I know I said my blogging would be more infrequent due to writing commitments - but with the BBC News continuing with their deluge of quite miserable prophecies of young professionals being in terrible debt in the UK, it was interesting to come across a short paragraph buried at the bottom of the Guardian yesterday . A comment on the state of writers who were 25 – 34 years old (an age bracket that I fall into).
It pretty much explains my situation. I am one of those 60% "young proffesionals" who needs another job to support their writing during the UK’s slow burning financial deterioration – a full-time job that is. It should be noted I haven’t been paid yet and my first book only went into print in January (I guess that’s a hopeful aside, but the realistic part of me realises that I’ll still be doing the day-job at least on a part-time basis for some time to come).
It was interesting to see the “top 10%” of writers earn more than 50% of all authors’ income – and after visiting David Isaak’s blog a couple of days ago and the on-going debate about authors' advances, it’s another round of ammo to add to the whole question of whether the book-trade is being top-sliced to fund books that will never recoup their outlays in terms of both promotion and advance, and thus impact all the way down to struggling novelists and the quality of books being sold.
Of the 10% mentioned in the Guardian, I wonder how many writers will actually “earn” that percentage through royalties and how much is simply extravagant advances paid by publishers? It’s the royalty vs advance debate that I suppose will never leave the industry as long as seven figure advances continue to be paid – and for the record I would rather have a larger percentage of royalties than a ludicrous advance of which I know I’ll never earn back.
In respect of my writing, I’m not aiming for that top 10%. I just want to make a reasonable living to do what I do full-time – I’d say around £24K a year from my writing would be comfortable. As a first time writer, whether I achieve that, only time will tell.
It would be interesting to see what amounts other writers would settle for – and whether or not as a breed, writers are generally greedy or utterly unrealistic. I hope we are not – though judging by some writing forums and sites, I think I might be in a minority. Unfortunately for all concerned, including those writers aspiring to mountains of cash, those who are lucky to be published will probably still fall into the 90% of those earning a pittance.