Authors’ income ‘at breaking point’

20 April 2015

From the BBC:

The top 5% of authors earned 42% of all income received by professional writers in 2013, according to The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

Meanwhile, the bottom half of professional writers accounted for just 7% of all authors’ earnings overall.

The society said last year that writers earned 29% less in 2013 than 2005.

“The creative industries are thriving, generating £76bn per annum, yet professional writers have seen a near 30% reduction in earnings in recent years,” the society’s head of rights Richard Combes said.

“Consequently many are no longer able to sustain a career. The one truly irreplaceable link in the value chain is being stretched to breaking point.”

. . . .

There is a paradox for an author in 2015. It is harder than ever to make money from writing. And yet there are more people writing and publishing books than ever before. The market is reasonably stable but it can’t begin to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of new books flooding it every year.

You don’t have to be a maths scholar to work out the financial ramifications. Nor the consumer response. Readers, with little spare time are overwhelmed by the choice and end up sticking to what the authors they already know and trust.

Link to the rest at the BBC and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer

18 April 2015

From Forbes:

The London Book Fair lands on an unusually sunny three days in the capital. The scorching rays – rarely seen at all, let alone in April in the UK – seem at odds with a closed-off indoor book fair. But that hasn’t stopped scores of page-turner enthusiasts scouring the giant exhibition centre’s main floor, looking for publishers to schmooze, books to buy and advice to receive.

It’s the advice from authors who’ve ‘made it’ that seems to resonate most with attendees. Seminars and workshops are scattered in between the stands – all packed with a baying audience that fire off seemingly endless questions. They’re all trying to piece together an escape route out of the doldrums of full-time work.

One man, Mark Dawson, has a queue of wannabe writers lining up to speak to him as we sit down for an interview. Dawson is one of the self-publishing success stories that Amazon likes to wheel out when journalists like myself come knocking. But Dawson’s success isn’t down to simply publishing his crime-thriller series and hoping for the best.

. . . .

Dawson has become an entrepreneur. With the self-publishing platform, he had no choice. The tactics he employed to promote his series aren’t game-changing, or even particularly clever, but the scale in which he implemented them is what made the difference.

To date he has sold over 300,000 copies of his series about an assassin called John Milton. Dawson says he pocketed “ six figures” last year and he’s on course to make much more this year. And he’s got plans for bigger and better things for this series outside of print form.

Dawson’s recent success isn’t representative of his time in publishing, however. He actually had a book published by Pan Books called “The Art of Falling Apart” in 2000, which completely bombed. Not because because it was bad – ironically it’s now available on Kindle and has 32 five-star reviews out of 39 – but because few people read it or are aware of it. Mark puts the book’s failure down to the publishers inability to promote his work and generate any sort of interest.

. . . .

“I live in the countryside outside of Salisbury [in the UK] – there are lots of farmers’ fields and one farmer was bringing in his crops. I was cycling my bike and I decided to take a break. I parked my bike, sat down with my back against this tree and got my phone out. Miraculously I managed to get some signal and I thought ‘I’ll check how the book is doing’.

. . . .

Incredibly,Dawson had sold 50,000 copies of The Black Mile over the course of a weekend.

But he was immediately presented with two problems. The first was that he’d made no money whatsoever from The Black Mile, a book he’d poured hours of research and travel into [because it was free]. The second was that he had no follow-up book for his new fanbase to dig in to.

It was at this point that Dawson went from being a simple author to an entrepreneur.

“It was a wasted opportunity.” Dawson admits. “ But it did give me a kick up the arse and proved to me that this is legitimate and that I should write a new book, so I did.”

. . . .

To get new readers onboard, Dawson does the usual stuff like getting blogs to review his books. But what he says works the most is Facebook advertising. Dawson is pumping $370 a day into Facebook advertising and he’s receiving double that in return on investment.

Link to the rest at Forbes 

Jones warns on ‘internecine’ book wars

16 April 2015

From The Bookseller:

The shift to social reading is “liable to consign the traditional publisher and many a writer to decline and defeat in the Civil War for Books”, Philip Gwyn Jones is to say today (16th April), with the reader becoming the prize.

In a speech at the London Book Fair this afternoon, Gwyn Jones will say that the book itself “will become less commercially valuable than the details around its sales transaction – when it was done, where it was done, amongst what other activities, alongside what other purchases”.

The “Where is the Money Going?: The Civil War for Books” seminar at 1pm will look at where the money is literature is going and whether anyone is “raking it in”.

. . . .

Over the last few years, the book industry has been “stuck in our very own World War One re-enactment, in trench warfare over where the money lines are drawn”, Gwyn Jones will say.

