Author earnings low despite strong book sales

A survey from the Australian Society of Authors reveals that authors' incomes are dangerously low.

In November 2021, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) conducted its Annual Member Survey. There were a record 831 responses from its members who answered questions about advances for their most recent publications. They found that in 2020, 52% of respondents received no advance. In 2021, that number grew to 58%. Only 13% of respondents reported receiving an advance over $10,000; a small decrease from 14.6% in 2020.

Lower advances indicate that authors are more likely to have earned out their advances, meaning their royalties from book sales are matching or surpassing the amount paid to them by publishers in advance. 60% of respondents indicated that they had earned out their advance in 2021, an increase of almost 7% from 2020.

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Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She's the outgoing books editor of The Big issue. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press. Her next collection, Decadence, will be published in July 2022. Twitter: @thuy_on