So on Sunday 10th November, I was in Liverpool having a drink with a friend and I got a message on my phone from my friend and fellow YA author, Keren David. She was suggesting we might do an auction for the Philippines, like the one we did following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.
At that point, I hadn’t read much about what had happened in the Philippines, but I knew it was horrific. I’d idly wondered about another auction myself, but when I thought back to the enormous amount of work and stress the Japan auction had created, I decided I’d think about it a bit more later (because, you know, it was only a week or so of work and stress and we raised £13,000). I probably would have decided against it, to be honest, because I have a book due on Christmas Eve and I only started writing it at the beginning of November. (Candy Gourlay writes here that I didn’t hesitate. Sorry, Candy, I hesitated a bit.)
But then Keren sent me the message. And I’d had a few drinks. And I grumbled (to the friend I was with) about what an enormous amount of work it is. And then I had another drink. And then I sent Keren a message saying let’s go for it and asking her to mention it to a writers’ group we’re both in and then I decided I’d worry about it when I got home the next day (once I’d recovered from those drinks).
When we set up Authors for Japan, we asked authors and publishers to donate stuff. We emailed them and tweeted and said “Would you give something?” This time we said “We’re setting up an auction…” and were almost instantly overwhelmed with offers. (Of the close to 500 items on the site, I only asked for one – the Armistead Maupin proof.)
So it’s been more work this time. A lot more work. But it’s also been completely wonderful. I’ve had emails from writers I’ve loved for years. (I’ve done a lot of excited squeaking.) So many tweets and messages. (LOVELY messages from bloggers and readers in the Philippines.)
Reading the comments on the site kept making me well up – I’d go in expecting something snarky or complaining (because, you know, comments) and instead I’d find people chatting away, encouraging each other, plotting against each other (but in a good way) and, in the Andy Stanton/Anthony McGowan comment box, well, all hell breaking loose (and a banana with ‘I love you’ written on it).
I absolutely didn’t do this on my own – Keren and Candy posted to the blog, contacted authors and newspapers – I even got Keren to ring the tax office to find out about Gift Aid (sorry about that, Keren) – Susie Day, Diane Shipley and Betty Herbert posted to the blog too. And I honestly still can’t get over the generosity of everyone who donated and everyone who bid and everyone who tweeted and Facebooked and, well, everything else.
And we raised £55,124.73. In a week.
Thank you. All of you.
And I actually wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. In fact, I’d quite like to make it an annual event for a chosen charity (but maybe with a 100 item limit…).
(The Authors for Philippines auction is now closed, but if you would like to contribute we have an Authors for the Philippines page on the Red Cross’s site – although the total isn’t updating, I’ll look into that soon.)