“The skirmishes in the global book industry are internecine and unrelenting: the independent authors bombard the traditional publishers; the traditional authors bombard the literary festival directors; the traditional publishers bombard the retailers; academics denounce those who would defend copyright as traitors to the public good; and the retailers take the publishers to courts martial” says Gwyn Jones. “With the new armaments of disruption and disintermediation whirring nicely, the ‘creative destruction’ of techno-capitalism is at full tilt in the business of writing. But who will taste defeat first? Will it be the publishers? Or the booksellers? Agents? Or, dread thought, might it be the writers? Mounted on my high horse, surveying the scene, I fear it is another regiment on this clamorous battlefield which is most in peril. The Readers.”

Gwyn Jones will say that the traditional copyright payment structure “will come under ever greater pressure” as the “cost of copying approaches absolute zero in the digital space, and the belief hardens that ‘sharing’ writing on the Internet by hyperlinking is not the theft it would be deemed to be were it to take place in print”.

. . . .

“Which is why the income to be had from live events might become crucial to writers,” Gwyn Jones will say. “Readers increasingly want intimacy: access to writers, online and in person. They seek proximity, to share an experience with writers, conversation, observation, questioning, at literary festivals and at the new salons like Damian Barr’s, Pin Drop, Local Transport, Intelligence Squared et al, and beyond that in other initiatives where writers sell their unique wisdom in person.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Weinstein Company Acquires Book, Film Rights to Self-Published Hit

15 April 2015

From The Wrap:

French self-publishing success “Happy People Read and Drink Coffee” will see new life in the United States with The Weinstein Company (TWC) picking up rights to publish the book and adapt it for the big screen, the company announced Tuesday.

French writer Agnes Martin-Lugand’s debut novel was a self-publishing smash success in France, where the book outsold “Fifty Shades of Grey” and landed at the top of the French Kindle bestseller list in 2013.

The story follows Diane, who is still mired in grief, her cafe no longer a sanctuary, after the loss of her husband and daughter in a car accident a year prior. Searching for a way to remain close to her husband, Diane takes a trip to a place he always wanted to visit: Ireland. Once there, Diane discovers a whole new sanctuary in the form of a bitter and mysterious neighbor, and must decide whether she is ready — or able — to love again.

. . . .

“As lover of French culture, I couldn’t be more excited to be on board with Agnes Martin-Lugand’s fantastic novel,” said Yazdi in a statement. “It’s a huge thrill to bring the book stateside and we greatly look forward to working with Maeva, Sebastien and the Source Films team in giving the book’s millions of fans a big screen adaptation.”

Link to the rest at The Wrap

Fifty shades of green – now Irish authors self-publish in search of fame and fortune

12 April 2015


If you’re an aspiring author with visions of becoming the next EL James or Stephen King, then self-publishing could be the key to best-selling success.

More and more of the country’s writing talents are now turning to the ‘DIY’ approach to book publishing.

Nearly 460,000 titles were self-published in 2013 across the globe, up fivefold in five years, according to the research group Bowker.

. . . .

Andrew Haworth, from website, says an “end to the stigma” associated with self-published books has led to more authors coming to him.

“Most people who come to us will have already written their books and are trying to get it out in the public domain.

“In the past, there was some stigma in that it was for authors who couldn’t find a publisher. Some authors who come to us have tried to get their book published by a publishing house and not got there.

“It doesn’t mean their book is not good, it just means the publishing house needs to sell a few thousand copies to break even.”

. . . .

Marie also developed her idea as an eBook, and was able to sell 1,000 copies for €10, with €7 from each sale going directly to the charity.

“I wanted to get it made as cheaply as possible to get the highest return for the charity,” she said. “Making it an eBook opened it up and effectively makes it available anywhere in the world.”

Link to the rest at

The Industry View – Alison Baverstock

11 April 2015

From Words with JAM:

What do you see as the three key changes in publishing since 2010? 

[Associate Professor Alison Baverstock:] The first must be the rise on rise of digital, which has both revolutionised the speed and reach with which content can be made available.

The second is the rise on rise of self-publishing, which far from being a mark of shame is now a badge of proactivity.

The third is the breaking down of publishing structures and the launch of so many new ones – new companies, new services and new formats. It fascinates me to see how many different ways in which content can be shared, supported and commented upon.

And what are the impacts of those?

For publishers, agents and readers, the impact of self-publishing is a vast increase in the amount of content available. The reader is having to make more effort to decide how to spend their time, and we are seeing a real shift in how people access material they want to read.

While the speed with which material can be made available is mind boggling, the same principles for sharing apply – don’t press publish until you are ready to be judged by what you have written. You really can only make a first impression once.

Words with JAM is all about writers, but I imagine the shifting landscape has affected many other areas of the industry.

Yes absolutely. For example, I have just done a large piece of research on how self-publishing is affecting the lives of freelance editors. It’s fascinating. It seems the traditional assumption that the difference between a published and self-published book was the involvement of an editor, is regularly not true. Rather, self-publishers are now becoming a regular source of income to freelance editors. The impact of self-publishing on independent editors is a wider market for their work, a broader acknowledgement of their role – and possibly increased rates of pay.

