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View Full Version : Average Net Earnings Bracket for Published Fiction Writers



Paul
04-22-2012, 05:28 PM
Poll coming.

There have been different threads on earnings, but I thought it might be useful to do an anonymous poll on average earning for published fictions writers, ie which net (ie the amt you get after all expenses inl tax are taken) earnings bracket. YOUR AVERAGE OVER THE LAST 3 YEARS FOR PUBLISHED FICTION work. (ie add three years earnings and divide by 3 to get a yearly average)

The publisher type is not important, just the average earnings.

If you only earned last year/two years,that's fine, calculate that.

This might be useful for writers to gauge where they are and for new writers to imagine what they might face. If enough contribute it might be a useful stat.

seun
04-22-2012, 05:47 PM
Count me in at the bottom end of the scale although after one book, I'd think I'd be a rare writer to be earning more than that.

Paul
04-22-2012, 05:48 PM
Count me in at the bottom end of the scale although after one book, I'd think I'd be a rare writer to be earning more than that.
:)

I hear that.

jjdebenedictis
04-22-2012, 07:43 PM
To clarify, you mean earnings just from writing, correct? Because I suspect most people in the bottom few brackets will have a day job too. :)

Paul
04-22-2012, 09:57 PM
To clarify, you mean earnings just from writing, correct? Because I suspect most people in the bottom few brackets will have a day job too. :)
yes, just from fiction writing alone, including short stories. (ie but not articles, journals, non-fiction books etc)

I think AW has a pretty cross-section of the published fiction writer world. If there were 200 or more response I think the survey/ poll might offer a good indication of the fiction writer situation.

although taxes etc are different with each country and each individual, and payment is in different currencies, having a net figure will address this a bit.


so unless your currency is wildly different (eg a 1000 your currency = 10 dollars) then just assume the range/ bracket is in your own currency, my reasoning being that cost of living differences in each country will re-balance the currency exchange rate (yes, rough, but well, converting your home currency to US dollars wont take into account the cost of living differences. ie 10,000 in the UK is a roughly equal experience to say 10,000 Can$ for a Canadian in Canada. hope that makes sense)

Mr Flibble
04-23-2012, 02:22 AM
Dollars or pounds? I'm going for pounds.

Last year - first bracket (by a wide margin, ie less than 1k)

This year? Bracket two, towards three. Hoping for more, but we'll see.

Ken
04-23-2012, 02:32 AM
... read somewhere that the average yearly earnings for published writers was around 8-9 thousand. And that was several years back. That said, I'm in awe of anyone who's earning loot from writing, no matter what the sum. That's a great accomplishment in itself.

Paul
04-23-2012, 03:00 AM
Dollars or pounds? I'm going for pounds.

Last year - first bracket (by a wide margin, ie less than 1k)

This year? Bracket two, towards three. Hoping for more, but we'll see.
Pounds if you're UK.

i think it'd be too messy otherwise.

congrats on the upward bracket movement!

seun
04-23-2012, 12:45 PM
Dollars or pounds? I'm going for pounds.

Last year - first bracket (by a wide margin, ie less than 1k)

This year? Bracket two, towards three. Hoping for more, but we'll see.

I've always liked you. :D

bearilou
04-23-2012, 04:23 PM
I've always liked you. :D

Yes, but you have a cat.





/non sequitur

seun
04-23-2012, 04:28 PM
More precisely, there are two cats in my house. They let me live with them.

MarkEsq
04-23-2012, 05:00 PM
I voted, even though all I have to report are my advances. The millions haven't started rolling in yet...

Paul
04-23-2012, 05:30 PM
I voted, even though all I have to report are my advances. The millions haven't started rolling in yet...
well unless the pub house goes broke before the cheque clears - advances count!


I'm quite surprised at the findings so far.

I thought most would gather around the 20-50k mark.
I expected a high lower end, as with the 3 year period, most would be starting off.

