Romance writers are setting the pace in tomorrow’s ‘gig economy’

When Fifty Shades Freed opens in theatres on February 9, fans will no doubt flock to see bad boy Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan) bested by naughty-but-nice heroine Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). A less racy but equally thrilling story, my research shows, is how romance writers are getting ahead in the digital era. While economists and labour scholars wring their hands over the rise of the precarious gig economy, these freelancers have developed innovative business practices over the past four decades that have set them up for success in the digital era. Although few have reached the flabbergasting success of “Fifty Shades” author EL James, a former fan fiction writer whose net worth now totals more than $58 million, I found that the median income for romance authors has tripled in the e-book era. And more and more are earning a six-figure income. This uptick occurred as other types of writing became less profitable. Romance writers are setting the model for workers in tomorrow’s ‘gig economy’

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