Are you the Boss of your Creations? Find Out!
This article is for anyone who makes a living from their talents, gifts or their body of knowledge; but specially for Creatives.
I've been reflecting on my last literary reading gig. A friend I had not collaborated with for a long time invited me to read at a literary reading. I was happy to reconnect and collaborate with her, so I felt inspired to do it.
And then the issues started:
Issue 1: Non-payment
They were not paying. For most of my professional life I’ve been bumping against a particular issue that I’ve distilled to this: there are two financial model for artists.
This is especially true of writers and performers, not necessarily of visual artists and musicians because they have a different historical background and relate to their creations as products/assets.
But especially for writers, this double financial model is true.
- The Academic Model: These writers are teachers ~whether college professors or teachers in the school system. They make their living from that salary, not from their writings. This could also include writers with a corporate “day” job.
- The Cultural Worker: They make their living from their art. For writers, they make their living from their books and other writings, from their presentations and from other offers related to their Unique Genius and connected to their writings. Some people call this Professional Artist.
But I believe that both artists (in this case writers) are professional in so far as they write, present and publish/present consistently. Labeling the former (Academic Model) as non-professional because they do not generate income from their money is one type of snobbery for me.
The other type of snobbery is not taking seriously those who make an income from their art and asking them to do it for free.
Could you imagine yourself going to a carpenter and ordering a cabinet and then telling him that you can’t pay him? It would be unacceptable.
That is why I call the second model The Cultural Worker. Because an artist is doing an important job in society and like every other worker they need to be paid.
However, so many of the organizers of literary readings are Academics, so they frequently (not always) have no consciousness of the fact that this is a job. Instead, they see it as part of their academic job to bring prestige or activities to the college while getting a secured salary. In the case of school teachers, they may see it as their passion, that they do for free, as a lifeline because it makes them happy while they get their income from teaching.
That is fine with me. The Academic Model is a legitimate option. But the issue arises when they do not extend their consciousness to honor those who live from their art.
I’ve had to educate many event organizers on this and it’s not always pleasant.
I’ve also come up with different ways to be flexible with this because if an organization has no funds, I could die arguing and it won’t change a thing.
Therefore, I ask three things from an organization, depending on the circumstances:
- To be paid a fair fee for the presentation itself.
- That they have a book table where I can showcase and sell my books, and
- That I can talk about my books and offers on stage and refer them to my table or to a link.
Sometimes only one is appropriate for the structure of the event. Sometimes I am able to get the three things.
But I do NOT participate in any events where all three things are denied. It’s nothing personal. I’m not angry. There’s no conflict. Simply put, I need to invest my time, energy and resources in other choices that allow me to generate income.
Issue 2: Respect for Intellectual Property Rights
Two days before the event, I was told that I needed to give them the text. WHOA! Here again, there is a lack of consciousness of the financial issues of an artist, in this case a writer who makes a living from their creations.
When these things happen to us, we get angry and defensive. We often feel that we are not being respected and that they are trying to take us for a ride.
The truth is that in about 80% of the cases, these are good people doing their best and they simply are not conscious (or willing to be conscious) of the Cultural Worker financial model.
But for the writers who sell their books, who have or work with a publishing house, this is non-acceptable.
That is their intellectual property being requested for free, with no legal agreement as to their benefits or the organizer’s limits.
Let’s say that tomorrow my publisher says yes to publishing this work. I may get into trouble or be rejected after initial acceptance if this works suddenly shows up in the website of the event, for example.
The problem is that many writers themselves are not clear on this legal issues with their intellectual property and end up losing good opportunities because of this lack of knowledge of or attention to their rights.
So there are a lot of bad habits in the industry and it’s hard to address them as a single individual.
I of course told them that I have a contractual obligation with my publishing house not to share my unpublished writings with other parties. But the thing is that it would not have occurred to them that this was not an acceptable request. In fact, I think that I have been the ONLY writer to respond negatively to this request.
Issue 3: No support to sell your creations
To continue the story, in order to respect my own value and needs, I had requested a Book Table Space.
As the event was online, I suggested to use the chat as the Book Table Space and that at the moment of presenting me, they would enter my book links on the chat. The contact that engaged me in the event agreed.
Finally, the same day of the event, I sent the organizer my book links for the chat. He answered that he would be too busy to place those links.
Now I had already prepared for the event. Everything was setup. In a couple of hours, we would be on. I had two options:
- Not to do the event for breach of agreement, which seemed to me a bit extreme, as everyone had been warm and kind. Also, I would be the one looking bad to the audience.
- To do the reading anyway, though I would get nothing in return.
I did none of the above.
Instead, I quickly put together a web page with my book list and links to buy at my store or at Amazon. Then I sent an email to the organizer. Here’s a summary of the content:
- I acknowledged how hard it was to present in Zoom, as I also do it often and know how overwhelming it can be. This acknowledged the challenges he was going through, placing my response on his side.
