CULTURE

Writers have gone from begging to making demands

«Soti Triantafyllou is a classic long-term seller,» says Pataki. «Her books may not be an immediate hit, but they keep selling.» We asked Triantafyllou about the publisher-writer relationship and she responded with the following text: «A book that came out recently in France with the title ‘The Double Life of Writers’ reveals what we had suspected, that only 2 percent of authors actually make a living from their books; 98 percent of them are engaged in various professions, such as journalism, teaching and public service jobs, unless they belong to the tiny minority with independent means. Greek writers have been through a lot, and Greek publishers, too. Apart from a few publishers which, due to circumstances, good management and instinct, have expanded and established themselves, the rest scrape by with a living and hang on heroically. «Only in the past 20 years have things started to fall into place. These are elementary things, such as the fact they have to pay the foreign writers they translate, and also have to pay local writers, that a decent advance to get a book written is essential. «Up to a certain time, which I can remember well – and shudder to think of – fear and wretchedness ruled the publishing world. Writers, translators and editors had to behave like beggars. Shame on us all. Theft of copyright was a common tactic, which is why some of us have become an international disgrace. But, emerging from the isolation of a small European country, we have been forced, more or less, to set our mess in order. «And then, as in all countries, the phenomenon has emerged of greedy writers who not only claim their rights and the respect they deserve, but have set out (anxiously) to become rich and famous. Writers make themselves ridiculous in the belief that they are very important. We are not important, I assure you. And the world doesn’t owe us anything. We do a job for which we should be paid, that’s all. If we don’t get enough money from our books, we supplement it from other activities. That does not include all-nighters in trendy bars or hanging around all day in cafes. Logically, writers sit down and write. And once they have done their work as conscientiously as possible, they claim the best fee. «Our complaints and bitterness do not spring solely from the dysfunctional system but also from ourselves.»