by Anita Daher
The global pandemic created by Covid-19 has made things tough for almost everyone. While, on the surface, authors are doing fine — because what do people have to do during lockdowns other than sit home and read? — the pandemic has created some unique challenges for authors, too.
So many authors have temporarily waived fees for virtual presentations during these pandemic times. So many authors and publishers have offered excerpts from books, sometimes several, sometimes entire books online to keep people company and entertained.
Please consider the devastating economic impact to our industry and the people who depend on it for their livelihoods — authors, publishers, booksellers, more. Authors (full time) do not have jobs to return to after we are through this first wave. Many cobble together a living through a combination of presentations, teaching opportunities, public lending right and copyright licensing compensation, and royalties. Royalties are often the smallest portion of our income. Consider 10 percent of a $12 paperback.
This lost season of book launches constitutes a gut-punch loss for authors, publishers, and booksellers who rely on the sales “bump” that launches provide. For many small publishers, this covers the large outlay of cash publication requires. It keeps bookstores staffed. This lost season of launches means lost “buzz” over new books, which means lost future presentation and teaching opportunities for authors, and of course lost royalties. Lost sales also affect copyright licensing and public lending right (libraries) compensation.
Don’t get me started on flawed copyright legislation that shows a shameful lack of respect by our Canadian government for Canadian values of fair compensation for creative work. But I digress. We (The Writers’ Union of Canada and other organizations) are working through those issues through the Courts. Because we have to.
My point. If you’ve enjoyed books and readings freely offered this season by authors because we all are in this together connected by pain and horror and fear and love, please consider purchasing a book. Purchase two. Write and post a brief review of a book you’ve enjoyed. #Buzz
Put your money where your appreciation is. The cost of a book in Canada is less than you’ll pay for a lunch. Buy a book and have a picnic in your backyard, your balcony, or by a favourite window. Show a writer you care and keep culture alive though books. ◊
Anita Daher is the author of 15 books. Her most recent, You Don’t Have to Die in the End, is about a young offender offered a last shot at redemption in Canada’s remote Northern Rocky Mountains. She resides in Manitoba, and is the current Chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada.