IN THIS ISSUE
- From the Editor’s Desk: Equality in an agent-author relationship
- On The Wordling: A brand new Articles page!
- News & Views: How much can you make as a creator?
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Happy Thursday, writers!
For our first date over fifteen years ago, my husband took me to a posh Italian restaurant in New Delhi. I’d been excited about seeing Sam—we’d been communicating online as I spent months in Ghana and pondered a move to Japan—but I wasn’t at ease as I sat in the restaurant that evening.
I’ve always paid my own way in a relationship, especially at the beginning, and I couldn’t afford this fancy restaurant he’d chosen. If I had to, I would pay for my half of the bill and offer to pay for his (Indian politeness at work), but it wouldn’t be good for my finances. So I did what I’ve always done in any relationship, personal or business. I spoke up. I told him the restaurant wasn’t my vibe and would he mind if we went someplace else?
He didn’t mind, of course, and we walked around the streets of Delhi, eating gol gappas, drinking chai, getting to know one another, and having an amazing time. For less than five dollars. And even though we’ve been to many nice restaurants since then, standing by the roadside and indulging in Delhi’s street food is still one of our favorite things to do.
Most of us want equality in our relationships, but we don’t always speak up when we don’t feel equal or comfortable with the lack of balance. When Sam and I met, he had far more power and money than I did and I needed us both to know that while it was likely that, to the outside world this would always be the case, it couldn’t be within the relationship.
In my personal life, speaking up was rewarding.
In business, not so much.
I realized the other day that of the four literary agents I’ve had so far, with the exception of one, each relationship fell apart because I expected it to be an equal business partnership, and they did not.
I talk about this in my course The Agent Game (which, by the way, is included in the Wordling Plus subscription). I’ve always found it easy to attract literary agents, and I’ve worked with some of the best. But I’ve found that if you want to have a solid, long-term relationship where you feel respected, the onus is on you to first identify, and then voice, what you need from this partnership.
How do you know the agent doesn’t see you as an equal?
Do they take months to read your query letter and make a decision about your book, but want an answer to an offer of representation within days?
Are they picky about the kind of books they’ll represent, but get offended when you’re picky about the kind of publishers you want to work with?
Do they take weeks to respond to your emails and make you feel unreasonable or diva-ish for expecting quicker responses?
Do they want to represent your entire body of work, even when they haven’t brought in great deals?
Did they disappear or stop responding to emails after a book didn’t sell?
I did experience some of these things in my agent relationships, and learned how to navigate through them successfully. If you’re interested in a traditional book deal, you can check out The Agent Game (which you can get for $99 as part of the Wordling Plus membership), where I lay out how to handle these situations.
It was, however, draining each time and set me back for months, if not years. I’ve come to understand that while my door is always open for the right agent, I’m only interested in a truly equal relationship. Which is becoming incredibly rare in traditional publishing.
If Sam hadn’t been willing to leave the restaurant with me that day and follow me down a rabbit hole, I would have gone alone.
And it’s time for me to make that same choice with publishing now.
Enjoy the issue!
Natasha Khullar Relph
Editor, The Wordling
NEW ON THE WORDLING
After a lo-ooot of work and more proofreading than my eyes can manage, we finally have an Articles page on The Wordling!
We’ve organized all articles into various categories, which has allowed me to see the gaps in our coverage. At the moment we’re freelance heavy and book light, which I hope to change going forward. From October, we’ll be adding two new articles per week.
In the meantime, check out the 100+ articles we already have on the site.
NEW ON WORDLING PLUS
New section alert!
New on Wordling Plus will give you regular updates on what we’re adding to the membership site weekly. There are already 20+ courses, bundles, and workshops, with 348 step-by-step trainings in the membership, and I’m adding new content regularly.
This month, we’ve added The Wordling Daily—daily videos that provide a quick hit of inspiration to get you straight into action. Think of these as a five-minute daily coaching session. Sometimes mindset, sometimes strategy, always practical.
In the first week, we focused on figuring out what you really and truly want. And making the journey to getting it easier and fun.
