May 11, 2010

"Q. How can I get Neil Gaiman to make an appearance at my school/convention/event?"

Answer:
Contact Lisa Bransdorf at the Greater Talent Network. Tell her you want Neil to appear somewhere. Have her tell you how much it costs. Have her say it again in case you misheard it the first time. Tell her you could get Bill Clinton for that money. Have her tell you that you couldn't even get ten minutes of Bill Clinton for that money but it's true, he's not cheap.

On the other hand, I'm really busy, and I ought to be writing, so pricing appearances somewhere between ridiculously high and obscenely high helps to discourage most of the people who want me to come and talk to them. Which I could make a full time profession, if I didn't say 'no' a lot.
The fee is $45,000.

Neil Gaiman is...
a douchebag.
an artist.
a rational participant in economic reality.
  
pollcode.com free polls

60 comments:

Joe said...

I would vote a) AND c)....

Goo said...

Gaiman is very generous with his fans and openly communicates with them on his Twitter. He is not a douchebag.

If he's getting it, he must be worth it.

William T. Sherman said...

D) Neil Gaiman is a God among men.

Don't believe me? Read his Sandman graphic novels, or The Graveyard Book.


word verification: hatelit!

AllenS said...

D. OK, in my book.

Which means that he turns off his car before retiring for the evening.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Neil who?

AJ Lynch said...

'C'.


And ditto what Hoosier asked.

Paddy O. said...

His reasons totally make sense to me. I and a number of people I know have done similar things on a much smaller scale for tasks ranging from speaking, to website design, to wedding photography, etc.

Charge a ridiculous amount because you don't really want to do it, would much rather do something else, but if someone will pay that amount there's no reason to say no.

Leland said...

Also ditto Hoosier

Brn said...

I voted C, but there really should be an "all of the above" option.

LarsPorsena said...

"Neil who?"

Clue me in too.

Scott M said...

Good lord. I mean, I love his work, but...well...damn!

D.D. Driver said...

Sandman and The Graveyard Book are both pretty much perfect.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, I had to wiki to know who he was.

Although I love the talent of writing that some people have, I've never had any desire to talk to or hear an author, even those whose work I've loved. There just doesn't seem to be much mystery or intrigue to the process to me and I don't expect them to have any special information. I don't know what I would want to learn from it. An exception would be Mark Twain, or someone like the Greek, Homer, but I imagine they would both get somewhat higher fees

On the other hand, I have great disdain for the work of most politicians, but would very much like to talk to many of them, especially ones from important times in history, which is really my motivation for Twain and Homer anyway.

AllenS said...

I don't know who the guy is, and I don't know who you people are, either. I just hope all of you turn your car off before bedtime.

bagoh20 said...

This is a common tactic in business when you have a product that you don't really want to make. You just raise the price to where it is worth doing anyway. If no one wants it at that price then you are free do something else with that time.

SteveR said...

Never heard of him and in general monies spent on speaking fees could probably be better used to cure cancer and commercialize cold fusion as a energy source.

Bill Clinton's an exception however, I know I've not heard enough of him...

Damon said...

This is great. I enjoy (read: am troubled) when people get worked up because someone will not do something for free. Not free but reasonable you say... tsh, so what if the cost is not reasonable to you. Nobody can can tell you what you are worth but the 'market.' That is freedom.

Drew W said...

When I was working on publicity for Frank Zappa in the ’80s, we got a call from a British rock band (not a very well-known one) that wanted him to produce their next album. When I passed the request on to Zappa, I recall him not giving it much thought before replying: “Tell ’em I’ll produce their album for $100,000.”

I wasn’t very familiar with the pay scale for a record producer at the time, but that seemed kind of high to me, so I asked him about it. He explained his rationale pretty much like Gaiman did -- the prohibitively high fee kept him free to concentrate on his own work (which he preferred to do), but if they were willing to sign such a grossly oversized check, it really wouldn’t matter what band he produced. (That British group never contacted us again.)

So I understand Gaiman’s approach. And I like his books.

Given his high hourly pricetag, my niece should be even more proud that she once met him in a hotel elevator back when she was a high school Gaiman fanatic on a weekend jaunt to New York City comic book stores. Later, when Gaiman commented on his blog that he’d met a couple fans in an elevator in New York, my niece read it and practically combusted right then and there, the poor girl.

Kensington said...

I adored "Sandman" but haven't read it in about ten years. I wonder if it still holds up.

Also, he's writing an episode of Dr Who for next year!

Joseph said...

I think that makes him sound frank and funny.

Bob_R said...

I'm for b) and d). I liked American Gods. Good Omens is very funny. The Q&A quoted here is very much in his style and I can't imagine any of his fans taking offense. He also has a large output of written work and a heavy speaking schedule would probably change his work habits considerably. My guess is that he has priced himself so that he makes slightly less than the maximum amount speaking while spending much less time doing it.

Bob_R said...

Make that b) and c).

bill said...

