non-fiction 10 minute pitch to a senior editor at a house I would not otherwise have had access to, one editor three chapter critique for a mystery novel and one agent critique for first pages and a query letter. The winners have all of 2013 to submit and I am working to make sure mine are completed this summer.
So why do this? First, the bids were made to the American Red Cross or any other Sandy relief 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The winners made the donations and got a tax deduction. Then there’s the valuable one-on-one access to an agent or editor and their feedback. And if not a sale, you’ve still made an industry contact that you might not have otherwise done. In my opinion, any connection may be helpful. While I might be able to connect at a conference, the ability to have direct contact is invaluable to me.
Second, the costs can be expensive for some of the bid items but may be offset by useful feedback you gain. Or there may be items like editing for your manuscript that you would do anyway that you can bid on and receive a tax write-off. In my auction, I set a limit on what I would bid for each item and held firm on that. I also noted that the bids for well-known agents/editors increased very quickly. I did my research and chose lesser known but genre specific people that I thought would be most helpful to me and what I am writing.
How do you find them? Blogs, twitter, conferences and ads in Writer’s Digest or other writing publications. Here’s a few of the current offerings:
Dominican Academy Online Auction for a manuscript critiqued by Tom Clancy’s Book Editor that closes on March 14, 2013. Opening bid is $500. http://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/item/Item.action?id=189618082#.UT5BYsGC4JA.twitter
Brenda Novak’s Annual Auction for the Cure of Diabetes 2013 which starts in May 2013. This auction includes 33 agent evaluations, 37 author critiques, 36 editor evaluations, author specific offerings to date. http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/
Irene Goodman runs an auction through EBay that is ongoing and benefits the Hope for Vision and Deafness Research Foundation. http://irenegoodman.com/ebay.php
Have you participated in any on-line auctions – charity or otherwise? If so, what was your experience? Would you do it again?