AMG Note: This report reinforces what Alan has been saying for a few years now. Also, why it is important to fully complete the surveys that AMG & AG put out for authors. This helps us make better decisions on how to help YOU the Author!
New York (February 19, 2020): The Authors Guild, the nation’s largest and oldest nonprofit professional association for published writers and journalists, today issued a report, “The Profession of Author in the 21st Century,” detailing the underlying social, economic and technological factors contributing to the ongoing decline of author incomes.
“For much of literary history, only the most privileged—those with wealth and leisure and education—could hope to publish. The 20th century created laws and practices, however, that allowed many [American] writers to earn a living, and as a result, an explosion of important books were published—by women, by authors of color, and others once shut out of authorship by financial need,” states Christine Larson, Ph.D., author of the report and an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Colorado, who studies the impact of technology on media workers and culture industries. “But the days of authors supporting themselves from writing may be coming to an end. The changing economy of publishing today means that reliable income and time—the metaphorical room for writing—are increasingly out of reach for many authors.”
To compile her research, Larson conducted interviews with book authors, publishing executives and industry analysts. She also drew heavily on the data from the most recent Authors Guild’s Authors Income Survey. Below are four meaningful takeaways from the commissioned report:
- It’s harder to make a living as an author now than in the past. Indeed, writing incomes have dropped by 24% since 2013. Three major factors account for this trend:
- Fewer Americans read books than ever before, as consumers increasingly turn to screens for news and entertainment—just 53% of Americans say they read books for pleasure down from 57% in 2002 according to the NEA.
- Amazon’s introduction of the Kindle, along with online physical book buying, precipitated a devaluing of books overall, while its current pricing practices eat into authors’ advances and royalties.
- The mass shuttering of more than 2,000 U.S. newspapers, as well as the loss of print and online magazines and news sites, has resulted in fewer opportunities for authors and journalists to supplement their book earnings with short stories, essays, book reviews and other literary or critical content.
- Half of full-time authors earn less than the federal poverty level of $12,488. Literary authors are the hardest hit, experiencing a 46% drop in their book-related income in just five years. Other relevant data:
- 80% of all authors earn less than what most people would consider a living wage. Authorhood is not a conventional, salary-paying career. Most authors patch together other forms of income, from teaching to full-time day jobs in a wide variety of fields. The profession of author signifies the broader challenges of the “gig economy,” where more and more people juggle multiple part-time jobs and contract work and receive no employee benefits.
- Authors of color earn half the median income of white authors (and the gap seems to have grown in the past five years). Taken together with the fact that 85% of editors are white, this finding has troubling implications for equality of voice in book publishing.
- Authors are expected to do what publishers once did—market their own books. Authors spend a full day per week promoting their books, which takes them away from writing and results in longer stretches between new books being published and lean years for many writers.
- Self-publishing income is growing rapidly, but still remains very small compared to traditional publishing. While the median income of self-published authors increased by 85% over the past four years, led largely by the success of e-romance novels, self-published authors still earn 80% less than traditionally published authors. Part of the problem is that supply far outstrips demand; Bowker reports more than 1.68 million self-published book titles in 2018, up 40% from the year before.
The report asserts that authors’ incomes in the U.S. will continue to sink even further unless lawmakers, publishers, content distributors, authors, literary advocates and the American public step in to stop the decline.
“Anger, frustration and sorrow are three of the most common emotions expressed by authors cited in the report said noted novelist Doug Preston, president of the Authors Guild. “Reading it also reinforced the importance of the Authors Guild in helping to prevent the total sidelining of professional writers in the new literary and information landscape and protecting their ability to earn a living in this brave new world.”
The Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest, marks its 35th year with an expanded outdoor presence and a return to its original roots as a community-based celebration for book lovers presented by the not-for-profit Near South Planning Board.
The much-anticipated 2020 Printers Row Lit Fest will take place along Dearborn Street, from Dearborn Station to the newly named Ida B. Wells Drive (formerly Congress Parkway), rain or shine, Saturday – Sunday, June 6 – 7, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
More than 100,000 visitors are expected over the two-day festival, which will feature carefully selected offerings from over 100 booksellers; everything from the tattered to the rare to ‘hot off the press,’ newly published works.
