Many schools, etc. ask authors to present for free. But being a writer is an occupation, not a volunteer job. With my first book, I once spent five hours, including travel time, in costume and with props, for six presentations, sharing my story, experience, and expertise. My payment was lunch, and the secretary bought one book. I recently read that the average American author makes about $300/year.
Being an author is a job, a career, an occupation. It takes both time and money.
A. The Writing
Ideas flow. Equipment is needed to proceed. A computer is an essential tool for a writer, along with jumpdrives, pens, and reams of paper and notebooks.
The writing of a book can take years. My first book took four years from first page to publication, including countless hours in research. After the author’s initial draft comes hours immersed in revisions, then chapters sent through a critique group or whole novel to beta readers, followed by more revisions. Then come the editor’s suggestions, with more revisions or even rewrites. For several of my books, I have paid a freelance editor in NY to edit my stories before the publishing house editor ever sees it. (1-3 cents per word for novels)
Authors who self-pub must pay for a cover illustrator to be competitive. ($200-$3,000)
B. Book marketing and promotion
Arranging for swag (promotional items) for postal contacts and face-to-face encounters takes both time to put together and money to print out (e.g., letters, postcards, fliers, brochures, business cards, bookmarks, invoices, stickers, etc.)
Setting up social media accounts and contents takes time, along with constant updating, as well as keeping updated in the tech world. If you don’t have the time or knowledge yourself, hiring someone for the initial set up requires more money. There are also upgrades, which again costs.
The author needs to be involved in social media groups, contributing, commenting, responding.
There are also numerous book promotional ads which can be purchased, with author hopes of bringing in sales, which may or may not happen.
Professional author photos are a must (and not cheap, but well worth it).
C. Visits, not including travel costs of vehicle, gas and mileage
School visit equipment to purchase: microphone, mic stand, amp, chords, laptop, jumpdrive.
Props and costumes.
There are also summer festivals with vendor fees, which also require your own tent, table, chair, tablecloth.
Does this sound like an exhaustive list? It’s not.
So, what do you think? Should authors do free visits?