Neal Stephenson (who has his own issues with people asking for his time) talks about Gaiman in this slashdot interview:

I just got back from the National Book Festival on the Capitol Mall in D.C., where I crossed paths for a few minutes with Neil Gaiman. This was another event in which Beowulf writers and Dante writers were all mixed together. The organizers had queues set up in front of signing tables. Neil had mentioned on his blog that he was going to be there, and so hundreds, maybe thousands of his readers had showed up there as early as 5:30 a.m. to get stuff signed. The organizers simply had not anticipated this and so---very much to their credit---they had to make all sorts of last-minute rearrangements to accomodate the crowd. Neil spent many hours signing. As he says on his blog

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/journal.asp

the Washington Post later said he did this because he was a "savvy businessman." Of course Neil was actually doing it to be polite; but even simple politeness to one's fans can seem grasping and cynical when viewed from the other side.

Lem said...

I'm really busy, and I ought to be writing, so pricing appearances somewhere between ridiculously high and obscenely high helps to discourage most of the people who want me to come and talk to them.

From J.D Salinger's Private Letters

“I don’t think I have ever in my life answered a ringing telephone without unconsciously gritting my teeth a bit”

What is Chatroulette?

One box shows your own image, courtesy of your Webcam; the other is for the face of what the site calls, somewhat ambiguously, a “partner.” When Partner appears, you can stay and talk using your voice or your keyboard, or you can click “Next,” which whips you on to someone new. The point is to introduce you to people you’d never otherwise meet and will never see again.

Freeman Hunt said...

I think his fee is perfectly reasonable. He's a writer and a very successful one. Of course you'd have to make it worth his time away from writing to have him come and speak.

And, as has been mentioned, he's very accessible and friendly on Twitter. Plus, if you follow him on Twitter, you see that his schedule is already incredibly hectic. I'm surprised his speaking fee is not higher.

edutcher said...

I was going to say, "Who?", very apologetically, but, having so much company, I think I'll be arrogant in my ignorance.

Synova said...

I don't know a single science fiction writer (and I know quite a few) who doesn't find it necessary to limit obligations. Even someone who is trying to promote him or herself will have more opportunities than time. It gets to be a trade off between, say, going to all the SF conventions within driving distance, or actually writing the next book and editing galleys.

jayne_cobb said...

Actually given the look of some of the Endless, this dovetails nicely with the goth discussion.

GMay said...

Put me down on the list of those who didn't know who he was but voted "C" anyway.

Andrea said...

I'm sure there are loads of people who are outraged at this and would pick option "A" but they are wrong. You are not entitled to anyone's time for free or even a "reasonable" fee that you pick. But I'm sure that this very minute there are people who think a Committee should be Set Up to make sure that all the fans of Big Name Artists can get their pound of flesh-pressing. For the Children.

Kristian said...

In context, I really doubt he is a douche bag about about appearances. I assume that to intrude on his busy schedule, you just have to make it worth his while.

For those who don't know, he is a writer, and a pretty successful one in his niche. He is critically acclaimed in comic books, fantasy and children's books. Since several of his books have already been made into wide distribution movies (Stardust, Coraline) or mini series (Neverwhere on the BBC), I'll assume he is also commercially successful as well.

If you happen to read his blog you'll see a very, very busy man. He has a family. He writes. He is working on a movie production. He does a fair amount of public appearances world wide. Ijust don't see hime as a misanthrope or money grubbing Scrooge.

Salamandyr said...

He's not my favorite author by any means, but if he can get it, good on him.

On balance though, I'd still rather read and/or listen to Neal Stephenson.

Xmas said...

I like Anansi Boys and American Gods. I haven't gone out of my way to pick up his children's books like Coraline, but I'm thinking of getting them for my nephew when he gets a bit older.

I heard him speak at a thing at MIT. It was the opening engagement of the Julius Schwartz lecture series. Julie, well, ended his career as an editor for DC comics when Gaiman and Alan Moore came over from the UK to write comics in the US, but started off as a pulp publisher and the literary agents for Ray Bradbury, HP Lovecraft and a bunch of other influential sci fi authors.

Oxbay said...

The first commenter over on the results page said "And he writes awesome books." One of his books, American Gods, was higly recommended to me. I read it, didn't like it much, and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

I voted C. His explanation makes sense. I don't know enough about him to know if Joe is right to vote A & C but when I saw what he wrote I laughed. Thanks for the comedy Joe.

sherlock77 said...

That sounds like the 'go away' price for where I work. If someone asks for something I don't want to do, I think of a price I would charge to do it, then double or triple that. if they are willing to pay it, they get it!

Pogo said...

Neil Gaiman is an evil capitalist running dog.

He should be like "Boxer", the cart-horse whose strength and dedication raised the early prosperity of Animal Farm and completed building the windmill. His motto was“I will work harder”.

Boxer died in the novel, I recall.

SFC B said...

It took me a while to remember where I recognized the name from. I had "American Gods" recommended to me by a woman who I was romantically interested in. The romantic interest decreased as the amount of "American Gods" I read increased.

The book became a chore to read about halfway through.

I voted C.

Michael K Pate said...

I saw Neil at a TachyCon in Orlando sometime back in the mid-1990s and got a copy of Good Omens signed (later added Terry Pratchett). I am mighty glad of that fact now, because I think the likelihood of repeating that now is rather doubtful.

