Monday 14 October 2013

On being paid for events - and how I set my fees

Some of you will have seen me write vociferously about fees for author events in schools. I thought it might be helpful to link to the main posts in one place. I regard it as very important that professional people are paid for their work. It is, after all, what "professional" at least partly means.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. When professionals do free events it makes it harder for other authors to charge and undermines the value of the work we all do.
There are two main aims to my posts on this subject:
  1. To empower authors to value themselves just as any working person should.
  2. To try to explain to organisers why we do need to charge and why an event fee is not an hourly rate.
So, here are my views in greater detail.

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.


Paul Anthony Shortt said...

I'm interested to know your feelings on conventions where a speaking author might be "paid" by being admitted to the convention for free.

I can only speak from my experiences in Ireland, but for example, I spoke on a number of panels at Octocon, Ireland's sci-fi and fantasy convention, this past weekend. I didn't get paid, but I did get free entry, which would otherwise have cost €30. I'm aware that guests of honour at such conventions have their travel costs and hotel accommodation paid for, though I don't know specifics of anything beyond that (like, say, meals or room service).

How does it work with such conventions in the United States?

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

*sigh* That should have said "How does it work in conventions in the United Kingdom?" *slaps head*

Nicola Morgan said...

Hi Paul. Glad you said UK!! Well, there are some factors that make a difference with conferences. There can be a degree of "collaborative expectations" and I feel that it's acceptable in some circumstances to contribute to a conference aimed at one's peers and not expect a fee, though i do think all expenses should be paid, including a dinner and the entry to the conference. BUT, if delegates are paying a hefty fee to attend, I do think all speakers should be paid. Also, it would be possible to distinguish between salaried speakers (who are speaking on behalf of their organisation and shouldn't, imo, be paid) and self-employed speakers, who are speaking on their own behalves, and who, imo, should be paid. But this all does depend on circs, I feel. Does that make sense?

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

It does, definitely.

I think one of the major factors with Irish conventions is that the conventions themselves are run on a voluntary basis. The staff and committee of, I think, every single gaming or fandom convention in Ireland all volunteer their time and while the conventions do charge a fee for entry, all of that money goes back into the convention and none of the organisers are paid for their time.

Or are most conventions the same?