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ASA: More than half of full-time writers earn below $15k per year

A survey of writers by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has found that author earnings are ‘disastrously low’.

The survey found that 53.6% of respondents who said they were full-time writers earn on average less than $15,000 per year from their creative practice, with 23.2% of them earning on average between $0 and $1,999 per year.

The ASA said the ‘dire situation of author earnings has only been exacerbated by the outbreak of Covid-19’, with more than 31% of respondents reporting their income has decreased as a result of the pandemic.

More than half (53.9%) of respondents ‘reported their events income had decreased, and almost 33% indicated they were not able to mitigate their losses by performing events online. Some respondents recorded a loss of $20,000 in appearance fees, and some authors reported earning nothing from their online appearances.’

This year the ASA opened its author survey to members and non-members, having surveyed only ASA members in previous years. The 2020 survey received 1414 responses, compared to 712 responses in 2019.

The ASA reported that, overall, 79.5% of respondents to its 2020 survey earn less than $15,000 per year from their creative practice, compared to 71.45% of respondents to the 2019 survey. The 2020 survey found only 14.8% earn more than $25,000 per annum, compared to 14.58% in 2019.

Responses to the ASA’s member survey in 2019 found that the percentage of its membership receiving low advances increased dramatically since 2017, with 28% of respondents reporting they had received an advance below $2000 in 2017 and 70% of members reporting an advance below $2000 in 2019.

In 2020, the percentage of respondents who received advances below $2000 was 65%, while more than half of respondents (52.3%) reported receiving no advances for their publications, and 75.8% reported receiving advances under $5000.

The ASA cited its survey findings in a submission to the Federal Inquiry into the Creative and Cultural Industries, recommending an overhaul in the way the Australian Government invests and supports Australian writers. The ASA’s recommendations include ‘a three-tier Boost Package for literature funding’, an expansion of the PLR/ELR payment schemes to include digital formats, the introduction of author-centric provisions in the Copyright Act, an increase in the funding available for strategic investment, reinstatement of the book industry in analysis conducted by the Australia Bureau of Statistics, and the removal of tax on literary prizes.

For more information see the ASA website.


Category: Local news