Women in Writing – has the pay scale equalised with their male counterparts?

Women in Writing has the pay scale equalised Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I was looking into the gender pay gap, chiefly in writing as a career, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Keep in mind that writing can include journalism, copywriting and marketing, book writing, technical writing, and the list goes on…

Drawing on general statistics from governing bodies and research biometrics we can conclude that writing does not suffer the gender pay gap as much as other pursuits. In general the figures show female writers are looking at 97-99 percent of a male counterpart’s wage. Though more media focused professions tend to see a larger gap, close to 80%. A prime example of this is in 2017 when Lisa Wilkinson abruptly departed her position as host of Channel Nine’s Today Show after almost a decade when the network refused to match her pay demands to that equaling her male co-host Karl Stefanovic.  Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/datablog/2017/oct/18/australia-gender-pay-gap-why-do-women-still-earn-less-than-men

Women in Writing has the pay scale equalised Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Though, when doing research for this article I was gobsmacked at how much of a gender pay gap still exists on a global stage across all sectors of employment today. I could get very emotional about the injustice of it all and go on a rant, but I’m focusing on the facts I’ve gleaned within the writing community because it directly affects me. Publishing seems to be a much more accommodating environment for female careers. But if you want some interesting general facts about the gender pay gap check out this article: https://www.aauw.org/2019/04/02/8-surprising-facts-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

For general take home pay across all industries, I have found typically there is less of a margin of difference for differing sexes wages here in Australia compared to other countries. And it also seems skewed towards industries that are dominated by men, run or managed by men. Like favors like it seems. In industries dominated by female staff we see more of a balance, except in the retail sector where women typically earn more than men for the same job.

For contrast, I canvased over fifty writers that I know who have published 2 or more books in Britain, America, and Australia with an equal representation of genders to get a view if there was a gender pay gap in authors. Covering traditionally published fiction, Non-fiction, and differing genres. There were some interesting findings – but this may not represent the community at large because of the sample size, opportunity, how much independent effort the author undertook to boost sales – there are so many factors that can influence the results, but it’s a nice litmus test into my favoured profession.

Technical writers in non-fiction favor men over women (but I have a feeling this was due to professional qualifications and time in the industry. But that could also mean that men were favoured over women for opportunity and career advancement. It’s such a microcosm of a niche it was hard to get a handle on what the landscape was like.”

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Women dominated YA and romance fiction and tended to not only get higher signing bonuses, but produced more novels per year on average, thus being seen as a better investment for publishing houses.

Men skewed higher than women in thriller, adventure, and horror genres. This has to do a lot with famous authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and Clive Cussler to name a few, paving inroads and publishing houses wanting to emulate their success.

Science Fiction and contemporary novels came up and even odds. As did historical fiction.

Though when you look as historical non-fiction male authors dominated the field and drew in much larger signing bonuses and sales figures (you know what they say – history was written by old white guys.)

There is an increasing trend in feminist literature that is seeing some great in roads to a completely female dominated genre with great rewards.

Memoirs and Autobiographies were interesting to look at. Ten years ago it was mostly dominated with male writers pocketing huge bonuses, but it seems to be swinging to a more female dominated market. Though they are not getting the kind of bonuses the men saw in the past, but that has more to do with economics and the industry that it does gender and opportunity.

Children and middle grade books were also dominated with women and their income was actually higher than those offered to their male counterparts.

I think overall the trend I see is in more serious and factual based writing we see men getting the professional notoriety and opportunity – and that also being reflected in their offers and income streams. Whereas women dominate in the creative, touchy-feeling genres, or genres reaching into childhood and female literature.

Sarah Connell and Julia Flanders

The industry is also still going through even more change with profiles like Ursula LeGuin and J.K. Rowling getting accolades for their body of work and many contemporary female authors having their novels optioned for film and television, we are seeing the gender pay gap getting mostly obliterated, and more opportunities being afforded to women. As to opportunity for people of colour and those who don’t conform to gender norms, to those of a variety or sexualities. It’s great to see such diversity and equal opportunity spreading throughout the industry – and have that reflected in the amount we get paid for our craft.

I wish I could discuss specifics and figures, but a key part of getting information for this article was keeping personal financial information private. Fair enough. I’m just greatful for the opportunity.

