Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Should I Charge for an Author Visit?

Tip of the Day: Check out this Monster Cookie Dough Dip. It looks way yum.

I was sitting next to a lovely brand new author at an event recently and I heard a very interested teacher ask her to come do a school visit and ask her what did she charge.


If you're an author and you've ever been in this position and you're not prepared with an answer, you kinda panic. Because what DO I charge for a visit? What is my time worth? How much planning do I need to do? These are all things racing through your head while the teacher is staring at you waiting for an answer.

I watched this author struggle with and finally just tell the teacher to e-mail her and they could chat more later. I badly wanted to whisper to her "charge $200". Or some such thing but I kept quiet because I had just met this author. Soon as the teacher walked away though the author turned to me and said that she was so uncomfortable and had no idea what to say.

I was in the exact same position years ago when approached at an author fair and was at the part when young adult author Kristin Walker piped in and said "she charges $200 an hour." It was a huge relief for me when she did that because I was totally flailing. (and Kristin could get away with it because we're such good friends. I didn't feel I could jump in for the new author mentioned above.)

Instinct for most new authors anyway is to try to do the events for free. Why do this? I don't know. For some reason do we think our time isn't worth it? Or that we don't know enough about being an author to get paid for our wisdom? Or is it a female thing and we just want to be nice? I have been at an event before where I heard a woman asking a number of authors to come to an event she was planning and the first three women said sure they'd do it to free and when she reached the male author he said he wouldn't leave his front door for less than X amount of dollars. So maybe it's also a female/male thing.

But our time IS worth it. Think about this:
- we've been through a process that not a ton of people have done and is interesting for students to hear about (writing a book, selling it, editing it, having it published etc.)
- we take hours putting together neat props and cool slide shows to bring to these visits
- we have to travel to and from these visits
- we have to secure and pay for babysitting for our kids in order to go to these visits
- that three-four hours it takes for me to dress up (yes, they don't want you in your PJs), drive to your school, give a presentation, and drive back, I could be writing.

So you're definitely worth it. Say the visit you're doing is $100 for a one hour presentation. Even if it's local I need a babysitter for at least two hours. $20. I spent two hours putting together a presentation. So right there is at MINIMUM (and I do mean minimum-- I usually take a good 5-10 hours to put together a presentation) you're taking home $20 an hour. And then you have to pay taxes on that too. Really, you're worth it. Go ahead and charge for that visit. But how much? Let's look at a few authors' pricing for examples:

From children's and middle grade author Brenda Ferber's web site I found she charges:

"Half Day (1 or 2 presentations) $400
Full Day (Up to 4 presentations) $800
Book Clubs (Within 20 minutes of Deerfield) $100
NEW! Virtual Classroom Visit using Skype $100
Travel expenses are not included in the above prices and will be added as they are incurred."

From children's and middle grade author Cynthia Lord's Web site:

"$1,600 per day plus travel expenses (flight + hotel)."

From young adult author Saundra Mitchell's Web site:

"As she grew up in Indiana, and understands that author visits there are rare, she offers reduced rates for schools and libraries within the state. Within Warren Township, 1 hour visits are free. Within 50 miles of Indianapolis, 1 hour visits are $35.00. 50 miles or more outside of Indianapolis, but within Indiana, 1 hour visits are $75.00."

From children's, middle grade, and YA author Lisa Schroeder's Web site:

"Portland Metro Area: $800/day
Other Oregon/SW Washington: $800/day plus travel and hotel as necessary
Out of state: $1,200/day plus travel and hotel as necessary"

For me, I don't do a ton of presentations but when I do I go with the standard $200 per hour long presentation. If you're a very local school or library and I like you I do it for free (if I don't have to pay for babysitting. So evenings generally.). If I'm just hanging out and doing a Q&A for an hour I charge $100. If you're a very local book club and you all bought and read my book then I'll visit for free. If I have to travel, $100. And if you want to skype with me it's always free. And I'm not the only one. Here's Kate Messner's list of authors who skype with book clubs for free:

So plan ahead as to what you want to charge for a school/library/book club visit and next time you're asked, you'll be ready.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action


DeenaML said...

GREAT compilation of what authors charge! THANKS!

Lisa Tiffin said...

What a great resource and a wonderful way to encourage authors that they ARE worth the payment!

Marissa Doyle said...

Thanks for this timely post--I'm putting together the author visit page for my website and was debating this. Excellent guidelines.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is a very a useful information. This morning, I have received a call for a presentation, and I did not know what to say. Now, I know! Thanks again.