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Own Your Value & Stand For Your Worth

Lissa Rankin's picture

own value worth

How many times have you settled for less than you know you deserve? How often have you sucked it up and convinced yourself that you should just feel grateful for what you have and quit wanting so friggin’ much? How many times have you compromised, at the expense of valuing what you’re worth? How many times have you been underpaid or passed over for a promotion you deserved or failed to charge someone what you’re worth?

If your answer is often, you’re not alone -- especially if you’re female. Even those of us with high levels of self confidence second guess and undervalue ourselves. Why? Because we’re afraid.

When Others Dictate Your Worth

I know all about questioning your worth. Last week, the publishing house that had the right of first refusal on my next book offered me a book deal for my memoir, BROKEN: One Doctor’s Search For The Lost Heart Of Medicine. It’s a kick ass book, if I do say so myself. My agent calls it “Eat, Pray, Vagina,” and it’s about my journey through a broken health care system, into a newfound spirituality, and ultimately, after a period of gestation, it’s about how I gave birth to myself. I’ve spent the past four years working on it, and it’s honestly the best thing I’ve ever written -- and may be the best thing I’ll ever write. This is my book, the one I’m DYING to get out into the world. And I’m proud of it.

But my publisher only offered me a $15,000 advance for this book. My agent told them they’d have to offer more -- so they bumped up the offer to $17,500 -- and stood firm on that. Take it or leave it. That’s what they believe the book is worth. That’s what they believe I’m worth.

But I think they’re wrong. This offer is only $2500 more than they paid me for my last book, which is in its third printing (albeit with relatively small print runs). But last time, I was an unpublished writer with very little platform and no experience publicizing a book.

Now I’ve shown them my chops. They know that I spent countless hours (and $80,000 of my own money) to go on a 20 city book tour, hire multiple publicists, pay the team who supported me, build Owning Pink, and give my book every chance for mega-success. They told me time and time again that I’m the ideal author, that I do everything a publishing house could ever dream an author would do to get behind a book, and that they’ve never met someone so committed to making a book successful.

And I am that committed. Because it’s not about book sales for me (though they’re certainly nice). It’s in service to my mission -- to inspire and empower and love.

And yet, in spite of all I’ve done, in good faith, to demonstrate my commitment to my books and the publishing house, they’re barely offering me any more money than they did last time.

But Wait A Minute?

When my agent (whom I adore) called me to tell me the news, she pulled a Suzie Cheerleader on me (and she’s amazingly good at it!). I got all Rah-Rah’ed up with her and tried to convince myself that this is great news. After all, I got offered a book deal! My memoir would finally get published! I should count my blessings and do a happy dance.

But that night, my mother wanted to take me out to dinner to celebrate, and I could barely eat. I literally felt sick to my stomach.

Why Did I Feel Sick To My Stomach?

Because I was disappointed. I wasn’t excited. I felt cheapened. Used. Dismissed. Devalued. Unappreciated. Disempowered.  And way bummed out.

On top of feeling all that, I wanted to kick myself not for speaking up about how I really felt. Why did I let Monkey Barbara (my editor) cheerlead me into faking excitement? Why couldn’t I have been authentic enough to say, “The emperor has no clothes, Barbara. THIS BLOWS.”

I mean seriously. $17,500. After four years of writing. It wouldn’t even begin to pay for the book tour my publisher wasn’t planning to fund.

I’m Worth More. But I Sucked It Up

I toasted to my mother over dinner and I did a happy dance with my husband. But when someone asked me how much my publisher offered for the book, I felt shame. Weakness. Embarrassment.

I told him what I was offered. (Nobody talks about this stuff, by the way. Book deal advances are like some industry secret that authors -- even those who are my best friends -- don’t ever discuss). My friend said, “Dude. That’s just WRONG. You’re worth so much more.”

I was like “THANK YOU.” Finally, I felt validated. Then I felt cheap and sleazy and inauthentic again. I felt like I was settling. And I did NOT come this far to settle.

Standing For What I’m Worth

For a week, I’ve felt awful. Nauseous. Irritable. Unsettled.

