Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006
I recently wrote about
I didn’t talk about how much money authors make.
I think most of you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it isn’t much.
Oh, sure, there are a tiny percentage who make a lot, but consider this.
According to a survey by the Authors Guild, full-time authors reported making $17,500 annually.
Payscale.com says that a McDonalds “fast food worker” (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=McDonald%27s_Corporation/Salary) makes between $14,802 – $19,086. Averaging out those two numbers, we get $16,944…about a McDonald’s medium coffee a day’s difference.
Remember, that’s a full-time author…part-time authors reported a writing income of $4,500.
At least with all of the new books being published through digital means, and all the new datastreams, those salaries may finally become comfortable in the next few years, right?
Again, according to the
full-time authors income has declined 30% since 2006 (when they last did the survey).
Part-time authors’ salaries declined even more sharply.
I’ll let you read the report for the rest of it…I don’t want to take too much away from it.
However, we can talk about what this means…the Guild speculates a bit about causative factors: I particularly suggest you read the introductory two paragraphs.
First, it’s possible that there are authors not included in this survey who have seen incomes increase. The first-year dues to be a member are $125, and you have to meet a standard that has to do with publication and/or income. Certainly, my personal income has a writer has increased a lot over that period.
That doesn’t mean I think that even a sizable chunk of independently published e-authors are making a living wage…that’s going to be an itty bitty percentage.
Second, while this is pretty much the Kindle era (the Kindle was introduced at the end of 2007), this survey isn’t just about e-book income. For indie, newbie authors, I am quite sure that a much higher percentage of their writing income is from e-books than is the case for established, brand name authors.
I want to point out something else…the e-book market, and publishing in general, is not mature…it’s still in flux.
There have been several revolutions in publishing…it’s never entirely predictable, but it was relatively stable for some time.
Some of the big turning points:
- about 1455: the Gutenberg Bible is published, and books start moving out of being entirely for the elite
- 1920s: the Book-of-the-Month Club makes affordable versions of curated book titles available
- 1930s: the rise of paperbacks (1939 in the USA with Pocket Books’ first paperback title, Lost Horizon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
- 1970s: chain bookstores become a force
- 1994: Amazon goes online, establishing the internet as a major place to buy books
- 2007: Amazon introduces the Kindle, revolutionizing the then micro-market e-book trade
E-book growth may have, to some extent, become more steady, but paystreams are still changing rapidly. In particular, the subsers (subscriptions services), like Amazon’s
(and Oyster and Scribd) are too new to really judge the impact on authors’ incomes.
For physical books, print-on-demand may matter…including, perhaps, printing at home.
As a reader, do you want authors to make money?
I hope so! 😉
That’s not just for my personal benefit. 🙂 I make my living as a trainer (I have a different title and I do some different things, like workflow optimization), although the money I make as a writer is certainly welcomed by me and my family! You make that part possible…I’d have a lot harder time justifying the time, focus, and energy I put into this without it.
Authors need to experience life, of course, but I want authors to be able to concentrate on writing. That’s true for fiction, and it’s especially true for non-fiction.
My Significant Other would like me to retire at some point (we could spend more time together…I want that, too, although I love my job), and I can see that…if I was writing a lot more. 🙂
If authors do have declining income, that may not mean you have fewer books to read…but they may be different. There might be fewer “quality” books, and more…books which might be considered not fully formed.
What do you think? Are authors making less money? If they are, do you care? Do you think authors will find some way(s) to make up the losses (if they exist)? If so, how? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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