Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Supporting The Writers Strike (An Eva Peron Moment)

Although I'm not a screenwriter, a writer is still a writer and I support the men and women of the WGA on strike.
There would be no shows, no movies nor the trendy "webisodes", without writers. And yet you don't hear of any who get $20 million per picture. That kind of money goes to the guy who memorizes the lines and walks the red carpet.
Authors have their complaints as well. In my experience, it takes months for a contract to be drawn up, signed and then a few more months later - to add to the suspense - I get a check. I wonder how many people work jobs that compensate them six months to a year later?
Furthermore, what's up with the used book thing? I realize books are pricey but does Amazon have to put the used book price in bold print over the regular price? For TV or movie writers, if a piece is re-run, everyone gets a residual. Authors don't make residuals on used copies of their books because there is no system to track those sales. I agree with the striking writers that they deserve a cut from the advertising dollars a network makes when a show is downloaded and watched online. Too bad, something can't be done for those of us who write books.
By the way, if you support writers, don't watch TV shows for free online. And if you can help it, try not to buy a used copy of my book. I'd much rather you check it out at your library because at least they bought it and give it a good home.
Also, when an author writes a book and then jumps through all the hoops to get it through copyeditting, etc., the publisher doesn't advertise it. Have you noticed that? All the major brands advertise in magazines and on TV, but publishers don't, which is probably why editorial book coverage space is really small if non-existent in most magazines. Occasionally you see an ad for a major New York Times best-selling author but what about all the other writers who are future best sellers? I would think that as a business, a publisher would want a maximum return on every dollar spent to acquire, produce and distribute all of its products.
I'm lucky in that Avon has one heck of a publicity department with professionals who love books and authors. Also, we're backed up the editorial team who have created the Avon Romance blog, which allows us writers to brag about ourselves.
But I'm really, really lucky in that I have a PR, web writing and journalism background and can do a lot of my own promotion. Until I'm at the level of Nora Roberts (who by the way, worked darn hard for the last 26 years to get where she is and deserves every perk she can get!), you won't see me in a commercial between segments of Oprah or Good Morning America. But one day ... oh yes, one day you will!
So now you know how I feel about the strike. But you should also know that there is no other job that gives me greater pleasure than writing. (In other words, I'm one lucky bee-yotch!)
How do you feel about the strike?


sonia said...

Hi, Mary! I have two words for the WGA writers--Strike On! They've got my support. It's high time Hollywood starts sharing the wealth. After all, no A-list actor can save a movie suffering from a bad script. However, a movie with an excellent script and a newbie actor can do very well (same for TV). Though in fairness to good actors, I do think they do more than just memorize lines. A good actor breathes life into your story. I've had the good fortune to experience this as a writer and it's pure magic. With regard to publishing, I love the points you made. The authors who don't need a media blitz to promote their books get one, while new authors who could use the buzz have to do all the promoting on their own. The whole issue of used books used to bother me too (where's my cut?) until the day I received an email from a new fan. She'd discovered my first book, GODDESS FOR HIRE, at a used bookstore and enjoyed it so much she went out and bought my other books at full price. At any rate, I'm definitely looking forward to the day when our books are advertised in commercials aired during Oprah and Rachael Ray. Oh yeah and I'm looking forward to the day when the publisher sends me gifts like caviar, champagne, and a diamond tiara...doesn't Nora Roberts get a diamond tiara? I'm sure James Patterson gets one.

J.K. Mahal said...

Hey Mary,

You know my views (and others can see them at

Writers should be fairly paid for their work.