Payment models for live literature events

Interested in doing events with authors, but confused about rates of pay? We break down some of the common payment models for live literature events across libraries, schools, bookshops and festivals.

Live literature is a vital and engaging way of connecting authors and illustrators with communities of readers through live events. Australia has a vibrant and robust live literature culture, with events taking place across the country in bookstores, libraries, schools and festivals.

Despite the proliferation of these events, recent research conducted by Australia Reads and the University of Melbourne revealed that there remains confusion between both event organisers and authors/illustrators on appropriate rates of pay. This can lead to event organisers not feeling confident in hosting live literature events, or authors and illustrators not receiving fair remuneration for their work.

To help make this conversation easier, and encourage more event activity across Australia, we break down some of the common event types and payment models across our sector. 


Paying authors for their time and experience

Authors and illustrators deserve to be paid for the skill and experience they bring to planning and presenting live literature events. Many authors rely on live events as an important income stream to supplement their creative work. 

When approaching an author for an event, it’s important to be transparent about budgets, fees and time commitments, so that they can make an informed decision about being involved.

For authors considering an event approach, it’s good to be clued up on industry standards and rates. Find out more below!


Different event types, different fees

Live literature encompasses a broad range of event types – each requiring different types of preparation and delivery and, as such, attracting different fees. For panel interviews – where the author/illustrator is one of a number of authors speaking at the event – the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) recommends a rate of $240-$300. For in-conversation 1:1 appearances, the rate increases to $315-$470. Workshops and one-off individual presentations attract a higher recommended fee depending on the time investment ($350+ for 1-hour, $900+ for full day), with keynote speeches attracting the highest recommended fee ($1500+). 

Publisher events and the ‘publicity circuit’

Publishers, and their hard-working publicity teams, create valuable event opportunities for authors as part of the promotion of their work. In the 2–3 months after a book is published, authors/illustrators are often asked to make themselves available for events organised by their publisher/publicist. Publishers will contact authors directly about any events they want to organise – any other event opportunities should be run by your publicist during this period. Events and media opportunities during the publicity circuit period generally don’t attract a separate author fee, and are deemed part of author/illustrator’s contractual obligation to promote the book. 


Events with public libraries

Whether in major cities, or rural communities, Australia’s public libraries actively support live literature activity across the country. Libraries will often contact authors directly for event opportunities, or be contacted by an author’s publisher during the publicity period – and tend to book talent locally. When booking talent for events, public libraries often have small budgets to pay authors/illustrators for events at their venue. These budgets often cover appearance fees but can also, in some cases, cover travel and accommodation. Public libraries in rural and regional areas will sometimes work together to share the costs by organising multiple, local events – this provides more opportunities for authors, and is generally helpful in securing participation from an author who may have to travel.


School events

For authors and illustrators writing for children, schools are an excellent source for potential event work. As with public libraries, schools often have budgets to pay authors/illustrators for events. Schools will often select authors that are local to the area and are less likely to pay for author’s travel and accommodation. Recent research shows that schools most often go through speaker’s agents to find and book speakers. The ASA’s recommended rates for a 1-hour school presentation or workshop is around $350, going up to $600+ for a full-day workshop.


Bookshop events

Bookshops are among the most prolific event organisers in Australia, with regular programming common across both indie and chain bookstores. While some bookshops offer paid event opportunities (such as school holiday workshops), bookshops often book authors as part of their publisher’s ‘publicity circuit’, and are less likely to pay for author event appearances compared to other event organisers. Bookshop events are a good opportunity for authors to sell copies of their books – which should always be made available as part of a bookshop event offering. 


Literary festivals

Australia has a vibrant festival sector, with both small and large festivals occurring annually throughout the year. Literary festivals generally pay authors for appearances – though fees can range depending on the size of the festival. Most literary festivals will also pay for travel and accommodation for authors coming from interstate and overseas. For festivals that are ticketed or that attract government funding, authors should expect payment, and should not be asked to donate their fee back to the festival. Festivals will also usually sell authors’ books at the festival. 

Want to find out more?

Explore the Australian Society of Authors’ recommended Rates of Pay for both public and school appearances.

Learn more about how author events are organised in community settings in our recent Live Literature in Australia research report, and read our guide to planning a successful live literature event.