“Every 21 seconds a child under the age of 5 dies because he or she doesn’t have access to clean water,” Matt Damon told me.

“I know,” I replied, simpering a bit and feeling like an advertisement for my mystery series. “That’s why a dollar from every Kindle book I sell in 2014 goes to water.org.”

Matt Damon didn’t say anything else, probably because I was reading his interview about water.org in the February 2014 edition of InStyle magazine, and he was in Hollywood having a beer with Ben Affleck by the pool. But still, I felt a connection.

I’d decided in May 2012 when I published my first book, THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY, that when I was able to tote up any book sales at all, I’d donate part of my earnings to water.org, the charity Matt Damon co-founded. I like water.org’s approach. They work with local communities and give microloans with a program called WaterCredit to communities so they can “meet specific drinking and sanitation needs.” This means they don’t pursue a one size fits all solution but support what is right for a community, based on that community’s situation. I surfed through their website and YouTube channel and knew that this was the right opportunity to give back.

Related post: How to Turn Books Into Water

Water is fundamental; without it there is no education, no forward progress, no ability to break away from poverty and disease.

January: how did we do?

January 2014 marked the first month of my effort. Here’s the link to the fundraiser. I was joined by authors Sharon Lee Johnson and Melissa Mayberry. We didn’t have any particular sales target but simply cross promoted each other on social media. I also set up a page on my website to explain what I was doing and another to invite other authors to join in.

Bottom line:  combined with my donation from December 2013 sales, we raised enough to supply three people with clean water for life. A slow start, in all honesty, but accompanied by some very positive developments and some lessons learned.

1. I overestimated the amount I’d raise. January saw my lowest Kindle sales in 6 months (post-holiday slump? too little advertising? IDK). In future I’m going to limit the amount of the monthly target goal; I’d rather overshoot than be depressed at a goal that doesn’t get met month after month. 

2. Fellow author Sharon Lee Johnson, who will showcase a different short story for water.org each month, has an amazing work ethic and deep well of optimism. When we traded notes at the end of January, instead of being bummed that we hadn’t raised more money, she was already looking ahead to the next step.  Her sense of purpose and will to succeed are contagious!

3. Having a project hashtag is cool. I created the hashtag #WritingforWater and will use it all year. People on Twitter have been awesome, retweeting my notices about supporting water.org every day. One day @Water gave me a RT, really making me feel like part of the family. 

4. Norm Hamilton, author of FROM THINE OWN WELL, a really absorbing novel set in a dystopian Canada where the country’s water supply has been destroyed by fracking, has pledged to join the Writing for Water Team in March. His book fits so well into the theme of clean water! Incidentally, if it ever becomes a movie, I’m voting for Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Taylor Lautner and Emma Stone to star. (Matt Damon has already starred in an anti-fracking movie, Promised Land, so I’m not going to nag him about this one.)

5. Jerry Last, author of the Roger and Suzanne Mystery Series, will join as well this spring. Jerry’s a live wire on social media, not to mention a fellow dog lover and mystery writer, and his participation will really help out.

Need Your Ideas

I know I could be letting more people know what we are doing, beyond Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Not ever having done something like this before, I’m not sure how to go about letting folks know and getting more authors to join the #WritingforWater Team. If you have an idea or would like to help, please get in touch:  carmen@carmenamato.net.

It’s not all about selling books. As my buddy Matt said, “When you bring water to people in need, the response is always the same: elation and joy.”

I couldn’t agree more. How about you?

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