-There was an articled in the April 21st edition of The Daily Telegraph entitled ‘Want to write? Expect to earn £11,000 a year’.
This was sufficiently eye-catching that I think it bears repeating. I quote:
To many, it is the dream job: toiling to create a fine work of literature or academia. But the reality of being a writer has been laid bare in a new report highlighting the low earnings many endure. A study, conducted by Queen Mary University of London, showed only one in ten authors can afford to earn a living from writing alone, a drop from 40% a decade ago. A typical professional writer, it found, earned £11,000 annually. In real terms, the average earnings of authors is down 8% since 2005, according to the report commissioned by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society. Five percent of authors earn 42.3% of all income earned by writers, with the struggle for those working in non-fiction and academia particularly acute. The study points to a publishing world where houses are less willing to take a chance on new authors, opting instead for ‘safe bets’ and celebrity writers. The report, entitled The Business of Being an Author and based on a survey of nearly 2,500 writers, noted: ‘For the majority, writing remains a low-earning profession.’ A remarkable 17 percent of writers did not earn any money in 2013 despite 98% having had work recently published. Women were found to earn 80% of the income of their male counterparts. Nicola Solomon, the chief executive of the Society of Authors, said publishers had been compelled to tighten their belts in recent years, investing in high-demand authors. ‘There is a tendency towards safe,’ she said. ‘But do we want safe? Surely the whole point of reading is to be introduced to things that are daring and challenging and different?’ The report was ‘a bit depressing’, she said. Earlier this year, a YouGov poll found being an author was the most desirable job in Britain, with 60% of people claiming they would like to do it for a living.
This doesn’t surprise me and it confirms some of my own experience. For me, as a retired business executive, I’m not writing to make a living. I’m writing because I enjoy it, and because people who read my books tell me that they enjoy them. I don’t feel that I have to concentrate on ‘what will sell’. Rather, I can concentrate on what interests me and what will interest some people. As long as I’m in good health, I don’t really have a deadline. Someday, if I’m lucky, one of my novels will ‘go viral’, and I’ll have a £11,000 windfall!