There was also a skew in the results with certain publishing houses. Some were more generous in their signing bonuses than others. But in some of the cases where I was privy to a lot of information, I can see everyone was judged on their own individual merit and what they could bring to the table in the arrangement. So while the overall figures still show the men being offered larger signing bonuses in certain categories and as the bigger earners overall, there was a balance for writers across the board. I think the industry will balance out even more in the near future as we see staffing changes and old attitudes pushed out of the industry.

The take home summary of my research shows that even though the gender pay gap in writing and publishing is one of the smallest in comparison to other industries, there is still a lot of work and attention needed to bring it to an even, open opportunity landscape. It’s great that we can even have these types of discussions. I know if this topic was brought up when I first started writing I would have been tsk-tsked out of the room. For me personally when I applied for jobs, or put in a submission for work, my worth would also include my appearance. If I was too attractive, I couldn’t also be intelligent. If my qualifications exceeded those of the interviewer, I was seen as a threat. Such a delicate rope we walk in the social-political climate. But with more ‘woke’ attitudes, more exposure and open discussions on equality, and deconstructing discrimination we are seeing a more accepting, global movement for equality. And that gives me hope for the future… and for my writing career.

 

What have been your experiences in the gender pay gap? Do you know of any writing-centric experiences or statistics that can add to this topic? I’m interested to build a better snapshot of opportunity and remuneration afforded women writers.

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Reflections on 35 years of writing

Reflecting on 35 years of writing Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

When people think of success in a career in writing, they immediately assume you’re a novelist. Your publications are available in most bookstores. They don’t think of name recognition, just that you have a book in bookstores. What a narrow view of success, and of the vocation as a writer.

In the early years writing for me was purely for enjoyment and escapism. Writing fantasy and science fiction stories, never meant of anyone’s eyes but my own to peruse. I was learning to stretch my imagination, the creative muscle, and the ins and outs of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. You never stop learning or flexing those muscles.

Shortly after high school I started writing articles for magazines and newspapers. But it was by no means my chief source of income, merely done out of love with a small financial recompense for validation that my writing was interesting and engaging… and on trend.

Reflecting on 35 years of writing Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleProfessional writing came through university and after. I’d take casual jobs to write letters. You know those awful form letters you get from large companies, so meticulously worded – yep, I wrote some of those. And from there I went into technical writing for text books, guides, periodicals; and into educational development guides breaking down curriculum and its applications for desired outcomes. It all sounds so very dry and snore inducing right? But that’s been the backbone of my writing income. I did think about returning to journalism, but after writing in such a fact-based medium, needing to include sensationalised headlines, marketing tag lines, dramatized text, and clickable content felt like a false economy. Like news was losing its integrity. Of course I could have been one of those writers swimming against the current and sticking to my principles, but it would mean starting over in unpaid internships and begging for a by-line. My heart wasn’t in the fight.

From there I branched out into online content for articles and websites, and coming full circle, started writing those science fiction and fantasy novels again. This time with a serious agenda to write something worth reading (and getting traditionally published.) Not to say I’m successful because I have a book for sale in a bookstore, but for the journey, the sharing of a story, for the fun of it. Plus, of course, there are so many more avenues to publishing and getting your work in front of readers these days.

Opportunities also came my way that had me accepting the challenge. Screenwriting, speech writing, ghost writing, developmental editing, line editing, mentoring, brand and marketing campaigns. All paid work. But still not the type of efforts that will result in having a book baby stacked on the shelves of your local bookshop.

It’s funny people’s assumptions on what I do as a writer. I’ve had relatives thinking I wrote children’s pop up books when I told them I was writing a young adult title. Most assume I’m sitting at my computer with a pot of tea and churning out bodice-busting romance e-books. It just goes to show how little the general public know when it comes to careers in writing. Where good grammar, spelling, punctuation, and a dash of imagination and organisation can take you.

Now, as a child I may have dreamed of finding something I wrote for sale in my corner bookstore. I’ve made a career out of writing in a different form, and there’s still time. I have had my work on the shelf, but in a different form, under a different name. But one day soon I will see exactly what I imagined my future would be like – but will that mean I’m finally a success? Haven’t I already achieved that?

Reflecting on 35 years of writing Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

What do you imagine as your success as a writer? How have your friends and families perceptions of being a writer affected you?

