The ALCS (Authors' Licensing & Collection Society) has just released its latest findings reported here on author earnings, and it comes as no surprise that the figure has dropped to £11,000, described as: 'more than £5,000 below the income level considered to be a socially acceptable standard of living'.
Ouch. It also says that 'it is not surprising that the number of full-time writers... is declining sharply.'
The Society of Authors comments that while earnings are going down, publishers' profits are going up (their concern being that authors are getting a smaller share than they used to), and that the 25% royalty commonly paid for ebooks 'doesn't adequately reward authors and gives publishers a disproportionate share.'
That's probably true. But the share on paper books is even less.
They also mention the Amazon effect, and suggest they are pushing the producers out of business by offering high discounts. (The producers being authors, I presume).
Well, what about another, much more blindingly obvious reason - to me, anyway - why authors can't always earn to their full potential?
That is, if the books don't appear on the shelves, the readers can't buy them.
(Which is why most authors, including self-published ones, will argue that any shop window is better than none at all).
Of course, the publishers have a simple response: 'Your sales aren't up to the required level.' As if they themselves somehow weren't part of the equation.
End result: your contract doesn't get renewed.
It's a simple enough marketing philosophy and comes down to supply. If you don't have your products on the barrow, customers will go elsewhere. And these days, customers have lots to choose from.
And a percentage of nothing is still nothing.