I Am The Friend Who Will Tell You To Get Paid.
Some thoughts on scarcity mindset, money, and self-promotion. Plus: An amazing new memoir, a calendar, and a hot pink bra.
Friday Thread: How Do You Name Your Value?
A new think piece came out last week, bemoaning the “performance” required of artists and writers on social media. I am always quite cranky about these stories. Not because I think social media is so great; I did quiet quit Instagram last year. But the underlying implication these stories is that if you care about sales, or want people to pay for your work, you are not a true artist. And this is bullshit.
Placing art in opposition to sales only gatekeeps who gets to make art. After all, most people have to get paid to work and art is work. But it is rarely work that pays well and I think our fear of “performance” is one reason why. The myth that true artists don’t sell their work leads women and other marginalized writers and artists to live in fear of being the creative who sells out. And this means too many of us don’t sell enough.
This is why so many authors sound so doleful and apologetic when they tell you to preorder their book. This is one reason why so many authors (but not white cis men!) get saddled with shitty low advances and absolutely terrible contract terms. Structural racism and other biases are also at play here clearly. Last year a major industry analysis found that women now dominate publishing—but I refuse to frame that as a victory when one reason women write more books is because publishing is such a low-paying field.
Editors at major media outlets are regularly surprised when I tell them I won’t write a 1500-word essay for $400 because that is not a living wage. Because they know the next woman they email will say yes. Scarcity mindset trains us to accept crumbs and be grateful. It’s so gross that authors have to promote their own work, we say, squishing ourselves down. Some personal news, we share tentatively when we have a book deal to announce but don’t want to look like we’re making too big a fuss. We never want to take up too much space.
When we shame creatives for caring about self-promotion, we are saying that it’s not okay to know and name your value. I’m not here for it. (And ha! Here comes the paywall to prove it.)