By Dave Armstrong (9-10-12)
The time has come to raise funds for my apostolate of evangelism and apologetics. If you could kindly allow me about 10 minutes of your time, I will fully explain why. No guessing games or mysteries here!
A Very Rare Case of Overt Fundraising and Solicitation from Yours Truly
I've only engaged in a serious and ongoing fundraising effort (beyond mere brief mention of needs) one time before. It was in December 2001, when I had just lost my delivery job of the previous ten years, due to the company going out of business: exactly two weeks after my daughter Angelina (my fourth and youngest child) was born.
I announced my situation on my website, and asked whether folks agreed that I should try to do apologetics full-time. They did, in no uncertain terms, and responded generously, and I have engaged in this work full-time ever since, by God's grace and His provision: by means of book royalties and the financial support of those who thought that my apologetic / evangelistic was of some usefulness.
Nipping Anticipated Possible Objections in the Bud
It needs to be made very clear at the outset, that I've fully supported my family of six all these years (my wife has home schooled our four children, so I'm the sole "breadwinner"). We pay all our bills, including a mortgage for our bungalow (no late bills or credit problems); we rarely even use credit cards, we live simply (lots of used stuff and cost-saving techniques), and take a nice vacation every year (camping and a lot of our own food, to save money). Even my ten-year-old Angelina has already been to 46 states, and eastern and western Canada as well: all on driving / camping trips.
No one here is "unprovided" for. Some folks -- mostly anti-Catholics or nominal Catholics -- have publicly blasted me in the past for supposed reckless irresponsibility and "forcing" my family to "suffer" -- not knowing the slightest thing about the actual facts. We live a quite normal, lower middle class life. Our four children have bicycles, basketball net and backboard, a pool in the backyard, lots of games, a computer for each son, and video games: everything they need. We find ways to get them inexpensively. By the standards of the entire world and history of the world, we're very rich. By current American standards, not at all so. But we (I) pay our bills. That's what I want to get across in this section.
The Sources and Frequency of My Income / Tentmaking
As I have often explained: my income is primarily based on book royalties that mostly arrive only twice a year (and in real terms the author usually receives only around 7% of the list price per book sale), donations from contributors like you, and (like St. Paul and his tentmaking on the side) part-time work taken on as necessary: in addition to ongoing full-time hours for my apologetics.
I never stop doing apologetics, no matter what happens. It's my calling and vocation (and I've known that since my evangelical Protestant days in 1981). As St. Paul said, "For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16: RSV). When one is called by God to do some thing, one must be obedient and do it.We all have some sort of calling (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). This is mine.
Since 2001 and full-time apologetics work, I have also (here's the "tentmaking") sold used books, run a large suburban paper route seven days a week for a year-and-a-half, and worked as a transporter delivering cars from one place to another. Furthermore, for twenty years before that I did a great deal of apologetics while working in unrelated full-time jobs.
My first book was completed in May 1996 while I was employed full-time in the delivery business (it took seven years for it to be "officially" published). I had articles published from 1993 on; my conversion story was included in the bestseller Surprised by Truth (1994), and I was on Catholic radio as early as 1997. My website began in the same year (it won an award as Best Catholic Website from Pat Madrid's Envoy the next year) and by 2001 over 600 posts or web pages were made available for free. I also answered multiple hundreds of letters: all gratis.
This all occurred while I was working full-time in completely unrelated work. In other words, any notion that I am allegedly "unwilling to do 'real' work" (other than apologetics work) is completely imaginary and ludicrous.
Most notably, I was affiliated with Marcus Grodi's Coming Home Network International (CHNI) for three years (2007-2010), as a staff moderator on its Internet discussion board.
Why I am Presently Experiencing Great Financial Difficulties
The last item brings us to the question of why I am in a serious financial crisis at this time. Many people automatically assume that it is the person's fault who is struggling: that it is some kind of irresponsibility. Sometimes that may be true, of course, but it is not in my case. Please let me explain, if I may. The job at CHNI ended in December 2010 as a direct result of the bad economy.
It's not complicated to understand. When economies are bad, people (as most of you reading this know from your own finances) have far less disposable income; therefore less for donations of the sort that a non-profit organization like CHNI depends on, and less for buying books (what authors depend on). They have to pay their bills, and are blessed if they can even do that. Thus, CHNI lost a great deal of support from its contributors, and had to make cuts (my job being one). Anyone who depends on sales or donations or (like me) both, will suffer disproportionately in a bad economy. We may keep our jobs, but our incomes are greatly lessened.
I've Done About as Good as Anyone Could Do as an Author in My Field
The financial crisis isn't due to any loss of quality in my work, far as I can tell; by any objective indication. I have several bestsellers in the relatively small Catholic apologetics field / market. Catholic apologist Karl Keating noted in his e-letter of 21 November 2006:
. . . very few Catholic books sell into six figures. For that matter, few sell into five figures. In orthodox Catholic publishing, you have a hit if you sell 10,000 copies of a title. It certainly is a niche market. . . .
I've achieved that several times. A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (2001) has sold 20,675 copies, as of 2-3-12. The Catholic Verses (2004) has 17,641 sales, and The One-Minute Apologist (2007), 10,569, as of the same date. The New Catholic Answer Bible appears to be my biggest seller of all, judging by Amazon sales ranks, but I don't have sales figures, and (most unfortunately) I receive no ongoing royalties for that. I was paid a one-time fee.
The problem at the moment is not my work; it's clearly the economy. People aren't purchasing as much; period. I've heard that the median income for the middle class has decreased by $4,000 a year.
Exact Figures of My Income Loss, Largely and Directly Attributable to the Bad Economy
Now I'll explain the kind of hits I've taken as a result of the recession and stagnant economy. Comparing (directly from my royalty reports) the numbers of sales from the first half of 2008 (right before the recession) with sales in the same period in 2012, the first three titles above decreased by 73%, 75%, and 76%, with actual royalties decreasing by 70%, 76%, and 74%.
Those are the actual figures (not a rough estimate). Imagine taking a pay cut like that in a "regular" job with weekly pay or a salary. We're talking about royalties that come twice a year being 25% of what they were just four years ago (!!!).
My Successful Strategy to Rebuild My Income as a Sole Proprietor Author / Apologist
Yet I have (almost incredibly) still survived until now: coming up to eleven years of full-time apologetics. I've done it by putting out more and more books (the number is now 32), and selling e-book package deals. But sales for the latter are way down, too, from what they used to be (about $300-400 a month less, on average).
When I lost the job at CHNI in December 2010, I had a difficult choice to make. Many small business owners or self-employed sole proprietors are in the same boat. I could go out at age 52 and look for (with 11% real unemployment nationwide) some kind of part-time job (and I've always been willing to do that: all honest work is honorable).
Or I could devote even more time and energy to the capital I have built up: my books and my website(s). I decided to take the latter course, and (praise be to God) it has demonstrably worked. I started my Facebook and Twitter pages in January 2011, and they have brought multiple thousands more people in contact with my work. A generous friend is also currently working on a new bookselling site for my books, that will bring about greater sales, by means of search engine maximization.
I decided in January 2011 to spend much more time writing books, to hopefully create more income (since books sell, as opposed to website posts and lengthy dialogues). As in all business ventures, it was a risk and not a given. I've produced ten new books in 2011 and 2012, including two recent "officially published" ones: The Quotable Newman (Sophia Institute Press, scheduled for 5 October 2012), and 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura (Catholic Answers, May 2012).
Moreover, I've established an ongoing working (and contractual) relationship with Catholic Answers (unquestionably the preeminent Catholic apologetics organization), after meeting with the staff at their headquarters in May 2011. I work directly with Todd Aglialoro, the acquisitions editor there, who has now edited five of my "officially published" books. He does a marvelous job.
More books with "CA" will be in the offing, and this is hugely important in my career as an apologist. Catholic Answers reaches directly to my target audience, and has the resources for serious, widespread advertising (that I desperately need in order to sell many more books). And, of course, CA has to regularly raise funds, too, like all such organizations (I'm one of very few full-time Catholic apologists who doesn't regularly solicit funds).
Todd and I are already seriously discussing new books written for CA in the future. There will also assuredly be more books for Sophia (I've already done five with them), including, quite possibly, a Volume II of The Quotable Newman (since I have an additional 243 pages of quotes that had to be edited out for size purposes).
The Future Looks Bright (But I Have to Survive Until I Get There)
The Quotable Newman and 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura represent major new contracts: my fifth book with Sophia and first of (most likely) several with CA. I also signed a contract in March 2012 with Logos Bible Software: the leading "Christian / Bible electronic resources" company, for ten of my books published on my own at Lulu.
An author can do no better than that: three major new book contracts with three important publishers in eight months' time, with real, likely potential for more to come in the future. Furthermore, my book, The Quotable Wesley, is under serious consideration with a large Protestant (Wesleyan) publisher. I've gotten by, then, with new books and contracts. But the economy is so bad that all these gains have been wiped out, and my income is disconcertingly less than it was 6-7 years ago.
