Authors Charging Book Clubs??

Charge Clubs Blog        Okay, so everyone knows that last weekend was pretty amazing for me. What you may not know; unless you’re one of my author friends who was just as outraged when they heard this as I was, is that I heard something that was pretty unsettling. Last weekend’s event was hosted by Book Clubs United. Given that fact, there were tons of book club members on hand for our event. I was honored to have several stop by my table to sign my contact sheet, have me sign a few books or just to chat.

Now I don’t make a habit of utilizing my blog for ranting- I mean something has got to really get me steamed for it to warrant an actual rant. Well this definitely qualifies. One of the things authors adore more than writing, is talking about their writing. Book clubs provide outlets for authors to do just that, but in talking with some of the club members this past weekend I discovered that they don’t reach out to us as often as they would like. Why? You ask? Well so did I and to discover that it’s because they don’t have the money to pay us is what got me so steamed and motivated this posting.

Now before I go any further, understand that I’m not one to sit on high and make assumptions. Author colleagues, if what I’m about to say offends you, apologies. Money to pay us? Are you kidding me? I guess I’m confused, because I had no idea authors did this. I suppose before I get too steamed, I should ask why? Why would an author feel they need to charge folks who are already financially supporting us by purchasing our work? I get the fact that you may be an author who is located on the East coast and the club is on the West coast but…you do realize you can deduct travel expenses (flight, hotel, food) from your taxes, right? Again I ask ‘why would an author charge a club to come and speak to them? FYI- you do realize that you’re screwing it up for the rest of us? Lots of clubs are now leery about even reaching out to ask us to come for a visit because they are just assuming we’re gonna quote them some outrageous price to visit. I had two members talk with me about paying an author almost $150 to come and chat with them. Now $150 may not sound like a lot to you, but when you take into account that these clubs have to buy food, not mention books for their club, they also use their dues to pay for conferences (remember those conference where they come to see us and have us sign our books for them? Yeah- clubs have expenses too).

Taking upwards of $150 to spend on one author, sort of ruins it for the rest of us. Think about how many books a club reads in a given year and some clubs have anywhere from 4 to 40 members- members who, by the way are gonna be talking about our work and hopefully recommending it to their friends and co-workers outside the club… I just don’t see the point in charging clubs to visit, when that money is gonna come back to you in some way, shape or form. You don’t have to break a club’s bank to have that happen. **It is reasonable to expect payment for seminars, class instructions & workshops where we are collaborating with for-profit entities (colleges, community colleges, etc.).

So…I’ll end this rant- apologies if I’ve stepped on any toes. This post isn’t meant to be malicious- it can’t help but be judgmental so…sorry about that. I just want all the book clubs out there to know that AlTonya Washington loves to talk and I don’t need you all to pay me to do that. Purchasing my books, sharing one maybe two and then telling your good buddies to go buy the rest is all the payment I need. Needless to say, the club members I spoke to (and there were A LOT of book club members on hand for last Saturday’s awesome event) were stunned when I told them I don’t charge. They were stunned and happy to hear that news. Think about that author colleagues- we love happy readers. 🙂

If your club is thinking of putting an AlTonya Washington title on its reading list, reach-out to me and let’s make a plan.

Thanks for letting me vent- comments are welcome and appreciated.


Al 😉


6 Comments Add yours

  1. blkbuttafly says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you at a previous event. I miss my book club days. I used to coordinate author appearances and would be frustrated at how some authors wanted hundreds of dollars to come discuss their works with us. As a matter of fact, I have stopped supporting a couple behind their grandness. Some book clubs are willing to provide lodging but to ask for payment on top of this can be right much. I appreciate authors like yourself who come out and meet us readers. It’s authors like you I’m proud to support. Keep doing what you do!

    1. altonyasblog says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. Such a thing is just so foreign to me- I just don’t see the purpose of it and hope that messages like mine and those from other authors will begin to circulate among clubs and perhaps repair whatever damage has been done. Thanks so much for supporting the work- I do hope you’ll continue to be pleased! 🙂

  2. As our book club’s president, I have reached out to a few authors about visiting and the price was a little steep. We vote on everything that the club’s money is used for and that has been shot down each time. We haven’t asked in a while. We literally buy hundreds of books a month and the ladies don’t will not pay crazy amounts for a couple of hours of conversation.

    1. altonyasblog says:

      That’s just so sad and I don’t blame you guys at all for refusing to pay for that. I’m sure there are those who will come up with some pretty good arguments for it, but I don’t think there are any that would sway my way of thinking here. It’s just a shame that now clubs don’t even reach out to us given experiences such as these. Thanks so much for continuing to support our work.

  3. Rochell says:

    I heard that same thing too, that you have to pay for authors to come to your town. I don’t belong to a local book club for two reasons, 1. I don’t know of any local book clubs to join and 2. I’m not sure I would have the time or money to meet and join such a group.
    I understand why some authors may charge, I can only assume that this is their sole source of income and just like I would have to pay for speaker to come to my church . Yes. I agree, that, there will be payment back to the author in the ways you suggest (cost of doing business on taxes, exposure etc)
    I would love to meet all my favorite authors, but I’m sure there will be a cost involved in some way that doesn’t include just purchasing the book. For some reason the east side of my state gets all the attention and I can only assume it’s because they have deep pockets, so I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that the only way I’ll meet my favorite authors is to purchase a ticket to one of the conferences like the Slam Jam.

    1. altonyasblog says:

      Hi Rochell,

      Great response!! As I said, I posted this blog because I was curious about why authors would charge to visit bookclubs because I couldn’t fathom charging readers. Thank you for your response, it gave me a different perspective. Personally, I’d love to hear to hear from those blessed full-time authors (those who aren’t King or Grisham caliber authors-I could understand them charging, but don’t know the reality of them visiting a small intimate club). I work as a librarian, and write both traditionally and independently. I’d like to know the amount of readership they have where they could command payment from smaller clubs which were the focus of my blog. But…different strokes, I guess. Thanks again for your response Rochell- I’m enjoying this education! 🙂

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