January 29, 2016

three cents: everybody win-wins

[three cents is two things about money and one thing about love, and I'll send it to you about once a month]

1. a thing about money: 

I don't come naturally to negotiation; I am a person who freezes up when I'm in other countries and I know haggling is expected of me in low-stakes retail situations. In my work, I actually almost wince when I hear the word "offer" because I know it's the beginning of a conversation, not the conclusion of one. Then I google things like "how to negotiate" and "negotiating women money." I try to remember my LinkedIn password. I contemplate re-watching Glengarry Glen Ross. 

But usually it turns out that negotiating is never that big of a deal. Someone else offers something, I ask for something else, they ask for something similar but different, and so on. Everyone is happy to be there. And so part of my own negotiating process is remembering to not to be too hard on myself about not being a David Mamet character. I set goals for what I want, sure, but my persistent goal is simply to get better at this, every time. That said, I do have a few basic guidelines for whenever I find myself in a position to negotiate pay: 
  • Research. Who are you dealing with here? What are their resources like? I'm not going to ask for $5 a word from a tiny lit mag that doesn't pay its editors. And I'm not going to demure and say, "oh, whatever you think is best" to a gigantic corporation with Scrooge McDuck piles of money in the basement. Similarly, it helps to know something about the specific person with whom I'm dealing and to try and have a general idea of what their role is in the larger organization (i.e., how much power they have).
  • See if you can find out a budget range before you get into specific numbers. If we get into a "no, you name your number first" standoff, I just usually just ask: "Are you able to share your range with me?" They'll say no if they can't. 
  • Know your own, personal dealbreakers, financial and otherwise. 
  • The one super-strict rule I hold myself to is: Always ask for more. Every time. No matter what. Because no one is going to give you more money unless you ask for it. And if you ask for more and the person instantly agrees without even blinking... then you should probably ask for even more next time. When I negotiate, I sometimes don't get more. And I sometimes get more than more. But I never get less, I can tell you that!
  • Then there are manners. In 2013, for an article in the very first issue of Scratch magazine, I interviewed people who sell stuff on the street here in San Francisco about how they haggle. One of my sources, a jubilant older woman without teeth whose name I can't recall, is one of many folks who lately jostle for spots on the corner of 18th and Valencia on weekend mornings, selling vintage-ish clothes that hang off the parking lot's chain link fence like prayer flags in the San Francisco wind. This woman, a sales pro, gave me what is probably the best negotiation advice I've ever received, as well as the best general career advice: "Just don't be an asshole," she told me. Push it or don't push it, know your comfort zones and your stakes, but mostly? Just don't be an asshole. 

How do you approach negotiating, whether for salaries or freelance gigs? Do you think the realities of negotiating are different  for creative professionals? Are business blogs and LinkedIn tipsheets right about this stuff? Reply and I'll put some of the most useful answers in the next newsletter.


2. another thing about money:  

If you'll be in the New York area this April, consider taking my one-day class about writers and money, Money Changes Everything, which costs money, but a fairly reasonable amount of it! It's at Catapult publishing, in Manhattan. My agent, Kate McKean, will be a guest speaker during the session. Also, I've been told there will be wine afterwards. Catapult also offers gift cards, so, you know... 'tis always the season for learning stuff!


3. a thing about love: 

It has finally been rainy and cozy in California, and I have been thinking lately about The Days Of Young Love. That is how my partner and I once heard my stepmom and dad refer to their early courtship, and it was cute, so it stuck. The Days Of Young Love never last, of course—that particular brand of heat and tummyaches can't. But whether we are into the days of more-matured love or currently love-free, I feel like it's still important to keep an image in mind of that particular love's youth: the endorphin rushes, the activity-going, the overall unquenchability of two people who have newly discovered one another. Not because we miss it or regret leaving it behind or think we could ever truly recapture it, but because it is lovely and it was necessary and it is part of us, now—no matter whether it lasts, implodes, or never even gets off the ground. This could apply to non-romantic types of love, as well, I suppose—art, work, etc. But let's make it apply to romance today, shall we? Butterfly kisses for everyone! 

department of buried ledes: 

Speaking of stuff I love, I'm beyond thrilled to tell y'all that I have accepted a full-time job as managing editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, the fiction and art magazine owned by Francis Ford Coppola. All-Story is all kinds of acclaimed; most recently, it's been nominated for a National Magazine Award for fiction this year (going up against two little-known upstarts called Harper's and the New Yorker). It also happens to be my favorite magazinereally, truly. And I'm so excited and nervous and proud and pretty much all-around stoked to have a hand in making it. To show you just how stoked I am, I'm offering readers of this newsletter a 25% discount on subscriptions to All-Story—just use the discount code SCRATCH when subscribing hereI will now invoke a publishing cliché and say you really do have to hold this magazine in your hands to understand how good it is. The current issue was guest designed by artist Barry McGee (a.k.a. Twist, for those of you who were alive and around the Bay Area in the 1990s) and features short stories by Elizabeth McCracken (bow down) and Maile Meloy, among others. Pinch me. 

department of linkage:

"The year was 1786. England’s most successful female novelist was 34 and unmarried." And she had a day job

Where the word "gig" came from and what it means now

I do love me some WPA history; here's a look at how the cultural "welfare state" supported risky literature. Catchy headline, too... 

I don't watch The Affair, but I do enjoy reading re-caps of the show's ridonkulous depiction of the publishing industry

The headline on this piece drives me a little bit crazy, because I think it belongs on top of an entirely different article... but this is still a pretty good book review of two new anthologies.

New media kingpin Mallory Ortberg is running her mouth off about money again. And AGAIN. Which is only one of the reasons I love her. 

Pay women the money they need to make culture. Got it?

department of come say hi: 

I'll be at the AWP conference in Los Angeles this year, from March 31 to April 2. I'm moderating a panel about writing + commerce with some terrific panelists. Deets:

The Odd Couple: Literature and Commerce 
Manjula Martin, Kima Jones, Ayesha Pande, Karolina Waclawiak 

Saturday, April 2, 10:30-11:45am
Room 408 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

See you there?