Only the venues listed in the story sound familiar -- the churches, the libraries, and the downright weird. I've done all of those, including nearly sinking the Last Wooden Whaleship -- the marvelous old Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut -- with an overlarge crowd. But fees? On book tours, that is unheard of, while the incidental stuff, such as talks to genealogists or maritime enthusiasts, garners wine for my wine-imbibing visitors, or another of my wonderful (though involuntary) collection of handmade pincushions. Oh, and petrol vouchers. After years of this, my rule of thumb is that I will always talk at a museum or historical society where I hope to do some valuable research, or to help out a good friend, but otherwise avoid the business, unless I actually have a new book to promote.
But, it seems, the wine-and-vouchers era is coming to an end, and I might have to rethink my stance. These days, publishers have become booking agents, or have teamed up with speakers' bureaux -- or so Ms Donadio informs us. HarperCollins, Knopf, and Penguin have set up their own agencies, while Random House has gone into some kind of partnership with the American Program Bureau . . . though I have to admit I see no mid-list authors on their list: http://www.apbspeakers.com/themes/DefaultView/Site/index.aspx