I've met some pretty interesting people in my travels and learned some even more interesting things. While on an Easter vacation trip to Amsterdam to visit the family of one of my singing buddies, Johanna, I met a young woman Johanna went to school with. This young woman worked as an escort. Yes, THAT kind of escort. She was beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, cultured, well-educated and she slept with men for money. A LOT of money. I'll admit I was a bit put off by the whole idea at first. But, she was our hostess that night and took us to some great nightspots in Amsterdam - music and dance clubs and a fabulous restaurant and everywhere she was treated with a great deal of respect. As the evening wore on, I got comfortable enough with her to actually talk about her profession. I discovered she'd never worked in the famous "red light" district and she had definite opinions of those who did. She'd started as a high priced escort and her price and the number of "dates" she went on got higher and more prestigious as the years went on. I say years. She started at age 22 and I met her when she was 28. She fully intended to retire at age 30 and had the impressive stock portfolio and financial assets to do so. One of her regulars was an investment banker. This was in the late 80's when that was a good thing to be.
What does this have to do with writing? I'll tell you. When I asked her what the difference was between what she did and what those girls in the windows of the red light district did she said "The difference is, I think I'm worth more than that." Interesting concept. Now I would never want to decide how much sex with me was worth. It sort of boggles the mind, among other things.
I did know, however, what my musical skills were worth. I sang professional opera. I spent a lot of time and money training my voice, learning to speak 8 languages, taking dance lessons and practicing, practicing, practicing. My voice was worth something. Still is to some degree. (Some days its worth more than others. LOL) I charged a lot for singing certain pieces because they were hard and tough on the voice. I only do free concerts for churches. That's my tithe. Everyone else pays.
There were times I sang in night clubs and bars to make money. My voice teachers would have KILLED me if they knew. I mean really,truly killed me. They called that sort of activity "whoring" for lack of a better term. They saw it that way, but there were times when that starving musician gig was NOT what it was cracked up to be. Singing Patsy Cline's Crazy put food on the table before Mozart started paying.
As a writer, I don't know what I'm worth yet. And that brings me to the question. How do you decide what a book you have written is worth or do you leave that up to the editors and agents. I just spent a year of my life writing my second book. I spent the year before that writing my first book. Some of you can write a book in three months or six months and I am in COMPLETE awe of that. But I don't think the amount of time you spend writing it should determine the value of your book.
Do you send your manuscript off to every editor that requests it even if you KNOW the house consistently pays at the low end of the scale. Is it more important to make that first sale than it is to set a value on your work and then hold out for the better deal?
So, that's my question. How much are you worth? How much is your baby, the thing you've spent all this time writing worth? How do you determine the value? And more important than money, how much does it mean to you to be published. Forget the money, the fame (LOL) and everything else. How much is it worth to have completed a book, to have written "the end" and to know that you gave everything you had to tell a story?