Pretty much anyone who works in any kind of creative industry is aware that a lot of juggling and fretting goes on over what is payable and what should be done or given, if not for free, for something other than cash. There’s any amount of memes about the benefits – or non-benefits – of working for exposure. Sometimes, exposure is worth having, of course. While we can decide for ourselves whether or not to gamble on exposure now translating into actual reward later on, it gets a little more complicated when it comes to giving interviews – or interviewing people for a project. It came up again on Twitter the other night and what with the new book being one that’s going to involve a lot of interviewing, it got me thinking about the whole subject in more detail.
Back in my younger porn-mag days, interview requests were not uncommon: sometimes it was a student with a dissertation on some aspect of porn, feminism, feminist porn or censorship wanting ‘a quick chat’, sometimes it was someone from the mainstream media. The latter were, often as not, at least good for lunch and a couple of pints: the students less so. Paying for interviews is widely regarded as a tricky issue, it turns out. There are even legal ramifications, and many national newspapers don’t pay interviewees.
‘Selling your story’ is one thing: there are plenty of magazines who openly offer set sums of money for personal experiences: research interviews for a book are another matter. An in-depth book about a topic rather than a specific individual or small group of individuals is likely to require a lot of interviewing, much of which will not make it into the final draft, at least not verbatim. Having to pay cash down for every conversation would kipper many a potentially worthwhile book before it got beyond the outline stage, unless the author has extremely deep pockets or a very generous publishing deal.
This here author has neither, so I’ll be very upfront about the fact that I’m not enticing subjects with chunks of change. My personal policy with regard to talking to folks is: I don’t intend you to be put to any expense. I’ll come to you, if necessary, and I’ll at least get the drinks in. I won’t expect you to take time off work just to talk to me.
I might even throw in a bag of Haribo or similar, though.
Tempted? More info on Kink Britannia, a subjective history of the UK fetish scene, here.