I read Kait Nolan’s post for today, and it triggered a train of thought that has been lurking in my hind brain for a while. It took some time for me to get a good enough hold on the thought to pin in down to words, but it eventually yielded this: If you don’t value your own work, nobody else will.
I don’t mean that you have to be an evil diva and declare yourself the greatest artist since the dawn of time, but you do need to recognise what is good about your creations, not just what is bad. If you are putting your work out there, whether to sell or for free on the internet, you can’t be timid about it. Saying “I’m afraid it’s not very good,” won’t make strangers say, “Oh, I’m sure it is really!” They are much more likely to say, “Oh, it isn’t? I won’t bother with it then.” The open market is not the best place to fish for compliments; people are choosing where to spend their money and/or time, and most of them aren’t too bothered about pandering to an artist’s ego.
To use a concrete example: I know someone who makes beautiful, hand-sewn bags, often with matching scarves or other accessories. She has tried selling them at various craft fairs, but never had a very good response. Her reaction to this was to bring the prices down, but she still didn’t sell many – and she was effectively working for free once she’d covered the cost of the materials. I have tried to persuade her to price the bags higher, but she is sure that it will simply put people off. I eventually went to a shop in town and bought a handmade bag, very similar to the kind she makes. It is small and simple, and (frankly) not quite as good as hers, yet it was priced the same as a high street handbag. I’m going to take this bag, complete with price tag, and show it to my friend just to prove that you can – and should – sell things for what they’re worth. Since I know she’ll need some convincing, I’m going to test out my reasoning on you guys.
- If you price your stuff too low, people are going to wonder what’s wrong with it.
- It might be a labour of love, but making things is still labour, and you’ve got to live.
- Your product (and your time, skills and brilliance) are valuable, and the price should reflect that.
OK, I lied. This line of reasoning is for my friend, but it’s also for me. Because I am just as guilty as any other writer, artist or designer when it comes to undervaluing and apologising for my own work. Looking back through my April posts, and my attempts at poetry, I find over and over variations on “I’m not very happy with this one,” or “It’s not a very good poem,” sometimes even within the poems themselves! If I’m going to convince my friend to value her own work, then I need to set a good example. My RoW80 round three goals therefore are:
- Write at least 1,500 words a day (This should get “Fragments” finished)
- Review a least two pieces a week (one online and one at my writers’ group)
- Answer letters and emails within three days of receipt (even if it’s just a brief acknowledgement)
- Contact one agency a week with “The History of Haplow House”.
- Stop putting myself down. (At least in public. My inner critic is probably here to stay)
That’s it. Thanks for reading and commenting
on this sporadic and rambling piece of nonsense I call a blo- er, I mean, See you Wednesday for the first check-in!