How Do Writers Get Paid?
The past decade or so has seen incredible changes in how we read. New devices, platforms and marketplaces for books have risen and fallen, while traditional publishing houses and booksellers have adapted to suit readers’ changing habits and preferences. But how have things changed for authors? In the midst of all the upheaval, who’s looking out for them – and what role does copyright play?
Spoiler alert: broadly, authors’ incomes have plummeted. In this discussion, Professor Rebecca Giblin and Canadian American activist and author Cory Doctorow speak with literary agent Alex Adsett and copyright expert Zoë Rodriguez to help us get to the bottom of who advocates for what, and who actually benefits.
Dr Rebecca Giblin is a law academic based at Monash University and an ARC Future Fellow. She has held visiting appointments at Columbia and Berkeley and spoken publicly about copyright and access to knowledge at events on five continents. Her work includes the books Code Wars (Edward Elgar, 2011) and What if we could reimagine copyright? (with Kim Weatherall and others, ANU Press, 2017).
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger – the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of Walkaway, a novel for adults, a YA graphic novel called In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a MIT Media Lab Research Affiliate, is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science at Open University and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.
Zoë is a lawyer at the Arts Law Centre of Australia, a community law centre serving individual artists and arts organisations. She works in policy development, drafting submissions to government; provides legal advice to individual creators working in all art forms, and assists in the development of licensing arrangements for the ethical trade in artists' IP.
Before this, Zoë was a lawyer at Copyright Agency, a not-for-profit that manages the collective copyright interests of Australia's authors, artists and publishers. She regularly writes articles and gives presentations on copyright and developments in publishing around Australia, and is active in responding to policy issues of relevance to Australian creators.
Alex Adsett is a literary agent representing authors across all ages and most genres, and also a freelance publishing consultant offering commercial contract advice to authors and publishers. She has 20 years’ experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry, and has managed Alex Adsett Publishing Services since 2008.
As a literary agent, she is focused on finding exceptional manuscripts, with a focus on SFF, romance and crime.