The problem at this particular time with the new contracts is that none of them has "kicked in" yet (except for two fairly small advances received). The "new money" (an author's "raise," in effect) is not yet "here." The Quotable Newman isn't even published yet. When it is, there will only be two months left in the year, and that may not even be time enough for royalties to surpass the modest advance I already received. That means I probably won't see more money from that book till next August.
I Need Your Help to Get to the New Place I'll Be in February
Therefore, my income will dry up completely (without unforeseen sources or money as a result of this effort) in early October, after I pay my mortgage and gas / electric bill for September. This is my "situation" in the near future. I'm betwixt and between: waiting for three new book contracts to start providing more desperately needed income (as a result of 75% less royalties).
I believe (or sure hope that) it is a one-time situation: a temporary "glitch." If I can make it to February and those twice-a-year royalties, including two or three new ones, then it looks like I'll be back to where I was four years ago, or at least somewhere near that. I believe my finances will again be solvent by that time.
Therefore, I am asking for your help. As always, when I solicit funds in any way at all (and I do very little of it, because I personally intensely dislike it, and I haven't had to), it is always based on an approach of "if you have personally been helped by my work, please prayerfully consider supporting it financially, or through prayer, if not financially."
Credentials and Accomplishments: Why to Support This Work
By the grace of God, I've produced 32 books (plus portions of four more), almost 2,500 papers posted on my blog, which has been online in some form since February 1997; lots of published articles and radio appearances, and have received many personal recommendations from well-known Catholic figures, including Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J., who wrote the Foreword of my first book, "highly" recommended it, and described it as:
. . . thoroughly orthodox, well-written, and effective for the purpose of making Catholic truth more understandable and accessible to the public at large. . . . a fine book of popular Catholic apologetics.
Scott Hahn wrote a Foreword to my book, More Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, and Joseph Pearce did a Preface for The Quotable Newman. I've worked with many prominent organizations and publishers, including the very best ones in my field. I've received Imprimaturs (one from my own bishop in Detroit). I'm a "known quantity." You can trust me. Anyone can see documentation of what I mentioned above on my Literary Resume page, if they so desire.
When you support my work you are directly part of that: you literally make it possible. It takes a lot of time. I can do it because I have a very high motivation, a passionate love for my work, and for the people I am doing the work for. I have the ability (from God and His calling) and the zeal (from Him as well), and the time to create the work. I'm privileged to participate in the "harvest."
Bottom Line: I Need to Raise $5,000 in This One-Time Solicitation
I don't have other employees to pay, or magazine or radio or building rental costs. Those things cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'm merely asking for (from many people) $5,000 to get me through a temporary rough spot (as explained above).
Is it really a difficult thing to raise a one-time amount of $5,000, given the "numbers" of those who follow my work (judging by hits, Facebook followers, etc.)? It may be, but I don't think it should be. It's a pretty small amount to even ask for. All I need is for a good proportion of folks who report (or even those who don't report) that my work has helped move them along the "spiritual / theological spectrum" a bit, to chip in: a group effort.
Laborers for the Harvest. I'm Tryin' My Best to be One of 'Em!
I find it interesting that one of the Holy Father's intentions for the month of October, is "for a renewed commitment to evangelization." I'm an evangelist, a missionary, an apologist; a teacher of sorts. My work is used for all sorts of research projects and outreaches, and/or personal education. I know, because I receive the letters.
Perhaps people don't know much about how meager my income is, because I mention it so rarely. I just keep doing my work, thinking it will speak for itself, trusting in the Lord to provide. He always has: I can joyfully testify. But I need your help to do my work: especially in the next few months.
Jesus said, "the laborer deserves his wages" (Luke 10:7) and "the tree is known by its fruit" (Matthew 12:33). The evangelist or apologist's "fruit" (made possible entirely by the grace of God, and all glory to Him), is demonstrated outwardly in how it aids people in their lives and life choices, with regard to Christianity: following God more faithfully, or choosing to become a Catholic or to return to the Church if they were once actively in it. These momentous life events are shared through letters or on web pages.
