Happy Monday, writer friends,
I have officially started the third attempt at my third novel. 7,000 words down, a gazillion to go. Hold me.
Enjoy the issue!
Natasha Khullar Relph
NEWS & VIEWS
Who can afford to become a journalist? And who can afford to stay one? In a reported essay for NiemanLab, American journalist Carrington J. Tatum talks about the high cost of an education, and the low earnings that make paying off that balance a goal that is almost unattainable. “After graduating, I owed more than $90,000 in student loans, about $64,000 of which is private loans to Sallie Mae,” with interest rates as high as nearly 13%, he writes. “What’s worse is interest was compounding on all of these loans while I was still in school… By the time I graduated, the balance on the first private loan had grown by 50%.”
Tatum is not the first, or only, person to point out that journalism is increasingly a rich person’s game. In an essay of her own, Tatum’s editor at MLK50, Wendi C. Thomas, writes, “How do you repair the damage done to some workers? How do you do that without alienating other employees who benefitted from a much more solid financial footing? Would candidates who would be bothered by our attempts at equity be a good fit? Is our compensation structure fundamentally unjust because we pay primarily for experience and skills, with no consideration for need?”
Tatum quit MLK50. “I can’t afford to stay in journalism,” he writes. “Reporting doesn’t pay enough to cover the cost of entering the field and the cost of increasingly expensive cities. And the best money I can make in journalism isn’t paid for the stories I want to do: justice reporting from the ground up… I’m not the only Black reporter unable to sustain in this industry. I’m among the last in my group chats to quit reporting.”
So, what do you do when journalism doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s what you desire to do? While these are not solutions, here are some workarounds we, and other writers we know, have used:
1. If you’re a freelancer, spend half of your time on really high-paying content marketing work so that you can spend the rest of it on stories that you care about but might not pay as well.
2. Ask the organizations you work with to help you apply for grants and funding, especially for longer-term reporting projects.
3. If you’re focusing on a niche or subject area, launch a paid newsletter where you can share parts of your reporting, process, and research. Take up speaking or coaching opportunities if you can, so that you’re not only reporting, but building a brand for that reporting. This will help you create more income from your specialty as well as provide further opportunities for even more journalism.
What to wear to a book launch: “When a book is published, suddenly one is expected to present oneself in public, looking respectable, or stylish, as if those are qualities that writers possess,” writes Emma Straub.
What makes a great first sentence? Alice McDermott on the importance of starting a story with confidence.
OPPORTUNITY OF THE WEEK
The National Geographic Traveller Travel Writing Competition 2022 is open for entries.
Do you have a way with words? Are you forever regaling your friends and family with tales from your travels? If the answer’s yes, then our annual Travel Writing Competition is just the thing for you.
Submit your 500-word entry before 24 July to be in the running to win the Grand Prize — a luxury expedition cruise to Greenland for two people courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions.
The judges at National Geographic Traveller (UK) want to see flair and finesse with your words — and a written style that captures the essence of the magazine: a strong sense of place, immersive experiences and authentic storytelling.
Every year, the competition receives hundreds of entries, and the aim is simple: to recognise and reward the UK and Ireland’s best new writers. Past winners have gone on to write for the title, often reporting on their winning trip and kick-starting their media careers.
You know how I’ve grown my writing career, my business, and my income?
It’s simple, really.
I create things that I love, am passionate about, and believe in.
Then I tell people about them.
You can create all the complicated systems in the world, but in the end, success comes down to a simple formula:
Create something that you absolutely love and adore. Then get excited enough to tell people about it.
UKRAINE: “An online survey of the Ukrainian book market undertaken by Anastasiia Zagorui on behalf of Ukrainian trade publication Chytomo was conducted from March 26 to April 8. Eighty-one publishers participated in the survey, which examines how the publishing community has adapted to wartime conditions; of those, 10% said they were forced to stop their operations, including 4mamas Publishing House, Abrykos, Booksha, DIPA, Mamino, Oleksandr Savchuk, Osnova Publishing Group, and Smoloskyp. Others, such as Blym-Blym, Ïzhak, and Klio, have been severely compromised. The majority of publishers, 51%, continue to publish but have altered their operating models, taking such measures as reducing their working hours. Thirty-nine percent of publishers had not changed their models when the survey was taken.”
TURKEY: A “disinformation law” that, if passed, would impose up to three-year jail sentences for the spread of “fake news” or “disinformation,” has been sitting in Turkish parliament for years. While the bill itself makes no attempt to define fake news or false information, independent journalists in the country speculate the so-called “disinformation” law may be a euphemism. In fact, the law could be a way of securing authoritarian control in the country by giving outsized power to censor and restrict information flow to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. Fact-checkers at Teyit, one of two Turkish verified signatories to the International Fact-Checking Network’s code of principles, compared the legislation to the laws of regimes that lack press freedoms, like Burkina Faso, Russia, Cambodia and Myanmar.
TAIWAN: After falling 2.8% in 2020, book sales in Taiwan increased 5% last year, to NT$20.04 billion (about $690 million). Sales growth was aided by a nearly 65% jump in book output in 2021 over 2020, with 57,710 new titles published in 2021, according to figures from the Ministry of Culture.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.”
― Philip José Farmer
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