Kretschmer, Gavaldon, Miettinen and Singh (2019)
|Kretschmer, Gavaldon, Miettinen and Singh (2019)|
|Title:||UK Authors’ Earnings and Contracts 2018: a Survey of 50,000 Writers|
|Author(s):||Kretschmer, M., Gavaldon, A.A., Miettinen, J., Singh, S.|
|Citation:||Kretschmer, M., Gavaldon, A.A., Miettinen, J. And Singh, S. (2019) UK Authors’ Earnings and Contracts 2018: a Survey of 50,000 Writers. Available: https://www.create.ac.uk/blog/2019/05/02/uk-authors-earnings-and-contracts-2018-a-survey-of-50000-writers/ (last accessed 23 May 2019)|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||Pavis, Tulti and Pye (2019)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data were obtained via a survey of writers belonging to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Agency and Society of Authors. The survey sought to determine information regarding writers’ earnings and contractual issues. In total, the survey returned 2,696 complete responses.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“Authors’ Earnings and Contracts 2018 is a comprehensive survey of the working conditions of writers in the UK.
The survey was funded by ALCS, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, and conduct- ed to independent social science standards by a team led by Prof. Martin Kretschmer at the CREATe Centre, University of Glasgow. The survey is a re-run of a survey first conducted in 2006 (also led by Kretschmer), and repeated in 2014 (by Gibson, Johnson & Dimita out of Queen Mary, University of London). This series of surveys captures robustly the effects of digital changes on the labour market and working conditions of a specific professional sector.”
Main Results of the Study
The writing profession remains “winner-takes-all”, with the top 10% of authors earn approximately 70% of total earnings of the profession. As with previous surveys (detailed in Key Related Studies), the average earnings of authors has continued to drop, with average earnings of £16,096 (dropping 49% over 12 years when accounting for inflation). Professional writers median earnings (more representative of an average given skewed, top-heavy earnings) have decreased 42%, from £18,013 in 2006 to £10,497. As such, household ‘subsidies’ remain essential for professional authors to earn a liveable wage, corresponding with a decrease in the number of writers who commit themselves to this as a full time profession (declining 12% since 2012). The gender pay gap remains evident, with professional female authors earning 74.5% of a male authors earnings.
Earning power is associated with contractual and copyright awareness, with authors who take professional advice more likely to have higher earnings. Similarly, more experienced and successful authors are more likely to bargain, and use the reversion clause (potentially related to the ability to obtain and finance professional advice).Declines in the amount of advances offered to authors (reduced by 13% since 2006) may also account for the decline in authors wages overall.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The report does not make any explicit policy recommendations, instead cautioning that writing increasingly resembles an elitist profession. This may lead to a lack of diversity in the writing profession; most authors of the survey identified as being white and based in the South East, of which certain privileges afford the necessary household subsidy (noting that authors from less privileged backgrounds may have fewer additional sources of household income).