It’s football season in Texas — Friday Nights Lights for real! And here in Waco, the big news has been Baylor University’s new McLane Stadium, and the nationally ranked Baylor Bears. As Baylor alumnae, my husband and I are enthusiastically following our beloved Bears, even though the first game saw temperatures of over 100 degrees. But then the next Saturday we shivered in a brisk wind on a 58 degree Saturday morning watching our great-grandson make a touchdown in Little League Football. The result of hard workouts and practices.
It’s also the season for booking retreats and speaking engagements, and the sticky issue of quoting fees for your speaking engagements. How do you make a touchdown, so to speak, in negotiating a fee for your speaking engagement?
It is not easy to ask for fees, but it’s part of speaking professionally. Here are a few pointers that might make the issue smoother for one:
1. Decide what you will and/or will not do for free. For an author particularly, there are many speaking engagements for which there will be no fee offered. I’m thinking of small book clubs locally. I speak for many women’s clubs and book clubs in our surrounding area, and I don’t expect them to pay me a fee. They will usually buy my lunch, or give me a gift certificate. What I do ask is permission to set up a book table and sell my books. If I have to travel more than 100 miles round trip, I ask for mileage.
2. Ask lots of questions. When asked what my fees are, I tell them I need to ask some questions first. My fees are based on how far I have to travel; how many participants they expect; how many sessions they have planned. Fees should also be based on the speakers experience, and how many books published.
3. Find out if they have a budget for speakers. I ask if the organization has a budget allocated for speakers. If they do and the fee they quote is more than I usually make, I smile and tell them thank you. If it’s less or they do not have a budget, I quote a fee based on the above questions.
4. Decide on a minimum. Many times groups are simply uneducated as to the work and preparation it takes to present at an event. I have a minimum that I simply will not go under, especially if it is an out-of-state event. I have found that I lose money and simply cannot do it unless the minimum is met. If I have a special connection with a group, occasionally I will agree to a love offering. Always with the understanding that mileage and travel expenses are included, as well as the book table.
5. Always work on a contract basis. Spell everything out and ask for signed copies for your files and for theirs as well.
Those of us who speak professionaly have horror stories to tell of miscommunication or nonpayment, but for the most part, things have usually worked out fine. Pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit and trust Him to honor your commitment to bring Him glory.
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