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Face It: Writers Make Less Now
C. Hope Clark / 2015-09-04
By C. Hope Clark –
If you are in this business full-time, and attempt to keep up with the pace of the current publishing paradigm, you can’t help but feel depressed. Writers make less now than a decade ago. And no, it does not appear to be a temporary slump.
We can argue the reasons why, but I see it as two-fold:
Treasure in hand
1) Everybody can publish today.
2) Readers have become accustomed to deals, so the average cost of a book has seriously declined.
Nobody pays $25 for a hardback anymore. Not when a reader can grab an ebook for $1.99. But writers tend to be their own worst enemy. It feels better to sell 1,000 books for $.99 each than 100 for $9.99. We think we’re more powerful at that 1,000 number, but what we’ve failed to see is that we’ve driven our reputation down to a level that’s hard to recover from.
Yes, I understand you can have one-day and two-day offers. I understand Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Countdown Deals attract lower priced sales. But with most writers pricing down their material, we all earn less. And with so many writers in the mix, we all sell less. My own publisher talks about how publishers across the board are earning less, which drives them to promote individual authors less, no longer provide print ARCs, and decrease advances.
On the freelance front, $1/word was once the professional rate. When FundsforWriters was started, I scolded writers for accepting less than 20 cents/word. Today that’s decent pay. Writing mills came into the picture, making new writers think they could gather “experience” doing click rate writing. Then people started writing internationally, and writers from some countries easily underbid writers in others. One by one, publications and commercial enterprises learned that there were enough over-eager and very hungry writers willing to work for pennies to justify the entire payment structure to shift down.
So what’s an author to do?
1) Write steadily and often. The prolific writers makes more money no matter the pay.
2) Stand firm for a respectable wage. Turn down bad offers. Set your floor.
3) Don’t settle for a lesser publisher. Hold out for a reputable publisher or learn to self-publish and consider making your own success.
4) Be unique in your promotion. Do not use the mass promo offers everyone else uses.
5) Promote daily, a little at a time, but don’t sound like the next guy.
The slow-but-sure mentality wins this race, and it’s a darn marathon for sure. But there are sneakers and training programs for those marathons, and they await you. You just have to decide to put them on.
Thanks, Hope, the ad worked excellently for me! I'm very happy. I collected more subscribers per Dollar/Euro than with my best Facebook ad campaign so far, and it's always a pleasure to deal with you. Will definitely recommend your newsletter whenever I find the chance.
With each new email that comes in, I see your face and read your words. And what a breath of fresh air you are! Fresh air in a vast sea of information for new writers. Your enthusiasm and support and just plain "humanness" has made my exploratory journey as a (new) writer feel manageable and accessible. So, thank you. I've never been happier.
Thanks to the publicity from your newsletter, our little Memphis, Tennessee event received scripts from Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, the UK and New Zealand. This wealth of wonderful material yielded quality vignettes that made the best local actors and stage directors (including a popular local radio personality) eager to donate their time and talent. Their presence, in turn, sold tickets. We played to packed houses and everyone had a great time. The bottom line is, without you, we would have had something rinky dink -- with you we had something substantial. The publicity you provided on the front end made all the difference in the world!
Hope gave the keynote workshop at the Safety Harbor Writers Conference: Solving the Mystery of Writing, in Clearwater, Florida. Hope could have left after her keynote address, but instead, she stayed throughout the day and made a point to talk to individual writers one-on-one. At the end of the day, Hope participated in a panel and stayed for a Q&A. She left such a good impression on so many that I believe my conference would have been a success had she been my only presenter.
I am sitting in a ferry terminal, waiting for the next boat to take me to the Turkeyland Cove Foundation Writer’s Retreat on Martha’s Vineyard Island. Am I excited? You bet I am! Why? Because this is the first time in my life that I have been offered the gift of time and space for an entire two weeks to focus on what I love to do most: WRITE! I was accepted months ago and “anticipation” has been my middle name.
The timeliness of this couldn’t be more perfect. Maine Authors Publishing just released my collection of twenty-two inspirational essays a few days ago! “Lighting Your Spiritual Passion” One of those essays was chosen for 3rd place in the Writers’ Digest Contest Inspirational category a couple of years ago, spurring me on to publish a collection of essays. When I opened the AMAZON page for my newest book, I cried with relief and joy.
The common thread here is you, Hope Clark, and your FundsforWriters. You inspire me to have more courage, to reach higher, and you offer me threads of hope that I, too, can continue to grow and contribute something of worth to the world. Do you have ANY idea how much you mean to all of us who sit at our computers on Friday afternoon, waiting for your email to come in? I cut and paste every opportunity into a computer document that remains “open” on my desktop so that I can refer back to it any time I feel discouraged. Thank you for your dedication to sharing the roller-coaster ride of writing. You are a gifted teacher and mentor.