But would have assumed the next highest figure to be between the 20-50k mark. Instead it seems if you're earning, you're earning good. (50+)


Very interesting. Although way too early/ too few responses to say anything definite.

Terie
04-23-2012, 05:41 PM
I thought most would gather around the 20-50k mark.

Since all of the surveys for the past decade or so come in at around US$5,000 per year on average, I'm curious how you decided on a number that is 4 to 10 times that amount.

Mustafa
04-24-2012, 07:22 AM
Since all of the surveys for the past decade or so come in at around US$5,000 per year on average, I'm curious how you decided on a number that is 4 to 10 times that amount.

I don't trust those surveys. They're notoriously way off in all other industries. The best way to find out what average writers make is to query a large enough sample of people who are published in a way you would like to be published. i.e. what's the average earnings for a group of writers who publish one novel a year through one of the big six publishers?

I know half a dozen mid-listers, and they all do +50,000 a year. But the ones I know have a backlist of about 6-10 books. Lots of writers you've never heard of make a living wage writing books.

thothguard51
04-24-2012, 07:29 AM
Every article I have read on this subject for the past ten years, suggest that the average writer makes about $19,000 per year. I am unsure if that is per book, or combined though.

Most of the articles did not include the self publishing e-book revolution occurring. Still if you average out the self pubbed e-books, I think the numbers would go down by the sheer fact of the amount of self pubbed not selling in any great numbers.

Terie
04-24-2012, 10:24 AM
I don't trust those surveys. They're notoriously way off in all other industries. The best way to find out what average writers make is to query a large enough sample of people who are published in a way you would like to be published. i.e. what's the average earnings for a group of writers who publish one novel a year through one of the big six publishers?

I know half a dozen mid-listers, and they all do +50,000 a year. But the ones I know have a backlist of about 6-10 books. Lots of writers you've never heard of make a living wage writing books.

The surveys I've read (can't remember enough details to find any online right now) were put together by reputable writers' organisations in the US (where the average was generally around $5,000 to 7,000) and the UK (where the average was generally around 5,000) where they include only commercially published authors.

Since I can't provide links to back up my claims -- and even if I could -- you're free not to trust the surveys.

But please don't assume that I have no clue about how much money writers make. I know lots more than half a dozen mid-listers, and yes, many of them make closer to 50K per year than 5K per year -- a few substantially more. But I also know a hell of a lot who don't make even 5K per year.

And, behold the current results of this very survey, almost 3/4 of whom state earnings of less than 20K. This survey, unscientific and narrow as it is, is right in line with every other survey I've ever seen.

Anne Lyle
04-24-2012, 11:22 AM
I voted bottom bracket because I'm a new writer with a medium-sized publisher. My only earnings so far are the advances on a single contract, which are of course spread out over several years. Hence, not very much yet, on a per-annum basis.

Hoping that will go up, once I have enough traction for my agent to start selling foreign language rights! (Not to mention future deals and royalties...)

Paul
04-24-2012, 02:30 PM
And, behold the current results of this very survey, almost 3/4 of whom state earnings of less than 20K. This survey, unscientific and narrow as it is, is right in line with every other survey I've ever seen.

ouch. :

:D

Yes, scientific it aint. But i think AW is a good pool of participants and it might give a broad sense of the state of play.


The ebook phenomena and the self pub thingy are new elements though - and i wonder if they'll make a difference. (earnings are earnings)

re the 20-50, that was not based on hard stats, just a guess/ postulation from personal sources.


Question is, really, what percentage are earning above the 50 mark?
And what percentage are below the 10k mark?
That in itself might offer some sense of what the reality is for writers.

JohnnyGottaKeyboard
04-24-2012, 02:50 PM
This year? Bracket two, towards three. Hoping for more, but we'll see.
Are you planning a volumne of poetry as well?

And I was def bottom bracket for my first year.

