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!