Tuesday, 30 August 2011

"I'm reviewing the situation" by Lynne Garner

When I first started to write professionally I produced non-fiction how-to pieces for craft magazines, something until very recently I still did. However reluctantly and after much coercion from him-in-doors I took the words of Fagin to heart and "reviewed the situation." I carried out an analysis of how long it takes me to write a magazine feature compared to how much I was earning. This is what I discovered:
  • In 1997 I was being paid £25 per page
  • By 2000 this had gone up to £50 per page
  • By 2007 I was earning on average £75 per page
  • In 2011 I was earning on average £33 per page
I knew my income had been dwindling but I was shocked to discover I was earning less than I was eleven years ago. When I started in 1997 I had never written a published piece of work, so the rate of £25 reflected this. Since then I've had 21 books and over 200 features published worldwide. Yet this wealth of experience is obviously no longer reflected in the payments I'm receiving.
Also many magazine publishers have changed the way they work. I used to supply a feature on a first serial rights basis. This meant I could sell the feature to an overseas publisher and double my income from the same work. However today they want full rights, which takes away my ability to top up my income. Now I understand the magazine industry is having a tough time. I understand they have reduced budgets but it feels they want not only their piece cake but my piece as well. So I've decided to change the way I work. For the fist time since 1997 I have no features commissioned and am not actively seeking new clients. I've decided to step back from magazine features (unless they are worth my while) and concentrate on writing Kindle eBooks which I can sell via Amazon to a growing buying public.
I'll admit it's a scary situation to be in, turning down work and not looking for paying work. But the time feels right to find another way to make my writing earn me a living wage. If I don't I'm scared I'll be forced into finding myself a 'proper' job, one that pays a regular wage, sick pay and even holiday pay. Just the idea makes me shudder!

Lynne Garner

11 comments:

Martin said...

All the very best with your new venture.

catdownunder said...

You are terribly brave - good luck!

JO said...

Maybe if a few more features writers took the same stance they might begin to be paid properly. Good luck - and hand onto your principles. You're worth it!

karen said...

Having met you, Lynne, I feel absolutely confident that you will find a way of making writing continue as a paying venture. You're brilliant! Thank you for sharing so frankly your rates of pay on the magazines. Good luck with the ebooks.

Jenny Alexander said...

I think it makes sense - the market's changing and authors need to adapt to survive. I used to write lots of non fiction, which got uniformly rave reviews and amazing reader feedback, but decided there was no possible way, even with back-to-back book commissions, I could actually earn a living from it. I've diversified into fiction series - but may come to the same conclusion there...

Susan Price said...

Good for you, Lynne - and good for him-in-doors!
You'll find Lynne, and other authors taking the same self-publishing route over at www.kindleauthors.co.uk

Penny Dolan said...

So it's bad for "features" pay too. Expect that the years of articles have sharpened your writing so you'll be able to word stunning press releases and blogs to support your Kindle work.

A brave choice - and good luck to you and all the Kindlers.

Leila Rasheed said...

What an interesting earnings comparison, Lynne. Shocking difference between 2007 and 2011. I think you are not only brave but wise to look for new ways to earn money from writing.

Miriam Halahmy said...

Wow! What a change in earnings. Go for it Lynne, I'm sure you'll make it work.

Keren David said...

On the other hand, I was paid recently for a mass-market newspaper feature, a fee which was nearly 50% of the advance I got for my first book. It's all down to circulation.

Lynne Garner said...

Thanks for all the comments. I (like many) may be finding it hard at the moment but thank goodness for the SAS and it's many web based off shoots. I can vent, ask questions and your eyes don't glaze over like my non-writing friends do.