After realising that “many people don’t have the first clue about how the publishing business works — or even what it is“, the somewhat prolific science fiction writer Charlie Stross decided to do something about it. The result was a series titled Common Misconceptions About Publishing.
This is admittedly only one author’s viewpoint and set of opinions, but Stross’ series of sometimes lengthy but always insightful essays expose the innards of publishing (at least, it seems to). Posts in the series include:
- The publishing industry, and how it’s structured
- How books are made
- What authors sell to publishers
- Territories, translations, and foreign rights
- Why books are the length they are
- “Why did you pick such an awful cover?”
- Lifestyle or Job?
Something that particularly struck me was this look at author income inequality:
Researchers [calculated the] Gini coefficient for authors’ incomes — a measure of income inequality, where 0.0 means everyone takes an identical slice of the combined cake, and 1.0 indicates that a single individual takes all the cake and everyone else starves. Let me provide a yardstick: the UK had a Gini coefficient of 0.36 in 2009, the widest ever gap between rich and poor — while the USA, at 0.408, had the most unequal income distribution in the entire developed world. The Gini coefficient among writers in the UK in 2004-05 was a whopping great 0.74. As the researchers note:
Writing is shown to be a very risky profession with median earnings of less than one quarter of the typical wage of a UK employee. There is significant inequality within the profession, as indicated by very high Gini Coefficients. The top 10% of authors earn more than 50% of total income, while the bottom 50% earn less than 10% of total income.
This is the same Gini coefficient as Namibia in 1993 (the worst in the world at the time, according to the World Bank).
via The Browser