Saturday, October 13, 2007

Charging

Last year I was on the road for more than ten weeks, promoting my books.

It wasn't easy on me, or my family. Much of that time, I was touring. But a good amount of it was spent speaking at events, giving lectures, teaching classes and seminars--things not directly related to selling my books.

Sure, my books were usually available for sale after these events, and I usually moved a few copies. But I wasn't there to talk about my series. I was there to talk about agents, and editors, and publishing. This wasn't book promotion. It was teaching.

I liked doing this. Even if I wasn't paid. Even if I didn't sell a single book after the event.

I still enjoy it, but my wife laid down the law and told me that I couldn't do any more events unless I was monetarily compensated for my time.

I could understand her reasoning. While I still feel that helping new authors is something all writers should do, she pointed out that I spend a lot of time and money driving around and lecturing. So I decided to begin charging for most of my appearances.

I expected that this would limit the amount of events I did. But, strangely, I still wound up doing a lot of traveling. A lot of organizations and libraries have budgets for these things, and were happy to get me.

It made me rethink my prior attitude.

I once believed I owed the world a karma debt, and had to help everyone I could. When someone asked me to speak, I was flattered. Money wasn't important.

But then I realized that money was important. I'm a professional writer, and I get paid for doing that. If I'm being approached as an expert on the publishing world, and headlining events where I speak for two, three, or four hours, what's the difference between me and a professional speaker? And don't professional speakers get paid, just like professional writers do?

I certainly wouldn't write a book and let someone publish it for free. Yet I'll drive hundreds of miles, and speak to crowds of people at paying events, for free.

It made no sense. So now I charge.

I'm still grateful to be published, and still flattered to be asked to speak at events, but I'm no longer going to spend an evening driving to some remote location, lecturing my heart out, all for the opportunity of selling three paperbacks.

My time, and my lectures, have value.

It only took me four years to realize it.