And then it hit me. I don’t want this book deal. After all this work, all this time, I wanted out, but I felt like my hands were tied. I had already conceded and accepted the deal, even though I felt like I was worth more. I couldn’t back out now, or could I?

I Considered The Consequences

What if I called my agent and told her I wasn’t happy with my book deal. What if she was willing to shop it to other publishers and see if we could get a better deal? What if my publisher was willing to pony up more money? Would I be happy then?

Yes, that would be good.

But what if my agent quit? What if word got out among the publishing houses that Lissa Rankin is a pain in the ass and I got blackballed? Forever.

What if my book never ever got published -- and I never published any more books?

I weighed my options. And I felt incredibly afraid. And then I set the number that would make me feel valued in my head, and decided I wasn’t willing to settle for less. Then I leaped -- and called my agent.

Here Goes Nothing

I told my agent I wanted to cancel the verbal agreement (we hadn’t signed papers yet) with my publisher. So she made the call. And my publisher (God bless them) released me from the deal with great love and disappointment, best wishes, and an open door for future negotiations. And then my agent informed me -- again, with great love and a promise that we will be BFF’s forever -- that she couldn’t be my agent anymore.

And I cried. A lot.

I questioned myself. I had second thoughts. I beat myself up. I felt terrified. I wondered whether I had just hammered the final nail into the coffin of my publishing career.

And I questioned myself some more. What if I’m not actually worth more? What if this is the best offer I’ll ever get, my one and only chance to ever get my message out there, and I’ve turned it down? With all the unpublished authors out there dying for a book deal just like this, who do I think I am? What if nobody ever reads this wonderful, empowering book I wrote? What if this is it?

I should just get over myself.

I’m Worth More, Dammit

And then something deep and primal within me rose up and bellowed in a deep, reverberating voice. NO. YOU ARE WORTH MORE.

And I just knew I was doing the right thing.

So I’m dancing and jumping up and down and screaming YES! I’m spinning and cartwheeling and throwing my arms up in the air.

And I feel freer than I’ve ever felt in my life. Because deep down, I have faith in myself.  I know that I will always land butter side up. And the Universe has got my back, just like the Universe has yours.

What Do You Think?

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Have you been able to overcome your fear and anxiety and stand up for what you know you’re worth? Do you think I’m crazy? Or courageous?

Do tell…

CANNONBALL!!!!!

Lissa

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Change Catalyst coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

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Comments

Elle's picture

Thank-you

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for your candor and spirit. You're right -- no-one talks about these things. And I'm convinced it's from a misplaced sense of ego..or downright shame. People think authors make zillions...and a lot of us feed into that fantasy because it makes us feel good. Valued. But it's a lie. And living a lie is like eating your own soul.
I so appreciate you telling it like it is. And – I truly hope this is the case for you – any time I've stood my ground and insisted on what I believed I was worth, great things happened. Perhaps not immediately...but inevitably. And you want to be free to grab those opportunities with both hands.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you Lynn

Yes, I too have allowed myself to make decisions in the past that devalue who I am and what I'm worth. I've ended up resenting it and feeling cheap, unappreciated, and unhappy. Never again!

Thank you for the validation.

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Lissa Rankin's picture

thank you Carla

I so appreciate your feedback. And I am considering all of my options this week as I consider the best way to move forward.

And yes- you are worth it! I believe in you...

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Lynn Fishman RN's picture

Our Inner Truth Is That Which Lies Beyond Our Fears.

Bravo for sharing those insights Lissa! Many of us resonate with your message.

As I read your blog entry I recalled a time in my own life when I did not listen to my heart, but followed what seemed to be the most rational steps, even though I was devaluing my own needs and desires. It turned out to be a difficult, life altering event and I have since vowed never to do that again.

Learning to be at ease with your own power comes from times like this. You are transforming who you are from the inside out and that changes how you respond to outer challenges.

Indeed, our inner truth is that which lies beyond our fears. So moving through fear caused by the unknown takes courage.

Good luck. Whatever insights you gain from this will be sure to help others down the road.

Best regards,

Lynn Fishman RN

Lynn Fishman RN's picture

Our Inner Truth Is That Which Lies Beyond Our Fears.

