Poor, Poor Writers…



I came across this interesting and revealing article from my publisher’s website, Arrow Gate Publishing, and I know I just have to post this. Read on, and when you see a book, or any creative work for that matter, do know that a lot goes into the final work.


                                                                    Writers And The Unpredictability Of Their Profession!

A new article by Alison Flood of theguardian.com has created divided opinions. She painted a very gloomy picture of the pittance authors make from their trade and she reveals that, ‘figures show the vast majority of authors, both traditionally and self-published, are struggling to make a living from their work.’

Astonishingly, she is right, and as a publisher dedicated to getting the right book out to readers, our roles seems interwoven. Are we taking a gamble in this unpredictable business? Or just doing it because we love the written word? The answer is simple, we love writers and their stories. It is a noble but lonely profession, where writers could hole up in a room for several months trying to put the thoughts in their heads to life.

The words of this article are not necessarily our opinion, however, it is a compelling read at the same time. Please enjoy!


The publishing industry has never been so sharply divided. In the week when the erotica writer Sylvia Day signed a staggering eight-figure two-book deal with St Martin’s Press, a survey reveals that 54% of traditionally-published authors and almost 80% of go-it-alone writers are making less than $1,000 (£600) a year.

More than 9,000 writers, from aspiring authors to seasoned pros, took part in the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey, presented at this week’s Digital Book World conference. The survey divided the 9,210 respondents into four camps: aspiring, self-published only, traditionally-published only, and hybrid (both self-published and traditionally-published). More than 65% of those who filled out the survey described themselves as aspiring authors, with 18% self-published, 8% traditionally-published and 6% saying they were pursuing hybrid careers.

Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 or less a year, according to the survey, with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors, and 43.6% of hybrid authors, reporting their earnings are below the same threshold. A tiny proportion – 0.7% of self-published writers, 1.3% of traditionally published, and 5.7% of hybrid writers – reported making more than $100,000 a year from their writing. The profile of the typical author in the sample was “a commercial fiction writer who might also write non-fiction and who had a project in the works that might soon be ready to publish”, according to the report.

Fortunately only a minority of respondents listed making money as “extremely important” – around 20% of self-published writers, and about a quarter of traditionally-published authors. But authors’ top priority was not divorced from commercial concerns, with around 56% of self-pubbers, and almost 60% of traditional authors, judging it “extremely important” to “publish a book that people will buy”.

According to the report’s co-author and Digital Book World editorial director Jeremy Greenfield, the report confirms the finding that “authors of all stripes, but particularly self-published authors, don’t earn huge sums of money doing what they do”.

“Most authors write because they want to share something with the world or gain recognition of some sort,” Greenfield said. “There are, of course, outliers. The top 2% or so of authors make a good living and the most successful authors – including self-published authors – make a tremendous amount of money.”

“The question of money is a tricky one,” agreed Greenfield’s co-author, professor Dana Weinberg. “Publishing a book for sale is a matter of both art and commerce. I would argue that for most writers publishing is not only about money; it’s about a lot of other things including touching readers and sharing stories, but the money is important in a lot of ways.”

The dream of quitting the day job to pursue writing is only a reality for a tiny fraction of writers, she continued. “Writing good books is a big time commitment, as much for many writers in the survey as a part-time job, and income gives writers something to show their family and friends for all of their effort and hard work. Some writers are looking for validation, and in the world of self-publishing, where you don’t have the prestige of being chosen by a press, the money is a tangible and rewarding substitute. While writers aren’t motivated purely by money, the money does matter on many levels. The high royalty rates in self-publishing also give writers higher expectations about their potential income.”

So too, do success stories like that of Day, who originally self-published her erotic novel Bared to You, or the author Hugh Howey, who sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his dystopian novel Wool himself on Amazon before landing a publisher. But according to Howey, the survey casts self-publishing in too gloomy a light.

“This survey does not capture the fact that self-publishing is going through a renaissance,” Howey said. “It expects a group of authors with two or three years of experience and market maturity to line up against the top 1% of authors who have had several generations’ head start. Remember that not all books that go the traditional route are counted here, just the few who get published. Meanwhile, every self-published book is tallied.”

