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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Author earnings

Writers make less than you think

From Sarah Shaffi, for The Bookseller

The typical income for a professional author in 2013 was just £11,000, more than £5,000 below the income level considered to be a socially acceptable standard of living, according to research commissioned by The Authors’ Licensing & Collection Society (ALCS).
The ALCS said the research, commissioned from Queen Mary, University of London, showed these are “concerning times for writers”. Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon also said she was "very concerned" at the findings, saying that the author's share of the profits of the publishing and book retailing business was falling and pointing out: "Authors are the one person who are 100% necessary [to the process]." 
Titled "What are words worth now?", the research report was based on findings from a total of 2,454 writers, of which 56% were men and 44% women. It showed that in 2013 11.5% of professional authors, defined as those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing, earned their income solely from writing.
This is a drop from the 40% who earned their living from writing in 2005, when the typical income for a professional author was £12,330.
So, I wonder, what is a typical job for a writer who does not earn his or her main income from writing?

Novelist Joanne Harris commented: “It’s good to see that finally we are becoming aware of just how little the average author earns. Not everyone can be a high earning, high profile writer but all creators should have the right to be paid for what they do.” Poet Wendy Cope said: “Most people know that a few writers make a lot of money. This survey tells us about the vast majority of writers, who don’t. It’s important that the public should understand this – and why it is so important for authors to be paid fairly for their work.”

And what is the typical income for an Indie author? 
The survey also looked at contracts and self-publishing.
Of the respondents, more than 69% said their contracts allowed them to retain copyright all or most of the time.
“Retaining copyright puts authors in a much stronger position in terms of negotiating where and how their works can be used,” the research said. “The best contracts clearly set out which rights authors are retaining or transferring.
“It is becoming increasingly important for writers to prove their ownership of rights in their works in order to secure key sources of income.”
A quarter of those who took part in the research had self-published, “with a typical return on their investment of 40%”. The ALCS said the mean investment recorded by this group was £2,470, £500 median. Nevertheless, of those who self-published, 86% said they would do so again.

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