From The Guardian:
An angry backlash has erupted among UK authors who are increasingly frustrated at being asked to provide their time for nothing, whether writing, reading at literary events or judging book prizes.
Frustration spilled out on Facebook after a University of Cambridge professor of modern German and comparative culture, Andrew Webber, branded the acclaimed literary novelist Philip Hensher ”priggish and ungracious” for refusing to write an introduction to the academic’s forthcoming guide to Berlin literature for free.
Hensher said: “He’s written a [previous] book about writers in Berlin during the 20th century, but how does he think that today’s writers make a living? It shows a total lack of support for how writers can live. I’m not just saying it for my sake: we’re creating a world where we’re making it impossible for writers to make a living.”
Hensher, who was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2008 for his novel The Northern Clemency, a portrait of Britain’s social landscape through the Thatcher era, wrote his first two novels while working a day job, but said: “I always had an eye to when I would make a living from it. If people who claim to respect literature – professors of literature at Cambridge University – expect it, then I see no future for young authors. Why would you start on a career if it’s not just impossible, but improper, to expect payment?”
. . . .
“It’s our duty as writers to place a value on our work, and not to allow it to be unreasonably eroded. There is increasingly a culture of consumers not paying for cultural products, whether it’s downloaded music or free newspapers. You can have writers who do it in their spare time, who have independent means, or have literature written by people in institutions, but it’s not going to lead to an improvement in literature.”Walters, whose books include Hunting Evil, an account of Nazi attempts to escape at the end of the second world war, added: “I absolutely refuse to do anything for free, no matter what it is. It basically supposes that authors live in a rarefied world in which they don’t need money. If you want culture to be enriched, you need to enrich authors.”He said that publishers’ advances had been reduced over the past decade, which added to the squeeze on authors’ income, making payment for one-off freelance jobs all the more important.
Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Diana for the tip.