Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Business of Children's Books: Setting Your Fees for School & Library Appearances

I know that I've been discussing reading guides however, this very morning I had two authors emailed me asking how much they should charge for their school and library appearances. So, since I took some care providing answers, I thought I'd post a few highlights from my replies to them here.

Almost all authors do charge for school and library visits, generally in the form of a daily honorarium plus travel and expenses (I recommend stipulating something like "up to 3 (or 4) presentations per day"). EXCEPTIONS: (1) If the publisher is paying for your travel and hotel for a book tour or other promotional event, standard protocol is to waive fees for any schools you visit in conjunction with a publisher-funded trip. (2) If you have reached out to a school or library (instead of them contacting you) because you will be in their area, it is typical to charge a reduced, flat fee and no travel expenses.

Authors set their own fees. The typical range is about $500-$1,000 for newer authors to $2,500 for established authors (some high-profile authors charge more). Though it's no guarantee, charging a fee tends to make the host (school/library) invest more in preparing for your visit--kids are more likely to have read the book, learned about you, prepared questions--making for a more successful event and better promotion for you. However, the more expensive you are, the more often you'll price yourself out of school budgets, so it's kind of a balancing act. It's useful to decide WHY you're doing school visits. Are they fun? Do you want to do a lot? Do you want to make school appearances an income source? Or just find an audience for your book? Do some research by visiting websites of authors publishing in your genre and/or whom you feel are at a similar stage in their career, to see what they charge and what they offer--and be sure to look at their event calendars, if provided, to get a sense of whether their program is yielding the type of appearance volume you would like to develop. TIPS: (1) Consider offering writing workshops or other more tailored programs to justify your fees. (2) Consider offering a discounted fee for local appearances or multiple-day appearances--people always like a "deal"!

Back to setting up appearances for folks, now. Let me know if you've got any questions!


Ronald L. Smith said...

Well, I long for the day when I can do a reading in front of kids!

Alas, I am unpublished as of yet, but the day will come! I know it.

Nice blog you have. Thanks for coming by to visit my blog.

Stasia said...

Even if you're not published yet, you can read to kids. I find it actually teaches me a lot about writing. And you're right--keep writing and your "day will come"!