The headline screams: LOCAL AUTHOR GOES OUT OF BUSINESS!
Ever see that? How about a blog titled: “I Can’t Make A Living Writing Any More”?
Writers are strange creatures. I have complete strangers hit me up on twitter asking me publicly if I’d recommend an agent for them. Or look at their queries. Even their manuscripts (nothing compared to what agents get hit with). Next brain surgeon I see on twitter I’m going to ask him for some free surgery, since my brain seems a little off. Seriously.
Ever have someone ask what you do, and when you answer that you’re a writer, they say: “Never heard of you.”
My reply is: “What’s your name?” and when they tell me, I say: “Never heard of you either.”
Nah. I give them my card, a book if I have one handy. Every person is a potential reader.
Writers, we tend not to value themselves. And one of the rules my wife has taught me is: We teach people how to treat us.
I just realized I’m writing this blog after writing yesterday’s blog about Bernie Madoff. The mind works in mysterious ways. Real subtle, there, Bob.
Back to teaching people how to treat us: when I do consulting or keynoting for Who Dares Wins, outside of the world of publishing, I quickly learned that when asked my fee, if it were too low, I might not get the gig as they then felt I wasn’t very good if I didn’t charge much. Almost the opposite of being a writer, who will give away their first born to give a talk, somehow thinking they will eventually sell books.
You have to consider not only the actual talk, but your expertise. When I present Who Dares Wins, I’m not just giving a company a two-hour presentation. I’m giving them the benefit of decades of experience as a Special Forces student, team leader, operations officer, commander, soldier, instructor at the JFK Special Warfare Center and consultant to previous organizations. Also, being a NY Times bestselling author who has sold millions of books and started up a successful publishing company that has thrived through extreme turmoil in the entertainment business. That stuff is hard to come by. Rare. It’s worth something.
I do feel uncomfortable when someone asks how much I charge for a talk, particularly in the writing world when I know money is tight for the organizations. I remember, though, what I was told one year at the Maui Writers Conference. A CEO of a very successful company told me that in the corporate world, to get the kind of high level expertise that was being given at Maui one would expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars. And all these best-selling authors were getting was a plane ticket and a hotel room for their collective experiences and expertise.
I believe writers should value their expertise. If asked what you charge, consider who is asking, what is being asked, and what value it will have to those who receive your expertise. Remember, all they can do is say no, or tell you what they can pay. Or you can always negotiate. One technique I use for some of my day long presentations is give a percentage of my book sales at the event back to the organization. This is a win-win situation.
Remember: if we don’t value ourselves, no one else will. List to Harlan Ellison — Pay The Writer (warning language)
Write It Forward!