I’m very lucky, I have a job that I love. I’m a storyteller and children’s writer so I get to spend many hours reading great books, telling great stories and writing new adventures. But please remember, this is not a hobby, it’s a job.
Amongst the many services I offer are author visits with Q & A sessions. These are popular with schools as it gives the children a chance to meet people who make a living from writing. I have been asked many interesting, unusual and insightful questions. Many children have told me that they are going to start writing too. Some have even brought their notebooks to show me a story in progress. Even better, some schools have contacted me after the visit to say that the children’s writing had been inspired by my visit. That is the definition of job satisfaction.
What is less satisfying is an existing attitude that writers (and many others in the creative fields of music, art and theatre) should be expected to do such things for free.
Writing is a skill, an art form and one that takes time. Every school I know places huge importance (rightly so) on reading and writing. Every school I know would like to improve writing standards. Asking an author to visit can do exactly that. Visits from real people inspire children. Visits from authors show children that writing is something to value, appreciate and admire. Most importantly, it teaches children that writing is something that takes a lot of hard work. Of course there is a cost implication for these visits. There are clear guidelines about how much authors should be paid for a daily rate. It ranges from £300-£1000 per day. So please don’t be offended if I won’t visit your setting for free. I value my work and the impact on the children is beyond price.
Similarly, lots of other arenas expect writers to provide their services for free. All those gig reviews, theatre reviews, festival write ups that help you decide whether to buy tickets for something need to be written. And yet a vast number of them are written by volunteer writers. FREE in other words. No value or importance placed upon their work.
We all know that budgets are tight but the money for large events comes from somewhere – and if there is a ticket to purchase, that money is coming from you. There is a reason Philip Pullman has stepped down as patron of Oxford Literary Festival. The writers weren’t being paid. The kitchen staff were, the security were, the first aiders were, the caretakers were, the organisers were. Everyone apart from the writers were being paid. How outrageous is that? Without the writers, musicians, dancers, actors these kind of events just wouldn’t happen.
So the next time you ask yourself if you want to pay full price for a new book, CD or ticket to the theatre remember that for the people providing these skills, it is a job. After all, you wouldn’t call out a plumber and expect them to work for free. We’re all worth it!
Thanks for reading. If you’d like more information about an author visit please contact Jude at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the following pages