Monday, 12 May 2014

How much do writers earn?

There is a survey that claims 54% of traditionally-published authors and almost 80% of go-it-alone writers earn less than $1,000 (£600) a year. You may have read about in the January 2014 press.

The 9,210 respondents slotted into four groups: aspiring, self-published only, traditionally-published only, and hybrid (both self-published and traditionally-published). More than 65% of those who filled out the survey described themselves as aspiring authors, with 18% self-published, 8% traditionally-published and 6% saying they were pursuing hybrid careers.

77% of Self-published authors make $1,000 (£600) or less a year;
Towpath at Crinan
 0.7% of self-published writers earn more than $100,000 a year
53.9% of traditionally-published authors make $1,000 (£600) or less a year;
1.3% of traditionally-published  earn more than $100,000  a year
43.6% of hybrid authors make $1,000 (£600) or less a year;
5.7% of hybrid writers reported making more than $100,000 a year from their writing. 

Put like that, it sounds a soul destroying exercise if money is the main object of your writing. However,  only 20% of self-pubbed authors and 25% of traditional authors thought making money extremely important. On the other hand,  56% of self-pubbers, and almost 60% of traditional authors, thought it extremely important to "publish a book that people will buy."

The top 2% or so of authors make a good living and the most successful authors – including self-published – make a tremendous amount of money. Maybe that is the lure. We all dream that we'll be one of the lucky ones.

Some writers look to money for validation. If you self-publish, without the prestige of being chosen by a major publisher, then the money is a good substitute. It isn't the only motivation, but matters on many levels. One self-pubbed author thinks the survey is  skewed (my words, not his) because it pits self-pubbed authors with a year or two's experience against traditional authors who spent twenty years in the publishing game. Self-publishing allows authors to learn and hone their skills, and he thinks many are paying bills with money they've earned by writing - and that should be celebrated. 


Jen Black said...

Miles Archer If you're doing something only for the're not doing the right thing. We write because we must.

Jen Black said...

Or because we enjoy it?