Where Writers Get No Support
Where do writers get no, or very little, support? Virtually everywhere! However, a few places are surprising: publishers and academia.
One would think that publishers would consistently support writers, because writers are their raison d’etre. But that is only too often not true. For those publishers whose primary concern is making money, they are typically as supportive of their writers as the owners of a big company are of their employees. If one’s employee makes a lot of money for the folks in charge, he or she is amply (often too amply) rewarded. If not—well, we all know about minimum wages. Writers are well advised to read carefully any contracts with a major, commercial publisher.
The obvious exceptions are the small, literary press publishers. They know they’re not going to get any real financial return for their efforts. They do what they do out of love for literature. They are a noble lot and too often maligned by frustrated writers who fail to be chosen by them for publication.
And academics?! You’d certainly expect English profs to care about literature, but too often all they care about is their careers. Next time you’re at a poetry reading or book launch, look around and see how many profs are present. Writers sometimes get lucky and land a temporary gig at a university or college—where they are paid less than a prof on the lowest rung of the professorial pay scale. Anyone hoping to make money from literature should know a graduate degree is worth more than a hundred literary publications—and a lot easier to obtain.
Again, there are exceptions. But you won’t find many significant writers who earned their daily bread as English Lit profs. Hell, more made a living as short-order cooks!