Sunday, 28 November 2010

Simon Hoggart rides another hobbyhorse

Simon Hoggart writes amusing Parliamentary sketches and a rather dull weekly diary for the Guardian. The latter mostly comprises mildly amusing anecdotes about being on trains, of restaurants he's visited or events he and his circle go to. Whenever he has a new book out rest assured that the log will be rolled, and rolled again. Simon Hoggart is - rightly - very popular at book festivals as he is a witty performer and Guardian readers more than anyone love book festivals. In yesterday's paper he has a go at book festivals, complaining that they often get 500 people at an author event at £8 a time, paying the author £150 before the organiser sits back and counts the dosh. He might be right. But I do know that when he came to a book festival I have a hand in organising his fee was well north of £150. We were pleased with his attendance of 200 or so but, without giving too much away, we did not sit around counting our profits afterwards, not least as marquees have to be hired, as do PA systems and lighting. Programme printers tend to want to be paid as do the technicians making sure the author can be heard. Of course there may be authors that can fill 500 seater marquees that are available for £150. Perhaps he could let us know who they are so we can book them. And what of those who do demand high fees but attendances are not quite the number hoped? Can we ask for our money back?
There is a debate worth having about paying writers at Festivals, but Simon Hoggart is not helping.

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