From The Guardian:
His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman is heading a new charge from writers demanding to be rewarded fairly for their work, as the Society of Authors warns that unless “serious” changes are made by publishers, the professional author “will become an endangered species”.
In an open letter to Britain’s publishers, the Society of Authors points to a recent survey that found that the median income of a professional author is now just £11,000, with only 11.5% of UK writers making a living solely from writing. Pointing out that “authors remain the only essential part of the creation of a book and it is in everyone’s interests to ensure they can make a living”, it tells publishers that “unfair contract terms, including reduced royalty rates, are a major part of the problem”.
. . . .
“From our positions as individual creators, whether of fiction or non-fiction, we authors see a landscape occupied by several large interests, some of them gathering profits in the billions, some of them displaying a questionable attitude to paying tax, some of them colonising the internet with projects whose reach is limitless and whose attitude to creators’ rights is roughly that of the steamroller to the ant,” said Pullman.
“It’s a daunting landscape, far more savage and hostile to the author than any we’ve seen before. But one thing hasn’t changed, which is the ignored, unacknowledged, but complete dependence of those great interests on us and on our talents and on the work we do in the quiet of our solitude. They have enormous financial and political power, but no creative power whatsoever. Whether we’re poets, historians, writers of cookery books, novelists, travel writers, that comes from us alone. We originate the material they exploit.”
. . . .
Daniel Hahn, author, translator and chair of the society’s management committee, agreed. “I think we all understand that the book business isn’t easy for anybody right now – well, nearly anybody – and that plenty of good publishers are struggling, too. But we’ve reached a point today where the professional author is under serious threat, and that’s not a state of affairs that is good for any of us – not for publishers, not for writers, and certainly not for readers and the wider culture,” he said. “We mustn’t allow ourselves to drift into a situation where only the already-wealthy can afford to be writers, and so it’s time to rebalance the scales a little.”
. . . .
Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said this morning that while “publishers share the frustration of the author community that it is increasingly difficult for authors to make a decent living from their writing”, they “locate the principal source of this problem not in the contractual relations between publisher and author but in deeper market factors”.
“With margins being squeezed across the whole supply chain, books are facing increasingly stiff competition from other media and entertainment sectors for consumers’ time, and there simply being more writers … the reasons for the decline in average author income are wide and varied,” said Mollet. “We look forward to continuing our discussions on these policy issues with the SoA and other author representative groups.”
Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to James for the tip.