Why I Speak for Free

Some authors get hundreds of dollars for speaking. In addition, their travel, lodging and food expenses are paid by the group or organization that invites them to speak. For these authors, giving talks about their books is a second income.

Preparing a talk takes time, thought, practice, and confidence. Author talks can be in-person talks, television talks, or video talks. Webinars are another trend and good publicity for authors. No matter what the genre, authors work hard on their talks. If they happen to get paid, good for them.

I’m a low-tech author–no webinars or Internet talks for me. However, I speak to community groups, have been on television dozens of times, scores of blog talk radio programs, and usually speak for free, a fact that is hard for some groups to believe.

“Really?” one person asked. I

“Yes,” I replied, “but if I have to travel, I’d appreciate gas money and lodging. You don’t have to pay for my food because I would eat anyway.” Why don’t I charge for speaking?

Speaker’s goal. A bereaved parent and author of eight grief resources, I speak about grief reconciliation, recovery, and creating a new life. I also give workshops about creating happiness. I don’t charge for these presentations because I don’t want people to think I’m trying to make money from their sorrow.

Public perception. I want community groups and organizations to be able to provide me. In August I’m speaking to a St. Paul, Minnesota group that provides in-home health care. Charging for the talk would make me feel uncomfortable. When the conference planner asked about my fee she was relieved to hear I don’t charge for presentations. I asked if she would be willing to pay for my gas and she was more than willing.

Author branding. Giving talks and workshops helps me to develop my brand as a health and wellness writer. Varying my talks helps listeners to learn about me and the books I’ve written. In addition to speaking for free, I provide handouts for audience members. Handouts help them remember me and, thanks to the contact info at the bottom, makes it easy for folks to contact me.

Several years ago I gave a workshop about anticipatory grief. A woman approached me afterwards and said, “I’ve had these feelings for years. Because of your workshop I can name them. Thank you.” Giving to others helps me and that’s the main reason I speak for free. We’re all in this life together and speaking for free makes me feel good inside.

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