The pandemic has left no profession unscathed, and that includes writers. Many are concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on their mental and physical well-being, according to a new report from The Society of Authors.
The British organization surveyed more than 220 writers between December 2021 and January 2022 about their living conditions. Forty-five percent of them have noticed a deterioration in their health since the beginning of the pandemic. Many feel isolated and particularly uninspired in the face of this most complicated of times. A fifth of the authors questioned (19%) even fear not being able to fulfill their orders or move forward with their projects in the current context.
The resilience of the publishing world is also a source of concern for professionals in the sector. However, the industry seems to have weathered the crisis quite well, particularly in major publishing markets such as the United States, Germany and France. Reading remains a popular leisure activity for many people in France: 82% of people under 35 years of age turn to paper books to escape the gloom, according to the start-up Gleeph.
But there are real logistical headaches for the sector. For several months, the publishing world has been worried about the increase in the price of paper and longer delivery times that have been a knock-on effect of the pandemic.
Loss of income and insufficient aid
Despite the popularity of books, money remains the crux of the issue for many writers. Fifty-six percent said their 2021 income was significantly lower than their 2019 income. In most cases, incomes have dropped by at least 25% in two years. A trend exacerbated by the cancellations of many flagship publishing events such as the Leipzig Book Fair.
“We are concerned but not surprised to see that authors are still suffering badly from the pandemic, both financially and in terms of well-being and mental health,” stated SoA chief executive Nicola Solomon. “We believe it is time for industry to look at models that protect authors through difficult times, and which could make a career as an author seem less unpredictable, and a more attractive and realistic option for a more diverse range of authors, including those from poorer socio economic backgrounds.”
This is the great anguish of many authors, especially the youngest: not being able to live from their passion. State aid exists, such as the solidarity fund of €1 billion set up in March 2020 by Emmanuel Macron’s government for artists-authors.
But the main stakeholders often find it difficult to navigate all these administrative twists and turns, or are not necessarily eligible for these support schemes. This is particularly evident in the United Kingdom: less than 7.6% of professionals surveyed by The Society of Authors believe that Boris Johnson’s government has done enough to support writers during the pandemic. JB