Bravo for sharing those insights Lissa! Many of us resonate with your message.

As I read your blog entry I recalled a time in my own life when I did not listen to my heart, but followed what seemed to be the most rational steps to take, even though I was devaluing my own needs and desires. It turned out to be a difficult, life altering event and I have since vowed never to do that again.

Learning to be at ease with your own power comes from times like this. You are transforming who you are from the inside out and that changes how you respond to outer challenges.

Indeed, our inner truth is that which lies beyond our fears. So moving through fear caused by the unknown takes courage.

Good luck. Whatever insights you gain from this will be sure to help others down the road.

Best regards,

Lynn Fishman RN

Pei Li's picture

Hi Lissa, Thank you for

Hi Lissa,

Thank you for sharing a precious story, and honestly, you are not alone! Many of us don't talk about this on blog, but what you've described, the emotions and all those things are real and each one of us have experienced that in different ways. In the past, I have doubt myself and my work, and yes I have also often thought, what if I'm not worth that much? This doesn't happen overnight, but I've slowly learnt who I am, what I can offer and all those things that make me unique. I also learnt that I shouldn't de-value my work.

There are a few great lessons in your post, I am so appreciative of you sharing your story.

I believe that when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it...so don't give up! Have faith! I'm sure you'll land a GREAT book deal.

All the best to you!

Love,
Pei Li

Lissa Rankin's picture

Self publishing

Yes, Troy, I hear you. I'm searching deep within myself to figure out why I don't want to self-publish a print book. I'd actually be fine with just turning it into an e-book and selling it via Owning Pink and Amazon, etc for Kindle, Ipad, etc.

But I don't want to invest my own money in printing a book. I don't feel I need to do that. I've already invested my life fortune in writing books, investing in my business, and building my platform. I guess I want someone to validate me for that, and maybe that's silly. We can only find true validation within, right?

I need to keep soul searching on this. And watching for the signs from the Universe. What do you think, Universe?

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Carla Burke's picture

self publishing

Lissa, first I want to be the cheerleader on the opposite side of the team from your former agent. GO LISSA, GO!!!! (Ok, got part of that out of my system. lol )

You said that you would be willing to publish an e-book, and that's great, and I can fully understand not wanting to do the print version yourself - but what about a hybrid? If I understand correctly, an e-book is a read-only form, and not printable, even though it is transferable from say desktop to e-reader. How about making one that would be available in the read-only e-book format, as well as one in a PDF format for a bit more than the e-book, and a user agreement not to resell, etc? Doing that would allow those of us (raises hand) who don't own an e-reader to still get copy without you going to the expense of doing the printing/publishing yourself. Obviously, I don't know much about the printing business, but, it was just a thought.

In the meantime, I want to thank you for the general message to stop undervaluing ourselves and our work. I am a self-employed, partially disabled, jewelry designer/maker. I do all original work, and predominantly custom pieces. Several of my friends are telling me that i am undervaluing my work, and like the inner voices you've been arguing with, it seems that for every outer voice telling me that I'm undervaluing myself and my work, there is an inner voice telling me that they are just trying to make me feel better. I also recently read about your tea party with your gremlin, and I can't help wondering if that is what's going on for me, too. My gremlin is telling me that if I charge what the same piece made by a total stranger would cost in a jewelry store, that I am being too presumptuous about my own value. And here you are, addressing the very issue I have been struggling with most. Your timing is impeccable!

I read each and every one of your messages that hit my inbox, and each one leaves its own indelible mark upon my heart, my mind and my spirit. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your messages. Thank you for the strength of heart that you are helping me to rebuild. Your value is truly incalculable to me!

Troy Corley's picture

Publishing

Lissa,

Love your book "What's Up Down There?" and eager to read your memoir. My advice -- really go rogue and publish it yourself! I'm an independent small publisher and I can tell you for sure that the publishing world is changing.

That's why the advance is small. That's why they were happy for you to pay $80,000 of your own money because they don't have it.

Print isn't dying but it is diminishing and evolving.
Digital sales are eclipsing print.

And there has been no better time than now to be your own publisher.

