I thought that being a professional meant being paid an honest wage for your work. Being a volunteer was giving your work away for free.
The writing profession has been downgraded to being a volunteer.
We live in a “have” and “have not” society. The book publishing industry reflects this fact. Just like society, the top 10% of authors profit substantially from their books while the remaining 90% struggle.
Thanks to mergers and acquisitions, only a handful of large print publishers exist, controlling the market. Without choices, there are fewer opportunities to join the ranks of the famous and the moneyed. These publishers have essentially abandoned the mid-list and new authors in favor of famous names, celebrities and the well connected. Marketing and accounting departments have displaced creative departments in determining who and what is published. Money trumps talent. Money for the publisher, not for the author.
The publishing industry has changed with the advent of electronic publishing, print-on-demand and self-publishing. The costs associated with putting out a book have been reduced substantially. This aids the bottom line for publishers.
The electronic world has opened up opportunities for writers. No longer must a struggling author require an agent or even a publisher to output a book. Thanks to Amazon, it’s easy. This is both a gift and a curse.
The market is now saturated with books. Quantity does not necessarily equate with quality. Just like other products, the public doesn’t seem to care. Quality is overruled by the bottom line. The general public is so used to purchasing goods based on price, buying books is just another commodity.
Unless you are a big name author, an overhyped one or a famous celebrity, it’s become difficult to impossible to create a following. Brand loyalty doesn’t exist. Does anyone care about your writing style, your voice or talent? Why should they pay $2.99 to download your novel when cheaper options have saturated the market?
The 99-cent download used to be the big deal. That is now expensive, as famous and new authors’ works are being sold in bundles. You can now download 8-10 full-length novels for 99-cents. Amazon also offers e-books for free. What a deal for a public drawn to bargain hunting!
Quality of the product no longer matters, whether hard goods or a book. It’s all about getting it cheap and on sale or free.
The public is used to cheap clothing and food from China and underdeveloped countries, discount retailers and groceries and the like. Now, they can read for free or nearly free.
Where does that leave the author?
Creative people have never been taken seriously. Whereas doctors and lawyers and other professionals are actually paid for their services, creative people are expected to be “starving artists.” After all, can’t anyone play a musical instrument, sing, take a photograph, paint or write? Being a writer and an author takes talent and skill, years of trial and error, has a learning curve and takes time. It takes dedication. Yet, we are not expected to make money on the fruits of our labor. Getting our name on a book cover is supposed to be all the compensation we are entitled to.
This is an insult.
It’s an insult when you can have eight published books and royalties of less than $100 a year, and that’s with major publishers. Yes, that’s the reality, folks. How much money do you think a single author gets when ten novels are sold for 99-cents? That’s 10-cents per novel. After the publisher takes a cut, where does that leave the author? A penny or two for our talent?
Fast food and minimum wage workers are striking for higher pay. Yet, they don’t have to create and struggle over characters, setting or plot. Nor do they have to write and edit and sell and promote. A majority of authors do not earn close to minimum wage, do not have health or retirement benefits or qualify for any government handouts. They are just expected to create and entertain for free.
Unfortunately, writing is like breathing, it’s something I have to do. Yet, I’m wondering if it’s worth it. Yes, it’s nice seeing my name on a book cover, receiving a review from one of the few who actually took the time to read my book and being a published author. That and a dime will get you coffee! I gave up the corporate world for this?