Book publishing companies are passing these losses along to writers in the form of lower royalties and advances, and authors also lose out on income from books resold on the platform.
In some ways, these changes are in line with a general shift toward a gig economy or “hustling,” in which people juggle an assortment of jobs to make up for the lack of a stable income.
According to the survey results, the median pay for full-time writers was $20,300 in 2017, and that number decreased to $6,080 when part-time writers were considered.
The latter figure reflects a 42 percent drop since 2009, when the median was $10,500.
Strictly book-related income — which is to say royalties and advances — are also down, almost 30 percent for full-time writers since 2009.
Writing for magazines and newspapers was once a solid source of additional income for professional writers, but the decline in freelance journalism and pay has meant less opportunity for authors to write for pay.
When a publisher is interested in acquiring a book manuscript, it usually offers the writer an advance against royalties, or advance for short.
These payments come in all shapes and sizes, from 0 to millions of dollars, but the basic structure of an advance is the same industry wide.
If your book retails at per copy, you would need to sell at least 4,000 copies to break even on a ,000 advance.
Mack Collier, author of Think Like a Rock Star, estimates that he earned .63/hour for writing his book, working 25 hours per week over a period of 9 months.