- Then I told him that I am a cultural worker and make my income from my books, writings and creative programs. This was a way of expanding his consciousness.
- Then I told him that I had made it easy for him by creating only one link for my books.
- And that to make it even easier, while he presented me, I would place that one link on the chat.
- And then I thank him for understanding.
In other words, I stood my ground while being receptive to the organizer’s limitations.
The organizer was amazing when he presented me. He talked about my massive body of work (he had visited my book page) and he told the audience that in the chat there would be a link to my books. Then he encouraged the other writers to enter their own link when they were presented.
If you’ve read up to here, you may be saying “But Maria, this was a lot of work not to get paid, and the emotional aggravation.. was it really worth it?”
Yes it was.
- The event was amazing. Every reader was exquisite. There was a good size audience for Zoom and it loved what we did. I placed my book links and when the videos came out, they would also have my links.
- The storytelling and poetry were deeply healing. People did not want to leave and the conversation after the reading revealed the stories of the audience. An extraordinary event!
- On top of that, now I have my book list in one page where I can refer everyone during live events.
- As a secondary benefit, now I am reviewing all my books at the store and I am drenched in self-value as I receive the massive body of work I’ve created and see it within a bigger vision that I had when I wrote it.
- AND lastly, but not least: Everyone benefited from me standing my ground and finding creative ways to meet my needs within the limitations and strengths of the presenting organization. As a result, they now could place a link to their books. Furthermore, the organization had a more clear understanding of the needs of Cultural Workers.
Why am I sharing this story?
Because no matter what field you are in…
- It is up to YOU to stand in your value, to make sure that people respect you and honor the value you bring.
- It is up to YOU to protect your intellectual property rights. These rights may be a book, a product, a system or a program.
- When presenters have a structure that does not benefit you, it is up to YOU to come up with a solution that benefits YOU. You need to decide whether it is cost-effective or wise to still participate. You need to be able to say no in order to honor your time, resources and energy, OR… you need to come up with creative ways in which you can benefit.
You are the boss of your creations.
Many of the issues we face in our path to sharing our gifts with the world can be avoided or solved by us standing in our value, making sure that the value we bring to the event is clear and honored and being flexible to find ways in which to meet our needs in events that have our audience but may lack some facilities.
Sometimes we need to say NO to that which does not serve us so we clear the space to say YES to that which serves us.
And in order to do this, to stand in your value, you must drink deeply of your own value at an emotional and energy level.
The problem is that many of us “know” our value intellectually but do not FEEL it. This leads to self-doubts that are then picked up by others and determine our responses.
And in this state of doubt, we either allow others to walk all over us OR respond with aggressive defensiveness, aborting possibilities that would become clear if we ~deeply standing in our value~ could come up with creative ways to honor it.
This is the importance of doing deep emotional and energy work in terms of our value, our gifts and talents, the value that our creations bring into the world and our needs for sustainability and sovereignty.
And this is what I help creative women with in my upcoming signature program.
You are Gift! Share your Creations with the World.
Level 1 of this program is starting on February:
Take your Goddess out of the Suitcase:
Free your Creative Feminine
This is a deep journey to:
- Discover and release the narratives holding you back when you need to move forward or stealing your visibility or brilliance.
- Drink deeply of your value, the value of your gifts and talents to humanity, your unique organic gifts and the opening of your Infinite Inner Treasures, where you experience a ceremony to see, value and name the hundreds of gifts, talents, skills, resources and growth assets you have and see how they change the world.
- Understand the Identity Traps that steal your organic gifts and make you doubt yourself and how to detach from them.
- Reclaim your Feminine Gift and discover feminine values to the concepts of power, authority, success, strength and leadership, so that you release self-sabotage and embrace your self-authority.
- Heal your Inner Patriarch that keeps invalidating your grace and creativity and pushing you to do more while feeling less and instead “knighting” your Sacred Masculine to work on your behalf.
- Mother your Inner Rebel into growth so that instead of resisting, hiding and protesting, she becomes the Queen of your Inner Queendom and stands in her self-authority using the feminine model of power and leadership.
- Understand that you are part of a Star Constellation and connect to them, a group of souls that are your allies in this life: peers, teachers, mentors, clients, audience, readers, funders, presenters, etc. This constellation already exists in the Chi Field. To share your light is the beacon that attracts them. To be YOU creates a path for them to find you. You don’t have to struggle or convince anyone. You need to be true to you and allow that vibration to sing and dance in the Chi Field.
If you relate to this story I have shared…
- If you recognize your need to explore these seven trails…
- If you know that you need to drink deeply of your own value and release what holds you back…
Then sign for the waiting list here:
You will receive VIP notices and if you register when you get the notices, an Early Bird Discount.
And meanwhile, you will be reading my own story of how I learned what I now teach.