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Report Shows Retired UK Authors Are Earning Less Than the Minimum Wage

When I wrote about a recent survey of Canadian author income last week, I pointed out that this type of report is almost always flawed in that the survey group consists mainly of old and retired writers, and that criticism applies equally well to the UK’s ALCS, and the report it released back in June.

I didn’t have the time or energy to go over this report at the time, but last week’s post inspired me to go download and read it.

This report shares the common flaw that senior citizens are over-represented (and adults under 40 are under-represented). 44% of the UK’s adult population is under the age of 45 (Wikipedia), and yet that age cohort only made up 19% of the survey group, while 33% of the survey group consisted of those over the age of 65 (compared to 22% f the population), thus making this report more a picture of how much authors are earning in retirement than an analysis of the incomes of working authors.

Another problem with this survey is that it mushes together writer incomes from any number of industries. I can’t actually tell you how many industries because the report is very selective in the details shared. (In fact, most  of the demographic data has been withheld. I for one would love to see a breakdown of income based on reported age, but that information is not available.)

The reason  I would like to know an author’s chosen industry is that we live in a time where authors are making more than ever by striking out on their own. Is that reflected in the income data, as flawed as it is? Did this survey even include indie authors?

We’ll never know.

image by via Flickr

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Anna Castle November 30, 2018 um 4:41 pm

When you point out the age bias in these surveys, the reported results become the opposite of alarming. The headlines could be, "Retired people are finding creative fulfillment and even small profits writing books!" I’m a full-time working author who actually lives on retirement funds, so I’m very content for my books to just pay for all the fun I’m having, including conferences and research travel. A tidy profit after marketing is icing on the cake. And learning marketing and writing the books keeps my little grey cells fresh and flowing.

Becoming an indie author is a super-duper, fantastic retirement career, especially, one would think, in countries like the UK and Canada where seniors are more likely to have a comfortable level of support. So these reports are really failing on the gloom-and-doom front, even while the authors avert their eyes from all the thriving young authors.

Nate Hoffelder December 1, 2018 um 1:16 am

This is true, but I doubt very many indie authors are being included in the survey group. They are probably too busy with living, and may mot have even noticed that the survey was being run.

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