Talking about money is the wooooooooooorst. Even as freelance writer who must measure absolutely everything I do by how much it pays if I want to eat and sleep inside, it kills me to broach the subject of pay. I’m not alone on this. For whatever reason, most Americans not only don’t talk about their finances, they’d prefer to discuss politics, religion or death over money. Multiply that Americanism by being Midwestern, and talking about payment with publishers is practically paralyzing for me.
My professional money talk anxiety began decade ago (a decade ago!), when I wrote a weekly bar review column for a local paper in Lansing. Every week, I went to a bar, wrote my little thingy, and I’d get a $60 check in the mail. One week, it didn’t come. I decided to wait and see if it was late. When my next check came on schedule, followed by the next — with no mention of the missing funds — I panicked. I was 22, living paycheck to paycheck. I really needed that $60. How could I ask for it? What if they just thought that bar review was super bad and decided not to pay me for it? What if the error was on my end and now it was too late to fix? What if my editor thought I was stingy for making a thing over $60 and then hated me and stopped giving me work and my dream of writing for a living was dashed? Over $60?!