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© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

It’s not just about writing a novel – diversifying writing income

When I tell people I’m a writer, the most common response is – what books have your written, would I have read them? But there is so much more that people have no idea about. Here’s a look at what I’ve done over my writing career to diversify and make a living from writing…

Diversifying Your Writing Income Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

While I am furiously (and sometimes procrastinating about) working on creating a catalogue of novels to be published in the future as my main objective, my writing career involves much more than just creating fiction.

A lot of what I do also falls under different job titles, which is where the confusion comes from. Content creator, technical writer, copywriter, columnist, freelancing, blogger, and screenwriter, and there are many more depending on how specific you want to get and what industry you are in. Though not all of these pull in a great deal of income, and are not in constant demand, but diversifying has allowed to draw from different sectors of the publishing industry to provide enough money to call myself a fulltime writer.

In the past I’ve written for magazines and newspapers as a social commentator or columnist. A weekly article can be as little as 100 words on whatever topic the editor had deemed is on trend. It was fun, and that type of writing had to be filled with attention grabbing buzz words and dense prose to convey as much meaning in as few words as possible. It felt like “flash-bang” writing. Though you always had to be careful that your facts were correct, and wasn’t offensive in any manner. It was also a case of ‘you’re only as good as your last article’ so there was no chance of phoning it in, or having an off day. You always had to me on point and on trend. It was great when I was younger and hungry for experience and exposure, but I really wasn’t wholly interested in that type of (pseudo-)journalism. I also got to ghost write in this area as well, providing content for a column, or a celebrity. I do very little of this type of writing now. It can be time consuming, a little soul-sucking, and you only get paid if your work gets published.

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Technical writing (and scientific writing) has been my favourite type of writing besides working on a novel. Government studies, textbooks, manuals, and articles for scientific journals. Such a wide variety of topics due to my skill set and experience. This type of writing is all based on fact and concept. There is little room for ruminating. At times you need to support the text with examples and analogies to convey the concept as succinctly as possible. It’s no-mess writing, sorting data into a comprehensible bites, and you get to include pictures, graphics, and graphs to add some colour. Because the writing style is pretty dry, a lot relies on presentation to help keep attention and drive your point home. I love playing with colour, format and layout in this area.

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I’ve been able to work on some scripts for movies and television too. It’s always fun, but never a solitary endeavour. You’re usually working with a couple of other writers and answer to a number of higher-ups. There’s nothing like getting to feed of each other’s creativity and be a part of something much bigger, see the project take on a life of its own. But we were constantly having to reign each other in… as you can guess, a number of writers strung out on redbull and sugar locked in a room creating what-if’s can venture into some pretty crazy territory. But, it is better to be told to scale it back rather than the work is boring and derivative.

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Copywriting has fallen into drafting up brochures and similar material to advertise, or inform, or report on certain subject matter; usually for companies and marketing campaigns who want to deliver a certain message. You need to adopt a particular tone to match the brief and message of the employer. In addition to this has also been a bit of speech writing for presentations, and other gatherings for people who aren’t confident enough to create their own material. You always get specific guidelines and subject matter, so this type of writing is always easier because you get detail. I love discovering the types of language, word choices, and sentence structure to create tone and subtext.

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Content creator – which is more of a new term that encompasses anything around social media. Tweets, posts, blogs. Each medium has a certain style of writing, a particular demographic and reach, so it is always wise to keep that in mind when crafting your post to help sell your brand or your work. I have the most fun here today molding bites for publication from the one point of source material. Plus the reach and attention your platform gets also has an element heavily reliant of images and layout.

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With such a creative medium as writing, your scope for earning a living from it is only limited to your imagination. And it’s like a muscle, you have to keep using it to develop it and hone your craft. Which is great news, it flies in the face of people assuming that writing is a fading industry with the onset of a new technological age. As long as we feel the need to communicate and express ourselves, there will always be a place for writers.

But how do I get any of these types of work you ask? It’s just the same as if you are writing a novel – practice, build a portfolio of solid work, send out query letters and submissions, network…

The point is, you have to work at your craft, become a specialist, and make sure people know about you and can easily find you (discoverability.) Heck I’m still working at it. Let writing open doors (and windows) to give you an income stream. Follow your passion, write what you’re good at writing.

And good luck 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.