What do writers earn?

A recent piece of research from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) makes for some depressing reading – unless you are extremely optimistic.Don't give up the day job just yet

The figures relate to 2013, and are not as good as their equivalents of ten years ago, in 2005. Well, not for the most part anyway. Here are some of them:


  • Only 11.5% of authors earn their income solely from writing.
  • The median income of authors is £11,000. This is a fall of 29% in real terms. The report doesn’t say what the spread of incomes is though. It would be interesting to know what the top earners earn – something to aspire to!
  • Sadly, 17% of writers earned nothing at all from writing.


  • The top 10% earners among self-published authors made a profit of £7,000 or more.
  • The top 20% earners among self-published authors made a profit of nearly £3,000.
  • The bottom 20% earners among self-published authors made losses of at least £400.

I think it would have been interesting to have had a breakdown of the figures by genre and price point. It would also be interesting to know how far having a book professionally edited, proofread and designed made a difference to sales.

Still, all of this is interesting, though possibly not surprising. The figures make me want to try harder and smarter, rather than simply throw in the towel. I hope they cause you to react in the same way!

You can download the report, “What are words worth now?”, from here: ALCS Research

I know it’s a bit risky to announce this, in case nothing comes of it (eg I might get run over by a bus), but I'm hoping to write and self-publish a few books. If you'd like to be kept informed of new titles, please sign up to Terry's Books Bulletin by clicking the button below. Thank you.

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