Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Myths and Legends of Authors Incomes

Do people think authors are rich? I mean, sure, James Patterson and JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman and Stephen King must be doing all right for themselves but on the whole do most folk think that all authors are similarly blessed with an abundance of readies? While I might be considered reasonably successful as a writer by some here in NZ I do not earn anywhere near the minimum wage from my writing. Advances are on average (in my experience) in NZ anywhere from $0 to $1000 for children's authors. How many books does your average author put out in a year? I earn more from author talks and workshops but when all income streams are counted up I still earn nowhere near the minimum wage. My SO likes to talk about retiring on the proceeds from my writing, and most of the time I just chuckle to myself. Sometimes I get a little hysterical. Many writers diversify their writing and appearance/teaching/related work portfolios to maximise their income. Most would rather just be writing. Few writers are rich. So when I read about another threat to author incomes over at Stroppy Author's Blog and further comment on the issue here at Catdownunder I wonder how long writers can keep going this way. Sure these blogs are overseas but NZ is not immune to these kinds of issues. There are few careers out there where you work for months on end with no guarantee of payment. There are few careers out there where you can produce an original and critically acclaimed product and be out of pocket. It is disturbing to think the income streams we do have are being chipped away at. I cannot help thinking this is an unsustainable model. If the people who chipped away at these income streams were un-salaried as we are, would things be different? I guess we better start talking about this and finding a way to turn the tide. I don't need to be rich but I would like to earn for the work I do.

And here for further reading, some good advice on successful blogging from Nicola Morgan here. And a good argument on the state of publishing from Kristen Lamb here, (thanks to Yvette Carol).

1 comment:

Old Kitty said...

Probably off-tangent but recently - womagwriter's blog highlighted how one women's magazine (Women's Own - I think I can name them! LOL!) published a short story writing competition - prize - ZERO - just the prestige of being published in their special fiction magazine in the summer.

Huge OUTRAGE on FB in WO page!! WO tried to defend themselves saying they wanted stories from their "readers" who were "not professional writers". More OUTRAGE (cos the argument was just too feeble in the extreme!) Anyway, WO finally capitulated and have now offered prize money.

Beggars the imagination. Truly.

Take care