How Will Brexit Affect Publishing?
It’s been over a year since the UK voted to leave the EU in the EU Referendum, and we still don’t know what that means for any of us.
We have no idea how it will affect the Brits, the Europeans, or those further afield.
So far all we really know is that it means we have less money to spend abroad.
Ever since the UK voted to leave the EU, the value of the British pound has been under $1.30.
That’s the lowest it’s been for 31 years.
Holidaymakers now have a lot less money to take overseas.
For those of us whose businesses rely on overseas sales, it also affects how much money we make.
The cheaper prices may lure new customers in, but it narrows our profit margins and we’re left with the choice of raising prices so that profit margins stay the same, or taking the hit and making less money ourselves.
There are many more ways that Britain leaving the EU could affect writers, though. Being a writer is about so much more than how much money you make.
Here are 5 ways Brexit could affect the publishing industry.
Travelling to events could become more difficult/expensive
Travelling isn’t a cheap business at the best of times, but right now, it’s pretty easy for British authors to go to events abroad.
We don’t need to worry about visas or waiting for EU countries to approve our visit—we can hop on a plane and be in Spain or France within a couple of hours.
That’s because the EU values freedom of movement.
After the UK leaves the EU, it’s unlikely this will still be a thing, since the Tories are determined to curb immigration.
This works both ways, though.
We can’t ask the Europeans to stay away without more in-depth vetting and expect to just be able to walk into one of their countries without a similar vetting process.
It’s $100 for a US citizen to obtain a non-refundable visa for Spain.
If you travel a lot, these costs quickly add up.
It could add up to authors making several less trips each year.
This may not seem like a big deal, but trips abroad to conventions and book signings are huge opportunities for writers.
The publishing industry is very much about whom you know, and if you don’t know anyone, you’re going to struggle a lot more to get into the publishing industry.
If you can get your foot in the door by meeting the right people at the right events, your career will progress a lot faster.
Taxes and book prices may change
The weaker value of the pound does have its upsides—British authors will make more money from selling books overseas.
On the other hand, overseas authors will make less. They’re left with a difficult decision: charge the same and make less profit, or charge more and make the same amount of profit.
However, by charging more, authors risk deterring readers.
This is an important decision to make, and one authors must be careful with. Supermarkets have faced backlash for increasing prices and blaming Brexit, but with the devalued pound, what choice do they have?
Posting review copies/prizes to Europe could get more expensive
Posting books abroad is already expensive.
To post a book to the EU, it costs more than the book is worth (thanks Royal Mail).
We currently have trade deals in place which are meant to make life easier/cheaper for businesses.
As soon as those trade deals go away, life could become a lot more difficult for British businesses, especially if Theresa May stays true to her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ promise.
This could have damaging affects to many businesses, and literary ones are no exception.
Less holiday time
Because of the potential decrease in profits, it could mean that writers have to create more to earn the same amount of money they did a few years ago.
The EU has a policy in place where we all get 25 days holiday per year. While this is likely to become UK law, too, when you’re self-employed the rules don’t always apply.
You may find that you have to work more because your hourly rate decreases, especially if you’re a freelancer with many of your clients abroad.
This one will very much depend on a person-to-person, country-to-country basis.
Just the same as you can’t assume every Briton voted to leave the EU, you can’t assume that every European suddenly hates the UK and everything it stands for.
However, British authors may find themselves prejudiced against. Especially if they’re travelling abroad to events, and it works out more expensive for them to get there than a local author. At the end of the day, literary events are still businesses. They have to make a profit. If there are two similar authors they’re interested in, they’ll go with whichever one is cheapest. That’s likely to include things like travel expenses. A return train journey (in most places) is significantly cheaper than a return flight, transport from the airport, and a hotel for the night.
What does Brexit mean for us?
As I mentioned at the start, this is worst case scenerio.
I do not believe Brexit will be good for the UK economy, but hopefully it will bounce back and won’t be as damaging as some of us believe.
In the meantime, though, we’ll have to remain in limbo while Theresa May, David Davis, and the rest of the Tories work out how to fix the mess they’ve created.
Over to You
How do you think Brexit will affect the publishing industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!