The Almighty Dollar

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Salary Negotiation

Asking for a Raise

Getting Paid for Speaking

  • Question - How do I figure out how much I should ask to be paid for an hour talk? A halfday talk? A full-day workshop?

It's really o.k. to ask around about the going rate. You are probably undercharging. While we all know libraries are on tight budgets, many libraries and consortia can afford a few hundred dollars plus travel.

Note also if you consistently low-ball your presentation fees, it's hard on everyone else.

Also factor in travel costs; whether you're taking vacation to do the gig (that's lost pay); is it for buddies in the area; other costs you have to pick up; and whether you can do this on your library's time.

Then there's the question of benefit to you. What's it worth to you to give this talk?

Suggestion from S. Bell: I would recommend thinking more about having a schedule of fees, just like a consultant probably has. I use three factors in coming up with a fee for a presentation: location; length of speaking engagement; the organization. I tend to charge less for a local organization (and usually nothing if I belong and it's local) because there's little travel (and time) involved. By local I'm talking about a one hour drive or so. Once I start getting into two to three hours that's going to make a difference. Then again, if I have to fly that's going to add to the cost. If I'm being asked to speak as part of a program and it will be one hour or less, I'm going to charge less. If someone asks me to do a half-day workshop, that's going to cost more. If they ask me to speak in the morning for an hour, and then be on a panel during the afternoon, that's going to cost more. Now, about the organization, if I get a sense it's a group on a tight budget I will reduce the normal fee - or least be flexible on the fee to do what I can to help out the organization (and it might sound harsh but don't become a charity - your time and expertise is worth something). This sort of factor usually comes out in the negotiation process. In general my fee can range from $200 to $1,000 depending on the location, time involved, and organization. One other factor would be a keynote address. That would add to the cost. These fees would be in addition to reimbursement for travel, lodging, meals, etc. I find my formula usually works for coming up with an amount that works for me and the requesting organization.

  • Question - When someone says "small honorarium" and asks you to pick a number, what's the usual range?

$200. Unless it's a local gig, for a sister library or a neighboring system where you feel like family, in which case a freebie might be in order. Locally, the pro bono rate is a hug and a $25 Amazon gift certificate.

Getting Paid for Writing

Comment from S. Bell: There is certainly less flexibility here than getting paid for speaking engagements. Most of the journals I've been published in that do pay for publication have set amounts for specific type of articles. For example, American Libraries pays a set fee whether it's a cover story or a short article. Library Journal pays somewhat differently depending on the nature of the article or column. Some of the Information Today publications pay reasonably well. I have found that there is no negotiation process in fees for publication. Perhaps the best thing is to know which library (and peripheral fields such as higher education) journals pay for publication, and then decide if you want to target an article for that specific publication. Perhaps the only way you might get a journal to pay more than the usual fee is to have something so good, so hot - that they'd pay more to get it - rather than have a competitor get their hands on it. But the only way to know is to put that on the table. The risk is that the editor will say "go ahead and take it elsewhere".

Books are a bit different. The payment is based, of course, on the number of books sold, and the author's percentage is worked out in advance in the contract. Again, that could be negotiated depending on one's reputation.

If you want to be a freelancer there are ways to find out who pays and how much. If you're a practicing librarian and your priority to share ideas and information with colleagues, my guess is that the payment for your articles is going to take a backseat to where you are getting published.