The writers pictured above are monks in a scriptorium. They took vows of poverty chastity and obedience. Nowadays writers don’t take vows of chastity and obedience, but a lot of them feel as if they took a vow of poverty when they decided to try authorship.
Writers have never made a lot of money. That’s not news. What is news is that from 2009 to 2015, full-time authors’ income dropped 30 percent. No, that’s not a misprint. And part-time authors saw a 38 percent decrease over the same period.
Maybe you’re thinking that full-time authors found their income falling from, say, around $100,000 to $66,000 a year. Alas, no. In 2009, full-time writers averaged $25,000 a year from writing, and their income from that source dropped to $17,500.
These grim figures come from a survey “commissioned by the Authors Guild and conducted by the Codex Group, a leading publishing industry research firm.”
The Authors Guild chose to survey the period starting with 2009 because that was the year that publishing began to experience changes brought about by the digital revolution. In 2009, only 5 percent of readers had bought an e-book, but by 2015, 50 percent of readers were buying e-books.
The Guild put it this way in their Bulletin, “We’ve seen major consolidation within the traditional publishing industry, which means less diversity among publishers, and with most major publishers now owned by multinational corporations, there’s a tighter focus on the bottom line. These phenomena – along with Amazon’s strong-arming publishers and authors on price and other terms on its way to becoming an industry behemoth, leaving thousands of brick and mortar bookstores shuttered in its wake – have combined to make the business of authorship less profitable than it was six years ago.”