1/28/2011 9:34:53 PM
Section 18: Outdoor Writing
Subject: Writing For A Living Msg# 767394
I am only a sample of one and I may have things figured wrong but I think you have an accurate view of outdoor writing in general today.
An outdoor writer faces fewer marketing opportunities today in more ways than one. Many magazines fell into oblivion during the economic downturn and quite a few of the survivors are now as thin as pamphlets and teetering on the same brink. Freelance opportunities diminished sharply when the economy moved a lot of magazine writing in-house, even as the publications cut their editorial staffs. Suddenly, lots of writers were looking for work and you know what happens when supply outstrips demand... many of the few available jobs started paying half of what they did - or less. Today, some of the thickest hook and bullet magazines I still see on newsstands are those of interest to hunters who go to Africa and fly fishermen ready to travel the world - advertisers desperately want to reach a readership that can still afford to do those things. Unless they are tied to organizations, tournament trails or other associations with memberships, the magazines that were aimed at good old boys in general are sinking.
I see the Internet as another problem. Advertising apparently doesn't sell for as much on the net so budgets for online publications are smaller and pay is usually much less than for a print publication. And, while survey statistics say that more hunters and fishermen prefer to get their information from printed magazines than any other media, advertisers don't have the profits they once had to work with and seem to be leaning toward supporting online publications where the advertising is cheaper, and they are spending only a fraction of what they once did with printed magazines.
Newspaper jobs for outdoor writers were already almost non-existent when the Internet first started helping to put more daily papers out of business. I don't see the freelance newspaper market as being worth a second thought.
Always wanted to do an outdoor book? Amazon.com just announced that its e-books are outselling all its printed books, and outselling hard-cover printed books three to one. E-books, of course, sell for much less than printed books so an author's cut of a much lower price is going to be much less.
Unless someone has an extremely well known name or is an acknowledged expert in an area that multiple magazines need to cover, he is going to have a tough time finding enough magazine assignments to make a living. I think he will have to diversify and write for different magazine market types like travel writing, outdoor photography or something else to make ends meet.
I don't see all this as being the fault of the magazines, they are just reacting in self preservation mode to today's economic mess and, I think, social evolution. While I don't see it happening in my lifetime I expect everything to go digital. I see Internet publications displacing printed books and magazines, and readers who want portability will read what used to be printed books, magazines and newspapers on their Kindles and other "personal readers". Cost-wary publishers will have to move all their writing in-house and if a freelancer can't get a staff job with one or more of them he will have to find another way to make a living. I'm afraid that as the world evolves away from him the freelance writer is going the way of the dodo bird.
I hope I'm wrong...
Reply | ReplyNewSubject
For reference, the above message is a reply to a message where:|
I've been away from the profession of selling my words and photos for a fair time now, and I'm wondering if the opportunity still exists, except perhaps for a few exceptions, to make a reasonable living selling stories to outdoor magazines. My general observation over the years is the apex of outdoor writing occured when Erwin Bauer was at his peak.
How has the business world of a professional outdoor writer changed over the last five or 10 years? What about the impact of the internet?