So I've taken the last two days to clean my office. Sure, I've been dusting and kind of stacking things in neat piles (sort of neat enough so they don't fall over). For a lot of reasons I didn't get around to a mega clean fest the way I used to do when I'd finish a book. For years. As you can imagine, I've got a lot of catching up.
Anyway, I keep coming across items that bring back old times. I found the first piece of writing I actually got paid for by a publishing company. Not for a book or even a short story. It was for a greeting card message, a funny birthday card. A company that no longer exist, The Paris Communiqué, bought one of several greeting card messages I penned for them. Long ago (never mind how long). Here it is:
Outside of the card:
Although birthday presents are not obligatory, it is customary to express one's good wishes in some tangible form
Inside of the card:
This is as tangible a form as you're going to get!
I admit, I did giggle at my own youthful sense of slapstick humor. Anyway, the greeting card company liked it and paid me $40. I was thrilled as you can imagine. So thrilled it didn't occur to me to ask them for the finished product. You see I don't have the card, so I don't know what kind of artwork was used or where it was sold. I was too happy to ask questions. In fact, I kinda remember assuming I didn't have a right to ask anything. I smiled at the memory of how young and green I was in those days. Then I looked at the one page contract.
Slaps self. Several times. Rolled my eyes. Girl, what the hell what you thinking???? I signed away the copyright and all rights, in perpetuity. For use in the entire world, by all my descendants. Excuse me while I slap myself again.
This is an ice water in the face reminder to always do your homework so you'll know your value. Of course this was way before the Internets and Google, so I kinda cut myself some slack. Plus I didn't know any writers to ask. But honestly I was so thrilled, I doubt I would have done anything different.
Do your homework, don't rush, and don't get so starry-eyed flattered that you sell yourself or your work short!
This doesn't just apply to business deals either. Many times in life we give up our rights to feeling valued, feeling happy, and enjoying ourselves because we think we need to keep someone in our lives. Never mind they're frequently making us feel sad or even insulted. I have a habit of giving people way to much leeway, this I freely admit. I've come to know this about myself, and to stop accepting any old deal.
Know your worth and don't sell youself short for anything or anybody!
The offending contract. Ackkk! I have no one but me to blame, cause I signed it