Authors Guild Survey Reveals Declining Earnings for Writers
Posted on January 7, 2019
A new survey from The Authors Guild shows a steep decline in earnings for authors over the past decade. The Authors Guild's 2018 Author Income Survey includes data from over 5,000 U.S. authors. It found author incomes have fallen to a median of $6,080. This is a drop of 42% from 2009.
The study includes both full and part-time authors. As the graph above shows most book authors are not able to make a living just from writing books. Authors defining themselves as full-time book authors had a median income of $20,300. That is much better than $6,080 but still "well below the federal poverty line for a family of three or more" as the Authors Guild notes in its release.
A sole bright spot in the survey was for self-published authors. The Authors Guild says the survey found that the median book-related income for self-published authors has nearly doubled since 2013. This sounds great but the median income for self-publishers authors came in at just $1,951.
Here are a few highlights of the findings from the survey:
- Literary writers had the biggest decline with a drop of 27% in four years. The Authors Guild says full-time mid-list and literary writers on the verge of extinction.
- Amazon's large marketshare of book and ebook sales plays a large role in the crisis according to The Authors Guild.
- The survey found royalties are down 11% compared to 2013 for most authors.
- Only 21% of full-time published authors derived 100% of their individual income from book-related income.
- 25% of all published authors surveyed earned $0 in book-related income in 2017.