You have a fantastic platform already in place with Owning Pink. Go around the traditional publishing model and rock on with your words!

phildr's picture

self-worth

I know nothing about book deals, but recognise a brave woman when I see one. Your estimate of your worth is liable to be correct. i hope you won't be intimidated out of holding onto it.
keep being brave.

Monica L. Wilcox's picture

Leading Change

I thought about you all night Lissa; asking myself if I could have been this brave with my work. I was SO impressed that you took a stand because I find paying any author $17,000 for years of work (and a proven one at that) horrifying.

Why do you think the industry is so "hush-hush" on what it pays its authors? Is it because if the public KNEW what they were getting paid no one would write another book? I mean really? Who would choose to spend large chunks of their time and energy hoping to be validated by that kind of money? You are such an inspiration for ALL women to demand what we are worth AND all artists to demand financial validation for their efforts.

What a great opportunity for you to own your faith and value!!!

Lissa Rankin's picture

I value your opinions- all of you

Thank you for showing me all sides of this issue and for supporting me fully. It means the world to me.
xoxo
Lissa

PS. Amy, I love the Oprah story. Gives me hope...I can see it. I actually believe.

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Elliston's picture

Questions...

I'm curious—did you counter with a number or just tell them you wanted more? (How much would have sufficed?) And honestly, while how good a writer tours should definitely be a consideration, the fact you were willing to spend $80,000 of you own on a previous effort is irrelevant to a publisher's calculations of an advance—an advance isn't meant to serve as some percentage of the writer's non-mandatory outlay.

That said, I don't mean to belittle the faith required for the leap, or the strength and bravery it takes to tell others you are worth more. In a world where quality writing and editing are increasingly devalued, it's more important than ever. But it's also important to familiarize yourself with the logic of entity on the other side of the bargaining table.

Also, though agents come in all stripes, I think it's pretty strange for an agent to dump a published writer just because the writer want the agent to, basically, work harder and not take the first, or second offer from one house. It seems likely that this agent, as is the case with many agents, sees her relationship with the publishing houses as the first priority.

Regardless, good luck!
Elliston

Amy Miyamoto's picture

Self Trust = Huge Courage

Lissa,
Your sharing this is sooo timely - and I applaud your willingness to continue to share your "real deal" journey. As I was reading it I just kept flashing back to how much you were continuing to lean into your power of self trust with each step as it unfolds...even when those unfolding events don't feel all warm and fuzzy and to those on the outside might look like mistakes/errors in judgment. Yet you obviously know the frequency of your inner voice and are willing to follow it into the unknown which is still pretty rare these days and takes courage indeed.

I also had a flash from Oprah's recent episode where she highlighted her recent trip to Australia. At one point she was talking with a group and reflecting back on "if I had only known back when I was a child what the universe had in store for me - during those days when she could never find a lunchbox or bicycle license plate with her name on it. While in Australia she took all 302 of her guests sailing on 22 sailboats that all had massive sails with "Oprah The Farewell Season" across them. With all of Sydney harbor in the background it was quite an awesome sight. I get the same inkling about you my friend. Bravo for continuing to lean into your worth and your dreams!!! ;)
Amy

Faizan's picture

Truly Amazing

Hey Lissa :D!!

Thank u so much for sharing this experience with us. I greatly appreciate it.
Many times in life people make choices & settle for less than what they deserve.
I am not speaking only career wise.
Its mostly because,they may be unable to determine their worth or that they feel that its the only one opportunity at hand & they're grateful for what they get & do not want to complain about it & be content with it.
They also learn to adjust themselves to that, no matter how undervalued they may feel.
But summing up courage like that is just 'truly amazing'. After one lets out how they feel & they know their real worth and what they deserve the person is bound to feel lighter, free & much more happier from the inside & having that contentment from their heart knowing that no matter what the world might say, let them say, they know their worth, they deserve it & will surely find a way & that something that makes them feel worthy of what they deserve.
But sometimes people may even overvalue themselves, which might result in a lot of unhappiness in that person because then they'll never be content with what they get & as a result will never be able to be happy.
I Thank you once again for sharing this experience with us, i guess it might have been a little difficult for you to share this but i really appreciate & admire you for sharing this experience.
I pray & hope for your happiness and success.
Best wishes.
Faizan =))

Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you for your support

And Sheena, I love what you wrote. We are not for sale!!! But money is just an energy exchange. I have expended a great deal of energy in the creation of this book, and I'm merely asking to have the energy returned to me commeasurately.

