By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
The Grey Lady ran an article last week that was especially depressing to those of us in the writing business. Would You Write a Cookbook for Next to Nothing? documented exploitation of food writers. Just one example: a cookbook author who was invited to write a book of food reviews of Baltimore and DC restaurants, for a publisher who provided no budget for meals.
As The Rev Kev wrote on Friday, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. (So, please go to the Tip Jar right now.)
Seems that some of those in the publishing business haven’t learned that basic lesson::
When pressed on what options an author has to write a book about restaurants with no dining budget, [Josh Stevens, the publisher of Reedy Press] said that “some authors may work something out with the establishments.” He later clarified: “I don’t know, maybe they give them some comped meals.”
Now, I ask you, how objective do you think those reviews would be, if the author accepted free meals?
The meals were never eaten and the reviews never written because that writer had some integrity – as well as common sense – and turned down the publishing deal.
The wider point: producing independent content requires money. I’d like to say this restaurant review example was an outlier. An aberration. Confined to the features and entertainment side of the publication spectrum, and not a problem for hard news.
Alas, it’s not. In fact, when we survey the media landscape, what do we see? Lack of editorial independence. Group think. Sideshows, to distract from what should be main events. And all this in areas of far more importance than the food writing scene.
The mainstream media doesn’t write for you. It works for its paymasters. Those who can afford to spin and control the narrative. Or obscure they key issues, so readers find ourselves wallowing in meaningless blather.
We don’t do that here. Long before I was a contributor to Naked Capitalism, I was an avid, daily reader. And I understood then that if I wanted to continue to read its independent, hard-hitting content, I needed to donate, so that the site would survive. So I did.
Now, if you appreciate this site, please give (hint: the Tip Jar is over there!).
One other thing. It’s not just posters who share analysis and insights. Often just as astute and even better than the posts themselves are reader comments. Your wisdom is precious and there’s nothing quite like it that I know of anywhere else on the web.
A bit more about you, dear readers. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to meet some of you face-to-face, first in New York (with Michael Hudson), and then last week in London (with Clive and Richard Smith). To those who were able to attend: thank you. I enjoyed meeting you and hearing your thoughts and concerns.
Yves and Lambert have created a thriving, lively, intellectually rigorous community. You don’t always agree with each other. In fact, you virtually never do. But the quality of debate in this site’s comment threads is nonpariel. You share your thoughts and opinions. Your comments have made me a better writer. You do me the honor of taking my work seriously. And I try to produce my very best work for you.
So please take a bow, readers. You have helped build the this community. And if you value this space, please pull out your wallet now. The content doesn’t write itself, and without it, there would be no Naked Capitalism community.
There are multiple ways to give. The first is here on the blog, the Tip Jar, which takes you to PayPal. There you can use a debit card, a credit card or a PayPal account (the charge will be in the name of Aurora Advisors).
You can also send a check (or multiple post dated checks) in the name of Aurora Advisors Incorporated to:
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Please also send an e-mail to email@example.com with the headline “Check is in the mail” (and just the $ en route in the message) to have your contribution included in the total number of donations.
So donate now to Naked Capitalism. If you can’t afford much, give what you can. If you can afford more, give more. If you can give a lot, give a lot. Whether you can contribute $5, $50, or $5,000. Just give. This isn’t just giving, it’s a statement that you’re not satisfied with the blather and BS of the mainstream media, but crave independent, thoughtful analysis and commentary.
And if you aren’t in a position to give right now, you can still help by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and telling friends, family, and colleagues about the site, as well as contributing to our splendid comments section.
I am impressed that NC has never resorted to a system of giving commenters badges based on donations.
Does that ever happen?
It has been common practice with web forums, and NC is almost a web forum given the prominence of the comments.
Also, impressed by the lack of tote bags :)
I just chipped in my small contribution. Reading NC not only keeps me up with the news – and gives me that satisfying feeling when the national newspapers cover some of the same subjects, 3-6 months later – but has also contributed immensely to my critical thinking skills.
Singling out two of them: looking for the actor & the (lack of) agency when parsing the news, as well as the concept of the ‘Overton Window’ are devices that have been very helpful to my thinking. What’s more: they are easily passed on. I have introduced these concepts to friends, family & colleagues who, invariably, find them useful and illuminating.
On the substantive side: your work on the financial crisis, CalPERS, the Greek crisis and in the past year, particularly the right to repair and Brexit helped me understand some of these events and trends a lot better (though I have to admit I struggle mightily on the subject of British Parliamentary customs & laws.).
So Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, guest bloggers & commentariat: keep up the good work! Your work matters: it really does.
PS I hope there can be a Dutch (or at least, a Continental European) meetup in the near future!
I spent more than 25 years in book publishing. During that entire time, the advance for a book from a legitimate publisher hasn’t changed: between $2000 and $5000. Also, not only must current writers produce an entire book before they even try to sell it, they often have to do their own publicity afterward. As for writers who either self-publish or go with a small press with no advance, the outlook is pretty dim. Despite this, there is an explosion of small presses, magazines and journals, both in print and on line. It doesn’t mean that writers can make a living writing. And in book publishing especially, a writer can’t make a living unless they are prolific.
In the three years I decided to only write short fiction, I’ve gotten four pieces into print. I am not prolific and the magazines to which I submitted often take a long time for decisions. My current sale took ten months. I have a friend who probably has 100 articles in print and she cannot get commitments for new articles other than a web site that offered her $10 per piece but only once a week. We’re both going back to writing books if only to try and make more money.