NEWS & VIEWS:
The state of the creator economy
ConvertKit has just released its 2023 State of the Creator Economy report, in which they surveyed 1,200 creators to see where the market and creator incomes are heading.
What is a creator?
ConvertKit defines creators as “coaches, consultants, musicians, artists, educators, influencers, podcasters, and anyone else who earns a living online through digital and physical products or services.” While they don’t mention writers specifically, the report does refer to authors and journalists.
What are the current trends for creators?
The report highlights some interesting, but not surprising, findings:
- 15% of creators left a traditional 9-5 to pursue their creator role last year. 39% of creators consider themselves full time.
- Bloggers are the most common type of creator, though educators are the most likely to earn over $100k from their creative businesses.
- Written content is the most common creator output, with 47% of creators stating they created articles, blog posts, or books last year.
- Email newsletters are a popular channel for all creators—over half already have an email list and 16% plan to start a newsletter this year to grow their business.
Let’s talk about creator incomes
There are also some interesting stats regarding creator incomes:
- Almost 80% of creators expect to make more from their business this year.
- 20% of creators made more than $60,000 last year and 12% made more than $100,000.
Stripe has been looking at its own data around the creator economy as well. They observe:
- “In 2021, we aggregated data from 50 popular creator platforms on Stripe and found they had onboarded 668,000 creators who’d received $10 billion in payouts. We refreshed that data in 2023 and found something surprising: the creator economy is still growing about as fast as it was in 2021. Today, those same 50 creator platforms have onboarded over 1 million creators and have paid out over $25 billion in earnings.”
- “In 2021, 85% of creators lived in North America; that percentage is 72% today. Last month, we saw the first creators from Tanzania, Mozambique, and El Salvador start monetizing.” The creator economy is global. “Year-over-year, creators in Hong Kong and Japan saw the second and third fastest-growing MRR, behind only creators in the US.”
These numbers suggest that it’s become easier than ever before to enter—and make a living in—the creator economy. Or, as Hunter Walk puts it: “It might be harder than ever to earn $1 million/year as a creative but it’s never been easier to make $50,000.”
Surveys like these can never provide a full picture, but overall, it’s pretty evident that not only is the creator economy growing, but that serious creators are thriving.
I’ve been talking about creative entrepreneurship and the creator economy for almost two decades now and, in my opinion, every serious writer needs to start writing and publishing independently, whether that’s through a newsletter, a blog, or a niche website. (In Wordling Plus, we have an entire section dedicated to creative entrepreneurship.) Not doing so may seriously limit not only your income but also future opportunities, as direct access to audiences becomes a key factor in deal making.
The National Book Awards withdrew its invitation to Drew Barrymore to host the 74th National Book Awards after the announcement that Barrymore’s daytime talk show would begin filming despite the ongoing Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
Amazon has ended its Kindles Periodicals program, leaving many publishers an writers scrambling.
Amazon has also issued new AI guidelines and will require users to “inform us of AI-generated content (text, images, or translations) when you publish a new book or make edits to and republish an existing book through KDP.”
SPAIN: “After an eight-year absence, Google News has made a comeback in Spain, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing relationship between tech giants and news publishers. What does this move mean for the local media market and globally?”
MYANMAR: “A court in Myanmar sentenced a photojournalist for an underground news agency to 20 years in prison with hard labor for his coverage of a deadly May cyclone’s aftermath, the media organization said Wednesday. The sentence given Sai Zaw Thaike, a photographer for the independent online news service Myanmar Now, appeared to be the most severe for any journalist detained since the military overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.”
NIGERIA: “Election cycles are always a tough period in Nigeria, and this one was made even tougher by the cacophony of the digital public sphere. But trolls and activists were not alone on the internet. Fact-checking teams across different newsrooms worked hard to debunk false claims and had a meaningful impact on public discourse. These fact-checking teams worked with the Nigeria Fact-checkers’ Coalition (NFC), an alliance of 12 fact-checking news and research organisations, including CDD Fact-check, Dubawa, FactCheckHub, Cable Check, RoundCheck, Africa Check among others who verify statements from politicians and false narratives being shared online.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.”
–A. A. Milne
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