50% of ebook authors earn less than $500 per year

It seems everyone is an author nowadays, what with ebooks being seen as an easy way to get rich. But is writing the road to riches?

Not according to a May, 2012 article in the Guardian newspaper.

A survey of 1,007 self-published writers – one of the most comprehensive insights into the growing market to date (Dave Cornford and Steven Lewis carried out the survey) – found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000-plus in 2011, average earnings were just $10,000 a year. This amount, however, is significantly skewed by the top earners, with less than 10% of self-publishing authors earning about 75% of the reported revenue and half of writers earning less than $500.

Romance authors earned 170% more than their peers, while authors in other genres fared much worse: science-fiction writers earned 38% of the $10,000 average, fantasy writers 32%, and literary fiction authors just 20% of the $10,000 average.

“It shouldn’t have surprised me that 75% of the royalty pie is going to 10% of authors: that’s life in many industries. If I’m being honest, though, I’d hoped self-publishing might be a bit more democratic. Someone asked me if I thought this might deter authors from self-publishing, but actors don’t stop heading for Hollywood despite the odds against them, Lewis told the Guardian. There’s more to being a successful author than finding the ‘Save and publish’ button on Amazon, but there are a lot of authors who haven’t realized that yet. In that sense, the low earnings were not surprising.”

You may read the full article at the Guardian web site here.