THE HONORARIUM QUESTION #1: Coming up with a base number
First, please note that these numbers are are neither prescriptive nor absolute. They are based on both my experiences working for publishers and myriad conversations with individual authors and illustrators. Setting your appearance fee involves many consideration and is, ultimately, a very individual decision and there are certainly folks whose numbers fall outside the ranges I'll note. That said, in my opinion, a reasonable honorarium range for first-time and single-title authors and illustrators is between $500 and $1,000/day. Authors/Illustrators with greater numbers of in-print books, and titles with wide ranges of reading levels can consider going higher, say $1,200-$2,500/day. It is customary to quote appearance fees as a per-day honorarium PLUS travel and lodging expenses.
Select the range in which you fall, above, then consider:
- Number of books in print (and availability of paperback versus hardcover titles - this can affect the number of books sold at a given appearance as hardcovers are more expensive)
- Age range to whom you speak (Consider that authors of YA are often speaking directly to their book-buying readership while picture book creators write for young kids but their books are often purchased by adults)
- Number (and variety or types) of presentations you are willing to give for your daily fee
- What is the economic situation for your local area and school district (especially important if you have good relationships with local schools and appear fairly often locally)?
- Do you want to maximize appearance opportunities to publicize your book (lower fee) OR are speaking engagements a critical revenue-generator for you (higher, profit-margin-required fee)?
- Do you have a new book coming out this year or are there other time-sensitive factors that make your appearances (a) more in-demand or (b) more important for you?
- Are you an experienced speaker (perhaps a former teacher) and/or do you offer presentations with curriculum ties or other academic supports that add value to your appearances?