Novels are yesterday's world, never mind novellas. Short stories are passé. Forget drabbles (stories of exactly one hundred words). Ignore dribbles (stories of fifty words). With Twitter pieces limited to one hundred and forty characters (or fewer), literature is getting shorter; and so it seems are writers - in both patience and stature.
'The exploitation of writers must stop', said short fiction writer Anthony Neil O'Theré (pictured below) interviewed at a recent protest rally. The activist is a regular attendee at the prestigious Verulam Writers' Circle of St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK.
'We devote our days and nights to writing stories only to be offered pennies – if any payment at all – for our creations,' the diminutive protester continued. 'The worst of it is that many so-called online markets tie up our rights in unfair and punitive contracts, which enable them to sell our work, effectively ad infinitum, as text or audio downloads, for cash.'
There is, however, some hope for the future and several forward-looking markets are offering fair contracts, realistic rates and even royalties.
All too late, perhaps, for Anthony, who is considering a return to his previous employment as a hod carrier for Leggo.