Saturday, July 19, 2008


This has been a busy time: a library visit in Boston (thank you, everyone who came!), a successful negotiation with a publisher about payment (thank you BRGs for advice on that). I am not by nature a good negotiator, especially when I really, really want to do the project. I was brought up not to talk about money, I feel fortunate to be paid for my writing, awkward talking about money and naming amounts, greedy when I ask for more -- but this is no way to make a living.

So, this time I was determined to do things differently. I  really th0ught about it, consulted with the BRGs, and then said (in a nice way) why I thought the offer wasn't enough. The editor involved COULDN'T have been nicer and more gracious: she was very appreciative of me and my writing, explained that this project had a very small budget, wished she could pay me more. And made a new offer. Everything was done in a spirit of good will, and  left me feeling great about the project and the fact that I had asked, too. What if I hadn't? I would have been resentful and angry, she would never even have known that I was being paid way less than usual.

Another thing that made it easier was a conversation with the organizer of Authors Talk Too, the group that invited me to do the library visit. After the presentations, we went out to lunch and talked -- as authors are apt to do -- about money and publishers and contracts (we talked about other things, too:  kids and literacy and getting authors into the schools that need them most). She said that when one person does a job for less than she deserves, it makes things harder for everyone else.

That reminded me of something a friend said once when she was learning to stick up for herself in general: she pretended that she was sticking up for, protecting, a child. For some (many?) women, it's a lot easier to stick up for other people than yourself!  So I am posting  this as a reminder for myself and everyone else who finds negotiating and asking for more hard: think of it as sticking up for your colleagues as well as yourself. Good luck to us all! And I'd love to hear how other people do it.

PS More on the library visit later

1 comment:

Meghan McCarthy said...

I'm glad things worked out, Libby! You'll have to tell me the details. And you're right--it's better to get things out in the open or you'll be resentful.