Link to the rest at Words with JAM and thanks to Joanna for the tip.

Queen Victoria, aged 10 and ¾, to be published as children’s author

10 April 2015

From The Telegraph:

A story written by Queen Victoria when she was 10 years old is to be published for the first time, revealing the vivid imagination of a little girl who dreamed about life beyond the palace walls.

The Adventures of Alice Laselles is the charming tale of a girl sent away to boarding school against her will. There is a wicked stepmother, a one-eyed French orphan and a dog called Frisk who dines on buttered toast.

. . . .

The young Victoria wrote the story as an exercise in English composition. Set down in a red notebook, it was later stored in the Royal archives at Windsor Castle where its existence was known only to a select few.

It will be published on June 8, with the author billed by her full name as “Alexandrina Victoria, aged 10 and ¾”.

The illustrations incorporate paper dolls that Victoria made with her governess, Baroness Louise Lehzen. The original dedication reads: “To my dear Mamma, this my first attempt at composition is affectionately and dutifully inscribed by her affectionate daughter, Victoria.”

The afterword to the book explains: “Lots of children make up friends who are invisible to everyone else, but Victoria made up a whole school full of them.”

Victoria grew up in Kensington Palace following her father’s early death and referred to her childhood as “rather melancholy”. She mixed with few children of her own age, and aged nine was bereft when her half-sister, Princess Feodora, left home to marry a German prince.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to Sadie for the tip.

Amazon is a More Modest Beast

7 April 2015

From Publishing Perspectives:

If ever there was a place to proclaim the beginning of the end of Amazon, that nemesis of the publishing industry, then it couldn’t get much better than the London Book Fair.

And this is precisely what Charles Arthur, former technology editor at the Guardian and author of Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet, is planning on doing when he presents his speech “Amazon: An Objective Case Study”.

. . . .

For Arthur, Amazon is no longer like Godzilla, the enormous, violent sea monster that ravages civilization, “and rather more like Ozymandias, king of kings” in Shelley’s poem, whose proud boast “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” is rendered ironic by the passing of time and the crumbling of his empire.

“The Kindle has not taken over the world after all,” Arthur says. “The physical book is not dead. It was a big success at gobbling up the eager readers, but the Kindle has stopped reaching new customers, as the reality is that most people don’t read a lot.

. . . .

For Arthur it is clear that “Amazon is no longer as powerful as it seemed. While there is no competition in ebooks, it is not as robust as people thought; Google is competing with Amazon in what’s called the fulfillment space, providing people with the thing they want to do. Google also wants to do local delivery, although they are not so good at execution.” Indeed, he says, everyone from Sky to eBay can be counted as competitors of Amazon as well as Chinese online retailers like the aforementioned Alibaba if they gain a foothold in the US market.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to SFR for the tip.

Charlotte’s Web voted best children’s book of all time

3 April 2015

From the Telegraph:

Charlotte’s Web, EB White’s classic 1952 book about a pig who is saved from slaughter by a resourceful spider, has been voted the best children’s book of all time.

The book, which won the Newbery Medal in 1953, has been a consistent presence in “best of” children’s literature lists, and has been turned into two films and a sequel, and even a computer game.

In the poll for BBC Culture, critics from around the world named 151 favourites which were whittled down to a top 21.

The result is a snapshot of classics from the past two centuries including Little Women and Alice in Wonderland, and ranges from picture books (Goodnight Moon) to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

. . . .

The top 21 books in children’s literature

  1. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
  2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
  3. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  5. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  6. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  7. Winnie-the-Pooh – AA Milne
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  9. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula Le Guin
  10. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeline L’Engle
  11. The Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  12. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  13. From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler – EL Koenigsburg
  14. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
  15. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
  16. Matilda – Roald Dahl
  17. Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
  18. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren
  19. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  20. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown and Pat Hancock
  21. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

Link to the rest at the Telegraph

New Hachette HQ will be ‘talent magnet’

3 April 2015

From The Bookseller:

Hachette’s new London headquarters Carmelite House will become a “talent magnet” for authors and publishers, but the move will not compromise competition between the adult divisions, c.e.o. Tim Hely Hutchinson has said.

. . . .

“You have to go back to what’s right for the authors,” said Hely Hutchinson. “I believe authors really like the focus of being looked after by their publisher – be that Orion, Hodder or Quercus – and having an editor and a marketing and PR team concentrating on them, with the intimacy that this focus brings. But it is good and reassuring for them that they are allied with a group that can sit at the top table with those big customers.”

. . . .

On authors, Hely Hutchinson said he envisaged different types of author contracts in the future; one low advance, higher royalty, paying more often; another traditional high advance, lower royalty, paying less often. “I’d like to be able to offer those packages and within three years or so we will be able to – if there is demand,” he said.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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