Romancing the Runoff: Romance Authors Raise Funds for Georgia Runoff Election

Cassie Gutman

Staff Writer

Cassie Gutman is happiest when surrounded by books and dogs. Originally from a small, funny-named town near Louisville, Kentucky, she now edits words for a living near Chicago and would like to be paid in ice cream. You can find her on Instagram @happybooklovers or on Twitter @cassiepgutman.

Romance authors have stepped up once again to flip the script, and in record time. 

Organized by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Bree Bridges and Donna Herren (the latter being the duo making up Kit Rocha), this grassroots effort was put together on November 6 to support fundraising efforts for the Georgia Senate runoff elections.

Why Are They Fundraising?

Romance authors were inspired by politician and fellow romance writer Stacey Abrams (yes, Stacey Abrams also writes romance), whose on-the-ground efforts to stop voter suppression and register hundreds of thousands of voters for the 2020 United States presidential election are credited with changing the outcome in Georgia, making it swing Democratic for the first time in 28 years (as of the time of this writing, the state is in the middle of a recount, though officials do not think results will change).

But Stacey Abrams isn’t done.

Almost immediately after the election was called for President-Elect Joe Biden, Abrams began tweeting and informing Georgia voters of their upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine which party controls the Senate.

So What Are Romance Authors Doing?

To aid Abrams’s campaign to continue to encourage high turnout for voting and register new Georgia voters before the runoff election on January 5, Milan, Cole, Bridges, and Herren rapidly organized their own efforts on Twitter, joining forces to host an auction with fellow authors, editors, bookstores, and more.

The Romancing the Runoff auction is the result of their effort, set to begin on November 18, running through November 24.

Their goal is to raise funds to help support the Georgia Senate Runoffs by supporting Fair Fight, the New Georgia Project, and Black Voters Matter. 

The original goal for the entire auction was $20,000, but in less than five hours after going live with donation links, that milestone was in the rearview mirror. As of November 13, the campaign has raised more than $85,000 before the auction has even begun. 

Authors are donating prizes like signed books, custom-made book dresses (and dresses that appeared on romance readers’ favorite covers!), manuscript critiques, stays at a writing cabin, and more. There are now participating editors from big and small publishing houses, agents from all over the country, and authors from all genres who have donated items or work to the auction and are actively promoting the auction all over social media.

To top it off, the romance podcast Fated Mates, hosted by Sarah Maclean and Jen Prokop, work with Indivisible to phone bank and are also prepping to support the Georgia State Runoffs, working with local organizations to aid in their efforts to mobilize and register voters.

How Can You Participate?

Bid on any items in the auction, but the organizers do encourage you to read the details of each item, as some can ship worldwide, some to the US only, or some don’t require shipping at all. Follow in these romance authors’ footsteps in taking Stacey Abrams’s lead and check out some recommendations she gave to NPR about what to read and watch to understand the current political climate in the United States.

You can also donate in lieu of bidding, and the group has set up donation points for both United States donors and international donors.

If you’re an action-taker, Fated Mates is holding a Zoom meeting on November 21 to phone bank to Georgia together, calling Georgia residents and urging them to get out and vote on January 5, request early ballots, or encourage voters to register in time for the runoff election.