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How-To Information for Storytellers

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Jackie Baldwin jackie@story-lovers.com
Kate Dudding kate@katedudding.com

Contract Information
The information below contains excerpts from the many discussions held on the Texas Woman's University School of Library and Information Studies STORYTELL Discussion List regarding contracts for storytellers.

Protect yourself. Draw up a written contract and have both parties sign and date it. Calling it a Performance Agreement will ease any anxiety over the word “contract.” Never rely on “verbal” agreements. Use one for every gig, no matter how informal.

A contract shows your professionalism to your clients, and helps to pre-empt potential pitfalls to a smooth-running gig. The more informal your gig, the more important it is to set out your requirements and what you are promising - this can avoid nightmare situations!

You can do this by e-mail. But many people feel safer US mailing two copies of the contract (both signed by you) to the client along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, requesting that the client sign one copy and return it to you.

Items to specify in your contract:

  • Your name and contact information, including cell phone number
  • Your client’s name and contact information, including cell phone number
  • Type of program
  • Date of program
  • Exact time
  • Exact location
  • Expected audience, type and size
  • Performance room setup
  • Exact fees you will charge and for what, including travel expenses and meals (if applicable)
  • If you have discounted your fee, list your regular fee, then the discount, so your client (and anyone they know) should realize what your regular fee is
  • How and exactly when payment will be made, e.g., by mail, in person following the performance, some “upfront” money
  • Cancellation policy, specifying number of days in advance and money to be paid even if the performance is cancelled if notice is not given in time
  • Set out the procedure for a “change of plans” for both parties, including dates, times and locations
  • Specify that all recording and photography must be done with teller’s permission
  • Clarify if sale of books and tapes is permitted and if the host clients gets a percentage. (Find how much others sell so you can gauge how much material to take with you.)
  • Clarify if your client wants these materials ahead of time or if you can bring them yourself to the performance
  • Inquire who is expected to book the airline, hotel, provide meals and if you will be given any petty cash for expenses
  • Request copies of all publicity and promotion generated by your client

Put a copy of the signed hard agreement in your files, then carry it with you.


• Most clients appreciate the details that make it easier and a better situation for them.

• Make it simple. The easier you are to deal with, the more likely you will be rehired.

• If you talk with bookers or audience members about future bookings before or after a performance, keep track of these conversations in a special file and make follow-up contacts to confirm. Be sure to collect business cards or contact phone numbers or e-mail addresses for your file.


A comprehensive compilation of sample contracts may be found at: www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/articles/compil001.html

Harlynne Geisler includes a sample contract in her book Storytelling Professionally – The Nuts and Bolts of a Working Performer, available on at its publisher: Libraries Unlimited

Sample Contract that Kate Dudding uses: www.katedudding.com/contract-example.shtml

Sample Contract that Bob Shimer uses: www.drango.com/tips/contract.htm

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Copyright 2007 by Jackie Baldwin and Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.