With Scott Hahn and Steve Ray in Steubenville, Ohio, July 1999
Day One: Monday 25 August 2014
Two years ago I undertook my first overt fundraising drive in almost eleven years since I became a full-time Catholic apologist in December 2001. It was successful and met and exceeded the goal within a month. So did the one last year. I had hoped in 2012 that it wouldn't be necessary to have to raise funds every year (that it was a temporary shortfall), but that wasn't to be. The economy continues to cause no end of trouble. Unless things change quite a bit, it looks like this fundraiser will be necessary every year at this time. Book sales are very slow (I think the whole bookselling industry is struggling), and my main royalties (twice a year from Sophia Institute Press decreased by about 15% last time.
Yet when my books are properly advertised (in my case, in catalogues such as that of Catholic Answers and EWTN: in a way, "free advertising"), they frequently appear on the Amazon Top 100 list for Catholic books, even 7-10 years after publication (A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, The Catholic Verses, The One-Minute Apologist). My New Catholic Answer Bible continues to sell like hotcakes (often in the 20-30,000 sales rank range at Amazon): but I receive no ongoing royalties for it, so it isn't helping me now to pay my bills. But the point is that my books sell well if only they are known and advertised as they should be.
Despite the bleak economy and my often dreary home budget, many good things continue to happen. In the year since my last fundraiser, I have published the following seven books:
Revelation! 1001 Bible Answers to Theological Questions (10-3-13)
Debating James White: Shocking Failures of the "Undefeatable" Anti-Catholic Champion (11-1-13)
Pope Francis Explained: Survey of Myths, Legends, & Catholic Defenses in Harmony with Tradition (1-22-14)
The Quotable Wesley (Beacon Hill Press, editor, 4-1-14) [my first book with a Protestant publisher: and a major one at that]
Quotable Catholic Mystics and Contemplatives (editor; 5-1-14)
Victorian King James Version of the New Testament (editor; 7-15-14)
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism: 80 Short Essays in Defense of the Catholic Faith (completed on 8-2-14; quite possibly could be published by Sophia Institute Press, or else on my own shortly)
Additionally, I'm in the process of revising my book, Orthodoxy and Catholicism: A Comparison: this time with Eastern input from two friends of mine. That should be done in the next few weeks.
In the last year I also launched my brand-new discount booksite, where 41 of my books can be purchased and instantly downloaded in ePub or mobi format for only $4.99, and in PDF for just $1.99, and 15 radio interviews are available as absolutely free downloads. I'll discuss this more below, in terms of how it helps me the most if you purchase my books this way.
Another big blessing that happened in the previous year was gaining five new monthly supporters. Four of them chose to use a recurring payment through PayPal. I need many more monthly supporters. Would you be kind enough to prayerfully consider supporting my work for $25 or $50 a month (the cost of a cup of coffee per day or a medium order of french fries per day)?
Within the last twelve months was hired to write regular articles for Seton Magazine: the leading Catholic homeschooling magazine (every week since February) and The Michigan Catholic: every two weeks since May). These provide some additional helpful regular income, but I still need much more.
Most Catholic apostolates regularly "beg and plead" (quite vigorously!): and usually more than once a year, including personal e-mails or letters in the regular mail. I remain dead-set against personal solicitation. You'll never get those sorts of letters from me. That's a promise and an absolute principle I have set for myself. I'm not saying those things are wrong per se; just that I will never do it. Occasionally I have done mass e-mailings, but they simply mention new books of mine, with just one little statement at the end that someone may wish to consider supporting the work. I also send out my famous "cyber Christmas cards" every year: usually with one of my original Christmas poems. No solicitation in those, either . . .
Briefly, I have a very meager income; I manage to pay my bills. We live in a lower middle class-type bungalow (built in 1943) in a lower-level Detroit suburb. We have good credit, and (except for temporary shortfall periods) don't use credit cards. The only debt we have to speak of is our mortgage. We live simply, by principle and design. My wife homeschools, so I am the only breadwinner. We have four children. Three are now legal adults, but they live here and I still have to feed them. I'm not rolling in dough; clearly, my motivation for what I do is not riches and material goods. I'm 110% dedicated to my work. I trust and have faith in God that He will provide, because this is what He would have me do. And He has, remarkably so all these years. He provides through people like you.
As I have often noted, I don't have a staff to pay, or buildings to rent (besides my home that I own and pay for). I don't have radio or TV or magazine costs. I don't have any overhead. You see how much work I put out. It's just me, folks! If you support this work, it is a very efficient operation, with a very high ratio of product relative to the money required to allow the product to be possible.
