Workshop Transcript

StoryTelling for Profit

with Dianne de Las Casas


berries Close Window to Return




*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to StoryTelling for Profit Workshop in progress

Dianne de Las Casas: Hello everyone. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Dianne de Las Casas and I am a professional storyteller. I began my career in storytelling through writing for children. I became a volunteer storyteller at my library, met a professional teller at a writers conference, and fell in love with the art of storytelling.

Verla: And Dianne is an EXCELLENT storyteller, too! Makes a very good living at it!

Dianne de Las Casas: Thank you, Verla!

Verla: Have any of you ever wanted to get paid to tell stories to kids?

Verla: I know I have!

Verla: But it always seemed very "hard" to do that

Dianne de Las Casas: I am known as DIANNE and THE MAGIC SUITCASE and I use the power of the imagination to brings stories to life for my audience.

Dianne de Las Casas: I would like this workshop to flow interactively and I welcome any questions you may have regarding storytelling as a business.

Dianne de Las Casas: Does everyone agree that stories are a powerful way to communicate?

Drewwriter: absolutely

Verla: Oh, YES!

Verla: Kid's really relate to stories

Dianne de Las Casas: Imagine sitting with an auditorium filled with 300 5th-8th graders, everyone entranced by a story.

Drewwriter: and stories delivered "live" are even more effective

Verla: that's power!

Dianne de Las Casas: That's what a good story does - it captures the imagination of your audience.

_Enchanted: 8th graders? I'm impressed!

Verla: Hmmm. So if a person wants to be a story teller, you first need a good story...

Dianne de Las Casas: Storytelling takes your audience wherever you want them to go, in their mind's eye.

Dianne de Las Casas: Many people ask me how to get started in the storytelling business.

Dianne de Las Casas: Would you like to find out?

Drewwriter: Sure

Verla: Yes, please, dianne

Dianne de Las Casas: Great. The first thing you need to do is decide why you are telling stories in the first place.

Dianne de Las Casas: Is it to convey a message, to relate a family anecdote, to educate on a certain issue?

Verla: I'm assuming it needs to be for MORE than just "to make money!" LOL!


Dianne de Las Casas: Will your audience derive as much from storytelling as you do? The answer should be yes.

Dianne de Las Casas: The oral tradition has been around long before we began writing children's books.

Verla: True. Stories were "told" long before they were "written down"

Dianne de Las Casas: Once you decide WHY you want to tell stories, ask yourself if that is motivation enough to justify making the move to professional teller.

Drewwriter: Telling stories to children connects the storyteller with a timeless tradition

Dianne de Las Casas: That's right, Drewwriter.

Verla: does that mean there are some disadvantages to going 'PROFESSIONAL?"

Dianne de Las Casas: Yes, Verla. There are some disadvantages as there are with any career choice.

Dianne de Las Casas: Being a full-time professional teller means that you are the boss.

Dianne de Las Casas: That's a plus and a minus.

^GailM: As you are preparing a performance AND making the bookings AND keeping all the records, etc., it is a great deal of work.

Verla: Ah....good point, gail. I hadn't thought about that part of it

Verla: hmmm. I thought being "the boss" was always a "plus"

Dianne de Las Casas: The plus is you are able to create your own schedule and have the potential to earn a good living

Dianne de Las Casas: The minus is that you don't have someone leading you in your tasks. You have to discipline yourself. When you don't work, you don't get paid.

^GailM: That's what my hairdresser says if I forget an appointment.

BigJohN_: That's what I say when I don't get a contract.


Dianne de Las Casas: You have to provide your own medical, dental, and life insurance, and retirement plan.

Verla: Ah ha. That's a very good point, Dianne

Dianne de Las Casas: There are no paid vacations and sick days.

Dianne de Las Casas: There is a lot of travel involved.

Verla: ha. I never got those when I worked, either, dianne

^GailM: I hate to drive. Would not work for me.

