Waring for a Reddit link, but a pretty interesting read.
I know there’s a lot of rhetoric flying around about agents and publishers being parasites sucking the blood from poor, anaemic authors or whatever but, honestly? Not so much, hey.
There’s two factors in play here, asides from the issues of paying authors for their work. The first is paying all the supporting roles money for their work, and there are a lot more of these individuals than most people probably realise. Aside from the agent and editor you’ve got cover designers and interior designers. A non-zero number of copy and line editors who may be different to the developmental/structural editor. Lawyers who negotiate contracts. Accountants who prepare royalty statements. Sales reps who talk up books to vendors. Marketing and publicity people who help with the same. HR and IT and personal assistants and receptionists who keep the internal wheels of corporate life rolling. Hell, even the janitors and cleaners who keep offices liveable are getting paid out of the non-authorial cut of a book’s sale.
Are you telling me authors should get paid but janitors don’t deserve to? Because, if so, I kinda think you’re maybe a bit of an asshole. Sorry.
The second factor is that the non-author cut of a book’s sale also goes into the pot to fund the purchase of future books. While I’m sure there are plenty of authors who would disagree, I personally think this is a good thing; if I can do well enough with my own work to start up the career of a single other new author then that’s something I’d be pretty damn proud of. And it’s also something I feel that I “owe”, having been the beneficiary of exactly the same system.
So yes. Authors write the words but the words really are only a tiny cut of what makes a book a book. And everyone deserves compensation for their efforts, not just me.