Highly Recommended World Service conversation – two children’s authors in conversation (Candy Gourlay and Leslea Newman)
Daniel Hahn has been elected as the new chair of the Society of Authors, taking over from Anne Sebba.
Hahn, a writer, editor and translator, said the work of the SoA was more important than ever during a “time of uncertainty”.
He has served on the management committee of the SoA since 2013, and was previously chair of the society’s Translators Association.
Hahn is currently national programme director of the British Centre for Literary Translation.
Freya North responds to a previous Bookseller opinion piece:
John McLay, founder of the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature, wrote in The Bookseller that when authors attend a festival, they enter into an unspoken agreement with the festival organisers not to expect a fee. I don’t agree.
McLay, who founded the Bath Children’s Festival, said this at the end of July:
The punters often pay to attend, but authors rarely get a cut of the box office. Should they? Where does all that money go? Is someone getting rich at authors’ expense?
Well, it’s not me. I founded the Telegraph Bath Festival of Children’s Literature in 2007 with my wife, using all of our own money. We staged nearly 150 public and school events over 10 days and attracted more than 10,000 paying visitors. And we lost a hefty five-figure sum. Ouch. By the time we handed over the festival to Bath Festivals to run three years later, we were in better financial shape—but still nursed a loss from that disastrous first year.
When authors attend a festival, I think they enter into an unspoken agreement with the festival organisers. We, the festival organisers, go to great expense and effort to stage a festival which will provide you with a platform on which to meet your public and sell your books. We take the box office receipts to help pay for our own expertise, venue hire, staging, lighting, sound, brochure, ticket services, refreshments, staffing, security, insurance, publicity and marketing. We spend a year planning it, worrying about every unsold seat and missing PowerPoint presentation, and live it for duration of the event itself.
In a nutshell McLay was putting forward the time-for-exposure rationale. He finished off: “These author/reader experiences plant seeds in the minds of the book buyers of tomorrow, and that is worth a lot in my opinion. We’re all part of the festival deal. It’s great that festivals exist, but they need everyone to only take the piece of the financial pie that rewards their contribution.”
North takes exception to this. In her response she writes:
For an author, festival events require a great deal of preparation, thought, generosity and often nerves. The festival fee we pay all our authors is not big bucks, but it is there as a token of our appreciation and respect. They are all hardworking, entertaining and inspiring professionals who simply ought to be remunerated for the service they provide. As Maureen says: “You don’t ask your local butcher for a free steak. Authors are giving their time and energy and yes they do benefit but why shouldn’t they? They deserve to feel valued.”
The Hertford Children’s Book Festival website was designed by Shy Studios:
• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.
• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction dollars are coming from e-books.
• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t cover the difference.
• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.
• When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.
In this report, we will also reveal how e-book earnings represent roughly 64% of a traditionally published fiction author’s income, and therefore why authors should focus less on statistics geared toward publisher earnings and trade bookstore sales and consider their own incomes instead. Finally, we will tackle the difficult question of just how many authors are earning a living wage today. The results are sobering.
This final chart reveals a startling insight: If the Big 5 hadn’t signed a new author since 2009, and simply released new works from their long-established authors, they would still be making 63% of the e-book revenue that they are making today. Ownership of backlist and long-tenured authors is quite clearly big publishing’s most powerful commodity.
1 Jeff Kinney (last year: joint 1st )
2 Roald Dahl (last year: joint 1st)
3 Roderick Hunt (last year: 2nd)
4 Francesca Simon (last year: 3rd)
5 David Walliams (new entry)
6 Suzanne Collins (last year: 4th)
7 JK Rowling (5th), Julia Donaldson (9th), Michael Morpurgo (6th)
10 John Boyne (new entry), Martin Waddell (8th)
The events for Children and Young Adults at this year’s Oxford Literary Festival have now all been booked and confirmed, and what a fine programme Nicolette Jones has put together.
Follow the link below to see the full listing and to book your tickets.
In the wake of news that Julia Donaldson is to move away from Scotland, the Herald picks out “our top Scots to watch this year in the world of children’s books…”
The names include relatively new authors, such as Caroline Clough
and Barry Hutchison, as well as more familiar names: Debii Gliori and, of course, J. K. Rowling, still a Scottish resident.
For the full list visit Read all about it: our guide to Scottish children’s authors | Herald Scotland.
Could this be an idea for the UK, I wonder?
On Saturday, November 30, independent bookstores will celebrate Indies First, the brainchild of writer Sherman Alexie, who encouraged authors to work as booksellers that day.
I’m in the process of updating our Links page and have added a fourth column for Bloggers.
As with all the links the aim is not to be comprehensive but selective. In the case of blogs, for example, I am not listing any that are not updated at least a few times each month.
But I’m very happy to receive pointers for inclusions that do not appear yet (in any of the categories).