Monday, February 16, 2015

A Visit to North Carolina and Head Meeting Desk

By Vicki Delany

First, before my rant of the week:

Are you in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina?  If so, why not come out to one of my many events there this week and next.  I’ll be with fellow-TypeM-er Donis Casey, and Canada’s Mystery Maven, Linda Wiken (Erika Chase).  It will be sort of a meeting of the mavens as North Carolina Mystery Maven Molly Weston will be our guide. 

I understand the weather in North Carolina is not looking promising, so I will probably be packing this hat.

The full schedule of events can be found at http://vickidelany.blogspot.com

How much is one of my books worth to you? How much do you think my time is worth to me?

I’m hoping you’ve answered, more than 0.

But not everyone seems to think so.

I was approached this week by a profit-making corporation that promotes it’s product by doing public events.  And they charge a healthy sum for an evening of… participating in their promotion (food and drink is involved).  They invited me to a book-club type evening and the participants would be discussing one of my books.

Naturally, I said yes. Sounds like a great opportunity.

They replied and said they couldn’t afford to pay me. (Not good, but I will do book clubs without charging a fee. Off topic, but I do not do workshops for free, other than schools).  And, then they said I would be expected to GIVE each participant the book in plenty of time for them to read it before the meeting.

Uh, no. I was being asked to not only give up an evening of my time, appear in public to entertain people who have paid to attend the event, but donate a substantial number of my own books to boot. I would in short, counting my time, be out several hundred dollars.

So I said no. I suggested they contact my publisher to perhaps come up with a deal or a discount, but I am not giving them all the books so they can charge people to come to their event.

I said that as a writer I make my living by SELLING books. 

And what do you suppose the reply was to that? Oh, we didn’t realize you were self-published.

Huh? In case anyone out there doesn’t know, a standard publishing contact gives the author a small number of books to use for promotion, send to reviewers, etc. After that the author pays a slightly discounted rate for each book. So each book they wanted me to give to their participants would have cost me 50-60% of the cover price.

Frankly, I don’t know what we can do to about this sort of thing. Musicians say the same thing: The value of their time and of their product is seen as nothing.

It’s not helped by the number of books that are given away on Amazon etc. for free or for .99c.  A whole lot of people out there now believe that the value of a book is $0.00, certainly no more than $0.99. 

If you come to meet Donis, Linda, and me in North Carolina I can guarantee you will get a lot more than $0.00 worth of entertainment.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Good grief! Well said Vicki. I've done plenty of library and other events for free, but never one where I was expected to give the participants books too.

Rick Blechta said...

This is the way it is with corporations. For musicians it really is a fact of life. "Come and play at our restaurant. It will be great exposure for you!" They don't even offer a free meal. There are now clubs, really hopping places that actually ask the band to pay THEM because, of course, playing at this happening place will be great exposure for them. Huh? That's totally nuts. There's a very funny Facebook posting where a group of musicians are asking for restaurants to cater their private dinner party for free, because it will be great exposure for the chef's restaurant.

I, too, have done events for this large corporation and my publisher, Dundurn, has very graciously provided books. Without that, though, I wouldn't do it. I've done enough freebies in my time as an author and musician. I'm always open to book clubs and libraries for events, but if an admission is being charged (unless they're raising money for a worthwhile cause or charity), I expect to be paid.

It's only fair.

Thanks for writing this Vicki.

Aline Templeton said...

That really is outrageous! If the point of doing an event is to get people to buy your book, they won't if you've given them one already. The trouble is there must be a lot of authors who agree to do it, or they wouldn't try it on