We will be having a booth at this year’s event if there is enough interest. We can have a large 20x20 booth that will give us room for 7 additional authors to present their books during the weekend. The cost per author is $500 for the two-day event if with us, if by yourself, a table starts at $375 with no canopy and can go as high as $650, or a booth starts at $1,125.
As always with an event like this, we will be giving members two options: Book Display or Table Space. Please select which option you would like below.
Thank you for your interest in having your book on display at the Association of Writers & Writers Program Book Festival in San Antonio on March 5 – 7, 2020 at the San Antonio Convention Center.
We will contact you soon to review the information and make sure we have the book title listed and or the table time selected.
by Porter AndersonJanuary 21, 2020
A proposed Missouri state bill ‘relating to parental oversight’ of public libraries alarms freedom-of-expression advocates.
PEN America: ‘Shockingly Transparent’
Led by James Tager, who is PEN America’s deputy director of free expression research and policy, the organization’s media messaging about proposed legislation in Missouri has drawn attention and analysis.
With the headline “Proposed Book Banning Bill in Missouri Could Imprison Librarians,” the United States’ leading literary advocacy organization wrote, in part:
“The bill — the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act or House Bill 2044 — aims to add several provisions to the state’s funding law for public libraries. These new provisions establish ‘parental library review boards’ that would evaluate whether any library materials constitute ‘age-inappropriate sexual material.’
“Members of these five-member boards, who would be elected at a town meeting by a simple majority of voters, are empowered to determine whether material is appropriate, including by evaluating its literary merit. Public librarians are explicitly barred by the statute from serving on such review boards, even if they are from the community.
“Under the act, the boards would hold public hearings to receive suggestions as to possible inappropriate books, and would have the authority to order the library to remove any such material from access by minors.
“Any public library who allows minors access to such ‘age-inappropriate materials’ would have their funding stripped, and librarians who refuse to comply with the act can be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.”
In a prepared statement, PEN’s Tager is quoted, saying, “This is a shockingly transparent attempt to legalize book banning in the state of Missouri.
“This act is clearly aimed at empowering small groups of parents to appoint themselves as censors over their state’s public libraries.
“Books wrestling with sexual themes, books uplifting LGBTQIA+ characters, books addressing issues such as sexual assault—all of these books are potentially on the chopping block if this bill is passed.”
In fact-checking analysis, Dan MacGuill at Snopes agrees with PEN that violations of Missouri’s House Bill 2044 could lead to the imprisonment of librarians. As of Friday (January 17), he reports, the bill, introduced on January 8, had not been debated on the floor of the Missouri lower house.
Snopes picks out the criteria by which content can be defined as “age-inappropriate sexual materials” as: “Any description or representation, in any form, of nudity, sexuality, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse, that:
• “Taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest of minors; • “Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is appropriate material for minors; and • “Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”
MacGuill’s assessment does point out that articles including that of PEN may “give the mistaken impression the bill would ‘ban’ certain books, outright. Rather, the bill seeks to bar public libraries from making certain ‘age-inappropriate sexual material’ accessible to children, in particular.”
Jane Ridley at the New York Post on Thursday (January 16) seemed to echo this point, writing that the proposal “has been attacked by critics as ‘a shockingly transparent attempt to legalize book banning.'”
In the UK, Alison Flood at The Guardian wrote on Thursday (January 16) that the bill has the opposition of the Missouri Library Association, which is on record stating, “Public libraries already have procedures in place to assist patrons in protecting their own children while not infringing on the rights of other patrons or restricting materials.”
Bill’s Sponsor: ‘Not for Children’
In comments to the local news station KOAM’s Zachary Dodge, the sponsor of the bill, Missouri state representative Ben Baker has said that his intent is not to block the presence of sexual content in libraries but to prevent minors from accessing it.
“The main thing that I’ve heard is that I want to ban books or ban content or censor content, and that’s not the case,” Baker says. “I just think that there’s a line between what is open and available access for our children. Even the bill specifies it wouldn’t be taken out of the library, it would just be put in a section that’s not for children.
