I thought I’d write a blog post about this topic after a chat with a fellow Indie author, who wondered what percentage of published authors make more than minimum wage from their writing. He mentioned that the last time he had looked, it was about 0.0002% of published authors. I haven’t done any research to verify that stat or find the source, but it got me thinking about this topic in general, and so I decided to look up the data. The results make for rather depressing reading:

In 2022, median author earnings were only £7000. This information is according to the Society of Authors website. According to a more recent article in The Bookseller in April 2023, the median yearly salary for self-published authors stands at £10,229. Whilst the latter article is good news for Indie authors to know that they’re earning more than traditional on average, the figures still aren’t exactly a living wage.

I can’t think of anyone who could make a living from that kind of money, unless you had inherited a house to live in and therefore had no rent or mortgage to pay. Still, £7000-£10,000 in modern day UK would just about cover utility bills and food expenses leaving you not very much for leisure. Depressing, right?

There’s another even more grim statistic stating that most authors in fact earn less than £600 a year, which you can read on The Guardian. Bear in mind, however, that this article is from 2014. I can’t imagine there’s too much of a difference between that figure and the reality of most authors in 2023. Though I can verify its accuracy in my own case.

Yes, as a matter of curiosity I decided to go through my own records of the royalties I received in 2022 and the results for me are closer to the second figure from The Guardian. Here goes:

Royalties received (at 70% for eBooks and 60% for paperbacks) from Amazon KDP, Ingramspark, Waterstones and publisher royalties for my traditionally published books (at 50% of net costs for eBooks and 35% for paperbacks) and sales at author events = £809.38

Rather sobering, right? It is for me. No hope of reducing my day job hours to part-time, never mind quitting entirely to write full-time at any point in the foreseeable. Also, that figure doesn’t take into account the expenses I paid out for advertising, my website, ISBNs, etc. I’ll calculate those costs and do another blog post later on expenses paid versus royalties received.

If you are an aspiring Indie author, I hope that the statistics above didn’t put you off. I’m sure if you are writing in the first place, then you’re doing it for the love of writing, and consider money as secondary to that. I definitely am, for sure. Of course, I’d love nothing more than one of my books to become a commercial hit, or to be picked up for TV (one can dream), but the reality is that I’ll always be working a day job and writing on my lunch break, or into the wee small hours once my kid is in bed.

What do you think? If you’re happy to share your own earnings, or any other author stats that you know of, feel free to leave a comment below.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is an author and poet from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has written four novels, including award-winning ghost horror, The Blue Man, as well as three poetry collections. Her writing confronts the nature of self; her novels feature main characters on a dark psychological journey who have a crisis of identity and create a new sense of being. She began writing for publication while working as an English teacher in Japan, a career pathway that has influenced themes in her writing. Her former career as an Archaeologist has also inspired her writing and she has incorporated elements of archaeology and mythology into both her fiction and poetry. In addition to promoting her own work, Leilanie runs Bindweed Magazine, a creative writing literary journal with her writer husband, Joseph Robert. Aside from publishing pursuits, Leilanie enjoys spending time with her husband and their lively literary lad, a voracious reader of sea monster books. CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA: https://mailchi.mp/75c5a1ad6956/leilanie-stewart-author-info

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