Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Money, Money, Money

I know I've promised to write about goals and resolutions and such. But you'll notice that the title of this blog has "procrastination" (close enough) in it. This should be a clue that it may actually be a while before I get around to posting about resolutions.

Plus, posting them might make them real. And I might have to *shudder* follow through on them.

I was reading a blog written by someone who just very recently sold her first book (two book deal - w00t!). In the post she said that already someone had asked her much she'd sold them for (actually, the person asked what she got to which she replied that she earned every penny).

Anyways, like most authors when asked about money, she got a little upset at the question. Thought it was rude. Which is very certainly the way that many, if not most, people feel about questions of salary, money, etc. It is not socially acceptable to ask what someone makes.

I find this so interesting because in my day job (lawyer) we almost all know how much each other earns. Perhaps not at the partner level, but name a firm (preferably NALP recognized), a city, and an associate level and I'll tell you exactly what they make. With some firms I can even tell you what their bonus will be and how it is calculated. Of course, some firms are more cloak and dagger (Jones Day pays what they think you're worth, not on a salary tier) but all in all, most firms only exercise discretion over the bonus amounts. So you know at base what someone is getting. And most of the firms in a given city will be paying the same base amount.

So I guess I don't feel quite as violated when someone asks about the money - anyone can find out what I make with a few mouse clicks. Maybe I will care more when I sell (notice the positive attitude there). And perhaps the PW scale (nice, very nice, etc) is akin to the NALP salary charts for lawyers. Just gives you a range and an idea.

Of course, for lawyers I think the charts give you that extra incentive to get the job. I mean, how many attys would there be in the world if there was no money in it? On the other hand, I think the PW scale works in the opposite way: to bring reality to all those out there who think that all the easy money is in books.*


* yes, very recently I had someone at work say this. She'll have that big money book deal worked out as soon as she gets an agent. She says she'll pick which agent after they sign the non-disclosure agreements so she can send the proposal (because it is so high concept). She won't even tell me what the concept is. I thought it was rare and laughable to ask an agent to sign a non-disclosure agreement... am I wrong?

1 comment:

Diana Peterfreund said...

I think there's a big difference between telling someone what you make and posting it on the internet.

The non disclosure demand in query letters is incredibly common. From what I hear on the industry side, they tend to come with the most hackneyed plots. Agents don't steal ideas. ;-)