Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What is a story worth?

Most bloggers on the internet write a blog because it is the outlet for their feelings. They can write whatever they want and it will be published. They do not get paid for their work and they write for their own pleasure. I get an awful lot from blogging, I can write what I like and publish my own little world.

I am aware that newspaper journalists can earn some good money, columnists like Boris Johnston are very well paid. However, regional journalists are not well paid and only use local newspapers as career stepping stones or if they really like the job then it may be the best that they can secure as competition is fierce.

Until yesterday I did not know how much authors of books, fiction and non-fiction were paid. An educated guess would be a commission deal similar to the music industry. In fact a standard publishing contract gives an author 10 per cent of the cover price. This to me is a good deal and I did not think it would be this high. Book sales are not in the high figures like newspaper sales but the pennys will mount up I am sure. So who is the highest earner for written works today? It can only be one author and I am not a fan. The figures speak for themselves, so take a deep breath because this is big money - forget Premier League football players but consider JK Rowling and a total of 2,652,656 copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold in the UK on Saturday. With a cover price of £17.99 this means that Rowling, already estimated to be worth more than £500 million, earned almost £4.7 million from UK buyers on the first day.

So successful is she, however, that observers believe that she may have negotiated to receive 15 per cent or even 20 per cent of the cover price of each copy sold. Deathly Hallows was published simultaneously, in English, in more than 90 countries. Though few figures from overseas were available last night, it is thought that the worldwide first day sales could top 10 million.

JK Rowling is the top earner but regular authors may be earning a good crust for their labours of love. Your unpaid blogger is back to his hourly paid work tomorrow whether anybody wants my services or not. I get the same rate of pay whether I take 49 people with me or travel on my own. However, I am not allowed to blog about my day job because the company does not want the public to know my opinions. The company pays my wages and blogging is an unpaid hobby so the choice was easy to make.
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