British authors worse off than lowly paid Australian authors
11 December 2022
Australian authors are not alone when it comes to struggling to make a living from their writing. English-French author Joanne Harris, also chair of the management committee of the British Society of Authors, writing for The Guardian, says British authors have seen their earnings go backwards in the period from 2006 to 2022:
When the ALCS first ran its survey of author incomes in 2006 it found that the median self-employed income of a full-time author was £12,330. In 2022 — a year in which multiple publishers have posted record profits while freelancers in all professions are still reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and rising living costs — the median full-time income has fallen to £7,000. That’s a drop of more than 60% when accounting for inflation.
Unsurprisingly, there are British authors who are considering giving-up writing, and finding other ways to make a living.
But a quick look at those numbers. In 2006, £12,330 equated to about A$30,750. I used an exchange rate from December 2006, where one British pound equated to about two dollars and fifty cents in Australian currency. Today’s rate is closer to one dollar and eighty cents, according to xe.com.
At around the same time, December 2006, the minimum wage in Australia was not quite A$27,000 per annum. So an annual salary of A$30,750 wouldn’t have been too bad (well…), at least in Australian terms. But today £7,000 equates to a paltry A$12,633. That figure again: A$12,633. Then go and contrast that number with the present minimum Australian wage of about A$42,000.
Considering the lowest earning writers in Australia, being literary authors, make A$14,500 a year, describing the position the majority of British authors find themselves in, as dire, seems like an understatement to say the least.