Dianne de Las Casas: But as a professional storyteller, I have the opportunity to touch lives every day with the power of stories.

Verla: I love to travel!

Dianne de Las Casas: The satisfaction I receive after a day's "work" far surpasses any disadvantages there may be in being self-employed.

Verla: You have young children, too, don't you, Dianne?

Dianne de Las Casas: I have an 8 year old daughter.

Verla: right.

Dianne de Las Casas: The good thing is many times I am able to take her along!

Dianne de Las Casas: What kind of job allows your kids to tag along?

Verla: Not very many except day care!

Dianne de Las Casas: And you may still have to pay a day care fee!

Dianne de Las Casas: My first suggestion to anyone starting out is to begin slowly.

Dianne de Las Casas: Build your story repertoire as well as your clientele.

Verla: don't try to do it all at once, then

Dianne de Las Casas: That's right.

Dianne de Las Casas: If you have a job, I suggest keeping it and doing the storytelling part-time.

Dianne de Las Casas: That way, you will gain experience and still have the security of a paycheck.

Dianne de Las Casas: Once you establish a reputation, people are more willing to pay you to tell stories.

Verla: Who would you contact FIRST to start out?

Dianne de Las Casas: Tell everyone you know that you are beginning a storytelling business.

Dianne de Las Casas: Tell at birthday parties, boy and girl scout events, volunteer at the library.

Dianne de Las Casas: Tell whenever you can to gain experience.

grumpgrum: ok

Verla: "TELL" meaning....tell stories?

Dianne de Las Casas: Tell stories.

Verla: okay

Dianne de Las Casas: You can even offer a free showcase and invite people who are in a position to hire you.

Verla: Who would you invite to a showcase?

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, you would invite librarians, school principals, children's museum directors...

Dianne de Las Casas: Daycare center directors, Girl and Boy Scout leaders, Park directors...

Drewwriter: What is your market/audience? What kinds of programs do you offer? What is your market/audience?

Dianne de Las Casas: Drew, my market is elementary age kids to 8th grade. I offer many different programs.

Verla: like, do some "freebies" to show the community what you are offering...

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, yes. That way, your potential clients can "sample the merchandise."

Dianne de Las Casas: Wherever there is a gathering of people, stories can be told.

grumpgrum: county fairs are good. we had some 30 or more storytellers work our local fair this year.

Dianne de Las Casas: Yes, fairs and festivals are great marketplaces.

Verla: Oh, what a GREAT idea, grump

Verla: And then how do you "set your price?" when just starting out?

Dianne de Las Casas: Setting a fee can be tricky.

Dianne de Las Casas: When you set a fee, you want to be sure you can cover your expenses, yet not undercut your colleagues.

Dianne de Las Casas: Find out what other storytellers are charging.

Dianne de Las Casas: Ask them for their brochures, check out the Young Audiences catalog. Ask your local children's librarian to share promotional material from other storytellers.

Verla: once you get started, do you get a lot of work from birthday parties, etc?

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, storytelling is a word of mouth business. Once the word gets out that you are good, you get business.

Verla: And if there aren't any others in the area, what then?

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, if there are no local tellers in your area, look at the state as a whole.

Dianne de Las Casas: There are many storytellers in every state.

Verla: And of course, your own kids make a very fertile practice arena

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, your own children are good for feedback at first, but they quickly tire of the critic's role!

grumpgrum: oooh, how about conventions? not professional conventions, but almost any other kind. people bring their kids and the convention almost always had "kid programming". :)

Dianne de Las Casas: Grumpgrum, yes, conventions are good too. I have received quite a bit of convention referrals.

Dianne de Las Casas: I live in a great convention city - New Orleans.

Verla: Oh, you sure do!

_Enchanted: Dianne -- what kind of props do you use?

Dianne de Las Casas: Enchanted, storytelling can be done with or without props. I do both.

