The Neil Gaiman drama is still going strong. This is the STUPIDEST political drama going on right now.
Long story short:
1. Library asked Neil to speak. Neil's agents told them his fee, $45,000, which doesn't strike me as out of line for his level of fame.* Anyway, they paid it, and Neil spoke. Both sides of contract fulfilled. No problem, right? Neil has donated the fee to charity.
2. House Majority Leader Matt Dean calls Neil a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state," because in his world, being paid an agreed-upon fee is stealing.
Already stupid, right? Well then it goes from stupid to heinous:
3. A House Republican committee chair said he is recommending a $45,000 cut in the Twin Cites' regional library system budget to make up for the state Legacy money it paid last year to Gaiman for a speaking appearance. Because they only logical thing to do is punish the library's patrons.
This is the Legacy in question.
This is the book club program he spoke for.
The library says they regret not negotiating the fee.
I doubt it was negotiable. The library is used to getting authors who will basically do it for exposure, and the LAST thing Neil Gaiman needs is more exposure. He wrote this a year ago:
"The main reason I got a speaking agency, ten years ago, was because too many requests for me to come and speak were coming in," Gaiman wrote in a May 2010 journal post in response to criticisms then about the speaking fee. "And the speaking requests were, and are, a distraction from what I ought to be doing, which is writing. So rather than say no, we've always priced me high. ... I'm at the top end of what it costs to bring an author who should be home writing and does not really want a second career as a public speaker to your event."
And this is on his FAQ page:
Q. How can I get Neil Gaiman to make an appearance at my school/convention/event?
A. Contact Lisa Bransdorf at the Greater Talent Network. Tell her you want Neil to appear somewhere. Have her tell you how much it costs. Have her say it again in case you misheard it the first time. Tell her you could get Bill Clinton for that money. Have her tell you that you couldn't even get ten minutes of Bill Clinton for that money but it's true, he's not cheap.
On the other hand, I'm really busy, and I ought to be writing, so pricing appearances somewhere between ridiculously high and obscenely high helps to discourage most of the people who want me to come and talk to them. Which I could make a full time profession, if I didn't say 'no' a lot.
* Neil says his fees are comparable to those of Snookie from Jersey Shore, and I've heard Bill Clinton gets between $200,000 and $500,000.
PS. Neil's blog entry on this.