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writing feesA member of Triangle Writers emailed me recently asking how much he should charge for a speaking engagement. Setting your fees as a writer is quite a science. What one organization thinks is acceptable may be too high for another, and sometimes you need to decide if the event itself is worth more than your rate. For example, when I went to speak last year about top blogging practices at the American Society of Journalists & Authors headquarters in Times Square, I did that on my own dime. I flew to New York a few hours before giving the talk, stayed in a hotel at JFK airport, and flew back to Raleigh on the first flight the next morning. The opportunity introduced me to fantastic bloggers and opened the door to paid speaking engagements.

For now, here is the email I received and the circumstances surrounding this writer’s upcoming speaking engagement:

I have been offered a speaking engagement with pay and wondered what would be a suitable fee, if any? The event is [two-and-half hours from my home] at a public library. They are offering pay for “speaking engagements, mileage, etc.” In the past, I’ve only sold books at events in which I spoke first. However, knowing this is at a public library, I know they don’t usually allow selling of any books in the library itself. In retrospect, I have done a sermon before with a love offering afterward where I gave each family in attendance a copy.

I’m thinking of just charging mileage at 50 cents per mile and donating a book to the library.

Let me know what you think.

My response:

Thanks for contacting me. Speaking engagements are funny. Some I’ve done for $100 and others $500+. It’s great that you are being offered compensation! Being that you’re at a library and they already offered to pay for your gas, I would keep your fee at or under $100. Also, you may be able to propose doing book sales and giving the proceeds to the library. Libraries are usually happy with that. I typically just give books away though to those who are interested.

Keep in mind, the 2014 IRS reimbursement rate for mileage is $0.56/mile – you should at least get that.