Thursday, August 18, 2011

Graham Swift is an Idiot

British author Graham Swift, who won the Booker Prize 15 years ago and thus is pretty established, is an idiot. In an interview with the Telegraph, he states:

“The e-book does seem at the moment to threaten the livelihood of writers, because the way in which writers are paid for their work in the form of e-books is very much up in the air.
“I think the tendency will be that writers will get even less than they get now for their work and sadly that could mean that some potential writers will see that they can't make a living, they will give up and the world would be poorer for the books they might have written, so in that way it is quite a serious prospect.”

To which I say, he is a fathead. Allow me to point out the average writing based income of an aspiring author: $0.00.  That is, to be clear, zero dollars and zero cents. And further, the average lifetime earnings from writing of the majority of aspiring writers: $0.00. Again, that is absolutely no money at all. So unless a Kindle is going to walk up to an aspiring writer and take his lunch money, it is not mathematically possible to make less as an average aspiring author.

Does it potentially threaten less money for published authors? It could. That's up to them, their agents, their publishers and how well they negotiate. But probably no, it does not mean less money even for them. It should mean more, with backlist coming back into availability, and with authors getting (even from traditional publishers) a much higher percentage from ebooks then print books.

Further cementing his idiocy, Swift said:

"If aspiring authors see that they are unable to make a living from their work, it may cause them to give up and leave potentially great stories unwritten."

Allow me to explain to Mr. Swift that the vast majority of writers, published or not, don't make a living from their work. Even many reasonably well known authors keep their day jobs. Writing is not a thing which supports the family, it is a thing which allows the family to have a night out sometimes. Writing is a thing which most writers do because they feel they can, or should, or must, not because of the big paychecks we all assume we're going to recieve (we don't assume we're going to make real money at this, by the way.)

I've read his book Waterland. It's quite good. But Swift should stick to writing his books (which apparently must pay quite well) and shut the hell up about a topic (aspiring writers, not ebooks) about which he knows seemingly nothing at all.

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