I write a lot of words, some you read here, some you don’t. In the not to distant future I look forward to earning a full-time living as an author. You can help by purchasing my forth-coming works (sooner or later, I promise…).
Today, according to some, it is harder than ever to make it as a full-time writer. A new survey suggests that author income is down due to the digitalized age of publication. I see bad and very good news in this story and related material I have read.
The survey said income for full-time US authors in 2015 fell 30 percent from 2009 to $17,500, and part-time authors saw a 38 percent drop in income to $4,500.
“Authors’ income is down. This is the result of a confluence of factors,” the study found.
“The ubiquity of e-books means that online book piracy is more of a threat than it was in 2009. We’ve seen major consolidation within the traditional publishing industry, which means less diversity among publishers and their increased focus on the bottom line.”
Traditional publishers’ dominance of the marketplace meanwhile is being eroded by the rise of self-publishing, the study noted.
Income for writers is down, which is not good. However, it’s also indicative of pay in general. Wages have not recovered from the last recession (even amidst the onset of the next one).
The truth is the average author never earned that much before 2009 or 1999 or in 1959. Stephen King and John Grisham are rarities. Ordinary writers are content to make a living doing what they love, trading the security of higher income for intellectual freedom. The greatest stifle of said freedom traditionally came from the large publishing houses.
As the story notes those publishing houses are falling apart thanks to the rise of nearly effortless and professional self publishing services. That’s great! People like James Altucher are making more money than ever by self publishing.
True, with publishing easier than ever the market is being dilluted, slightly, by a glut of new works on Amazon and Kindle. And, yes, these businesses have helped shutter “real” bookstores coast to coast.
The best news is that all of these things will even themselves out. The free market will weed out bad books – anarchy in action! The proliferation of Amazon and ebooks means more sales and more profit for good authors.
I read elsewhere, in an article I can’t find now that writing is one of the select endeavors which will benefit from the looming robotic revolution. Smart machines are poised to take 30% of all jobs in the West over the next few decades – from manufacturing to service jobs like sales and bar tending. Creative arts cannot be so easily automated and should see an increase in human demand.
All of this, of course, depends on people still reading. So, keep on reading! You can start by clicking the “next” or “previous” buttons below this column. Cheers!