33rd “In The Tradition…”Annual National Festival and Conference of Black Storytelling-Victory and Vision

Dylan PritchettJambo! Peace and Blessings, National Association of Black Storytellers family and friends!  Green leaves are turning beautiful fall colors. A little chill greets us in the morning and evening.  Some of us are beginning to pack for that annual Homecoming, Home Gathering of jeliw, storytellers, storylisteners and storylovers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, the New England States, New York, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Jersey, the Mid-West, West Virginia, California, Georgia, Baltimore (the center of the known universe) and beyond. Because, it is time for that annual warm hugging, bright smiling, awesome drumming, tall tale telling, audacious storytelling event, the 33rd “In the Tradition… “Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference.

The organizers have been working extremely hard to ensure that you will witness and testify to another spectacular festival. Dylan Pritchett, Festival Director, has organized trips to and lectures at the National Archives and the Library of Congress and confirmed our special Featured Scholar, Dr. Rex Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Don’t miss this presentation.

Mama Elisha Minter, our Youth Director promises fun, excitement, storytelling and special surprises for the youth when they gather to share their vision and victories.  She says, “Join us as Mama Linda Goss returns to Howard University (her alma mater) to share words of wisdom with our youth on Friday, November 13th”.

Co-Directors of the Adopt-A-Teller Program (AATP) Stanley “Bunjo” Butler and Linda Gorham were challenged this year to create and implement a successful program. They met that challenge, and with the help of the sponsors, The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), Nora Roberts Foundation, Lois Lenski Covey Foundation and the McGraw Hill Company, will provide 39 individual performances in 33 venues and the gift of books. Tellers will perform at The Kennedy Center, the District of Columbia’s public libraries, schools, a youth service center and an assisted living facility for adults.

Host Committee Chair, Carol Alexander is excited to bring us a taste of DC Black Broadway: Stories In Music, Dance and Voice. The event will be held Thursday, November 12th at 6:30 p.m., at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St SW, Washington, DC.  Get ready for KanKouran West African Dance Ensemble Company the Ishingi Family Dance and Drummers, gospel, storytelling and a Thursday night fish fry!

I would also like to acknowledge the transition of our beloved NABS Talking Blog Editor, Sister Linda Cousins Newton. Sister Linda was a gifted writer and editor and her dedication, friendship and commitment I will sorely miss. A true warrior scholar has fallen.  But I am pleased to announce that Donna Washington has stepped forward and will be our guest blog editor for the next several months. Donna is a storyteller, author and blogger and her personal blog post can be found at Language, Literacy and Storytelling: A Discussion About the Links Between Storytelling Language and Literacy.

See you at NABS!


Sister Dr. Caroliese Frink Reed, Chairperson
Education Committee
National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc.

Bread and Butter – Negotiating the price of a show

Unknown-25So, you are ready to take on the big bad world of selling your art to consumers who are desperate to hire you and bring fortune to your door!

Congratulations!  How do you begin?
Figuring out how much to charge, haggle, and get what you are worth is a struggle for independent artists.  We are not usually the money types.  Often we are not the most organized of people, and let’s face it, pimping yourself out is uncomfortable even if the exchange is storytelling for money instead of sex.

I cannot claim to be the expert on this, but what I can do is share some of the things Dave and I have done over the years.
1)  Come up with a fee schedule that makes you happy.  i.e.  One forty-five minute show will cost 300.00.  Two 45 minute shows at the same school back to back will cost 475.00.  Three shows at the same school in the same day will cost 750.00.  If the shows have a break between them of an hour or more, there is an extra 50.00 charge.  If two schools go in together, there will be a 50.00 discount for both schools. (You get the idea, make a fee schedule)


2)  Come up with a bottom line.  This is not something you plan to share with clients, but you have to know what the bottom is, or you’ll end up taking shows you don’t want that pay what you feel is not right, in situations that make you furious.  What is the least amount you will accept….determine what it is and DO NOT GO BELOW IT!


3) Now that you have a strong bottom line, come up with a pie in the sky top line…got it?  If you have anything under five zeroes, you are not dreaming big enough.  Okay, now, come up with a reasonable top line.  It should be within at least two hundred dollars of your bottom line, but three to five doesn’t hurt.  Always start at the reasonable top of your fee schedule when you can, and go down only if you have to.  Take no prisoners and give ground only when absolutely necessary.

4)  If a customer asks for something that is not standard, i.e. ‘Could you design a show around this great Mask that is on our website?’ then do not offer to do this for the standard fee.  Anytime they start asking for something special, decide what kind of work that is and what you would be happy charging.  START with the standard fee and then go up from there.

5  Make sure you have different pricing systems for different venues.  What you charge the local church might be different than what you charge a small library which might be different from what you might charge the University of Southern California.

5)  Be flexible.  Never give your potential client your bottom line.  Build in a healthy cushion so that if they cannot match your best price, they might be able to find some common ground with you somewhere.  Just as you do not wish to go below your bottom price, they are hoping not to have to pay their top price.  Negotiations are important.  Swallow your embarrassment and pride and just go for it.

6)   If clients attempt to tell you that one hundred dollars is more than plenty, then they are clearly not looking for a professional storyteller.  There are far too many people in our business who do not charge a reasonable fee schedule.  They make it hard for some folks to work because the buyers believe they should be paying less because that is what they are used to.  Make sure clients know that they get what they pay for.  Stick to your guns and press for both the recognition and compensation you deserve.

Storytellers, like other artists, have financial responsibilities.  We need to pay mortgages, car notes, dental bills, you name it.  We have to be compensated for what we do.  Negotiating the fee is not the most fun thing in the world, but it is a necessary one.  Sit down, figure out what you want to charge.  Figure out what you feel is your strongest bottom line and start negotiations with your top price.  Instead of the fear of approaching the money, consider the fact that you are worth every penny and more.  In fact, consider that you are worth your pie in the sky number, after that, if they are paying less than that, they are getting an uber bargain!


Money is a touchy subject in our society unless you’ve got gobs of it.  Few of us have gobs of it.  Let’s do what we can to make sure that we have enough to continue doing what we love.

Good Luck
Happy Telling.