So, I’ve not been moved to write anything on this blog for quite some time but some recent figures about UKYA in publishing and the reaction to it has got me so riled up that the fella is forcing me to put words down on the page.
Figures published this week show that there has been a fairly large decline in YA book sales in the UK. 21.5% less that last year in fact. This is quite a stunning number in just a year and some are asking why they think this is.
I didn’t react straight away because I had work and didn’t quite take in what this figure was saying but have since seen a few authors responding and Sally Nicholls has summed it up so well that you should check out the thread she’s written.
The general summary of her point and something I HUGELY agree with is that UKYA authors aren’t paid well enough compared to other parts of the industry and the marketing behind these authors and their books is just not up to the same standards as, for example, their American counterparts. I shared this thread saying it was something that many of us around the industry have seen or commented on for a while.
As someone who has blogged for many years now, over ten as a book blogger, I’ve seen huge shifts in the industry and a big one is the lack of support for some authors. Unless you’re a ‘name’, a celebrity or a import from elsewhere in the world that has already sold big in your region, you’ve gotta hope on a wing and prayer at earning much at all. The advances are woefully low and there is a huge expectations for authors to work their butts off to do their own promo and basically hand-sell their own books everywhere they go. I understand that is part of the job to an extent but I’ve seen authors who’ve had to organise most, if not all, their own events and be their own booksellers exchanging cash with people as they sign their books.
I think that the majority of YA authors I’ve met in all my years as a book blogger have had second or third jobs and are still only just getting by and it’s just sad. I see people that have been short-listed on highly prestigious book lists and still having to take on ‘free’ gigs and hoping they’ll sell a few books to cover the petrol costs and won’t put their backs out lifting all the stock from their cars on a gloomy Tuesday.
It’s an easy solution in my mind: Publishers need to invest better.
I know money is tight and all the big bucks go on certain celebs that ‘write’ for kids or bigger established names but if you’re going to let talent drown on their own in the world of self-promotion after their first book, teach them how to swim a bit. Share the knowledge that you have in publicity and the marketing areas and help set someone up to do their own work. Give a bit more money here and there for book two and three and see if they float and do well. Don’t give up on the first book!
These are hard working people and their expected to live on under minimum wage and still keep waving their own flag and nearly begging their publishers’ social media accounts to share a tweet about an event etc. There must be money out there that can be better spent; I know for sure that bloggers aren’t getting any of it or else I’d be the first to share some of it back to help pay for more Best of British.
What are your thoughts?