Friday, January 27, 2012

Publishing and $$$

A writer is not a minstrel or a street artist whom you can throw a few coins at for their skills or service. Don't get me wrong though, I'm in no way denigrating street performers here, many of them have great talent. But that is how it works, they strum some lovely tune, and the onlooker fishes out some spare change to show their appreciation.

Ah but it does not work that way in the world of publishing! Though some people/organisations seem to think so. After 12 years in the industry, it amazes me how stingy people can be when it comes to paying writers and allocating an editorial budget.

Many companies seem to be rather tight fisted when it comes to editorial expenses. They think they can run an editorial department on a shoestring budget and still produce a top notch publication. Don't believe me? Open any magazine, whether it's those sold at newsstands or circulated to a limited audience - the editorial staff working on the issue (not including the sales and marketing team) will likely be skeletal at best.

Let me give you an example, I once went for an interview with a company that runs a property advertising portal. They are regional and are listed on the stock exchanges of several countries. They publish property related news on their website and a monthly magazine. Now that's a fair amount of work.

The surprising part is that the editor who interviewed me was actually running a one man-show (sourcing, writing, editing, proof reading, taking photographs) until management finally allowed her to hire a junior writer. The position I was being interviewed for was senior writer. However I declined the call for a second interview because based on their editorial budget, even matching my previous salary would have been a stretch. The last I heard, the said editor is no more there.

If management thinks it is important to have a publication because it adds value to their business, they should be willing to invest in it (hiring good talent to produce quality output). The trend however seems to be to hire juniors/those that come cheap, but to expect a mountain in return from these novices.

Anyone Can Write

Yeah rite! Being able to string a sentence together and speak the language does not make one a writer. That is stuff we all learnt in school. What separates a writer from an average person with good language skills is flair. To all those who think otherwise, flair cannot be acquired from textbooks or drummed into a person. You either have it or you don't.

Writers are not a dime a dozen, there are more doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, teachers graduating on an average than writers. So we are a rare breed. Be willing to invest in us. Will you cut back on good medical or legal service? No right? So be willing to fork out the appropriate amount of $$$...... for a talented and experienced writer.

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