Thursday 9 July 2015
A new literature body should be established to promote Scottish writing and writers overseas, a major new report has found.
Creative Scotland's review of Scotland's literature and publishing sector, published today, urges the establishment of a new literary body, Scottish Literature International, to pursue a "sustained and effective international strategy for Scottish literature."
The Literature and Publishing Sector Review, a £40,000 report by consultants Nordicity, says that the new body - whose precise role, funding and remit has not been defined - would increase the level of travel and exchange for Scottish writers and "develop a repository of international resources and information", as well as tracking which countries writers visit to develop a "robust intelligence base."
Around 70 per cent of Scottish writers say travel is a key part of their work.
The report says: "While travel bursaries and support to travel is available via Creative Scotland, and translation of work into other languages is supported, there has been to date a distinct lack of coordination around the promotion of Scottish literature as a coherent body of work and in supporting individual writers when they work internationally.
"Nor is Scottish publishing supported internationally at an institutional level."
The new body - one of 38 recommendations in the 125 page report - could be based on the Irish Literary Exchange (ILE), it is suggested.
Set up in 1994, ILE has funded the translation of over 1,500 works of Irish literature into 55 languages around the world, and also supports travel, exchanges and other international work.
The recommendations in the report will now be discussed on 30 July with a literature summit of over 150 individuals, sector representatives and other bodies.
Creative Scotland say the report is the "comprehensive review of this sector ever undertaken in Scotland, with findings based on more than 60 individual interviews, a series of open session discussions and more than 1,000 on-line survey responses."
Jenny Niven, head of literature at Creative Scotland said that the new body may take some time to establish and would be a long term aim.
She said that another idea would be for Scotland to apply to be a featured nation at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest trade fair for books - the application and funding for this bid would take three or four years to put together but would be a "major step" for Scottish books.
There have been several reviews of literature in recent years, including the Scottish Arts Council Review of Publishing (2004), Literature, Nation (revised 2009), the Literature Working Group report (2010) and Mission, Models, Money initiative (2008-2010).
In 2014, there were 105 publishers officially counted in Scotland, down from 130 in 2010.
Publishers now employ around1,000 people, down from 1,400 in 2010.
The report says there are approximately 2,300 professional writers in Scotland.
Of these, some 1,000 writers make their living primarily out of writing.
The report says "most Scottish writers are insufficiently compensated for their work - 81 per cent of Scottish writers responding to the Nordicity survey earn below the National Minimum Wage."
Regarding writer pay, the review recommends that financial support should be accessible to writers at various stages of their career.
The report also says that there should be greater efforts made for the standardisation of fees for writers for travel, speaking engagements, residencies and publishing contracts.