Newsflash: Authors Are Poor!

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Or as The Guardian puts it: “Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels.”

When I started writing in 2000, I was warned there’s little to no money in the craft. When I stopped lecturing at my university of seven years in 2004 to pursue writing as a full-time gig, many around me thought I had consumed significant amounts of turpentine before reaching this decision. Why, after all, would you give up a decent job at a respectable university to do something that will most likely mean financial ruin? Don’t think I haven’t thought about that question a few bazillion times over the last decade.

According to the U.K.’s Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Society (ALCS), median annual earnings for professional writers have fallen to £11,000 (about CDN $20,000), a drop of 29% since 2005. I can’t even write down what my royalties were last year for fear of breaking down into an apoplectic shitstorm of tears.

As one writer who’s published five books through HarperCollins said, “Being a writer can’t be treated like it’s a job. It maybe was once, but no writer can treat it as such nowadays. There’s no ground beneath your feet in terms of income, and you can’t rely on money to come when you need it.”

They say you need another job to pay the bills if you’re going to be a writer. However, as I am learning, some of us actually need two jobs on top of the writing to make ends meet and live above the poverty line. The moral of the story here is very clear: unless you’re Count Wilhelm von Moneybags IV, keep your day job for the rest of your life if you want to become a writer. Otherwise, you risk having to give up everything material in your life. And if you think that’s even mildly romantic a la 1920s Parisian cafes, hanging with Hemingway and Stein on your way to becoming a starving artist, I’ve got news  for you – it ain’t no fun.

Read the full article in The Guardian here.

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