Last week I shared tips for authors on how to get into conventions. This week I thought I’d share some tips for festival and convention organizers when it comes to taking care of authors. While authors aren’t the only reason a person goes to a festival or convention, they are a big reason and they do help with the marketing of the event (or at least they should). As such its important to take care of your authors and be clear on how you will take care of them. While authors shouldn’t be prima donnas, expecting to be waited on hand and foot, it’s important to remember that an author is taking time to appear at your event and offer workshops. When s/he is doing that, they are taking time away from their families, their jobs or businesses (most authors I know need to hold down a job to pay the bills) and from their writing. Attending a convention can be expensive for an author (unless the convention is footing the bill), and likely they won’t make their expenses back with the books they sell. So with that said, the following tips are offered as suggestions for how convention organizers can take care of their presenters.
1. If a person is presenting workshops, s/he should either get into the event for free or be offered a discount on the event registration. At some events, I’ve noticed that presenters are charged registration to present workshops. The presenters are helping to market the event and while they aren’t the only draw, without presenters you wouldn’t have an event. I don’t think its a good practice to charge presenters to present. I think a discount should be offered to the presenters, based on how many workshops they present. For example, if I present only one workshop, I get so much off the registration price. If I present two workshops I get more off, and if I present three workshops, then I get comped for free. This should apply whether the presenter is an author or not.
2. If your presenter is traveling from far away, don’t make the presenter pay a taxi to and from the convention site. Pick them up! If a presenter is traveling across the country, they are likely already paying for air fare, which is expensive. If your convention site isn’t near the airport and a courtesy shuttle isn’t available, then make sure you have volunteers ready to pick up presenters who are traveling from far away. It also shouldn’t matter if the presenter is a guest of honor, featured speaker, or just a presenter. If they are traveling from far away, pick them up. Save them some money, as they are already likely paying a lot just to come and present at your event.
3. Have clear distinctions in terms of guests of honor, featured presenters, etc. Having clear distinctions about who is a guest of honor or featured presenter is important for several reasons. It helps market those people to the attendees, and it also explains why they are getting comped for travel, hotel, and food.
4. If you can comp the presenter, please do. It costs a lot to attend events, especially if you are presenting at multiple events. Its nice when even part of those costs can be covered. If you can cover hotel or airfare, please do, as it makes easier for presenters to be at your event. And if you can afford to pay a stipend that’s certainly welcomed as well.
5. Help your presenters market your event and market them at your event. Your presenters are part of your marketing team. Tell them what you need from them to help your event be successful and give them flyers, and other marketing material they can use to promote your event. And when they are at the event, set up book signings for them and promote them. Make sure people know when the book signings are and what rooms or spaces they are in.
Both presenters and convention organizers need to work together to make the event great. While presenters should be appreciative of the opportunity they’ve been given, organizers should also appreciate the commitment in time and resources the presenter is making to be at the event.