Old Hack
04-24-2012, 03:46 PM
I've blogged about a study carried out by the UK's SoA in 2000 (http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/?p=24), and a similar study which the ALCS carried out in 2005 (http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/?p=1533): these studies might provide a little useful background information.

Paul
04-24-2012, 04:30 PM
from the blog on the 2000 report


75% of authors earned under 20,000 in 1999. The average annual income was 16,000, while 5% (82) of authors polled earned more than 75,000. Only 3% (51) earned over 100,000.




Although the national average wage was 20,919 when the report was compiled, 61% of the writers polled earned under 10,000. 46% earned under 5,000, of whom 123 said that writing was their main source of income, while 14 had no other source of income at all.





from the second blog on the 2005 report


The top 10% of UK authors earned more than 50% of total reported income, while the bottom 50% earned less than 10% of total reported income. Which means that for every 100 earned through writing in the UK, the top-earning 10% shared out 50 between them, while the lowest-earning half of all writers had to make do with sharing out just 10 between them all. The remaining 40 was shared between the 40% of writers who occupied that relatively middle-to-high-end income bracket.



the results for this poll seems similar at first glance - except for that middle bracket - but in reality that also is the same -ie if they took all earning and divided it by the number of respondents, they would get the 20k average.

But this is a misleading figure - there is no 20k average group as the figures suggest high numbers at the low sharing low income and low members at the high end sharing high income.

so in short you either earn low, or you earn 'big' (above 50k). but this bit
"The remaining 40 was shared between the 40% of writers who occupied that relatively middle-to-high-end income bracket." does suggest some sort of middle ground - but by the look of it, it is a low middle ie 40/40 =1 whereas at the top end 50/10 = 5 and at the bottom end 10/50 = .5.

that is, the 'middle' are really just twice the income of the low end which equals around 10K!

so to summarise, all these stats (incl this poll) seem to suggest that there is little middle ground. ie, for the vast majority you're either at the top (50K+), or the bottom (below 10K)

Jamesaritchie
04-24-2012, 07:20 PM
I'm not big on averages. If nine writers each earn a hundred bucks per year, and one writer earns a million, the average means they should all be be living pretty high on the hog.

Cathy C
04-24-2012, 07:26 PM
I voted based on my income alone. I write with a co-author and split revenue 50/50, so I'd be in a different bracket if I included actual contract earnings.

Sunnyside
04-24-2012, 07:34 PM
Oop. Nearly punched a button, but I'm disqualified: I don't write fiction.

Paul
04-24-2012, 09:07 PM
I'm not big on averages. If nine writers each earn a hundred bucks per year, and one writer earns a million, the average means they should all be be living pretty high on the hog.
yes, which is the problem i've outlined above your post - ie the 20k average figure.

by having the which bracket thing i think the picture is clearer


I voted based on my income alone. I write with a co-author and split revenue 50/50, so I'd be in a different bracket if I included actual contract earnings.
yes, only your own earnings.

aikigypsy
04-24-2012, 11:54 PM
Another source of income information, though this doesn't distinguish between fiction and non-fiction, is this: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Writers-and-authors.htm#tab-1 which puts the median pay for writers and authors at $55,420/year as of 2010.

I'm pretty sure the average is lower for fiction writers, but a lot of writers do both fiction and non-fiction, so maybe it's not so bad out there.

Paul
04-26-2012, 02:11 AM
Another source of income information, though this doesn't distinguish between fiction and non-fiction, is this: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Media-and-Communication/Writers-and-authors.htm#tab-1 which puts the median pay for writers and authors at $55,420/year as of 2010.


well, that's a pretty general definition of 'writer' (ie one who writes)

for this poll it's fiction writers specifically.

Cathy C
04-26-2012, 03:25 PM
I just re-read the initial post and realized I probably answered wrong. Did you mean to ask what we earn for a three year period, on average; or what we earn for a single year, based on three years of data, averaged?

