Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Should writers get paid to talk about themselves?



Even before I started writing fiction, I’ve always believed that writers ought to get paid a (decent) fee (see the Society of Authors for their Guidelines) for contributions at Festivals etc. You’d never expect a professional musician to turn up and perform all day for free or a chef to run workshops in a marquee for nothing, unless it was a charity event. So why should writers not be paid to entertain and talk about their craft? 

(Microsoft clip art)
It takes time to prepare a humorous biography, an entertaining speech, a resume of why you wrote a particular book, answers to likely questions, such as: Why do you only write for children? Or how can I get my own ebook launched? Apart from anything, getting to a venue and back takes one or more days away from your work. 

The organisation of publicity events (following the release of a new book) is also riddled with pitfalls. I’ve heard disastrous tales of writers travelling halfway across the country to turn up to book signings and finding no books, no posters advertising their visit, no eager public loitering by a table. One well-known writer travelled over a hundred miles to be greeted with the words: ‘Never heard of you, mate – sorry, we’re about to do a stock-taking…’

There are further horrendous tales of hotels not being booked, writers being handed a timetable of talks throughout the day with no break for lunch and no sandwiches. Outward train tickets provided, but no return. Or no train tickets at all when they turn up to collect them at the station. One writer was paid for her full day’s contribution with a packet of shortbread…

Yes – I’m looking forward to my next 'appearance'…