For Howey, self-publishing plays a vital role by allowing writers to “hone” their skills. “I would say the results of this survey cloud how nearly impossible it is to make a single cent through traditional publishing (because only the top 1% who ‘make it’ are tallied). The simple fact is this: getting paid for your writing is not easy. But self-publishing is making it easier. How much easier? We don’t have sufficient data to know. But a conservative estimate would be that five to 10 times as many people are paying bills with their craft today as there was just a few years ago. And that should be celebrated.”

NP: Well done if you managed to read this article, would love to know your thoughts! 🙂 Now, back light-hearted matters, Valentine is around the corner, but my husband says that everyday is supposed to be ‘lovers day,’ and I think he’s right! 🙂 I hope you would have a great time.

Have a pleasant weekend my friends. Much love, always!

🙂 🙂

34 comments on “Poor, Poor Writers…

  1. I won’t call the article brutal, but it wasn’t pretty. Writers deserve more, someone once said there are fewer readers and more writers than ever, maybe he’s right, maybe he’s not. All the same, a true writer just have to write, even combined with other profession, they can’t do otherwise.
    Have a nice weekend Seyi.

  2. Don says:

    I think it’s tragic that writers get so little for what is a profoundly deep commitment. But in the end I suppose it does boil down to one’s motivation behind writing. Why does a person write? Like certain other vocations, it’s certainly not for the money. Having said that, I still believe writers have a “write” 🙂 to expect more – money – that is. Enjoyed your post Seyi – thank you.

    • Seyi sandra says:

      Thanks so much Don. You’re right about the motivation behind writing – if it’s the money bit, I wouldn’t be doing it. Although I’ve been paid and I’m still being paid for my work, I would still do it with the money bit. Having said that, I won’t refuse a million pound deal! 🙂
      Have a great weekend!

  3. firstwds says:

    There was much truth to this article. It is good to know the conversation has not ended and is ongoing. I do believe that this is the day that our voices have their appointed time like the Socrates, Platos, Picassos, MLKs, Ghandis, Barbara Jordans, etc of their time. Thanks for sharing!

    • Seyi sandra says:

      Thanks for reading dear friend. You’ve said it well, the writing profession in this time and age is going through a unique period – and I’m glad to be part of it! Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Karin says:

    The article shows an interesting perspective, but I wasn’t encouraged by it to keep writing. Writing for me is not about the money, but at some point the time spent will hopefully have some sort of return. Thanks for the post. I agree with your husband–every day should be lovers day. 🙂

    • Seyi sandra says:

      Thanks for your visit and comment Karin. When I read it, I wasn’t happy too but the writer was right in so many aspects, and it shouldn’t affect us in any way. Regardless of her findings (which doesn’t apply to a lot of writers that I know) I’ll continue to enjoy what I do.
      Have a pleasant weekend!

  5. sknicholls says:

    “But a conservative estimate would be that five to 10 times as many people are paying bills with their craft today as there was just a few years ago.”

    Raking in mega millions is a dream for many but not a realistic goal for most, but the fact that many are paying some bills with their craft…that is a good start. We are just at the beginning of what we can accomplish with self publishing.

    • Seyi sandra says:

      I agree with your views, years ago, before the advent of self publishing and blogging, the world is boring – not anymore. Things have changed and I’ll be a writer until my dying day! Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!

  6. Like teachers, I think a writer’s work is a thankless one in terms of profits. The gratification is in seeing people reading and loving what you write.

    • Seyi sandra says:

      Exactly Celestine! Every writer cannot be JK Rawlins or Dan Brown. The fact that one is able to write and others read it is a huge plus. At least for me! Have a pleasant weekend!

  7. What a fascinating article! I shall write a commentary on it and link to your post on my own blog in the near future. I found much that was interesting and encouraging in despite the gloomy statistics!

  8. Sherri says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us Seyi. Very sobering indeed, I’m not sure what to think! Other than to press on regardless and keep writing…blessings to you from me… 🙂 x

  9. There’s lots to think about in this post, Seyi. I think the bottom line is to love writing so that you are getting joy in it — if not money. Joy is worth more in the long run.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Seyi sandra says:

      My point exactly. How many writers are millionaires anyway, it’s just that innate desire to write and share it with the world – I believe that’s the first thought on a writer’s mind. Thanks for stopping by Wendy.
      Much love. 🙂

  10. Great article! We are linking to this great post on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

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