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Lissa Rankin's picture

Thank you for your support

And Sheena, I love what you wrote. We are not for sale!!! But money is just an energy exchange. I have expended a great deal of energy in the creation of this book, and I'm merely asking to have the energy returned to me commeasurately.

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Sheena LaShay's picture

I AGREE!!!!

Hey Lisa,

Oh no, I agree fully with you in regards to wanting more!!! Completely agree!!! When I read back on that old post what it makes me think in regards to you is that the 17,500 is a sale and your book is worth WAY more than that. So you're right, don't take a discount on that amazing gift. It deserves the monetary energy that it is worth!!!

Sheena LaShay's picture

Don't Discount Your Worth

An excerpt from a post I wrote on Sociology of Sheena went as follows....

I once wrote don’t discount your worth and later added, it should never be on sale. This was inspired from my work with sacred contracts to which I don’t believe I ever finished. This was in writing to my archetype the prostitute. An archetype that we all have which has its shadow side and positive side.

Don’t discount your worth. We are worth far more than our weight in gold. We are priceless. Holy. Sacred. Living relics. Walking testaments that god exist and he dwells within.

And yet we sell our talent. We sell our soul. We sell our common sense and our wisdom to feed into the frenzy of negativity. We give away our worth for free. Letting people take turns with it. We offer it to the lowest bidder perhaps in the name of pride, or a need for attention or to prove a point. We offer it for countless reasons none of them being justified.

We put our worth in the clearance rack with further mark downs. You are not for sale. You are not even out on display. You should be in the holy of holies dining with the gods. Don’t discount your worth. It should never be on sale.

http://sheenalashay.com/2010/08/discounting-a-priceless-gift/

Sheena LaShay's picture

Don't Discount Your Worth

An excerpt from a post I wrote on Sociology of Sheena went as follows....

I once wrote don’t discount your worth and later added, it should never be on sale. This was inspired from my work with sacred contracts to which I don’t believe I ever finished. This was in writing to my archetype the prostitute. An archetype that we all have which has its shadow side and positive side.

Don’t discount your worth. We are worth far more than our weight in gold. We are priceless. Holy. Sacred. Living relics. Walking testaments that god exist and he dwells within.

And yet we sell our talent. We sell our soul. We sell our common sense and our wisdom to feed into the frenzy of negativity. We give away our worth for free. Letting people take turns with it. We offer it to the lowest bidder perhaps in the name of pride, or a need for attention or to prove a point. We offer it for countless reasons none of them being justified.

We put our worth in the clearance rack with further mark downs. You are not for sale. You are not even out on display. You should be in the holy of holies dining with the gods. Don’t discount your worth. It should never be on sale.

Rebecca's picture

Courageous for sure!

Hi,

I can totally relate to this article across more than one area of my life. But career wise I have always totally belived in my ability to be amazing at my job and have fought, scrambled, hussled and persited my way into a job I can say hey ' I love my job'. This I feel incredibly grateful for everyday.

However Ive not reached the point in my career Im yet content with as my aim is to marry it up with my lifestyle. I often have mini battles with myself over this and question what I am doing that Im not normal to keep pushing for what I dream especially being a female in my early 30's. My current job is well respected, good pay,in demand job but it just isnt quite my north star and I feel that the job politics repress my true potential and abilities and Im just clearly not recognised. NO matter how much I try and sit on, ignore, put in a box and try and tape up those deep reverberating voices they simply over ride and keep me empowered to follow my true hearts desire.

So in short your post has reassured me it is ok to feel like this take risks and be courageous, to follow what you believe and not what you think others think you should be doing or settling for whats there. The universe defintaley has our backs I can vouch for that!

It totally rocks you took this brave step and I have no doubt the universe will place something in your hands that will realise your true worth!

Best pink wishes

Rebecca

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