Dianne de Las Casas: I sometimes use puppets, items collected from my journeys around the world, and the imagination.

Verla: I live in a very rural area....but we have lots of "Old West" Town stuff here

Dianne de Las Casas: I like a lot of audience participation too.

Dianne de Las Casas: Such as kids chanting parts of the story every time that part comes up.

Dianne de Las Casas: Wanda Gag's story "Millions of Cats" is a great story for that, Verla.

Dianne de Las Casas: Once you become a professional storyteller, meaning you are paid for telling stories, you have to be aware of storytelling ethics.


Verla: Audience participation is intoxicating! When I did one of my first school visits, part of my presentation caused a 'reaction' from the kids....and it was unbelievable how "ALIVE" they suddenly became when they were 'involved" in my presentation

Delta-: Do you have to get the author's permission to "story-tell" someone else's story?

Dianne de Las Casas: Delta, VERY GOOD QUESTION.

Dianne de Las Casas: That relates to my comment about storytelling ethics.

Dianne de Las Casas: If a story is copyrighted and not in public domain, you must obtain permission from the author or the publisher before you tell it, as a professional storyteller.

Dianne de Las Casas: If you hear a version of a story you love from another teller, ethically, you should ask permission before you tell their version of the story, even if it is in public domain.

Dianne de Las Casas: Many storytellers work VERY HARD working up a story so that it works on all levels with many audiences.

Verla: AH.... some of those "unwritten" rules?

Verla: but you can always tell your own, original stories, right?

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla - Yes, you can always tell an original story!

Verla: good! Then If I never get my story, "BeBop Bunny's Dreadlocks" published, I'll just TELL it to kids!

_Lyra: good plan, Verla

Verla: because kids LOVE the story and editors seem to hate it. LOL

Dianne de Las Casas: Editors need to remember their childhoods!

Verla: true.

Dianne de Las Casas: It's like with writers - if you a writer tells you of an idea he/she had for a story, you wouldn't take that idea, immediately write a story, and then sell it.

Dianne de Las Casas: Would you?

Dianne de Las Casas: It's common sense and courtesy.

Verla: No, I never would take another writer's idea...UNLESS I got their permission

Verla: Anyone else have more questions on getting started?

Dianne de Las Casas: Delta, sometimes when you ask for permission to tell a copyrighted story, the author says yes. Sometimes they say no. Sometimes you have to pay a fee.

Dianne de Las Casas: But either way, you have to ask permission.

mick13: How long does your average story session last... and how many stories per session?

Dianne de Las Casas: Mick, my average program lasts 45 minutes and I tell 3 stories with fillers - songs, chants, and story stretches.

Drewwriter: Do you do workshops? Discussions? In addition to telling a story?

Dianne de Las Casas: Drew, yes, I do workshops and I offer a few "stock" workshops to my clients.

mick13: I am a slave to entropy also, Drew

Verla: I'm assuming you would always want the permission to be IN WRITING for your own protection, right?

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, regarding permission, YES! GET IT IN WRITING! We live in a very litigious society and it's better to play it safe!

Verla: I thought so.

Delta-: I sometimes attend the storyteller's meetings in Omaha. They said Dr. Seuss NEVER allowed anyone permission to do his stuff.

Verla: Really? How sad for the kids

Delta-: I agree.

Dianne de Las Casas: I also do artist residencies at schools.

Dianne de Las Casas: A residency is when you work with children in a classroom setting for an extended period of time.

Dianne de Las Casas: I also advise anyone with a storytelling business to get organized!

Drewwriter: oh no

Dianne de Las Casas: That's means treating your storytelling (and writing) as a business.

Dianne de Las Casas: Get to know accounting methods.

Verla: I do that with my writing already.

Verla: Separate checking account, etc

Dianne de Las Casas: Learn how to do your taxes (UGH!) even if you have someone else do it. Or at least be familiar with the process.

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, yes. Separate checking account.

