Girls are always having to justify their existence. From the moment we are born we’re told to ‘shut up’. Being told to ‘shut up’ constantly goes through to your being and becomes part of the fabric of your life. In the fifth decade of my life I am used to it but that doesn’t mean I accept it.
Which leads to being a creative. The message to women is ‘shut up and work for free’. This can mean many things; work overtime for nothing, work in low pay which basically translates as no pay after all living costs have been deducted, do favours for people all the freaking time and do projects for people for nothing because – the line goes – it will help you build your presence, enable you to support other creatives or other charities and you’ll get that warm fuzzy feeling from doing it.
I used to work in Public Relations. I could have gotten very rich from the amount of times people asked me to help them promote their businesses or events – for nothing, based on the fact that a) I am a woman, and b) they thought I was ‘nice’ and c) I could use their project for the purposes of my CV (ha ha). I remember one woman asked me to work for free promoting her art studio and the warm fuzzy feeling I got from telling her – I charge £500 a day for my international PR work (that was true at the time, even though the reality was I was working for one client and I only got two days’ work a month) was priceless. The look on her face said it all. It read: ‘traitor, you want to charge me??? – how dare you?’
Another woman, the boss of a UK language school, roped me into meetings for a PR campaign for her business, then proceeded to tell me she would give me a discount for the language lessons my son was taking there at the time as way of an ‘exchange’. I never spoke to her again after that.
Yet another woman, the CEO of a ‘for profit’ school in the UK that was flying under the radar by masquerading as a ‘charity’, got me in for meetings again to promote her school, and offered me a glass of wine as payment for a campaign. That relationship did not end well. It ended but not well. I was seething.
The same is true of the self-publishing world. It’s great we are able to put our beloved tomes up on Amazon, but the world must pay creatives for their work.
We’re not asking much for the years of hard toil put into novel writing, a few pounds here and there. I hate getting free copies of novels. I always buy them. I also read absolutely everywhere that you simply must give away your novels for free in order to get reviews that will eventually help you sell. Everyone has massive demand on their time and their money these days and not everyone is able to take a risk on a new – read an old writer who’s been writing for twenty years – by buying their novels, but surely we must not race to the bottom and bury ourselves in FREE.
Creatives must be paid for their work – whatever type of creative you are. We need to celebrate creativity as seriously important for a life well spent, a happy life. People spend money on creative content every day, either by paying for subscription TV, watching films at the cinema or any other means. Writers need to be paid and this FREE mentality in order to build platforms is distressing and outright WRONG. I’ve often thought about whether I should give away all my novels for free as a way of promoting myself, but I just can’t do it. This is a long conversation and the world should be having it. Please connect, comment and share your thoughts. Jo xx