The price of just about everything is going up. Well, except the price that authors are paid. Those not in the industry would be shocked to find out what authors get paid after the pie gets sliced up. It has been this way throughout the ages. Famous authors can demand more as their name is a bargaining chip. But what about first-time authors or authors that are trying to make a name for themselves. The only leverage they have is the savvy of a good agent. If that agent can get the book into multiple bids, then there could be a larger pie to slice up.
Those with a bit of business knowledge might say, why don’t the writer join forces, unit, or somehow work together to gain a collective power? Putting two and two together would make sense.
So why doesn’t it happen?
The answer: the current federal law states that only employees are allowed to unionize and collectively bargain. So that means freelance writers, authors, and independent content creators are excluded.
According to Umair Kazi of the Author’s Guild, over the last two decades, we have seen a gradual erosion of contract terms and an increase in one-sided agreements, leaving authors with no means to fight back.
Before we go any further is should also be noted that the publishers are also feeling the squeeze from large buyers like Amazon and other national chains. Their increased buying power has created a downstream effect. The buyers demand steep discounts to bring the book to market, the publisher feels the pinch, and the creator takes a hit also.
But there is hope on the horizon. In his article Collective Bargaining, Kazi states: The PRO act recently passed by the House and no in the Senate is the most comprehensive labor bill in decades. The PRO Act recognizes that “gig” workers are independent contractors who lack bargaining power and require collective bargaining. The Pro Act amends the definition of an employee with the intent to include a large group of freelancers to have bargaining rights.
Umair Kazi’s piece explains the detail more succinctly that this blog has room for.
In addition, The Authors Guild has been playing a prominent role in this effort. The Author Guild has actively been proposing amendments to the PRO act to solidify the collective bargaining stance.
With great foresight, The Guild has sought to address anti-trust laws that might hinder the forward progress. Their tireless effort will hopefully soon benefit the content creators in America.
It should be noted that the information in my blog today comes from the incredibly informative article by Umair Kazi entitled Collective Bargaining, printed in The Authors Guild Bulletin.
For more on The Authors Guild, what they do, how they can help, and how to join, visit their website:
"Writing is the flow of life through words on a page. We all have this talent to share." Luca DiMatteo
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