Asking for a Raise
I was rifling through my emails recently and I came upon the email I sent this time last year to my then-editor at The A.V Club meekly asking for a fifty dollar raise for My World of Flops. I debated for weeks, even months, on whether or not I should ask for even such a modest increase in pay because I knew all too well how cold the site could be.
This is reflected in the mildly groveling, Willy Lomanesque tone of the email, which reads,
I hope this email finds you well and that you are having a good week. At this point I have been writing for the A.V Club for twenty years, including ten on My World Of Flops alone. I’d like to think that I’ve played at least some role in making The A.V. Club the cultural force that it is today. I also like to think I’ve been doing a really good job since my return. I’ve never come close to missing a deadline, I continually do much more work than is necessary (watching 16 hours of I Am Cait, for example, when I could just as easily have just written about a movie) and in the case of Silly Little Show-Biz Book Club, I regularly work five or six months ahead (I’m five months ahead at the moment, so I could die tomorrow and we’d have entries to run until August).
I feel like My Year/World Of Flops would have a substantial legacy if all it ever did was introduce the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the first column, but I like to think it’s accomplished a lot more in the hundreds of entries that have followed, and the book that it spawned.
With that in mind, I would like to humbly request another modest pay increase of 50 dollars per My World Of Flops column and 25 more dollars for Silly Little Show-Biz Book Club pieces. As a freelancer with a baby and a preschool teacher for a wife, every cent counts and I think this is an eminently reasonable request from the longest-lasting and most prolific writer in the site’s auspicious history. Let me know if it sounds doable and thanks again for the time and consideration.
I didn’t hear back for two months, during which time I writhed in fear and anxiety. Had I made a terrible mistake in asking for more money? When I finally did hear back, it was with mixed/bad news. I would get my fifty dollar raise, but because the site was now owned by an even richer billionaire, of course they wouldn’t be able to afford to run the column more than once every three weeks. That seemed like bullshit but as a freelancer I had no choice to accept it.
A week or two later I got the email containing the “unwelcome news” that due to “declining page views” and “the changing needs of the pop culture landscape” the column was being “retired.”
I’m writing this post because, well, I think I make a pretty strong argument for a raise in my email and it seems pretty unfair that the site’s response was to kill the column. I don’t expect pop-culture media to be fair, but there’s unfair and then then there’s egregiously unfair. The A.V Club had, and continues to have, all the power in our relationship. They’re a huge cultural force and I’m a dude trying to scrape together a living as a writer by asking strangers for money on the internet two decades into his career. What little power I have comes in my voice, my story and my site, so I’m going to use those to say, as graciously as possible, that maybe I deserved to be treated a little bit better. Maybe everyone does.
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