Writing in the recession

27th June 2009 | Books, Daily Life | 0 comments

The Author, the newsletter of the Society of Authors, has just dropped on to the doormat. It’s full of doom and gloom about the effects of the recession on writers, particularly freelance writers. Fewer reviews are being commissioned by newspapers. Rates of pay have been cut. Editors are looking to produce the material they need with ‘in-house’ staff writers so that they don’t have to spend any additional money on freelance contributions. Freelancers are treated rudely and insensitively. Publishers are turning down any book which doesn’t look certain to make money. The ‘succès d’estime’ is now a luxury they can only afford when times are good. One of the newsletter writers commented sadly that if you know any young people considering a literary career, this might be the time to dissuade them.

I’ve experienced all the problems they listed, and all in the past half year. It was almost a relief to hear that it wasn’t just me. But what to do? Setting up one’s own website feels like a constructive step. At least you can publish what you want without waiting months for someone to say yes. It’s fun and satisfying to have your own channel of communication. But publishing your thoughts on your own website can never be an alternative source of income – at least not until someone works out a way of making money from online self-publishing, and that day is clearly a way off.

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