The Fruit: 18 Examples from Many Hundreds of Reports Received by Mail
Here is a sampling (nine from 2006 and nine from recently) of hundreds of unsolicited "thank you's" and testimonies of conversion or reversion that I have received (all from e-mail, except for "FB": on my Facebook Page / "PM": Facebook private message):
I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that Biblical Evidence for Catholicism is, or was, the best apologetics site on the web. That is, measured not by the regard other apologists have for it but by its evangelistic impact. (1-16-06)
I decided today to become a full-fledged Catholic. And your apologetics had a lot to do with this. Thanks so much for enlightening me. I'm truly indebted to you. (1-23-06)
My family and I have left Protestantism and are Catholic. Your ministry was (and is) instrumental in our growth in faith. Thank you. (2-3-06)
I have many of your books. They have helped me return to the Church. Great stuff! (5-5-06)
I wanted to let you know that your website was very helpful to me in my journey to the church. I was received into the church last month after five years of intense study and prayer. (5-7-06)
I am writing to thank you for all of your hard work. Your articles have played a very important role in my recent conversion from Reformed Presbyterian to Catholic. (5-12-06)
I recently was received into full communion with the Catholic Church after being an evangelical Protestant all my life. Your site, more than any other resource, had clear, understandable defenses for Catholic doctrine and practices. In particular, you deserve the credit for my ultimate decision to join the Catholic Church rather than the Orthodox Church. (6-26-06)
I was a campus minister for eight years before being received into the Church in April. Your website had a big influence in my coming to see the truth of the Catholic Church. (9-2-06)
Your apologetics ministry has been extremely influential to me over the past three years or so. Your irenic presentation coupled with your voluminous knowledge played no small part in my decision to convert to Catholicism from my former strongly Calvinist beliefs. (9-21-06)
I came into the Church in the 90s, and your work was very important to my conversion. So thank you! Keep up the wonderful work for God's Church! (6-21-12, PM)
Your reading material is always excellent, and you're a true evangelist! You'd make St. Paul proud. (7-28-12, FB)
You are not only knowledgeable you are nice and thoughtful to people which is the way all representatives of the Church and all true Christians should try to be! (7-28-12, FB)
I asked you to suggest some books on Luther and you [told] me not to buy the book I suggested on Luther because you thought it was "too Anti- Luther". This is what I love about you Dave. (7-30-12, FB)
I wanted to thank you for your book Pensées on Catholic Traditionalism. . . . I began to wonder whether I was obliged to join the traditionalist movement . . . I began to lose confidence in the Church, . . . you, my friend, restored my Joy in the Catholic Church. You restored to me the confidence, conviction and love of the Church that called to me from across the Tiber in the first place. (8-15-12, PM)
I just discovered your blog today, and enjoy it very much. Thank you for what you are doing. (8-24-12, PM)
I just want to let you know that you and your website were a BIG part of me coming to the Catholic Church over 12 years ago. Thank you very much for your time, your labor, and your ministry. (8-24-12, PM)
I've always appreciated all the hard work and effort you put into your writings. Your book on Traditionalism was a key factor in me leaving sedevacantism years ago, so thank you. (8-24-12, PM)
I just wanted to say thank you for all of your work. I read a bunch of your online content back in 2003ish and it was very helpful in strengthening my faith. (9-3-12, PM)
For many more such testimonies, see my (older) collections of them from both Catholics and non-Catholics. These are the results; the fruits of my work. No one is more surprised than I am, believe me, that God chooses to use this poor, miserable sinner as a vessel to convey His message and help change lives for the better in the process. This isn't about me. It's about God's call on my life and what has happened as a result of my following it. It's about how God wants more workers for His harvest.
Your Opportunity to Support the Evangelism and Apologetics That May Have Helped You
You can be a part of this harvest and this fruit. If the above stories reflect your own, or if you know of others who have been assisted in similar ways by my work, you can help make that possible by sending in a donation today. Does this seem like a worthy "cause" to you? Is it something you'd like to fnancially support? Here's one way to look at your opportunity to support this work of "new evangelization":
Just a "dollar-a-day" set aside for a month would be a $30 contribution.
A "donut-a-day" in a month would be equivalent to $20.
French fries daily for a month adds up to about $50.
It's really not much money, viewed in this way. I have 4,464 Facebook friends and 1,169 Twitter followers. I get about 700 hits a day on my blog, which just passed two million visitors in 8 1/2 years. Well over 100,000 people have read my books and pamphlets. Many thousands of others have read a magazine article of mine or heard me on the radio. I have an e-mail list of about 1,000 people. I regularly receive literally hundreds of letters like the ones above, and have steadily for over 15 years.
This is your chance. I'm asking you as your brother in Christ and His Church to please prayerfully consider it; or if you can't, to please pray for the money to be raised (which is very helpful as well). People give to all sorts of worthy causes: food for the poor, public TV, pro-life, high school teams, various ministries. I think mine is a good and important cause, too.
Do you agree? I'm honored and privileged to be a part of God's ongoing mission to the lost and the confused and poorly catechized millions out there. Its my joy; I love my work: it doesn't even seem like "work" to me (as I have often said), I love it so much.
Donation / Contribution Options and Lots of "Thank You" Books From Me to You
To conclude (thanks so much for bearing with me through this long letter, and I apologize if it was too long), here is what I will send you as a "thank you" for your contribution:
"Donut-a-Day Club" (E-Book Package) If you wish to donate $20, you might want to order my new ten e-book package, which is $19.95. I receive most of that profit, and you'll receive ten books in both ePub and PDF formats. It's all automatic. You get a download page for the books immediately in your e-mail. If you don't need to look over the books offered, you can go directly to the order page. Note: this purchase is not tax-deductible.
"Dollar-a-Day Club" For a donation of $30 I'll send you any twelve e-books of your choice (i.e., the 24 books I have total control over, published at Lulu; see books and covers below). Please specify whether you'd like ePUB or PDF files.
"French Fries Club" $50 15 (Lulu) e-books of your choice (either ePUB or PDF files).
Silver Club $100 One paperback of your choice (any of my books: see a complete listing) + 15 (Lulu) e-books of your choice (either ePUB or PDF files). I'll need your mailing address.
Golden Club $500 Three paperbacks of your choice (any of my books: see a complete listing) + 20 (Lulu) e-books of your choice (either ePUB or PDF files). I'll need your mailing address.
Posted below are my 24 books published at Lulu. [later deleted]
Specific Donation Instructions (Including 100% Tax Deductibility)
1. PayPal (no tax deduction) You can donate through PayPal to my e-mail address:
apologistdave [at] gmail [dot] com
2. Instant online tax-deductible contributions I have made arrangements with my friend, fellow apologist and EWTN radio host John Martignoni, to receive 100% tax-deductible, secure credit card and bank account donations to my apostolate via his Bible Christian Society website (and be sure to check out his free offerings while you are there).
Very Important: a donation of this sort must be accompanied by an e-mail to John:
john [at] biblechristiansociety [dot] com
stating that "Dave Armstrong is the intended recipient". Otherwise, it'll be indistinguishable from any other donation to Bible Christian Society. He won't know it is for me, and I'll never receive it.
3. Tax-deductible donations by personal check Personal checks for this purpose are made out to "Bible Christian Society" (any checks from outside the US must be in "US funds") and mailed directly to me. You need to send me an e-mail (with the word "donation" in the title) or a Facebook PM so I can give you my home address to send it to (I don't want to list it online). Again, if the tax deduction is not desired, you can make the check out to me ("Dave Armstrong").
Till I Raise the Money . . .
I must be completely committed to this effort until I achieve the goal. I won't be putting up any new papers or links in the meantime, on my blog or Facebook pages (unless it has to do with the fundraising drive). Part of the reasoning of that is to help people realize that I do this work full-time, and that time is money. I can't do everything without the remuneration to pay my bills. I already offer nearly 2,500 papers free of charge, as it is. If my book royalties and additional donations are sufficient for me to pay my bills, then to that degree I can do various kinds of work.
It almost seems like many people think I am independently wealthy, and can write and write and write, as if money grows on a tree in my backyard or falls from the sky like manna (or that the amount of writing I've done requires no significant time to create). I'm not wealthy! This is it, folks. It's what I do and how I make my living, and I'll continue to do so, Lord willing, till I drop. No retirement is in store for me. As long as I can type on a keyboard, I'll be involved in apologetics and evangelization. I'm a lifer. Total commitment . . .
Thanks again for your time, and I ask that you seriously consider supporting this work, or if you are not able to do so at this time, to please, if you would, pray for this apostolate and for hearts to be moved to financially support it: particularly those who have been directly aided in some way by my writing.
I love all of you. May God bless you abundantly, and guide your footsteps. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who respond. I can never adequately express my deep appreciation for those who are kind enough to support my work. I have in my records, by name, 746 individuals who have done so since 2001: 158 of them more than once.
[Note on privacy and non-disclosure: I never make public the names of those who make contributions, so no need to worry about that. I will only be giving the total amount raised, and perhaps mention the amount of larger donations at times, but without any names attached]
[I've turned comments off for this post, because I expect the anti-Catholics and other naysayers regarding my work to show up. If you have any questions at all about any of this, feel free to drop me a line to my e-mail address (listed not far above, under donation information), or a Facebook PM if you're on Facebook]