Dollars & Sense
This is one of the best compliments I've ever received. A library system recently told me that they wanted to may me more than my regular fee because a) I hadn't raised my fees in several years; and b) they thought I was worth it. Over the years I've had other librarians tell me in confidence that I really should be charging more.
So, why don't I?
I think it ultimately boils down to my feelings of doing what I think is fair. I know that some libraries have smaller Summer Reading Program budgets than others and I don't want to be unaffordable for them. On the other hand, I don't think it's fair to charge one library 3 times as much as I would another library just because that library has a larger budget. I just don't think that's fair.
Unfortunately, there are entertainers out there who don't share my thoughts. They're out to get every dime they can. I don't work that way. I believe in giving you, my customer, a fair deal rather than taking the money and running. I'm hoping that will pay off in the long run and you'll have me back year after year.
Now I'll be honest...I do have to charge more for libraries who are outside of the general Omaha area. It costs me more for gas and other travel expenses. But if out of town libraries can get together and work out a schedule were I can do two or three shows in their area on the same day, I can help keep the cost down. Last summer, libraries in Bismarck, Beulah, Dickinson and Fargo, North Dakota partnered together and arranged for me to do a 4 day library tour in their area. Split between them, the cost was pretty reasonable.
Some libraries have my show sponsored by local businesses. I've been sponsored by banks, farm co-ops and restaurants. If you have a local business sponsoring me, let me know and I'll thank them during my show. If time allows, I'll even go to their business after my show and thank them myself.
I also appreciate it when libraries allow me to sell magic tricks and other souvenirs after my show. Items range in price from $1-$10 and the extra income really helps to fill my gas tank. But I also don't want any child to leave my show empty-handed. That's why I give away free custom-made bookmarks to everyone who wants one.
Many people don't realize the cost involved with putting together my Summer Reading Program show. Each year I spend approximately $1,000 on new tricks. One trick alone for the "Fizz, Boom, Read" show cost $375. I recall that for the "Be Creative @ Your Library" show, I had one trick custom made for $800. I also usually do a few post card mailings each year to libraries. So, add in the cost of producing the post cards plus the newly increased 34-cent postage per post card. It also takes gas to drive to libraries throughout Omaha as well as Lincoln, Fremont, Nebraska City, Seward, Syracuse, Wahoo, Mason City, Sioux City and dozens of other towns in Nebraska and Iowa. And as we all know, those gas prices go up more often than they go down. Last year I spent $4.00 per gallon for the first time ever. On occasion I need to spend the night in a distant town, so tack on lodging and food. Then there's little things like new clothing...I always buy at least three of the same shirt for each Summer Reading Program season. Let's not forget the cost of this website...and the professional photos I had taken just for libraries.
One of these years I'll have to raise my prices again. It won't be this year, though. And please, please, please know that when I do raise my prices, it's not because I'm being greedy, it's because I feel I have to.