Writer’s Guild writers are going on strike. The headlines about T.V writers wanting more money caught my attention. What exactly do T.V. writers make? I wondered. Not one article brought that one to light.
So then I wondered what do most writers make. A quickie internet search brought me to a Guardian article from October of last year “Most U.K. authors annual incomes still well below minimum wage” and a current article fro the NZ Herald “Kiwi Writers struggling to make a living from their craft.” I could relate although I live in the States.
Fine so what about U.S. writers? I had a hard time finding data. Some of that may be due to the search engine’s pay system of making sure that people who want you to find their stuff get in there first. So a lot of what I found are articles that said, Make money at home, writing! I found a neat report from May of 2016, “May 2016 author Earnings” at Authorearnings.com that compare indie author sales and best sellers
Then there was a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics that I immediately dismissed as fiction about the median annual wage for writers and authors being $60,000.00 with half making less.
I think most of us have day jobs and there are a heck of a lot of us writing for way less than that. But here in the U.S. we are not as up front about pay as Kiwi and U.K writers. Either that, or Kiwis and the U.K pay google to get results in the top of the search field.
I think that my biggest problem with writing for places like Amazon Turk is that so many people are giving it away. I think as writers we need to decide what our time and our craft is worth and stick to that.
On Turker websites where workers discuss what they should be paid, there are two distinct groups. One group is adamant that writers should not work for less than a penny per word. The other group takes the stand that since they are working from home, without the wardrobe, transportation or other requirements of a “real” job , that this is really found money like the quarter you pick up from the sidewalk on your way to the car. Their idea is that as long as you have the freedom to work on whatever they want on Turk, then whatever they are paid is fine. Requesters then see no need to pay a decent amount as they can get workers without doing so.
It’s not a new debate to the writing community. I remember being told that in order to get clips, I should be willing to work for free. I thought then, as I do now, that this is wrong. Our work is real and should be adequately compensated–and people who think of it any other way are making it harder for the rest of us.
End of rant. Sigh.
I’m a member of a group that wants to publicize some local community news in hopes of getting out the vote. The group has effectively used some social media such as Facebook to gather people but there is definitely more to be done. There has been some thought about a newsletter, either emailed or snail mailed, but the question is bigger than just what kind of media. The group consistently draws the middle-aged, not the younger community residents. We need to figure out how to reach them.
This is a question that many communities, school districts and non-profits have faced for years. How does one get the word out? Media is wonderful, but if your Nextdoor group or Facebook page is to do any good, it has to be attract people in the first place. That puts you in the position of advertising the thing you are using to advertise. And what do you do to find the people who aren’t on Facebook, or don’t read blogs?
Why am I even bringing this question up with you? Because it is essentially the problem that you and I face as authors. We can tweet, bloghop and have that Facebook page, but even in the digital age, that has its limits. We need more.
Booktours are increasingly expensive as small bookstores faced with online competition seek to level the playing field by charging authors. But even so, you can’t rule them out.
There have been tales of writers who sold books on streetcorners and by having talks at senior centers. You definitely want to think about what you can say that will interest an audience. And the first step there is figuring out who your audience is. Because even if writing is a solitary profession, selling your writing is not.
You might know log lines by another name. Elevator lines is my favorite name for them because it tells you what it is: a line you would use to describe your book if you were in an elevator with an agent or editor and had only until the next stop to talk to them. So now you know all you need to know, right?
By whatever name you call them, log lines are …difficult to write. But they are so worth it.
Reducing your manuscript to one sentence that sums up the whole book helps you define it. And thus, makes it easier to write or edit. That might be why you want to keep a log line in mind as you do those things.
As an example, let’s say you have a log line that says “Twinkle Twinkle is a S/F novel about a man who harnessed the power of the stars to make his interstellar ship run and found himself with a bigger problem than lack of power.” Nobody is saying this is a good line, just an example. But, right then and there, you know pretty much the word count, the genre, that it’s about a hero not a heroine. It doesn’t include any love interest or vampires, or any historical aspects since we don’t regularly engage in interstellar manned space travel yet.
An elevator line isn’t something you’ll just jot down and never mess with. But spending a little time on it can tell you what is important to you about the book. Then you can figure out how to make that the most important part of the book.
I am having one of those….months. I swear I wrote this and scheduled it for publication a week or two back. But anywhere here it is.
So often when writers are rejected by a publisher they turn inward, wondering what was wrong with their submission. And sometimes, more often than I would like, the manuscript could use a bit of revision.
But the changes in our industry are so swift, so huge, that it’s important for all of us to keep in mind that rejections could just mean that something else is going on. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with the industry news.
And yet many writers don’t.
For instance, did you know?
Recently, Hougton Mifflin, a major textbook publisher filed for bankruptcy.
Did you know that Barnes and Noble objected to the proposed anti-trust settlement with e-book publishers, saying it would favor Amazon?
Have you heard the prediction that one quarter of all books sold in 2014 will be electronic versions? And isn’t that too cool? (Yes, yes, I still like paper books too. But you CAN have both.)
We are not in an industry where you can ignore the news. It can affect your decisions on where and how to submit your stuff, how you feel about your own writing, and even how much you get paid.
So where do you get your news?
If you haven’t read about it yet you might want to.
The Department of Justice story is the big controversy of the week, at least for writers. And I think it’s more so because Steve Jobs was practically cannonized after he died last fall.
The story is interesting but what is not commented on, what is never commented on as far as I can see, is just exactly how little the writers (the people who produce the product) get out of any publishing deal. But then that’s not news is it?
I am a die hard Sci Fi fan, something that gives me pause when I think I can quote all of the words from “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode from Star Trek but can’t find my keys. How is that for memory? But I digress.
I love Sci Fi but I have never written any. I write mystery. Which I like (I learned long ago to never write something you don’t like–your disdain will show through.) But I’m thinking more of diversity now.
Because just like any other market, publishing has trends. And authors who are sucessful, are flexible about these trends. Check it out, Nora Roberts is a big name in Romance novels, but she also writes as J.D. Robb and thus is a name in the mystery field. Many romance novelists do a little of both.
S/F has always seemed so…above me. You have to create whole new worlds, after all.
But now I’m thinking about it.
Did I mention I decided on my word for the year? Yup, finally got one. The word is Stretch.