StoryTelling for Profit
with Dianne de Las Casas
*** 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?
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?
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!
NOTE: LOL = LAUGHING OUT LOUD
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.
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.
Verla: "TELL" meaning....tell stories?
Dianne de Las Casas: Tell stories.
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: So...you 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!
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
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.
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.
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 <http://www.storyteller.net> 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 shoots silly string into air.
Dianne de Las Casas: If anyone has any more questions, please feel free to e-mail me privately at DLCstory@bellsouth.net.
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: Dani....you 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.
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