“If the adult wanted to—and said ‘I’m okay with my child reading this or looking at this’—then they could check that out, and have that available for their child. I just think that we need to be careful about funding something with our taxpayer dollars without parental consent.”
KOAM also speaks with Carrie Cline, who directs the Neosho Newton County Library. Cline says, “I was contacted by my fellow directors across the state. They’re all very, very upset about it. The Missouri Library Association’s very aware of it, so is the American Library Association at a federal level.”
If the bill were made into law, Missouri’s libraries would have to annually verify their compliance. From the text of the bill: “Each public library shall, on or before June 13 of each year, verify compliance with this section on any form created by the board. After such compliance is verified, the library shall post the verification in a conspicuous place for public viewing at the library.”
Today we’d like to introduce you to B Alan Bourgeois & Authors Marketing Guild.
In 2007, I started a publishing company to help fellow authors get their books published, and hopefully, to start some great careers. By 2011 I had to close it down as I became all too aware of the need for marketing for authors that was not only affordable but competitive.
It was for combined reasons of helping authors succeed and saving them money in the process that I created the Texas Association of Authors. In 2018, we added Indie Beacon and in 2019, we merged the two organizations and created the first membership owned company helping authors around the world: Authors Marketing Guild, LLC.
The response from self-published & indie authors for our services and educational programs has been well received. However, as we continue to grow, we ran into a lot of roadblocks from traditionally published authors and publishers along with dislike from Barnes & Noble toward indie authors and authors published with Amazon. We understood a lot of the push back but also felt that it was not warranted, as many great authors these days start as indie authors. As we continued to grow stronger, going forward, we had to do a lot of educating with the old system of publishing.
The other issue we ran into was that so many authors wanted to sit back and let someone else do the job. That concept is the biggest hurdle for any author to overcome. Writing a book is only 10% of the work. The remaining aspect of a successful career these days is marketing and promotion of the book. With over one million books a year being published, each author has to work hard to have their book noticed and read. Getting authors to understand this is an ongoing struggle that we continue to work on and help them overcome.
Authors Marketing Guild is a unique company that helps authors learn how to better market and sell their books. We do this through our annual Authors Marketing Event held in July each year, as well as through a radio/tv show, and other events and programs. These are all specifically designed to give authors more opportunities to get exposure and find readers. In addition, we have created the only online fully indie bookstore, Indie Lector Store, that pays authors up to 80% of their book sales. No other bookstore does this.
Finally, we have created two nonprofits that also support authors in Texas and around the world: Texas Authors Institute of History, Inc., is the first museum that supports a state’s author group and the DEAR Texas/DEAR Indie organizations help get books into Title 1 schools and libraries.
We provide multiple programs and opportunities that, when authors take advantage of them, they can grow in book sales and exposure. These are key issues that are critical to the success of any author.
I consider myself to be an average person who has a creative side. This was clearly shown as I created programs, when I was a child, to help other people. My first project was in Los Angeles, CA when I petitioned the state legislature to create a young adult’s congress to help the legislature to grow stronger. I was ahead of my time, and sadly, that didn’t go too far.
The second program was Youth for Earthquake Safety (YES), which my friend Dale and I helped create in our high school. The concept was very simple, educate students about the proper procedures for earthquake safety, a critical aspect for those living in an earthquake zone. We received numerous awards and recognition for this and left high school with the program moving forward. It was the first of its kind and it led to more projects and programs that I worked on for years to come.
· Our membership dues are more than fair at only $60 for an annual membership.
· 1712 E Riverside Dr 124
Granbury Book Festival
July 24, 2020
6 PM – 10 PM
Granbury Community Hall
Main Square, Granbury, TX
This is a first-time event created for Granbury, instead of the annual reception held on Friday night before the AME on Saturday. If the event goes well, we will be working with the city to create an annual festival.
Authors will receive a 6’ table and one chair to use for the event. A reception type atmosphere will be created for a Friday night fun time. Set up will begin at 4 PM and end at 5:30 PM. NO AUTHORS WILL BE ALLOWED TO SET UP AFTER 5:30 PM! If you are late to set up, you will NOT be allowed in – NO EXCEPTIONS AND NO REFUNDS!