Writers’ Pay

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So the LA Times has an update on how the talks are progressing for the potential screenwriter’s strike:

“The union is demanding greater compensation for writers whose work is distributed through the Internet and other digital platforms. The studios want to overhaul the system to withhold residuals of any kind until after production, development, distribution and marketing costs are recouped.”

This situation reminded me of the system of how book authors are paid: they sometimes get residuals for Internet and other digital platforms, but they don’t get residuals until the book sells enough to make back it’s advance. The advance, however, is not synonymous with how much the agency paid for production and promotion – that could actually be a lot more (or, in some cases, less). But since screenwriters are compensated so little for the crucial work that they do (in Hollywood, the cliché is that the only best site buy generic drugs disposable part of the movie-making process is the writer), they shouldn’t have their residuals scaled back. While screenwriters certainly can make more money overall, it’s such a teeny-weeny portion of the cinematic pie. The studios are making an investment, and part of the risk of that investment is that they might lose money. Honestly: just pay your writers.

But wouldn’t it be strange to have a union that lobbies for a large-scale renegotiation of how book authors are paid? It’s almost nice to have it done on a case-by-case basis, open to negotiation for every book. At least there’s no danger of a strike locking out our workplace for months on end. No, just the danger that no one will buy or read our book and it will sink into the desert of oblivion.

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