Donating My 2023 Book Royalties

Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed a new year-end tradition: Increasing my charitable giving by donating my book royalties.

This post is about celebrating and uplifting the good work of amazing people and organizations. So I’ll shelve my commentary about the fact that academic authors are seldom paid for the words we write. And no, this post isn’t about criticizing academic publishing models or the corporations that profit from the labor of scholarship (and whether those companies paywall journals or platform newsletters). And for those who don’t know—I’m thrilled to publish my books with the MIT Press and my next book will be open-access (very excited about this!). And yes, I’m acutely aware that many authors outside of academia—and other creative folks, too—rely on royalties as an important source of income (like my better half, Ebony). I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can donate my book royalties, and I’m humbled people have paid to read my words.

For those who are curious: My royalty period runs from April through March, so April of 2022 through March of 2023 for this prior year. Because of this schedule, I can sock my royalties into a six-month CD and modestly increase my impact before organizing my year-end donations. This past royalty period, my first book Annotation sold 1,249 copies (1,095 print, 154 electronic). If you’ve previously engaged with my work by purchasing a book—or if you plan to do so in the future, whether with Annotation or Re/Marks on Power, to be published sometime in 2025—please know that I’m committed to donating my royalties to organizations whose work is making a difference in the lives of individuals and communities.

This year, my book royalties supported:

  • The GrowHaus, located about a mile from our home in Denver, whose mission “is to cultivate community-driven food justice through education and food access. We offer food distribution programming and educational opportunities related to growing and cooking food, as well as overall wellness.” Learn about The GrowHaus’ work.
  • Friends of the Tanner House, in partnership with the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, who are supporting repairs and restoration work of the Henry Ossawa Tanner House in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Philadelphia; read more about the eminent painter and Tanner’s legacy in Philadelphia.
  • Freedom Reads, founded by Reginald Dwayne Betts, which has opened 239 Freedom Libraries in 33 prisons and juvenile facilities across ten states, and “is the only organization in the country with a mission to provide libraries to prisons thereby supporting the efforts of people in prison to imagine new possibilities for their lives.” More info here.
  • Monument Lab, the public art and history studio, which works “to illuminate how symbols are connected to systems of power and public memory, we engage critically with our inherited monument landscape and work joyfully with artists, organizations, and movements to imagine the next generation of monuments.” Read more here.

I’m eager to follow what The GrowHaus, Friends of the Tanner House, Freedom Reads, and Monument Lab will accomplish in 2024. And if the work of these groups, or perhaps my work, or even this post inspires your charitable giving, what an even better way to start the new year.


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