View Full Version : Government support for writers? Bah! humbug!!

02-01-2008, 10:32 PM
What governments giveth writers, those governments most certainly taketh away...

Writers angry over ‘petty’ cut to funding for library loans.

Leading authors condemned as “churlish and petty” yesterday the [British] Government’s decision to reduce the only funds that it gives directly to contemporary literature - particularly as 75 per cent of writers earn less than half the national average wage.

Speaking to The Times, Michael Holroyd, the biographer and former chairman of the Royal Society of Literature, said that cutting the funding to the Public Lending Right (PLR), by which authors receive 6p every time one of their books is lent by public libraries, was shameful.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is to reduce funding to the organisation from £7.68 million for 2007-08 to £7.4 million for 2008-09.

Mr Holroyd added: “The PLR is the only money that the Government gives directly to contemporary literature. They can’t do that. Such a small saving is a completely false economy. [The money saved] will not get anyone to an Olympic stadium.”

Tracy Chevalier, the author of Girl With a Pearl Earring and chairman of the Society of Authors, said: “Most authors can’t make a living off their work. The PLR is a very welcome contribution. For the Government to cut what is a reasonably small amount seems churlish and petty.”

She spoke of the irony of such cuts taking place in 2008 – designated as the National Year of Reading.
[article continues at:-]
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article3285512.ece February 1, 2008.

Old Hack
02-01-2008, 10:53 PM
I've posted this here before, but I think it bears repeating.

I pulled the following statistics out from a report which was commissioned by the UK-based Society of Authors in 2000. They make pretty depressing reading.

Sales of more than 50,000 paperbacks a year should yield an income of about

For most authors, average UK sales per title are in the region of 3,000 to
8,000 in paperback and 1,000 in hardback, which equates to an income of
between £2,500 and £5,000 per book.

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.

One author who earned between £20,000 and £30,000 commented, "Although I
earn a living wage, I have published more than 60 books, half of which are
in print, some of which have sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide. I am
considered highly successful. But I don't think my earnings reflect this."

The Society of Authors estimates that the number of full-time writers
supporting families by their writing is very small—probably nearer 1,000
than 2,000.

The level of advances is dropping. The majority of advances are under
£5,000. Only 51% of writers said that more than half their works earned out
their advances.

Of those who had given up salaried employment to write, only 32% were better

02-02-2008, 10:06 AM

From my perspective, this is very interesting and informative.

But, the Society data you've provided doesn't appear to have been broken down into writers who write only fiction and those only non-fiction. Or is such data not available with the Society or more generally, not available at all?

Old Hack
02-02-2008, 02:32 PM
Not sure... I think the original article is probably on the SoA site: I'll see if I can find a link.