UPDATE 20 May 2020: I’ve been incredibly touched by the response to this page since I first posted it at the end of April. You’ve sent donations of money and books, and messages of support, advice and encouragement. It’s helped keep my spirits up, and off-set the loss of earnings; I have now heard from the government that I will be eligible for a grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme so that will help further still. It has all been enormously helpful and moreover, encouraging. Thank you to all of you who responded however you’ve been able to, it’s all been very much appreciated.
At the start of the lockdown I was thinking that these online activities – lectures, #virtualnilecruise etc – would help keep us all going for a few weeks until things got back to normal, but it now seems likely ‘normal’ is still a long way away, and may never return completely, and that ‘lockdown lectures’ like these might be a part of a ‘new normal’. It’s for this reason that I’m beginning to experiment with charging for online talks; I will need to bring money in if I’m going to continue – as I’d really like to – and it’s your thoughtful and generous responses that have persuaded me that it might be possible. Thank you!
I’ve written a little more about my plans and how I got to this point here.
Lockdown, lost earnings
I’ve been self-employed for 3 and a half years now and I earn my living from writing, TV, lecturing and leading tours to Egypt and elsewhere. I also earn an honorarium from my work for the Robert Anderson Trust. The lockdown has changed things for me as it has for everyone. I’ve lost some paid work – a tour to Egypt, a few lectures and a TV project. This has meant I’ve had a bit of extra time to work on making the best of the situation, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to give a few lectures online, to lead a ‘virtual Nile cruise’, and in general to share more via social media than I would have done otherwise, knowing that there are probably more people out there with the time and inclination to indulge their interests in Egyptology than there would be normally. This has been great fun, but so far I haven’t taken any steps towards trying to recover any of my lost income, and I couldn’t carry on working like this without earning any money for very long.
Online lectures – details here
Being very English I don’t like to ask, but it’s been suggested to me that anyone who appreciates the lectures etc might like to support their friendly neighbourhood Egyptologist…
I’m by no means the worst affected by the current crisis: I’m healthy, safe, I’m with my loved ones, and certainly have plenty to occupy me. There are plenty of people who need support much more than I do, those in the NHS (to support NHS Charities Together go here), those who are homeless (go here) or struggling to feed themselves or their families (here) , and those working at historic sites and monuments for whom a lack of income from visitors threatens their ability to protect these vital parts of our shared heritage (see the campaign here) – to name but four that have been in my mind.
But in case you were wondering if or how you could help a freelance Egyptologist, here are a few suggestions.
My first book, Searching for the Lost Tombs of Egypt is available now in print and e-book form (via Amazon, or your local bookshop), and my next one Egyptologists’ Notebooks will be out in September 2020 and is available now for pre-order (Amazon.co.uk and Blackwells in the UK, Amazon.com in the US). Buying copies for yourself or your friends and family really helps, as does pre-ordering – this encourages sellers to buy in more stock from the publisher, and to do more to promote the book to readers. Leaving a review – on Amazon, GoodReads and elsewhere – can really help encourage people to buy books as well (unless you really didn’t enjoy what you read I which case I imagine you probably wouldn’t be here…).
A small contribution
If you’d like to show your support by making a small financial contribution you can do so via PayPal.Me. So far I have avoided charging any fee for online lectures but putting together and giving talks takes time, and I now pay for a Zoom subscription for hosting webinars; ordinarily I would be paid a small lecturer’s fee, and I often take the opportunity to sell books afterwards – neither of these things are available to me at the moment. I’d rather keep the lectures free for now, but if you’d like to show your support by making a small contribution, I‘d be really grateful. If the lectures weren’t free I’d probably charge somewhere between £2 and £5 (I think?).
In order to do my work, I need books! I’m very lucky that in 20 years of studying and working in Egyptology I’ve amassed a decent collection of my own, and I also have access to the collection of the late Dr Robert Anderson, former honorary Secretary of the EES. But I don’t have everything I need and ordinarily I would need to supplement what I have at home with visits to the British Library, EES and elsewhere. If you’d like to help add to the collection a list of titles on my ‘wish list’ is here.
Thanks for reading this. As I said above, I don’t like asking, and I’m not expecting to get anything from this. Any and every response to the above will be very, very welcome. If you have any questions or thoughts, please let me know via this page. Thank you!