Permission to ask for what you're worth (May theme) Kristin Levine

I had two fabulous school visits this month, both at schools that were K-12.  One was at a beautiful private school in New York City.  A student played Mozart on the piano as everyone walked into the assembly room!!  Apparently, that's a tradition there... all I know if that I've never seen students come into for a book talk so quietly and calmly.

Central Park

Another visit was at a wonderful public school in Florida.  All the students had written and published their own books.  I had a great time talking with them about my books, and reading what they had themselves written.
Love the Florida School mascot!!

These visits got me thinking about giving yourself permission to ask for what you're worth.  It's funny, you'd never ask your doctor to come over to your house and diagnose everyone in your family "just for fun," but I suspect that pretty much every one of us writers has been asked to do a book event for free.
And sometimes that's okay.  Sometimes, if you're just starting out or it's nearby or for a friend, that's what you want to do. 
But it's also okay to ask someone to pay you for your time.  Last fall the private school in NYC wanted me to come sign books at their book fair.  They were willing to pay for my train fare, but that still meant I would lose an entire day of writing and have to figure out childcare for my two kids.  So, figuring they would probably say no, I asked them to pay me an honorarium.
They said yes.
And then asked me back in May. 
Clearly, I hadn't offended anyone.  And I needed the money!  But I'm still amazed at how hard it can be to say, "I'd love to come, but I'll going to need payment for my time."  However, when the Florida school came calling, I spoke up again.  And you know what?  They said "yes" too.
It's a great job we have as writers.  It's an honor to be able to talk to young people and inspire young readers and writers.  But still, like doctors and lawyers, our time is worth something.  And it's okay to speak that truth aloud.
Kayaking while in Florida


  1. Kristin, this is a great post on a topic many of us writers are wary of addressing. I recently was asked to come into a classroom and do a "talk". It was over an hour away and the teacher was not planning on having the class purchase or sign books. When I told her I'd be wiling to come if she paid for gas, tolls and lunch, she declined...I didn't even get to the "honorarium". If we give our services away for free too often, they lose their value.

  2. Thanks so much for this! So very true and so very sad. Why shouldn't we get paid? This is our job, after all.

  3. Thanks so much for this! So very true and so very sad. Why shouldn't we get paid? This is our job, after all.

  4. Hear, hear! So hard to do and so much in need of doing.


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