THERE IS NO CHARGE TO BE LISTED on this blog, however I do ask for a reciprocal link to Cool School Visits, at www.coolschoolvisits.com . (Check it out! I offer lots of free advice about doing school visits!) Sorry, except for a few close friends, I can only list you in your home state.
MY DEFINITION OF "TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED"...If you're with a publisher you know I'll recognize, write to me and I'll add you. If you have any doubts, CLICK THIS LINK and scroll down to a list approved on SCBWI's "Published and Listed" (PAL) list. If you see your publisher on this list, write to me. If not, then you're with a publisher too obscure to be added. I don't want these author lists to become so lengthy that the site loses its original intent: to save educators time when "shopping" for an author.
Why do authors charge fees for school presentations?
This weekend I heard from an author, obviously a sincere and well-meaning person, who asked to be listed on this blog. The problem with her request is this: she does her presentations for free. She says she loves it so much that the children's enjoyment is compensation enough, even if the school is a long drive from her home. I'm always sorry to turn down a request, so I wanted to give her my reasons. Here is my reply:
Congratulations on your books. You sound like an upbeat, energetic person. For now, until you charge for your visits, I'm afraid I can't list you on the Author Visits by State website. This is a list for professionals who make a living not only writing their books, but also speaking to students about them. As long as you present for free, I'm afraid I'll have to place you in the volunteer rather than professional category.
If you decide to begin charging, do let me know, and I'll be pleased to add your link. I would encourage you to consider it. Your time and talents are worth something. And you may find that when you charge, you're actually treated with more respect at the schools you visit. Not to mention that you'll cover expenses such as gas and time spent on the road. (Five hours on the road to visit a school for free? Oh dear, you are a more generous person than I.)
I have discussed this with a group of author friends, and we all agreed this was the best response to your enquiry. We love what we do, too, but we cannot afford to do it for free. You see, the trouble with your request, for us, is that when you do visits for free, you potentially lower all fees. Except for the rare bestseller or "living legend," children's book writing is not known to be a lucrative profession. Many children's authors, even those with numerous books from famous publishers, have alternate sources of income: teacher, librarian, newspaper reporter. I'm a freelance graphic artist. Speaking fees help keep us solvent so we can do the thing we truly love: writing books for children.
I know, when you look at the fees per day of some authors, it seems a large sum for "a single day's work." Take my own fee, for instance, which is in the moderate range: I charge $600 for a full day of local presentations, (within 50 miles), which I cap at four hour-long presentations. I've tried to do more, but -- especially since I sing for the younger students -- my voice doesn't hold out for more than 4 hours. Doing simple math, 600 dollars seems like a lot of money for "four hour's work." But I'm not being paid for just those 4 hours. There's the travel, of course. There is the time I spend creating a lesson plan. (Every school seems to have different needs and different ways they congregate assemblies. At one school, I might present to one grade at a time; at another, I may do K thru 2 in one session and 3 thru 5 at another. This requires different preparation for the greater age spread.) There's the correspondence time with the contact person, sometimes running to dozens of emails, the generation of a contract and other materials such as posters for the event.
It's also true that, while I work from a lesson plan, a school presentation is more like a performance than a teaching session. Most authors, even those who spent years in the classroom as teachers, say the energy-expenditure during a school visit is very different than a day spent in the classroom when they were teachers. I don't know of any actors who do 4-hour one-man performances, at least not day after day. The physical toll, especially on the vocal chords, is too great.
Now add the hundreds of hours I work every year promoting myself as a speaker: I do unpaid presentations at educator conferences, I maintain this author visit website, (now at over 600 links; a lot of labor there), I built and now maintain my website & blog, I network, I write articles and supplemental materials for educators to use with my books. That's before you factor in the years of "apprenticeship" just to become a published author in the first place. And, of course, every hour spent speaking, driving or promoting my services is an hour spent NOT writing a new book. I would argue that you have put in similar amounts of labor, meaning your time is worth something, too.
You are the best person to make that call, of course, so I won't belabor the point. I do wish you well, and hope to hear from you in the future that you have decided you'd like to be compensated for your work.