For most writers, income may be falling, but not for everyone. A new study shows that just as in other industries, income disparity is a growing problem between the writing elite and the rest of us. BBC News reports that just 5% of writers are earning 42% of all writing-related income, while the bottom half of professional writers accounted for just 7% of that income....more
Posts Tagged: money
A not-too-surprising result of a new poll shows that authors’ annual wages continue to fall and are now below $5,000, reports the Guardian. Authors who split their writing between traditional and self-published methods seemed to fare best, on average.
Overall, half of the writers – traditional and independent – surveyed this year earned $1,000– $2,999 or less.
Writing books has become a hobby for the wealthy, writes Toby Young over at the Telegraph. Writers’ incomes have dropped 29% since 2005, he points out, and even when writers are getting paid, it’s never enough:
I wrote another book last year (What Every Parent Needs to Know), and this time I actually received a small advance.
The arts don’t pay very well, and working as a professional in a creative field like writing, music, or film has grown more precarious. High student debt doesn’t help, but it might explain why almost a quarter of arts graduates end up in business management....more
Scott Cheshire explains that he started flirting with the woman who became his wife by telling her he had a novel coming out. Twelve years later, it did. Today, he is a published novelist with a graduate degree, but back then, Cheshire hadn’t even been to college....more
Writers have been getting poorer, and it turns out publishers are partly to blame. The Guardian reports that while authors are expected to do more when it comes to marketing and promotion, and though electronic books have lowered costs for publishers, the beneficiaries of these savings tend to be the publishers rather than the authors:
Nicola Solomon, who heads the 9,000-member strong Society of Authors, said that publishers, retailers and agents are all now taking a larger slice of the profit when a book is sold, and that while “authors’ earnings are going down generally, those of publishers are increasing”
The standoff between Amazon and Hachette has harmed authors more than either corporation. The corporations are surviving on massive war chests and alternate revenue streams. Authors, however, are far more adversely affected by reduced book pre-sales and the sale of electronic books (available immediately) versus physical books (artificially delayed by Amazon)....more
A British study has confirmed that professional writers aren’t making very much money, and worse, that earnings for writers have fallen 29% since 2005. A survey of 2,500 British authors found median annual income at just £11,000 ($18,800) and only 11.5% of authors were earning a living solely through writing....more
Earlier this year, Emily Gould wrote about the perils of selling her first book, an essay collection, and the importance of getting out of debt before finishing her novel. That novel, Friendship, launches next week. Gould spoke with Melissa Duclos over at Electric Literature about the writing process, her electronic bookstore Emily Books, and of course, money:
The finances are important, too.
Michael Nye, managing editor of The Missouri Review, explains some of the costs required to start and operate a literary journal. Financial issues are the fastest way to kill a journal, but money also creates a divide between writer and editor:
In small presses and literary magazines, the disconnect between writers and editors often comes down to money.
If anyone was still laboring under the impression that writing is a lucrative business, a new report from Digital Book World is here to pulverize your hopes and dreams.
After interviewing 10,000 authors at all different points in their careers, DBW found that “the majority of authors make less than $1000 a year” from their writing, and “only 10 percent of traditionally published authors made more than $20,000.”
Read more and check out graphs of the data in this Galleycat post....more
George Orwell recounted his experiences with poverty in Down and Out in Paris and London, and Paul Auster his in Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure.
Rumpus contributor Kaya Genç writes about his own brush with running out of money, and how authors like Orwell and Auster informed his feelings about it, in an essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books:
There is pleasure in imagining yourself sleeping among bugs, working 16 hours a day, spending days without eating a piece of bread, not affording a metro ride, and then becoming a writer.
Writing-biz veteran Lydia Laurenson once landed a translation deal for a book that involved her German publisher flying her to Germany for professional photography sessions and multiple TV appearances.
“Yet, when I calculated it,” she writes, “I made way less than minimum wage per hour.”
Read the rest of her post on the entrepreneurial side of writerhood and the learning curve it requires....more
The best things on my CV—the ones I almost want to use comic sans for, just so they’ll stand out—haven’t paid me.
In an essay for The Toast, Jilly Gagnon lays bare the realities of the writing life: handling 3,128 rejections, working a day job, and drying Mom’s tears when she sees the size of the apartment you can afford....more
Which publications pay writers? How do writers make enough money to survive?
Scratch, a new online magazine edited by Jane Friedman and Manjula Martin, aims to find out.
Their inaugural issue is free and includes an interview with Jonathan Franzen, a roundtable with editors from prominent websites, and, most fascinating of all, a breakdown of all the labor and resources that went into the making of the issue....more
Because it taught children across the country, Henson became a household name, and through Sesame Street toys, Henson became a millionaire….However, licensing toys, to Henson, felt like selling out.
The cage-match-to-the-death between art and business can be brutal, but Muppet-master Jim Henson seemed to broker a level of peace between the two....more
In the current issue of BookForum, Christian Lorentzen, an editor at the London Review of Books, writes about “the perils of money fiction” in the twenty-first century.
“There are a few ways out of these traps—ersatz journalistic gap filling, hapless gesturing at the system’s perversity, and ogling fortune with envy and scorn—of writing about bankers....more
Sports columnist, Rick Reilly is doling out writing advice to Colorado’s J-school graduating class, and not everybody is taking it so well.
It’s a constant dilemma for writers new and old, having to negotiate exposure vs. payment or deciding whether an unpaid internship will eventually lead to some sort of monetary promise....more
On Wednesday, I wake a little after ten. This isn’t intentional. It’s not like I set an alarm.
I stumble from the bed to the bathroom to take a long, yellow piss. I brush my teeth—extra well, since my health insurance expired recently, since it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing the dentist anytime soon....more
Amanda Palmer, who says that she’s been getting criticism for making money from her webcasts, has one hell of a manifesto up on her blog called, subtly enough, “Why I Am Not Afraid to Take Your Money.” She’s got a pretty convincing and simple argument as to why artists shouldn’t be afraid to ask their fans to support them:
“artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art....more
A couple months ago, we wrote about Matthew Crawford’s book Shop Class as Soulcraft, and around the same time I read another interesting review of the book, by Caleb Crain. (I refrained from posting about it at the time to avoid Crain-overkill.) In it, he describes the growth of wages, and consequently, leisure during the industrial revolution, and then goes on to produce an amazing quote from Thoreau about money:...more