A recent article at The Globe and Mail features comments from British author Ewan Morrison regarding the future of publishing. The gist of Morrison’s contribution is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for writers to make a living professionally, and that there’s a “race to the bottom” developing as self-published writers offer cheaper and cheaper work.
Reading the article, it seems that Morrison is mourning the passing of the traditional publishing system whereby an author would receive an advance from a company, and would use that advance to finance the process of writing a book. Self-published authors obviously have no such luxury: they get paid after they’ve written the book, and only if the book sells.
So are people like Ewan Morrison and Authors’ Guild president Scott Turow (also featured in the article) right about the demise of the professional writer? Or are they applying this term too narrowly? After all, anyone who makes a living as a writer can claim to be a ‘professional’, and plenty of self-published writers are now doing this. The dynamics of the market are certainly changing. But is Morrison right that professional writers will become less common, or is he just longing for the safety net of the traditional publishing model?