Hey, gang. This past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction my life is taking. Jobs are being lost every day and even though “experts” are saying the recession is over, it’s going to take a while to recover. And, in my opinion, the jobs lost are not going to be available again. The way I see it, companies that downsized and heaped the work onto the poor remaining souls have likely gotten used to paying fewer salaries while still getting the work done. They really don’t care that each employee is now doing the work of two or three or four individuals for no extra compensation. All they know is that they’re liking not having to pay all those salaries and benefits. Now that the recession is “over,” why should they rehire the people they let go?
Of course, not every company is that ruthless, and I also understand that all businesses took a hit and will need time to recover financially and that one way of doing that is to keep their staffs trim. Okay. But my point is that a few years from now, there simply will not be the same number of jobs that there were a couple of years ago. Then again, maybe new industries will emerge and create new jobs. We can only hope.
My industry, though—publishing—is dying a slow death. Mmm, maybe death isn’t the right word. Maybe metamorphosis is a better word. It’s changing in so many ways. Newspapers are folding, magazines are either folding and/or switching to online versions only, and publishing houses are closing their doors. But perhaps the biggest change is the emergence of e-books. More and more publishers are offering to e-books as a branch of their business, at the very least. Small publishers are popping up producing only e-books. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that (although many of us would mourn the loss of print books should that ever become a reality). This is the way of the future. In fact, it’s the way NOW. And those of us in the publishing industry need to change our work methods and our attitudes toward online publishing.
Here’s the problem. It seems that many e-book publishers are of the opinion that editing and writing e-books do not merit the same pay as writing and editing print books. Why the hell not? Whether a novel comes out in print or digital format, what exactly is the difference in terms of content? It’s just as difficult to write a good novel in e-book format as it is to write one in print. Editing is time-consuming and if the publisher wants a good job done on the project, why would it take the editor any less time or effort to edit (well) an e-book than a print book? Am I not getting it? Is there something I’m not understanding? Why are e-book publishers offering editors a fraction of what they would get from a print house? And what galls me is that the publishers want “quality” work out of the editors, yet are not willing to pay for it. A good, quality editor COSTS MONEY. And if the publisher is not willing to pay the editor what she/he deserves, they will get poor editing. You get what you pay for.
Now, one might argue that because of the hard economic times we’ve experienced, editors (good ones, too) will be desperate enough to take those crappy paying jobs. True. But what will happen when the economy picks up again? Will the e-publishers raise their fees to meet the industry standards that existed before the downturn? Or, having had a taste of paying very little for good work, will they make that the new standard? It’s the same situation as companies wanting their work done with smaller staffs. Across all industries, it seems that instead of progressively earning more to keep up with the cost of living, we’re earning less. This seems to be particularly true of publishing.
And, so, many people are going back to school to learn a new skill and a new trade. Many, many people are turning to culinary school. I’m guessing that this newfound interest in cooking comes, at least in part, thanks to the Food Network and the fact that chefs are the new rock stars. I’ve been told that I should go to culinary school, since food is where my passion lies. But here are my concerns:
1. With so many people going to culinary school, won’t that mean a glut of fresh, new chefs in the marketplace?
2. Culinary school is expensive. If I take out a loan, that loan will eventually have to be paid. Suppose I can’t get my sh*t together and get a decent-paying job when all is said and done? On the other hand, it’s an investment in my future, right?
3. I don’t want to work in a restaurant. That’s not the only option for someone coming out of culinary school, but I have to wonder where a culinary degree will get me. I was a personal chef for a while (I’m technically still open for business—check my P.C. website HERE) and after three years decided that it was too financially difficult maintaining that kind of business. What I’d like to do is work in a test kitchen for a magazine or be a food editor. But those positions are competitive. Very, very competitive. What if after 20 grand or so and lots of hard work I’m still spinning my wheels, then what?
I believe I was meant to do something with food. I am a food writer, I’ve been a personal chef, and was a mystery shopper restaurant reviewer. But I haven’t quite hit on it yet. Something is out there, still waiting for me to find it. I hope I do. And I hope things get better for everyone else, too. With the recession being “over” and all, maybe they will.
Have a great week, everyone. Peace.