Verla: I hired a GREAT tax lady who knows how to do "independent contractor" accounting

Dianne de Las Casas: It is not necessary to form a corporation if you operate as a sole proprietor.

Verla: I didn't. good

Dianne de Las Casas: If, however, you get into the business of selling books and audiotapes, forming a corporation may be the best way to shift liability from yourself personally to the corporation.

Dianne de Las Casas: Know how and when to file your estimated quarterly returns. This goes for all of you pro writers too!

Verla: yes, we have those quarterly returns due the beginning of Sept again, Dianne

Dianne de Las Casas: OK, enough about TAXES!!!

Verla: Hey, but look at the BRIGHT side! You ONLY pay taxes if you MAKE MONEY!

^GailM: Like Verla!

Dianne de Las Casas: Oh, and make sure you check to see if you need an occupational license.

Verla: right, gail!

^GailM: I want money, too.

Verla: are those licenses hard to get, dianne?

Dianne de Las Casas: In my area, I am not required to have one but some areas require an occupational license if you are an idependent contractor.

Verla: That would include being an author, dianne!

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, check with your city hall or local sheriff's office.

Verla: sheriff's office.

Dianne de Las Casas: Yes, that includes authors too.

Verla: okay will do

Dianne de Las Casas: A lot of this business application applies to authors too.

Verla: funny how much we know and find out we still DON'T know!

Dianne de Las Casas: Also, if you get an occupational license, inquire about a federal tax id number.

Dianne de Las Casas: For me, I don't need one and use my SS# to report my taxes.

Verla: Can't you just use your Social Security number for your tax id number dianne?

Verla: LOL! You answered my question before I asked it, Dianne. Thanks!

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, I'm psychic like that! LOL!

Verla: Man! I told you she was GOOD!

Dianne de Las Casas: If any of you are selling books, you need to inquire about paying city and state taxes on your merchandise.

Verla: You mean when I start selling my own books, dianne

Verla: ?

Dianne de Las Casas: Yes, when you start selling your own books. I would advise forming a company that "handles" your book sales. That way, the money from the sale of your merchandise will not intermingle with your money from your service fees.

Verla: I don't quite understand THAT, dianne.

Dianne de Las Casas: You could be VERLA, Inc.

Verla: You mean incorporate?

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, if you are charging fees for visiting schools, you don't have to pay a sales tax on that.

Verla: right

Dianne de Las Casas: If you are selling books, the accounting is a little bit different.

Verla: Ah...sales tax

Dianne de Las Casas: Are you all still with me or have you fallen asleep yet?

Verla: I have to send the state & federal govt sales taxes on any books I sell

Verla: Hey..I'm still awake.....even though I'm doped up to the gills with pain meds..

Dianne de Las Casas: Poor Verla...

^GailM: But if you sell 10 books a year, nobody cares.

^GailM: Or they shouldn't care.

Verla: I intend to sell a LOT more than ten a year, gail

Dianne de Las Casas: Gail, you're right. 10 books a year isn't much but I would hope you'd want to sell more than that!

^GailM: I would keep it under my hat, if I were you.

Verla: anything I keep under MY hat gets caught

^GailM: Don't you make about $.60 a book?

^GailM: So $600 is a piddling amount!

Dianne de Las Casas: Don't forget about communicating with clients, sending out contracts, and collecting fees!

Verla: .60 - .80....but that's the books that PUTNAM sells, gail. I get 40% discount on books I buy for myself

mick13: 40% of retail, Verla?

Verla: right, mick

Dianne de Las Casas: You pay less taxes on your gross income if you have expenses to subtract.

Verla: right!

ClaraRose: That is right - considering expenses - that would subtract a lot.

Verla: And storytellling is a natural "outlet" of bookwriting

Dianne de Las Casas: And bookwriting is a natural outlet of storytelling.