Tully said...

I've met Neil. One of the most personable people ever. Definitely NOT a douchebag.

His reasoning makes perfect sense to me.

Pogo said...

Oh yeah, when Boxer was dying in the novel, he got sent to the glue factory.

Work harder, Gaiman!!

Lawgiver said...

Battle of the homophone writers

Neil Gaiman
vs
Neal Stephenson

Gaiman can be good, but Stephenson is always good and KOs Gaiman in the first chapter.

JorgXMcKie said...

Voting C was easy, and I don't understand how anyone could vote A without knowing the author [which I don't.] Some authors are expensive *and* douches [I do know a couple of those] and I don't worry about that because I want to read what they write, not listen to their unpolished speeches.

And who can decide what is a 'reasonable' price to charge for someone else's time? They put a price on it, others decide whether or not it's worth that. There is nothing I can see douchy about that. Perhaps the price is too high in someone's estimation, but that's for the involved seller and buyer to decide.

Having said that, I want my favorite authors to spend all but a minimal amount of time [say 4 hours for sleep and 1 hour for eating, showering, etc per day] writing, damnit!! Write more good stuff!! Write lots and lots more good stuff.

[And George R. R. Martin is starting to seriously cheese me off.]

siouxsielaw said...

I agree with commenter Jayne Cobb.

And I also agree with Professor Althouse's tweet today that once you learn a color's name you see it everywhere. The color I see here is goth.

kimsch said...

@neilhimself also wrote Stardust which became a movie with Robert Duvall as a cross dressing pirate. How can you go wrong with that?

I voted C. He is always off doing something somewhere hardly at home in Minnesota. He's "talked" to me on twitter too. Nice guy.

WV: proming - May is the season for proming.

SH said...

I'm trying to hold D-bag for people who call tea party people teabaggers.

But anyway, I went C. He didn't say he wouldn't reconsider if it were a special case.

Iapetus said...

For $45K, that public library could have bought copies of all of Gaiman's books, those of a dozen other authors, and had money left over. If the librarian in charge of my public library chose to burn that much money on a personal appearance by any author, I'd be telling her to find a new job.

Right way arts said...

read American Gods, its Gaiman at his best and transends even his high standard. Let him get whatever he can.

did you see his girlfriend getting neked at the academy awards fyi. he needs all the money he can raise to keep that in clover!

Joe said...

Whatever happened to simply saying no?

Salamandyr said...

Gaiman can be good, but Stephenson is always good and KOs Gaiman in the first chapter.

Except for Anathem, where it took 5 chapters, but only because you had to learn the language first.

Xmas said...

Kim,

That wasn't Robert Duvall, that was Robert De Niro as the cross dressing sky pirate.

kimsch said...

Xmas, you are correct. I got my Robert D's mixed up. It's been a crappy, rainy day today and I am tired.

Christy said...

B & C & Worth every penny.

Gaiman is my fantasy boyfriend. Very hot!

Lawgiver, seriously, much as I love Stephenson, Anathem was not good. I tried twice to read it and just couldn't.

Kimsch, wasn't that Robert DeNiro, not Duvall?

Volume #3 of the Sandman collection is a good place to start, if anyone is interested in reading him. It is basically 4 stand alone short stories that do not rely on the knowing the mythology of the series. Although it does help if you know A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Wendy Kloiber said...

There's a lot more context to this in Neil Gaiman's full, recent post on the controversy - the quote used here predates the Stillwater talk by many years.

See www.journal.neilgaiman.com "How I became a political football."

Christy said...

Oops, beaten to the punch by Salamandyr and Xmas.

Don't you think sometimes that Stephenson wants readers to pass an IQ test before he shares his world?

Revenant said...

"American Gods" was ok. Personally, I think Gaiman is much better as a writer for comics, television, and film than he is as a novelist. "Mirrormask" was quite good, as were "Neverwhere" and "Sandman".

He's a good speaker, too. I've heard him speak on several occasions at the San Diego Comicon, and it was always a treat. He looks and sounds surprisingly normal!

steveg said...

He writes, which usually doesn't pay much. He speaks in public, which is more variable income but potentially lucrative.

So, he earns more from being paid to not write for a short time than from many hours he puts in writing (and even more in editing, which is a very low paid chore indeed). Note both writing and editing are largely lonely tasks.

As for Gaiman. Seems okay to me, but have never gone to hear him speak. Loved American Gods until the strangely anti-climactic climax, but each to their own.

Put me down for (D) here: Nothing to do with me how he makes a living.

Miriam said...

He gave the speaking fee to charity and it was not paid by the library, but by a separate fund. Heres the details:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/

veni vidi vici said...

Gaiman, straight man, beggar man, thief.

Ken Mitchell said...

Can the answer be "Who's Neil Gaiman?" I must be woefully out of touch.

Mike said...

I chose C as the "most correct" answer.

Friends recommended "American Gods." I got through about the first two pages before I decided it was rather poorly written and never finished it. I haven't read any of Gaiman's graphic novels. I did think the movie "Stardust" was decent.