All I've ever asked in the few times I have solicited funds, is support from those of you who have been personally helped by my work. I know you're out there. I receive letters all the time, saying that my work has helped folks become Catholics or more confident Catholics (if they already were). If I have aided you, by God's grace, doesn't it make sense that you would help support my work? The laborer is worthy of his wages, as the Bible says (and St. Paul was talking about Christian workers, in the context there). Here are examples of ten unsolicited letters that I have received, expressing the "good fruit" of my work:
Thanks for all the great work you do for the faith, Dave. It's been of great value to me, and now my family!
PayPal message, 2-2-14
Thank you for your ministry. Your apologetics have played a big role in helping me understand the faith better and have helped keep me in the Catholic Church. I own several of your books and your blog is great! Keep up the good work!
Facebook message, 5-8-14
My husband and I are converts and you have been and are very helpful to us in knowing, living, and defending our faith.
Thanks for all your effort to demonstrate the biblical nature of Catholicism. Your book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, was the first book I read when I had come to the conclusion I needed to enter the Church. Thank you for all you have done to dispel the anti-Catholic myths.
Comment on the Seton Magazine website, 5-31-14
Our conversations online were instrumental in my conversion into the Roman Catholic Church! Thanks for being such an amazing apologist Dave.
I read with delight an article you presented a few weeks back about our Blessed Mother and her Ever-Virgin status. It touched upon the so-called "siblings" of Jesus. It was the most succinct article I had ever read on the matter and I was cheering you as I read it. May God's richest blessings continue to be showered upon you and your family. You are a grace to us who desire to know the Lord more closely in His Holy Church.
Facebook message, 6-24-14
In February, I was received into full communion with the Church (having been a Methodist), and your writings were extremely helpful along the way. You have helped me a great deal.
God bless you and all your excellent work! The work you have done has changed the world for many, many people.
Dave's books were some of the first that I encountered as an early convert. I have them all right here next to me, where I reference them frequently. They have saved me big time on numerous occasions. I'm just amazed that he has produced so many.
Facebook page, 7-17-14
Dave Armstrong is a great apologist for breaking Catholic doctrine/teaching down in a way that's fairly easy for anyone to understand.
Facebook page, 7-30-14
My blog, online continuously since February 1997, contains 2388 posts or papers: almost all of them about apologetics or related issues of ethics, culture, history, philosophy, etc. I've also been published in magazines many times, going back to 1993. See my Literary Resume.
All those papers on my blog and now Facebook pages, are there for free, and have some educational value (if I do say so). Moreover, even if someone hasn't personally been helped by my writing, they may recognize that it has apologetic and evangelistic value, and so support it, just as any other mission is supported financially. That's what I'm asking you today: to please consider that.
There is a very unfortunate strain of thinking that apologetics is not "real work" or that it should only be done by priests and bishops (wrong! Lay apologetics and outreach in the Church has a long and honorable history, going back to the Church fathers). I'm not a priest. I'm a guy like most of you who is married with four children, who works very hard and earns every penny of a relatively tiny income (by American standards) that I manage to generate through this work. I have bills to pay and financial worries just as all of you do.
Please strongly consider supporting this apostolate. If you think it is worthwhile in order to help others and to help "harvest" lost souls and nominal, uncommitted, miseducated Catholics out in the world, perhaps you would like to play an important and direct role that effort and outreach mission by contributing. You can help this effort quite a bit in other ways, too, besides your generous donations:
2) Writing endorsements and recommendations or "testimonies" about my work or books (on my page and/or on your own) as this drive proceeds.
3) Sharing these fundraising posts on your pages in order to "spread the word."
4) Hitting the "like" button on my Facebook author page (if you really do like it!).
5) Purchasing my books and telling others about them; linking to my various book pages or (above all!) my new booksite, etc.
The new booksite offers a way to help me quite a bit, since no "middle man" is involved. People seem to think that I make a lot of money every time a paperback of mine is sold. This is not true. By contract, the author gets 14% of the net profit. In real terms (what I actually am paid in the end), I receive the following royalty per sale:
A Biblical Defense of Catholicism: $1.65
The Catholic Verses: $1.50
The One-Minute Apologist: $1.34
This is how little an author receives. I think a lot of people think, "hey, I bought three of Dave's paperbacks; I'm really supporting his work!" I appreciate it; I'm delighted that you are reading (all authors love that); it's what I do: write stuff for you to read, but that alone doesn't help me continue the work very much in terms of finances. If someone bought those three books, they contributed all of $4.49 into my pocket.
But if they bought three of my e-books for $4.99 each on my booksite, there is no middle man, so I receive all of that minus a small transaction fee and a small monthly fee for the use of the site (or $13.89 without figuring monthly cost). I explained this recently to a few friends and they couldn't believe that I made so much more by sales of e-books than paperbacks. Well, that is all about "middle men" and overhead. When I sell my own e-books on my own site, neither of those is present. Consequently, I make about three times as much as I do with a paperback sale.
