Of course there are times when a professional person reasonably and rightly offers a free event but the three main points to note about that are this:
- The event organiser must understand that this means an adult giving up wages. The organiser might also wish to consider whether all the adults involved in the event (including security staff, electricians etc) are giving up wages or whether the author will be the only one unpaid. Most authors have a very low income but that isn't really the point. Well-off authors should still, in my view, take a fee for a normal event, and if they wish to donate it to a charity (or even back to the school) they can - but they should not be invited on that basis.
- An author should only do an event for no pay because he or she chooses to, not being guilt-tripped into it, especially with phrases such as "Think of the publicity."You can't eat publicity and organisers vastly over-estimate the publicity effect.
- When professionals do free events it makes it harder for other authors to charge and undermines the value of the work we all do.
- To empower authors to value themselves just as any working person should.
- To try to explain to organisers why we do need to charge and why an event fee is not an hourly rate.
My recent post on Heartsong about whether it's OK to work for nothing.
My post on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure - and the comments are well worth reading.
My post on Heartsong about how I work out my charges. This post is routinely used by agents and publishers, too, to try to make their authors take their value seriously.
I'll put my soap-box away now. I've said it all.