Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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ASA survey 2021: Author earnings ‘unsustainable’

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) 2021 survey, which received over 800 responses from members, has found author earnings are continuing to decline.

The 2020 survey, which was open to both members and non-members, found that author earnings were ‘disastrously low’. The 2021 survey shows that author income has continued to trend downward, with over half (58%) of respondents earning between $0 and $1999 from their creative practice, an ‘alarming’ increase from 49.7% the previous year.

Overall, 81% of respondents earned less than $15,000 in the last financial year, on par with last year’s survey results. For full-time writers/illustrators, 58% reported earning less than $15,000 in the last financial year from their creative practice, with 25% earning between $0 and $1999.

The ASA reported that, when asked about advances, 58% of respondents indicated they received no advance for their publication, compared to 52% in 2020. Of those who did receive an advance, only 13% received an advance of over $10,000, a slight decrease from 14.6% in the previous year.

Although incomes were low, the 2021 survey found most authors have not applied, or did not intend to apply, for funding from Australia Council (57%), Copyright Agency (58%), nor state government arts bodies (52%). However, the ASA reported more respondents were applying to state government funding bodies (9.66%) than either the Copyright Agency (7.49%) or Australia Council (6.35%), which reflected the ‘broad sense of pessimism’ of funding for literature. During the 2020–2021 funding period, literature received just 6% ($4.7 million) of Australia Council grants and initiatives.

The ASA called the decrease in author earnings and sparse funding ‘unsustainable’, and is pushing for a national plan for literature and increased funding from the Australia Council. The peak national association is also advocating for an expansion of the PLR/ELR schemes to include digital formats as well as an increase to the lending rights budget.

For more information, see the ASA website.


Category: Local news