Common Misconceptions About Publishing and Writing

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:

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