Friday, March 9, 2007

Depressing But Not Surprising

I've been sick this week, so this news from the UK was just what I needed to cheer me up (not). I have to say that based on the miniscule (note to blogger; miniscule is a word) margins publishers are seeing, this isn't a surprise. I don't know who's getting rich from all the books that are published, but it obviously isn't authors (unless they're named Brown or King) and it sure isn't publishers!

THE AVERAGE AUTHOR earns 33% less than the national average wage, according to new research commissioned by the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society. The study, conducted by Bournmouth University's Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management and based on surveys of 25,000 authors in the UK and Germany paint a bleak picture of authors' earnings. The top 10% of authors earn more than 50% of total income, authors' earnings are deteriorating in real terms and only 20% of writers earn all their income from writing. Less than 15% of surveyed authors receive any payment for on-line use of their work and authors between 25-34 typically earn less than £5000.

Read the rest at Publishing News ...


Elizabeth Chadwick said...

It's interesting and I agree with you that it's a pretty crap situation for many and that with the threat to copyright from online abuse set to become crappier in many, many cases.
However, I have several good friends who are professional writers. Like myself they are not 'big' mainstream (except for a couple of them who are massive mainstream, but they started off small and have built readerships over a number of years), but recently we have all seen our profiles and our sales doing very well indeed. My husband is not enamoured of his job (works as a fabrication foreman in heavy engineering) but has kept it going in order to keep us fed, clothed and housed. I've been a published author since 1990 and it's only now, 17 years on that I am earning what might be considered a full time income from my endeavours. The world of publishing is difficult and fickle. It might all go pear-shaped tomorrow, but if it doesn't, my husband will finally get his wish. I will become the major wage earner and he will take part time employment. A few of my aforementioned colleagues above have already 'retired' their other halves in this fashion, so just to say that while there are a lot of clouds and bad weather about, it ain't all doom and gloom!

Doubtful Muse said...

Good point, and I think you're right. There is more to this than it seems on the surface. e.g., If I understand correctly, there are no restrictions on membership to ALCS (the study population), but that means anyone who's written anything can call themselves an author and join -- like if I print 50 copies of my auntie's recipes and try to sell them from the back of my car. It's easy to see how factoring in something like that would affect overall earnings.

Tess said...

In some ways it is depressing, but for many of us, writing isn't all about the money. I'll write whether I ever make money off it. Though I admit, making money by selling an ms one day would be nice :-)

In some ways, I think it may be harder for small publishers like you - who don't get that same creative rush with that side of things (I know as a writer you do).