Understandably, the title of this article will initially and principally attract authors based within the United Kingdom (UK), nevertheless, it may help those based in other territories to also take note.
Obviously Brexit impacts upon all aspects of UK life and business including the book industry. Even if the decision to bow out as a member of the European Union was reversed matters will never be the same again. Besides a loss of trust there are likely to be long term financial implications. Already the sterling pound has been suffering against other currencies.
There are three primary areas affecting authors: Royalties; Services; Pricing.
Though bricks and mortar book shops, those that remain, continue to be visited by avid readers and those seeking something in niche markets, it must be accepted the majority of book sells are made over the internet. This is even more so for independent (indie) authors who are rarely able to get book shops to stock their publications. Many, a majority really, of these sells are made in countries other than the UK consequently, any royalty payable is initially assessed in that nation’s currency. Thereafter, to enable payment into a British bank account, the assessed royalty is converted into its sterling equivalent. There is no doubt Brexit will impinge upon the value of the British pound and, due to all the uncertainty surrounding the topic, already has. As a result authors will receive less in real financial terms. There is one way an author may counterbalance this though they may consider the option undesirable. It will be discussed in a moment.
The majority of indie authors utilise overseas companies for formatting and publishing their books e.g. Amazon’s Kindle Create; Smashwords; iBooks; Draft2Digital; IngramSpark; etc. Admittedly most of these services are available free of charge however, some do require a minimal payment. There is also the fact of any additional services requested having to be paid for. And it would be wrong to forget the vanity presses some choose to use, most of which are established in countries other than the UK. The falling pound consequently impacts upon real term author costs. The same applies to any other services obtained from non-British territories.
In addition, nearly all social media platforms, which authors utilise for publicity and marketing, are based within the United States of America (USA). Fees for advertising, promotional packages, increased visibility, etc. are sometimes assessed in US dollars though some sites, where the user is utilising the UK based alternative, do provide for fees to be paid in sterling. Where the fee has to be converted from another currency the weakened pound will affect the real cost to the author.
There are two aspects to this: Buying and Selling.
Not all books are available from .co.uk sites. Consequently, when a UK based reader purchases such a book the weakened pound will result in them having to pay more than if they had been able to obtain it from a UK retailer. This is an incentive to all authors to ensure their book is purchasable from all international sites available to them.
A way for authors to counterbalance the impact of a devalued pound was referred to above. This is where that may be achieved, if desired. Book Pricing.
Authors will undoubtedly be tempted to minimise their potential loss of income by increasing the price of their books. However, is this a worthwhile option? In reality, bearing in mind an author’s income is based upon royalty payments, it is only a matter of pence that are realistically under consideration. Also, importantly, the impact this may have on a purchaser’s perspective needs weighing. The truth is, whether due to value for money deliberation, stinginess or downright meanness, an increased price is likely to put some readers off. Consequently, the counterbalance aimed for will be negated and may even result in the author’s income being further decreased. Of course, if an author already has an established reader base it may be they will not object to paying a little more.
It is accepted most will already be aware of the above but it does no harm to remind especially because the impact, whatever the outcome of political discussions, will be ongoing.
The sterling pound’s value will undoubtedly continue to be effected by Brexit but for how long is an unknown. Annalists may attempt to guess but no one really knows. There will be an extended period of adjustment no matter whether there is a deal or not.
Best suggestion is for authors to hang back and let the dust settle upon whichever scenario is implemented. Even then it will probably be sensible to wait a few months. There is no doubt if there is a no-deal exit the UK will face many challenges. Nevertheless, it has previously proven a robust and industrious nation and there is no need to think it will not again and that its economy will become as strong as ever.
This article has intentionally been restricted to the potential impact upon the individual author. The publishing industry as a whole is another matter. It faces multiple complex issues that will need to be addressed by experienced professionals.
Disclaimer: Other than utilising some of the services offered, neither T. R. Robinson Publications nor T. R. Robinson have any affiliation to any of the companies or organisations referred to. Nor do either receive any remuneration for mentioning them.