From The Digital Reader
[Recently] The Guardian engaged in the book world’s favorite past time.
No, not ebook-bashing. No, not baseless Amazon fear-mongering. (Let me try this again.)
On Tuesday The Guardian engaged in the book world’s third favorite past time, wringing their hands over the supposed demise of book authoring as a profession.
Writing is in danger of becoming an elitist profession, with many authors being subsidised by their partners or a second job in order to stay afloat, according to new statistics.
The full findings from the annual Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society report into author earnings paint a more nuanced picture than the headline results from last summer, which revealed that median earnings for professional writers had fallen to less than £10,500 a year. While the average professional writer earns £10,000 a year, the mean earnings for a writer’s household were more than £81,000 a year, and median household earnings were at £50,000 per annum. “Most writers supplement their income from other sources, such as a second job or household earnings contributed by a partner”, according to the report, which analysed answers from more than 5,500 professional writers.
“There is a danger of writing becoming an elitist profession which excludes new and diverse voices,” said Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon. “This report should act as a wake-up call for the industry.”
The problem with this piece, well, there are two problems. The first is that the piece is predicated on the assumption that the only type of writing that matters is book authoring, and that things like writing for TV, movies, or ad agencies, or reporting the news, aren’t even worth acknowledging. This is actually an elitist assumption, one that the writer of the piece overlooked.
The other problem with this piece is that it is framed with the assumption that there was a time that book authoring wasn’t an elitist pursuit.
. . . .
It doesn’t matter what period you look at, whether it’s before the printing press was invented or after the typewriter was developed, book authoring has always been a hobby more than a profession.
That was true even after the book publishing industry came into being; it’s not just that only a minority of book authors could make a living at it but also that in any given year the majority of books were written on the author’s time in the hopes of selling the book to a publisher.
Link to the rest at The Digital Reader
PG notes that a great many things are elitist pursuits.
In the midst of another season of Major League Baseball, it is clear that not only are all professional baseball players elite athletes (you try to hit an object the size of a small orange traveling at 100 miles per hour with a stick), but that the best players are an elite within an elite.
What about physicians? In the US and elsewhere, given the academic record and test scores necessary to gain entry into medical school alone, every physician is part of a mental and academic elite.
Let’s finish up with professional concert violinists. As the father of a very good (but not professional) violinist, PG says only an extraordinarily small number of musicians have the talent, obsessive work ethic and tolerance for poverty necessary to become one of the tiny fraction of music students who start music lessons and continue to the ultimate heights of that pursuit.
However, one of the great results of the KDP revolution is that would-be authors who for any number of reasons can’t crack the New York publishing hegemony because of something having nothing to do with their writing ability (wrong educational background, don’t know the right people, the intern who was reviewing submissions that day didn’t like cowboy romances, etc.) can present their work to the general reading public to determine whether anyone enjoys reading it and/or will pay to read it.