I read a great post from Swedish archaeologist, Dr. Martin Rundkvist, in which talks about the latest "crappy publishing deal" he has been offered and exactly why he turned it down.
I applaud Rundkvist for turning down the deal, and for blogging about it and his reasons for turning it down. I just wish he would have named names so we could all let this publishing company know just how we feel about the fact they clearly do not value the skill required to produce quality writing.
Of course for Rundkvist, or any writer, burning a publisher like that would be the kiss of death when it came to scoring any future offers, so I understand his reticence to do so. I myself have been in similar circumstances where I want to burn someone for their ridiculous offer but instead take the high road and simply grumble about it someplace where I hope it will go unnoticed.
But, what a shame all that silence is. What a shame that we can't let the world know that the article they are reading which has produced hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars in revenue, cost the publisher a pittance. That while we toil away for a penny or two per word (if that much) publishers practically rape the end consumer. Maybe if we started naming names; started letting people know just how worthless publishers make our written words, they in turn would demand lower prices. After all, if we, the producers of content, cannot make a living from the work we do, why should anyone else profit at our expense?
The world of publishing is a complicated place. The introduction of print-on-demand and eBooks has only made the industry more complicated. Now writers face a plethora of publishing options, none of which is any sort of guarantee of equitable recompense (although we often have ourselves to blame for that one).
Still, one would be forgiven for thinking it was possible today to earn a living as a writer, given a talent for producing quality prose, articles or whatever. Yet even skilled writers encounter the same obstacles, undervaluation of their work, as writers with limited skills or experience. It isn't about skill, after all, but simply the way our industry works.
There is a federal minimum wage assigned for performing an hours' worth of work in America, yet writers can be offered $5 for a 1000 word article which is likely to take two hours (or more) to produce. And often they are lucky to even get that.
The next time you get a crappy publishing offer, or any sort of crappy writing job offer, think carefully before you take it, no matter how hungry you might be. The sooner we begin standing up for ourselves and saying "go to hell" the sooner they might start getting the message and we can go back to surviving on our talent.