Verla: and all the places you go to tell stories, you can sell books

Verla: and vice versa

Dianne de Las Casas: You may have to make arrangements with your clients.

Dianne de Las Casas: Sometimes, they will want a reduction in fee in order for you to sell your resources or else a cut of what you sell.

Verla: Yes, are there any other "last minute" questions for Dianne? Our hour is nearly gone!

_Enchanted: Dianne de Las Casas --you mentioned you travel... how far from home do you go?

Dianne de Las Casas: I travel anywhere my clients are willing to take me.

_Enchanted: Good answer!

_Enchanted: How willing are your clients to swallow travel expenses?

Dianne de Las Casas: They cover my expenses, per diem, mileage, lodging, etc.

Dianne de Las Casas: This summer, I toured my home state, Louisiana. My clients covered all of my expenses AND paid my fees.

_Enchanted: Lodging? This must be a lucrative profession, and you must be an accomplished professonal! I'd love to hear you.

Dianne de Las Casas: P.S. If you are traveling more than 20 miles from your homebase for presentation or book signing, make sure to track the mileage.

Dianne de Las Casas: Enchanted - It can be lucrative if you work 80 hours a week. It takes dedication and commitment, like any business that succeeds.

Verla: Oh...I'd like to mention here that Dianne has a VERY excellent "guidebook" that she has put together....I bought one of her first ones...WELL worth the price she charged for it.

Dianne de Las Casas: Verla, price went up due to demand. $15.00 including postage. Newly revised too.

Verla: still cheap for what you get,

Verla: Dianne...I paid just $2 less...

Dianne de Las Casas: Thank you for the plug, Verla.

Drewwriter: What's the name?

Verla: And the address for them to order the $15 book, Dianne?

Dianne de Las Casas: I have a small page on <> under Dianne de Las Casas but no webpage of my own, YET.

Dianne de Las Casas: Dianne de Las Casas, Minding Your Own Business, P.O. Box 2656, Harvey, LA 70059-2656

Verla: Does the $15 include shipping?

Dianne de Las Casas: Yes

Verla: Dianne, This has been a totally facinating workshop! We can't thank you enough for this terrifically informative hour.

Dianne de Las Casas: Thanks. I could probably go on for another hour!!

Dianne de Las Casas: Thank you all for "listening".

BigJohN_: Thanks Dianne de Las Casas

Verla: Oh, we really appreciated your input! Any last questions?

Verla: thanks, Dianne!

mick13: Thanks Dianne de Las Casas

ClaraRose: Thanks Dianne

Dianne de Las Casas: Don't feel pressured to work too hard!

_Enchanted: Thank you, Dianne de Las Casas!

Delta-: Thank you, Dianne de Las Casas!

Verla whistles and stomps and 'mumbles' on her sore throat....

Dianne de Las Casas: THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!! Big hugs to everyone, especially Verla!

Verla: sq! Just in time to throw silly string and confetti at Dianne

Suzy-Q: LOL

Suzy-Q shoots silly string into air.

Dianne de Las Casas: If anyone has any more questions, please feel free to e-mail me privately at

Dianne de Las Casas: My family is waiting on me for dinner. Must go.

Suzy-Q hands Dianne de Las Casas the coveted gourmet caramel apple.

Dianne de Las Casas: SQ, thanks for the apple. I'll save it for dessert!

Suzy-Q: You're welcome. just make sure you refrigerate it.

Verla: can go to one of her presentations!

Verla: Dianne, Thanks again for a WONDERFUL workshop!

Suzy-Q brushs the silly string off of Dianne de Las Casas

Dianne de Las Casas: SQ, i wanted to take that silly string with me! Give me the can, please!

Suzy-Q hands Dianne de Las Casas a can of silly string in her favorite color.

Dianne de Las Casas: Thanks, SQ. Ta! Ta!

Suzy-Q: You're welcome.

berries Close Window to Return



Verla Kay

Copyright © 1998

All Rights Reserved