Authors’ earnings in the UK and France

Luke AlcottFrance, News, UK

In June 2018 IAF member ALCS announced the headline findings from its latest independent survey Authors’ Earnings 2018: A Survey of UK Writers, carried out by CREATe. The survey found that the earnings of working writers have continued to decline in the UK. The median earnings of professional writers – those who dedicate over half their working hours to writing – has fallen by 42% in real terms since ALCS commissioned its first survey in 2005, and by 15% since 2013.

This confirms what many individual writers already know – that authors are earning less or having to work a lot harder in order to maintain even a relatively stable income. The release of Authors’ Earnings 2018: A Survey of UK Writers by ALCS prompted stories in the UK media including the Guardian and the Bookseller. In the Guardian report, Philip Pullman was among UK authors who responded to the survey results by claiming the reduced number of professional writers is threatening the diversity and quality of literary culture in the UK. Pullman said: “This matters because the intellectual, emotional and artistic health of the nation matters, and those who write contribute to the task of sustaining it.” In his editorial, the Bookseller editor Philip Jones commented: “Publishers have become more profitable over the past decade – to their credit – but how much of this bounty has been passed down to authors remains unclear.”

The findings of the research were supported in a speech by renowned composer and musician, Jean-Michel Jarre at a conference in the European Parliament celebrating the European Year of Cultural Heritage. “Creative industries have never been as prosperous in terms of turnover as they are now. The content creators though have never received so little”, he said. This just goes to show that the disproportionate distribution of income is not only an issue for writers; in a recent survey French organisation and IAF member La Scam found filmmakers are also facing a similar situation. It found many filmmakers did not receive compensation that corresponded to the hours they spent making their film.

Further findings from the ALCS research will be published later in 2018, but key findings can be found here. In the UK Parliament, the All Party Writers Group (APWG) has launched a call for evidence; encouraging all types of writers to provide written evidence on the professional challenges specific to authors, as well as the position of writers in the creative industry. The APWG will present the findings from its inquiry later this year.