RobJ
04-26-2012, 03:37 PM
I'm not big on averages. If nine writers each earn a hundred bucks per year, and one writer earns a million, the average means they should all be be living pretty high on the hog.
Yeah, reminds me of the one where 3 writers are sitting quietly in a bar when Stephen King walks in, and the writers start cheering and celebrating. The barman asks why they're so happy and they explain that their average earnings just went through the roof.

Paul
04-26-2012, 05:41 PM
I just re-read the initial post and realized I probably answered wrong. Did you mean to ask what we earn for a three year period, on average; or what we earn for a single year, based on three years of data, averaged?
the second one :)

Cathy C
04-26-2012, 05:47 PM
Good. Then I answered correctly. :)

Jamesaritchie
04-26-2012, 06:21 PM
Yeah, reminds me of the one where 3 writers are sitting quietly in a bar when Stephen King walks in, and the writers start cheering and celebrating. The barman asks why they're so happy and they explain that their average earnings just went through the roof.

Hadn't heard that one, but I love it. In school, we had a math teacher who liked to bring up the man who slept with his head in the freezer and his feet in the oven. On average, he was very comfortable.

Average just has no meaning, and in writing, I don't think median means anything, either.

We're all individual entities, each with our own talent level, skill level, self-discipline level, productivity level, and what often gets left out entirely, our individual business sense.

A whole room full of average income writers, or a whole room full of median income writers, doesn't raise my earnings by a dime. I can't expect to earn the average or the median.

Paul
04-28-2012, 04:06 AM
55 pollsters. not bad.

i suspect the percentages will pan out along the same lines even a 10 times that figure.

still ,one never knows.

thethinker42
04-28-2012, 04:31 AM
I'm not big on averages. If nine writers each earn a hundred bucks per year, and one writer earns a million, the average means they should all be be living pretty high on the hog.

Exactly. I've been writing for pay for three years, and my first year and a half weren't terribly lucrative. If the last quarter is any indication, my 2012 writing income will be more than double my 2011 income, which was roughly double my 2010 income. The average compared to the actual numbers seems pretty meaningless, especially when we start discussing those averages as indicative of how much people actually make per year.

If I made (and these numbers are complete bullshit; I'm not posting my actual income) $5,000 one year, $15,000 the next year, and $40,000 the following year, the average is $20,000. Using that as any indication of "income per year" kind of makes me scratch my head, you know? The average I used in the poll would put me in the "scraping by" category, when in fact I'm making more now than I did at my last full-time day job.

If we want to get a more accurate idea of what people are pulling in, why bother with averages? Why not a single year for some semblance of accuracy?

triceretops
04-28-2012, 04:37 AM
Well, my non-fiction article writing is way up there, but the fiction income is a pittance. So I'm low-boy.

Tri

Paul
04-28-2012, 04:51 AM
Exactly. I've been writing for pay for three years, and my first year and a half weren't terribly lucrative. If the last quarter is any indication, my 2012 writing income will be more than double my 2011 income, which was roughly double my 2010 income. The average compared to the actual numbers seems pretty meaningless, especially when we start discussing those averages as indicative of how much people actually make per year.

If I made (and these numbers are complete bullshit; I'm not posting my actual income) $5,000 one year, $15,000 the next year, and $40,000 the following year, the average is $20,000. Using that as any indication of "income per year" kind of makes me scratch my head, you know? The average I used in the poll would put me in the "scraping by" category, when in fact I'm making more now than I did at my last full-time day job.

If we want to get a more accurate idea of what people are pulling in, why bother with averages? Why not a single year for some semblance of accuracy?

because some might be tempted to post their worse year, full of humility etc.

:)

the quick explanation is this.

picking one year in the writing game isn't accurate, due to the nature of payments, which tend to vary year to year more than regular jobs

this for those who are recently published an average give a truer picture - (your own fictionalised case being a classic example) ie in a 'normal job, your income does not change dramatically year to year.

for those well established it also gives a truer picture.


either way, if you're uncomfortable with the poll, aint no thang. just skip it. :)