But I also need donations. It's always been about one-quarter to one-third of my income. If I hadn't received that, I wouldn't have been able to do this full-time for over 13 years. The rest has come from book royalties or additional part-time jobs along the way. And in that respect I'm no different than any other Catholic apostolate. They all need to be supported financially beyond the products they sell. Even those who have the huge benefit of TV and radio and the lecture circuit (e.g., Catholic Answers: the largest and most influential such group of all) have to vigorously solicit funds to survive and thrive.
I probably make a larger percentage of my income from my own products than most Catholic ministries do. I've written 46 books and I'm getting paid to regularly write articles, too. I try to be as self-sufficient and efficient as I can possibly be. But I still need your help for this to succeed. That's just how it is in the apologetics business. It's reality.
If people bought apologetics and theology books in numbers like they do, romance novels or pornographic material or gossip rags or any number of other genres that sell far more copies, it would be different. I'd never have to ask for a dime or bother you at all (which I would love, believe me). But sadly, that is not the case in our world, which doesn't consider the things of God and spiritual concerns as important as 99 other interests.
Donations are 100% tax-deductible (through my good friend John Martignoni's Bible Christian Society), and you are able to donate via PayPal and with a credit card if you like. It's very simple. Here are the instructions for how to go about all that.
If you don't need the tax deduction, you can send funds immediately through PayPal right to me (without going through Bible Christian Society).
During this pledge drive, the following "thank you gifts" will be in effect:
1) For a $25 donation, I'll send you one e-Pub book of your choice, which is a $4.99 value (my already low booksite prices). For $50, I'll send you three. If you can't read ePubs, you need to let me know, and I can send a PDF or a mobi instead. NOTE: This includes my five well-known "officially" published books from Sophia. To select a book, see my booksite.
2) For a very generous donation of $100 or more, I'll send you any paperback of your choice. These can be selected from all of my books (see my blog book page to select one). Just send me your home address and I'll get it out to you as soon as I can.
The total goal is $5000: to live on till the next twice-a-year royalty check from Sophia (which is 50-60% less than it used to be five years ago due to the economy). The faster the goal is met, the sooner I can devote full energy to my writing again, and bring you more of the apologetics that I have been producing on a continuous basis since 1993. My motivation is as high as ever, and I have no plans of ever retiring. From me you get total "lifetime" commitment and passion for the work that I do. I'm honored to be at your service.
First things first: I gotta pay my bills. I'm out of money already right now: as soon as I pay my gas and electric bill. I can't even pay my house bill, which is due in a week. It happens every year about this time, because my "big" royalties are so much less than they used to be, and the loss of the part-time job at Coming Home Network (2007-2010) due to the rotten economy continues to harm me. From 2002 through to 2011 I didn't have to do a fundraiser like this. I never solicited at all (virtually unique among Catholic apostolates). But since 2012 it has become an absolute necessity. But even then I solicit just once a year in a low-key fashion and will never bother you individually in e-mail, Facebook messages or "snail mail."
Please prayerfully consider a donation or one or more of the other things above that are helpful as well. Thank you so much and God bless you! I love all of you and appreciate my readers from the bottom of my heart.
NOTE: if you have read about my upcoming trip to Israel in October (which will also be the topic of a new book, already begun), it needs to be understood that it is being completely paid for, courtesy of the Roaming Romans apostolate that is generously sponsoring my wife and I and also two others. This fundraiser has nothing to do with that at all.
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Links to Facebook for further updates during the 2014 Fundraiser:
Links to Facebook for further updates during the 2014 Fundraiser:
Day Three ($440 raised so far, or 9%): "Protestant Feedback About My Work."
Day Four ($675 raised so far, or 14%): "Recommendations and Endorsements of My Work from Leading Apologetics and Otherwise Catholic Public Figures."
Day Five ($1175 raised, or 24%): "My Blog / Website, Part I."
Day Nine ($1546 raised, or 31%): "My Blog / Website, Part II."
Day Ten ($1646 raised, or 33%): "Testimonies Received of Folks Becoming Catholics in Large Part (So They Say) Because of My Writing."
Day 11 ($2666 raised, or 53%): "One-Line Descriptions of My 46 Books."
Day 12 ($2866 raised, or 57%): "Published Articles By or About Me in the Catholic Print Media."
Day 15 ($3851 raised, or 77%): "Radio Interviews".
Day 16 ($4051 raised, or 81%): "More 'Testimony' Letters Received".
Day 17 ($4101 raised, or 82%): " 'Testimony' of the Hostility of the Enemies of the Faith"
Day 18 ($4226 raised, or 85%): "My Blog / Website, Part III."
Day 19 ($4276 raised, or 86%): "Additional 'Testimony' Letters of Help Received from My Writings".