The writers' strike highlighted the financial struggles facing the creative people who bring us joy with their words. How can we help?
The Writers Guild of America went out on strike in 2023, settling five months later. The Guild sought fair compensation for streaming works and protections against the use of artificial intelligence. Reading about the strike and listening to the writers' stories made me think about how my consumption of media has changed and how I can best support individual writers.
Instead of a waiting a week for new episodes of shows, I can stream and binge entire series in a weekend. The publishing industry has changed as well. Fewer magazines, fewer books available on retail shelves. My husband and I would often enjoy a "date night" browsing new releases at Barnes & Noble. Last month we noted the book selection has shrunk tremendously.
Here are four ways I support writers I know and enjoy, with the disclaimer that these are entirely my choices and I received no compensation from them for this blog article.
Did you know Michelangelo had patrons? One of the greatest artists of all time received support from the Medici family and from Pope Paul III. Modern artists and writers can have patrons, too, through sites like Patreon.
On Patreon, you can usually choose a level of support and in exchange, you receive access to stories, art, and novels. The creators I follow have some free content as well. There are six categories to choose from:
There are award-winning writers on Patreon; there are brand-new writers on Patreon. Follower support can be an important income stream for both of them. Currently, I support three excellent writers on Patreon:
If you're not one of Fred Eder's People On The Porch, you will be missing out on what is one of the most authentic voices on the web. "Horace's Christmas Squirrels" is available for free, or you can get a free week on Patreon - sign up and listen to all 3 episodes of "The New Neighbors."
"I promise it's an experience unlike any other. You will question our reality. I'm hoping you'll recognize we're all more connected than you ever imagined." (Fred Eder on "The New Neighbors")
Substack is one of the main platforms organized for subscription based newsletters and podcasts. It is used by investigative journalists and political commentators among other writers. When you subscribe, you get the newsletter in your inbox and don't have to rely on social media feeds. I'm following these creators, some paid, some free.
Honestly, I think that's my limit for reading as most of them are daily!
Free subscriptions still help the writer when you share on social media. Which is the perfect segue to my next recommendation.
3. Social Media
I'm not a social media expert, but I do know that each like, comment, and share of content helps the creator with exposure to potential new subscribers. Authors are reporting that the algorithms on social media sites like Facebook and X don't work so engaging is important.
Follow your favorites and comment often. If you can, write a review on social media, or make a recommendation. Goodreads is the social media for books, and Amazon reviews help for search visibility.
Maybe this one is obvious but it is a good reminder. Buy the books by authors you enjoy. It's a large part of how they make a living. Give as gifts. Ebooks count, and borrowing from the library counts too. The more check-outs, the more copies a library will purchase, and potentially more from popular authors.
I purchase mostly ebooks, but still get hardbacks and paperbacks. Pre-ordering helps the author, too, and assures you won't miss that next one in the series.
Bonus - Patreon creators may offer one-time purchases of their content.
A few days ago, Fred Eder shared his thoughts about supporting artists on his Facebook page. (great minds and all that). I'll quote him here:
"We take Art for granted. It's available, almost completely for free, nearly everywhere.
The problem is that if we don't support the Artists who create it, they will not be able to create any more. Because it's so inexpensive, we tend to think it has no real value. That's silly, of course. Just for fun, try to go a day without any Art of any kind in your life. No looking at a painting. No listening to music. No watching a movie or TV. No podcasts (or even Thoughtcasts) You will probably be climbing the wall. I would like us to recognize the value of Art, and I would REALLY like for us to support Artists."
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