LONDON, April 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Release of the full ALCS-commissioned report into authors' earnings reveals incomes on the slide, but self-publishing making an increasing contribution.
Last summer, ALCS released some sobering initial findings from its latest survey of authors' earnings, under the heading, What Are Words Worth Now? These included the revelation that the typical income of a professional author had fallen by 29% since 2005, along with the fact that increasingly few professional authors are able to earn a living solely from their writing, with just 11.5% doing so (down from 40% in 2005).
Today Queen Mary, University of London which conducted the research publishes The Business of Being an Author: A Survey of Authors' Earnings and Contracts, the full report based on a survey of the earnings of almost 2,500 working writers.
Among the further findings of The Business of Being an Author:
The Writing Life and Earnings
- The earnings picture is very top heavy: the top 5% earned 42.3% of all the money earned by professional authors.
- The bottom 50% (those earning £10,432 or less) earned only 7% of all the money earned by all writers cumulatively.
- 17% of all writers did not earn any money from writing in 2013, despite 98% of these having had a work published or exploited in each year from 2010 to 2013.
- Since 2005, the typical author has become poorer against society as a whole and now (from self-employed writing) earns only 87% of the present minimum wage.
Publishing Advances and Contracts
- 44% of authors stated that the size of the advances they had received from publishers had declined over the past five years.
- 46% of authors said they had signed a buy-out contract (where there is a single payment for use of their work without the further payment of royalties), with 30% stating that the prevalence of such contracts was on the increase.
- A quarter of authors have self-published a book.
- Among authors who have self-published, the top 10% of earners made a profit of £7,000 or more.
- The top 20% of earners among authors who have self-published made a profit of almost £3,000.
- The bottom 20% of authors who have self-published made losses of at least £400.
Commenting on the report, Richard Combes, Head of Rights and Licensing at ALCS said: "The research highlights a familiar paradox: at a time when the creative industries are a thriving mainstay of the UK economy, the industry of individual creators is an increasingly undervalued national resource."
The Business of Being an Author: A Survey of Authors' Earning and Contracts along with What are words worth now? Further findings are available on the ALCS website: http://www.alcs.co.uk
20 April 2015
- Professional Authors: respondents who dedicate over 50% of their time to self-employed writing.
- Authors: respondents who identify their "primary occupation" as author (whether a professional author or an occupational writer).
- Writers: a shorthand for all writers - i.e. respondents to a particular question irrespective of other factors.
- The Business of Being an Author: A survey of authors' earnings and contracts was commissioned by ALCS in 2013 and carried out by Queen Mary, University of London. The research authors are Professor Johanna Gibson of Queen Mary University of London; Professor Phillip Johnson of Cardiff University; and Dr Gaetano Dimita of Queen Mary, University of London.
- A total of 2,454 writers took part, of whom 56% were men and 44% women.17% of respondents were aged 44 or under; 54% were aged 45-64; and 29% were aged 65 or over.
- In 2007, ALCS published What Are Words Worth?, independent research by Bournemouth University into authors' earnings for the financial year, 2004/5. Where data for 2005 is cited, this is the research to which it refers.
- The Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) collects fees on behalf of the whole spectrum of UK writers: novelists, film & TV script writers; literary prize winners; poets; freelance journalists; translators and adaptors, as well as thousands of professional and academic writers who include nurses, lawyers, teachers, scientists and college lecturers. All writers are eligible to join ALCS: further details on membership can be found at http://www.alcs.co.uk. ALCS collects fees that are difficult, time-consuming or legally impossible for writers and their representatives to claim on an individual basis: money that is nonetheless due to them. Since its inception, ALCS has distributed over £380 million to the nation's writers. For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://www.alcs.co.uk.
SOURCE The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society