Do authors make enough money?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a magazine article in which author Philip Pullman decried the amount of money paid to authors….

Most people recognize that — excluding a few bestselling writers — authors are generally poorly paid.

I had always believed this unhappy circumstance occurred because the margins in the publishing world were so thin. But I was wrong. According to British author Philip Pullman (pictured above), publishers are currently making substantial profits and yet reducing the cut they give to authors.

Here is what Pullman said:

To allow corporate profits to be so high at a time when author 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. I like every individual editor, designer, marketing and publicity person I deal with; but I don’t like what publishers, corporately, are doing to the ecology of the book world. It’s damaging, and it should change.

Pullman’s comments appeared in an article for the Bookseller magazine by Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon. Solomon described how publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House were reporting profit margins of around 16%, while authors were taking home only 3%, according to her calculations.