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Should I charge?

edited October 2017 in Writing
A few months ago I was asked to give a talk in a residential home for the elderly, which I did.The lady who booked me was thrilled to bits and gave me a plant as a thank you. I was there about an hour, but it took me a while to gather together appropriate material and to make a reading plan.

I have just got an email from another care home asking me to go in to give a reading. They mentioned that they had heard that I had spoken at the other one (and presumably heard it was for free!).

My dilemma is do I charge for this?

Morally, I feel that I should freely give my time to these lonely old people, but if my name is going to be passed around the circuit, then I am going to driving all over the place and giving these readings for nothing in my own time when I could be writing. Also, I imagine that there will be a budget set aside for entertainment. I know how much they might pay in fees to live there, so the pot can't be empty.

Back in January I did think that giving readings was a way to earn a bit and my intention was to start looking for opportunities this year (which I haven't really pursued).

What would you do?

Do you think £30 is a fair price?


  • I think you should politely tell the new enquirers that you are happy to give a talk but that you need to cover your expenses. I would have thought £30 more than fair - perhaps even little low, but I know nothing about charging for this sort of thing.
    As for morals - like you say - care homes charge a fortune and they can surely spare a few pounds on entertainment for their 'guests'/'inmates'(?).
  • No. I would just say no, if you feel you don't have time. As you know, I am all for getting money for what you do. Anything you write for anyone should be paid for.

    But Pete does talks at WIs etc and for local charities, and doesn't ask a fee. I do stuff like this for free (not at a school! but at a home like this) and also as a choir we go and entertain old people twice a year, for free.

    They don't have budgets and the old people don't get enough care as it is.
  • However if you are going far afield I'd ask for travel expenses.
  • edited October 2017
    Many of the homes do have budgets. My sister used to sing at care homes and was paid, though she always charged much less than she did for singing in pubs and clubs.

    It's up to you whether you want to do it as a charitable act or not. There is no obligation on you to do so. If you do, then fine; if you don't then decide on a fee and if they can't afford it then don't do it. I think £30 is more than reasonable if not a little low.
  • edited October 2017
    If the home has a budget then by all means charge at least £30 per reading session. It'll be good 'reading aloud' practise in front of a potentially tough crowd. The money is a bonus.
  • Exactly what Heather said – these places have budgets and expect to pay.
  • I think you should charge, especially if you're likely to be asked to do more of these. You don't want to get into the situation where you feel obliged to keep doing them for nothing as you didn't charge the previous place.

    It's different if you've offered to do it because you want to or would like the practise, but if they're asking you and it's not something you'd otherwise have volunteered for then it's work.

  • You don't want to get into the situation where you feel obliged to keep doing them for nothing as you didn't charge the previous place.
    Yes, that's exactly it, PM!

    I have sent an email saying that I won't charge for travel expenses as it's not far, but I charge £30 for the talk - and am happy to let them have a coffee break in the middle if they want to. I have asked her to let me know if she'd like to proceed with the booking and to give me some dates to see if I am available (as, of course, I am SOOOOO busy giving talks far and wide!!)

    I'll just wait and see what she says...

    Thanks, all.

  • Agree with all that's been said.

    Hope they give a positive response.

    Time spent away from the desk reduces earning potential, so asking even £30 isn't unreasonable.
  • I think that seems fair. I have done a couple of writing group/U3A things and been paid £50 as their standard payment so I think £30 is fine and it will cover your travel and a bit of your time. Are you taking books to sell?
  • I took some last time, Lou, but didn't really get them out. Not sure they're the right sort of audience to buy.
  • Take them. The staff might be interested.
  • I have a few I can take.

  • I'd take a few 'just to show you what I do' and consider it a bonus if you make any sales. As Baggy says the staff might be interested. They, or the residents, might also like to buy them as gifts, or to show visitors and talk about the author who came to read.
  • Yes, I was thinking the staff might buy one. And I think the residents would be interested to look at them - you don't have to present them as a sales pitch.
  • I always take books. But tbh, they can't find their hearing aid batteries let alone money in their purses.
  • What PM said, about them having asked you, etc.

    I wd take yr books to sell. The centre itself might buy one then stick it in their raffles and get the cost of it back several times over from visitors. The old folk themselves don't need to buy unless they really want to. Maybe a visiting relative might buy for them.

    You cd then have pics taken to advertise both yrself and the centre in local media. Let the centre know they cd advertise this way, through you having visited.

    While yr there, sound them out for any other groups in the area might be interested in a visit from you. Somebody always knows someone and it cd increase yr fan base.

    Go ferrit and charge.
  • Good advice.

    Thank you, Dora!
  • ...and no reply from the interested party.
  • Spoke too soon.

    She wants me!
  • Who wouldn't? :)
  • Excellent.
  • Great news!
  • Need to finance all these date nights.
  • edited October 2017
    Blair, Cameron and other has-beens have made a bomb out of public speaking, get in there. TN!

    You can come and talk to my U3A group, we provide tea and biscuits.
  • Let me start off with elderly people (not too scary)!
  • Let me start off with elderly people (not too scary)!
    So, SM and his group would be ideal!

  • Very drole, I'm sure, Claudia.
  • SM, are you implying that TN is a has-been?
  • Oh, yes. That almost went over my head, Ana! Thank you for pointing it out.
  • There isn't much that doesn't go over your head, TN :))
  • =D>

    Your repartee is boundless, SM.
  • I offered you that on a diamond-encrusted plate, sm.
  • That's great news, TN! About your booking, I mean, not about the height-related jest!
  • Great to have been accepted on your tsrms, TN.
  • Hope it goes well, TN
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