Chipping Norton Literary Festival offers its authors a profit share and it's one of the reasons we get such great authors.
The profit share scheme was launched in July 2014 (with effect from 2015’s festival) as a result of pressure from the industry to provide fair remuneration for writers doing public events. Currently festivals offer a variety of options: some don’t pay a fee at all; some pay a fixed fee of around £150 to all authors; some larger festivals pay many thousands for some speakers, and nothing for others.
ChipLitFest is a small budget festival. To offer a fixed fee of £150 (the recommended minimum set by the Society of Authors) would mean a commitment of around £12,000 in addition to our £40,000 budget. It was felt that we were not yet in a position to do this and ensure the financial security of the Festival, but the Trustees were all in agreement that not offering a fee was unacceptable.
A working party was set up, comprising literary agents, authors and publicists. The group was asked to consider a proposal based on financial modelling carried out by the board of Trustees. Options modelled included a fixed fee scheme, a box-office share scheme (a division of ticket sales from the author’s specific event) and a profit-share scheme. Feedback from the working party supported the Trustees’ recommendation to adopt a profit-share model.
Benefits of the profit-share:
Sharing profits instead of offering an upfront fee minimises the risk to the Festival. It splits the reward equally across all authors, regardless of their audience size.
How it works:
Authors expenses and accommodation are already met (note that this is not standard for literary festivals, many of whom do not offer accommodation). All expenses are paid within a fortnight of the festival.
Once all the bills are in, and the budget finalised, the overall profit is calculated. An amount will be ring-fenced for Festival development, and the remainder identified as our operating profit. It is this profit that will be split between our authors.
The length of the event dictates the amount paid; most authors deliver one hour, calculations are adjusted for longer or shorter events. Once the calculations have been made, the final amount will be paid directly to the author who will be notified of the results of the profit-share.
At ChipLitFest 2015, an author hour was calculated at £102.00.
At ChipLitFest 2016, an author hour was calculated at £105.00.
At ChipLitFest 2017, an author hour was calculated at £101.00.
At ChipLitFest 2018, an author hour was calculated at £52.00. This year, although our ticket sales were strong, we had vastly reduced funds as the grants we generally receive weren’t forthcoming. Therefore the operating profit was smaller than usual.
At ChipLitFest 2019, an author hour was calculated at £54. As for 2018, despite strong ticket sales our other income remained lower than usual so the operating profit was limited.
The only authors working outside of this profit-share are event chairs/interviewers, who receive a fixed fee.