Publishing and its Discontents: Authors, Incomes and Alternative Models

Jen Webb, Paul MUNDEN

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapter


(Introductory paragraph only)
Australian cultural economist David Throsby has committed several
decades to examining the economic context in which creative practitioners
operate, and the findings are not encouraging. Report after report has found
that, on average, writers make little more than pocket money from their
writing. It is, however, rare for a larger publisher, at least, to contract any
manuscript that is unlikely to make a profit for the company; publishing
profits do not typically find their way to the authors. Further, since few
major publishers are willing to invest in non-commercial work—poetry,
literary fiction—such writers often turn to alternative modes to reach an
audience. Sometimes this means adopting the tradition of self-publishing,
whether in print or electronic media, in which case the author does all the
work of production and distribution and retains any profits from sales. In
other cases, it means signing with small presses, which may not generate
much financial return, but provides membership of a literary community
and, for those who sign with recognised small presses, a degree of literary
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublishing and Culture
EditorsDallas Baker, Donna Lee Brien, Jen Webb
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne, UK
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781527528048
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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