The All Party Parliamentary Group for Writers launches an inquiry on authors’ earnings

14 June 2018

The All Party Parliamentary Writers Group (APWG), who keep MPs and Lords from all sides of the political spectrum informed on issues pertinent to writers, has now launched an inquiry into authors’ earnings and seeks to identify what environment writers need to enable them to flourish in the future.

As you know, writers contribute to the richness of our diverse culture and to the success of our creative industries. To preserve this contribution, it is important to make sure writers are able to make a living through their work.

Who should participate?

The Group would like to hear from all types of writers and ALCS would like to encourage as many of our members as possible to provide written evidence to the inquiry. The group are also seeking evidence from organisations involved in the writing industry including unions, agents and publishers.

Why is it necessary?

Our two previous authors’ earnings reports, from 2005 and 2013, showed a steep decline in both authors’ earnings and the number of authors who make a living from their writing. In the 2005 report carried out by the University of Bournemouth, the number of professional writers (those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing) who earned their living solely from writing was 40%; by 2013 in a report carried out by Queen Mary, University of London, this figure had fallen dramatically to 11.5%.

Both reports also identified a downward trend regarding authors’ earnings. In 2005, the typical (median) income of a professional author was £12,220 but by 2013 this had fallen to £11,000.

The results of a more recent ALCS commissioned survey are due to be released during the course of this inquiry and will be provided as evidence.

In contrast to the sharp decline in earnings of professional authors, the publishing industry appears to have increased its profits. Society of Authors’ president Philip Pullman recently stated in the Bookseller: “To allow corporate profits to be so high at a time authors’ earnings are markedly falling is, apart from anything else, shockingly bad husbandry. It’s perfectly possible to make a good profit and pay a fair return to all of those on whose work, after all, everything else depends. But that’s not happening at the moment”.

Aims of the Inquiry

The Group seeks to:

  • further develop our understanding of how authors’ earnings have changed over time.
  • create an understanding of the market pressures and relationship that affect authors’ earnings especially in today’s digital and global economy.
  • understand the impact of the current legislative landscape on writers.
  • review the opportunities to improve the position of authors through legislation and regulation.

Evidence gathering

The Group invites written evidence on the following:

  • Professional challenges specific to authors such as regularity of earnings, varied sources of income, how these have changed and their impact on both the day-to-day livelihood and career of authors.
  • The position of writers within the creative industries, the market pressures on them and how they have been affected by the development of creative industries in the UK.
  • The impact of Brexit on writers and copyright, how past and developing EU law and regulations have affected authors’ earnings and how this might change.

Your input

Each submission should:

  • be no more than 3,000 words in length.
  • be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.
  • have numbered paragraphs.

Written evidence should be submitted to luke.alcott@alcs.co.uk with the title “APWG Earnings Inquiry”

The deadline for written evidence is 5pm on Thursday 2 August 2018.

The outcome of the inquiry will be presented at the APWG Winter Reception on 4 December 2018.

For more details about the Call for Evidence, visit www.allpartywritersgroup.co.uk