by Terri Wagner
Every once in a while I revert to my favorite form of writing for myself...technical or non fiction. Today I decided on a whim to look for the latest publishing news. The "worse economy since the Great Depression" (not my words but cannot find the link) has impacted the writing world as much as would be expected. According to the Authors Guild, if authors relied solely on their writing profits, they would be below the poverty line. Sit back and re read that. How can that be? Look at JK Rowling, Tom Clancy, James Rollins, Terry Brooks, the list goes on. Consider Jackie Collins who recently passed away. Bells go off when I read articles like this. I think it is the analyst in me.
The article continues its dismal news by blaming interestingly enough e-book publishing and Amazon in particular. Apparently the Authors Guild blames technology for the low return rate for authors. Not sure I follow that logic. And here's where my nose starts twitching and why I love non fiction.
First, what is the poverty line? Next, what is the average salary from writing and where did they get their information? Follow up, why assume it is the epublishing situation? What other information is out there available? Are salaries down everywhere? Is this a systemic or a isolated event? When did this start to occur? While novelists get a thrill out of their characters, I get a thrill out of tracking down usable information.
Out of my questions, the article answered a few, but not enough for me to decide whether this information is useful to me or not. And that is the real test for non fiction. Is it useful? The stats were derived by a survey of about 1400 writers, over 89% over the age of 50 (which is rather strange since it is young people who are technology savvy). I would have been interested in a bigger cross-section of author age. Of those authors, 33% had at least one self published book. While the Guild admittedly did the survey to ascertain the effect of ebooks on writing salaries, the whole article only whets my appetite.
This is what excites me as a writer and a teacher. Dissect the news. Decide its usefulness. Go prepare a more extensive article yourself. Hmmmm wonder how much money I could haul in that way? The article does not tell us what kind of writers these were. More fodder to uncover! Who said non fiction was boring?