According to the recent report by the ALCS, writers’ earnings have nearly halved over the last 12 years, and the average yearly income of writers is just over £10,000. As the All Party Writers’ Group report, launched at the House of Commons earlier this week, most full-time ‘writers’ don’t write full time. They do a whole range of other things to earn a living. (The really big earners you hear about are very much the exception to the rule.)
The APPG Report makes an few excellent recommendations. Rather than repeat them here I urge you to read the report. Here are a few more recommendations:
Writers: don’t work for free, nobody else does. If you’re not sure how to say ‘No’, have a look at the guidelines produced by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, which you can download from here: Free is not an option.
Also, join a writers’ body, such as the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain or the Society of Authors, because it’s good to have support and the advice. I belong to the latter, and I’ve just found out that if you use the code LBF1512 when joining for the first time you get 15 months for the price of 3.
Editors: stop expecting writers to work for free, unless of course you, your staff and website manager also work for nothing.
Government: stop providing perverse incentives to schools and students to reject the idea of offering/taking creative subjects, or universities from offering degrees in them. According to the APPG, the creative industries are now valued at over £100 billion. As for ‘poor returns’ on investing in a creative arts degree, it can take years for someone to build up a profile and a career for themselves.
Also, stop the closure of libraries. We need readers, some of whom will go on to be writers. Let’s face it, as I think I made clear in The New DfE Education Technology Strategy: A Textual Analysis, the people who write government documents in the Department for Education (assuming it is people who write them, as opposed to a bot), are not very good at it. Anyway, I was encouraged by the fact that a relatively new Minister in the DCMS, Rebecca Pow, made some encouraging noises about libraries.
To finish off, here are some photos from the launch of the APPG Report.