How Much Should I Charge? Aiming for Transparency in Pay for School Visits

It’s Women’s History Month and the children’s literature community is celebrating with 31 days of posts seeking to address gender and social inequalities in our industry. Join the conversation at KidlitWomen on Facebook and by searching #KidlitWomen on Twitter.

Today, Jeanette Bradley and I are launching an anonymous survey to collect data about author and illustrator’s compensation for school visits (Sometimes called author visits). One of our goals is for there to be greater transparency in compensation. There are many aspects we could have chosen to investigate, but we need to keep this survey focused so that people will fill it out and we will be able to crunch the numbers and make sense of the data (This is a volunteer effort, after all).  

To that end, we have had to limit this to residents of the U. S. who have at least one book published. It’s not that we don’t want to go wider. There’s no way for us to manage that much data. (Also, having recently moved back from Ireland where I did some school visits, I realize how very different this is, country by country).

If you are an author or illustrator who creates books for children through young adults and you do school visits in the U.S.  please take our anonymous survey. It will take less than 5 minutes. Please be as honest and accurate as possible. Transparency is important to removing inequities, and the results are only as good as the data we collect.

Please invite everyone you know who does school visits to fill it out, as well.

You may wonder why Jeanette and I are the ones running this survey. I first had the idea to do this because I care deeply about school visits. I facilitate workshops to help authors and illustrators develop engaging school visit programs. One question I face in every workshop is “How much should I charge for school visits?” Or the even more troubling, “Wait. I should be paid for school visits?” (Anecdotal comment: I’ve never had a man ask me that question, which is partially what inspired me to want to dig deeper). Over and over again, I’ve stressed that authors and illustrators should be compensated fairly for their time. Yet, what is the “going rate?” What is fair?  (If you want to know more about why book creators should be paid for school visits, I encourage you to read this excellent post by Caroline Starr Rose).

I asked Jeanette Bradley to partner with me on this survey because her first career was as a policy researcher focused on studying housing and lending discrimination. She has experience writing and analyzing surveys about sensitive topics. Angie Isaacs, another KidLit person with advanced statistics experience will be reviewing our results before we publish them.

Summary of Important details:

  • Respondents must be residents of the U. S.
  • Respondents must have at least one book published, either traditionally or indie/self-published.
  • Respondents must currently do school visits in the U.S.
  • All data is anonymous. No identifying information will be collected, and the results will be reported in aggregate format.
  • The data collected will determine what our reporting looks like. There will be a minimum of one public blog post to share results, but there could end up being a series of posts, depending upon the data we collect.

Our Timeline:

  1. The survey is open from March 15-31.
  2. The results will be published here by the end of April (sooner if we can manage it).

Again, please help us out by taking the survey and sharing it widely so others will take it, as well.

Thank you so much for your time.

Me during a school visit for my debut, Flying Deep.

Me during a school visit for my debut, Flying Deep.