How much do authors earn?

This all started this week, when someone posted this helpful infographic: How much do your favourite authors earn?

I’m afraid “author” and “earning”, especially when used together, are trigger words for me.

By and large, I’m not a fan of authors wailing and moaning about how little money they earn from their books. I’ve seen it a few times. Prize-winning authors expect to be able to live off their prize-winning book. New authors saying they need to go back to their day job if they don’t sell more of their (1) book soon. And so on.

But this is something different. It’s moderately interesting, but there’s no context – over how many years, does it include advances and royalties, does it include subsidiary rights sales?

And there’s a danger here. There’s a danger that we all get tarred with the same golden brush. There’s a danger that we all get viewed in the same way – that for simply ‘tippy-tapping’ on a computer keyboard, we all get paid thousands of pounds. And by calculating out how much ‘we’ earn PER WORD trivialises our work.

And I HATE those horizontal bars – like there’s a sliding scale for how successful we are, and we can easily measure how (un)successful we are against The Philosopher’s Stone. Thanks, infographic. It turns out that I’m incredibly unsuccessful.

This is not a good infographic. This is not good for us: the many, many writers who are earning way below minimum wage for our work. I’m not complaining. I’m really not. It’s our choice to do this, and there are plenty of other things we could be doing to earn more money. And our choice of profession gives us many advantages. I can take a day off whenever I like (I tend to work 7 days a week anyway). I can watch some TV during the daytime (but I can be working at 2am and/or 6am).

So, in conclusion – I am not earning anything like £226 per word for my (multiple) books). I am earning fractions of a penny. Minute fractions of a penny. It is what it is, and I’m okay with that. I wish it were more, but then if wishes were horses, even beggars would ride.

Have a lovely day, stay safe, and I’ll see you next week.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *