Musings on Care and Feeding - Coming to Speak in Your Community
You see, I don't do this - either my speaking or my writing or my storytelling - for a living. Or maybe I do, just not the financial part. So when I hear that you'd like me to come out and share with you and your friends, I'll work hard to make it work.
But, sadly, I'm not free either, though I'd like to be. I still have to pay for my expenses. It costs me to take time off from my day job. I think I've got my kids' college tuitions taken care of, and the mortgage isn't much, but since I am committed to using much of my writing and book income to support good works, my hope is that I can at least break even on everything else.
I bring plenty of books and resources for folks to look at (and, I hope, purchase a couple.) I can also get Home Education Magazine to send plenty of free samples. I make sure the books get there; you folks are responsible for sending the extras back.
I require a bed in a room without a cat. (LOVE cats, but my allergies don't.)
I've learned from experience that unless I am speaking at a conference, or within driving distance, I usually have to book three days in a row (though sometimes I can manage it with two, if the groups are larger) within a driving range of my rental car to offset the cost of air travel/car/gas, and expenses for taking time off from my day job. (This presumes that I don't know in advance that the turnout will be unusually large.)
In each location, I like to make a whole day of it, as I don't get around that often. I speak three times: usually something like 1:30, 4:00, then a potluck, and then again at 7:00. Folks could attend one, two, or all three talks. Most recently, I have scheduled a more "specialized" talk as the first one (homeschooling with young teens; on Sixes and Sevens; homeschooling with gifted kids), and two more general talks following. You can find a complete list of topics here. You folks get to choose. But other speaking approaches are possible as well - at one place, we just did "A Day with David Albert", and had me do questions, answers, and consultations for six hours, and that seemed to work just fine.
What I have done recently is charge $10 for one; $18 for two; or $25 for all three talks, and $3 off each for a second parent/guardian. I figure I'm worth the cost of a first-run movie. (To be more explicit: that's what I receive - some groups have charged more.) Sometimes I think I should pay the Y-chromosomed to attend. Generally speaking, if I can get 20-25 folks or so to commit, I can make it work. I can provide a pre-registration form, which makes it possible to accept credit cards as well (you don't have to do any extra work, just send them to me, or give them to me at the event.) Pre-registrations are helpful. Other arrangements (such as a set fee) are possible - the above gives you a general idea of what I need to offset lost days at my day job and etc.
I have spoken in churches, synagogues, Friends meetings, libraries (but only if I can sell my wares), colleges, private homes, grange halls, 4-H club centers. Some groups provide childcare, either unpaid or paid; others not.
With conferences, I usually charge a set fee which is close to what I get paid for a day at my day job (plus half that for travel days); you then have to pay for the airfare (we shop for the least expensive), and my expenses to and from SeaTac Airport. Then you have to feed me occasionally, put me up (I'm not picky), and get me back to the plane.
I promise FUN! (as I have always said, whether folks actually learn anything or not is almost entirely up to them!)