picture of ocean waves with the text: Are we giving away our self-worth

Are We Giving Away Our Self-worth?

Scrolling through social media, as one does when they are avoiding something, a post slid onto the screen that intrigued me and made me, once again, question the ways we give away our self-worth.

A giant in the self-publishing market has recently begun beta testing the option for authors to create hardcovers of their books. I saw this option pop up while I was self-publishing my book, Running Through My Thoughts (RTMT). The author of the post that caught my attention was asking their audience if they would ever consider creating a hardcover copy of their book.

I was curious because I did consider possibly creating a hardcover of my book when presented with the option. Though I decided to stick with the ebook and paperback versions for RTMT, I wanted to hear what other authors had to say on the topic. While it didn’t feel like a good fit for my current book, maybe it could be for another one down the line – like the poetry book I’m working on?

My finger clicked on “read comments” and I saw author after author discuss why they would or would not create a hardcover.  Some of them, like me, decided it wasn’t a good fit for their present book. Others were excited to try it. Then I came to the comment that sent me down the self-worth path again.

One of the comments said something to the effect of: “If I created a hardcover, I would have to charge something like $27 or $30 or something crazy like that.”

Something crazy like that?

Why is charging $27 or $30 crazy?

I’ve written about how I believe that authors already don’t charge enough for their work. I compare the sale of a book, a long-term project of months to years, to the sale of a journal or notebook, blank pages sewn together. Though in that essay, I never overtly mention the self-worth of the artist. I discuss the value of the product and what we are willing to pay as consumers.

Me included. I talk about what I have been willing to pay for novels and non-fiction versus journals and notebooks on my podcast. This mindset shift is ever-evolving and reading that an author believes that charging $30 for a hardback version of their work is too expensive, made me wonder about how we give away our self-worth when we price our work too low.

We are literally putting a price on ourselves, assigning value. When we sell our work at a low price, we are not only devaluing our work, but we are giving away our self-worth – practically on a silver platter for others to devour.

I posed the question, “Are we giving away our self-worth?” to an artist friend of mine as we enjoyed an evening under the stars after consuming various forms of art over the day. Her immediate response was, “Yes.” I’m not sure I even finished the question before she responded.

She is an artist who talks about how other artists, usually ones just starting to put their work out there, often don’t charge enough for their art. We’ve had this conversation several times over the years. Yet, when I attended a show of hers, I couldn’t help but think her art was priced too low.

Being an artist puts us in a unique position to give away our self-worth. We are giving it away with every book or piece of art we sell below what it is worth. Granted, it is very difficult to decide what price to put on our art. There are a lot of variables to consider like the market you’re in, the kind of art you are creating, etc. But it seems that the biggest factor for pricing too low is the value we, the artist, places on our work.

We are notorious for believing our work is not worth the higher price tag, which ties the price of the piece to our belief that our work is not worthy of a larger price. So, with every piece we sell at a lower price, we are giving our self-worth away.

What are your thoughts? Do you think artists tend to devalue their work and therefore their self-worth?

2 thoughts on “Are We Giving Away Our Self-worth?”

  1. Great post! And so very true of artists of every type. Thanks for bringing this to the table for discussion.

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