It’s Women’s History Month and the children’s literature community is celebrating with 31 days of posts seeking to address gender and social inequalities in our industry. Join the conversation at KidlitWomen on Facebook and by searching #KidlitWomen on Twitter.
If you have known me for any length of time, you have probably heard me tell a little story—a true story, first told to me by my dad—that I like to call The Parable of the Couch.
Many, many years ago, my parents’ had a neighbor who bought a new couch. He dragged his old one to his curb and placed a small cardboard sign upon it, marked FREE.
The couch sat outside, without so much as a single inquiry, for an entire week. The neighbor, not wanting to haul it away himself, developed a different strategy: He removed the FREE sign and replaced it with a new one—this one marked: $10.00.
Friends, someone stole his couch that very night.
Here’s a truth: When you value something, other people value it as well.
Publishing doesn’t like to talk about money—at least not out in the open—so I can link to no studies showing the gender wage disparity when it comes to school visits and speaking fees. But anecdotally, I have heard account after account of men, at similar, or even lower, career levels to their female counterparts, being paid more—often when speaking at the very same event. Could part of the problem lie with women not asking for enough?
At the time of this posting the following tweet has been shared more than 30,000 times, and liked nearly 170,000. Though its subject is design work, the principle is the same:
Real thing that just happened to me: I quoted a client a rate, and the project manager responded with “how about we triple that, so it better matches what we’ve paid our male designers for the same work?” 1. This client is heroic. 2. Female designers: ASK FOR MORE MONEY.
[Generalization Alert] Men, I love your confidence. I love that you can ask top dollar—demand top dollar—without worrying too much whether you deserveit or not. That is truly a skill, and one that doesn’t come easy to many women.
Women, stop undervaluing yourselves.
Stop feeling guilty for wanting to be paid well.
Stop standing at the curb with a FREE sign around your neck, hoping to be noticed.
You have worked extremely hard to get to where you are. You are an expert in your field. Throw your shoulders back and act like it.
ASK FOR MORE MONEY.
Approach every negotiation with the confidence of this kid.
How much more? That depends on a lot of factors, but consider saying something like the following at the negotiating stage. You may be surprised where it leads you:
Women/Non-Binary People: “My speaking fee is negotiable, but I must be paid as much as the man you had speak last year.”
While we are on the subject, male allies can lend support by saying this:
Male Allies: “I would ask that any women speaking are paid the same amount as I am.”
And since we cannot rightly look at issues of gender equality without considering intersectionality, white people, let’s all go one better:
White Allies of Any Gender: “I would ask that any people of color speaking are paid the same amount as I am.”
Let’s each place a high value on the work that we, and our industry peers, do. Let’s work together, and use what privilege we have, to raise each other up.
We are worth it.
End note: Though this essay focused mainly on women, the disparities mentioned also apply, and often to an even greater degree, to people who identify outside the gender binary. My apologies if anyone felt excluded.
Claire, Lauren, and I had high hopes, but even we couldn’t have predicted what a wild success it would be. We had 37 fabulous middle grade authors playing charades and Pictionary, leading writing exercises, and sitting on Q&A sessions in front of a crowd of about 200 readers, mostly kids.
two “Words! Words! Words!” —Eliza Doolittle (and me) I am working on a new book, with a need to get a readable draft finished rather quickly.
two-point-five Due to the aforementioned book, the Pomodoro Method has become my friend. Basically, this method dictates you work on a task for 25 minutes (or one pomodoro) then take a five minute break. After four pomodoros you take a longer break, 15-20 minutes. It has really helped to keep me from straying over to twitter when I can’t think of a word I want to use.
Any timer would work, but I use an app on my mac. I like because it puts a little countdown clock in the corner of whatever window I have open. See:
I’m finding it much easier to stay on task when I can see that I have a break coming up. I live for those breaks.
On days where I need extra help focusing, I also use the Freedom app. It locks me out of the internet for whatever predetermined time I have set. And there is no way to turn it off. You just have to wait it out. It’s a dream (and a nightmare)!
What tricks do you use to keep from getting distracted?
five Hook’s Revenge has been available for pre-order in hardcover for some time. Some of you have asked when the e-version would be available for pre-order. The answer is now: Nook Kindle Hardcover buying options are linked to on my books page. Both paper and electronic versions release September 16.
five-point-two-five Gosh, I love you.
five-point-seven-three I’m working on planning a couple of International Talk Like a Pirate Day Weekend/Book Launch parties, one in Portland and one in Salem. Locals, mark your calendars for September 19th and 20th and watch this space.
I got this out-of-the-blue note in the mail yesterday.
How could I forget? This is a color copy of a photograph showing the actual giraffe that bit the head off my doll. This was taken post-bite. Look how disgusted my mom looks. I had no idea this photo existed, but I am so glad it does.
Speaking of giraffes, I feel a little funny about posting more news so soon–like I am being greedy or something, but…
Once again, so many thanks to my agent, Brooks Sherman. I had not planned to write a picture book, but he encouraged me to try it. I did, and when the story was ready, he found a wonderful publisher for it. [Writers: Listen to your agents. They are usually pretty smart–I know mine is.]
I am thrilled to be working with Mary Kate at Bloomsbury Kids. I was able to meet both her and Rotem, my editor for Hook’s Revenge, when I was in New York a few months ago. They are amazing. I know I am going to learn a lot from each one.
I’m very lucky.
I’m very grateful.
You know how I feel about giraffes, right? So. I wrote one that ruins absolutely everything, but at the end of the day, he’s pretty likable.* I don’t quite know what happened. I suppose it’s true what they say: Writing is therapy.
To celebrate, I bought myself a t-shirt of this image. I think it perfectly sums up the happy beginnings of my writing career.
Want your own? Get it here. (I am not affiliated with this company in any way. I just like to share the awesome.)
So, that’s it. All Most of my secrets have been revealed. All the big ones anyway. My hair can deflate and things can get back to normal. Or, you know, normal for me. Whatever that means.
At least until next week, when I announce the sale of my new YA. (Kidding!) (Probably.)
*Don’t think for a second that I have let my guard down. Just because I happened to write one that I rather like doesn’t mean I have forgotten the truth: Giraffes are dangerous creatures. Hide your wife. Hide your kids.
Call my hometown bookstore, The Book Bin at 503-361-1235, and place an order!
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