UK author, illustrator earnings dip in 2020

At least 63% of authors and illustrators in the UK saw a fall in their income in 2020 compared to 2019, according to a survey by the Bookseller.

The drop in income included reduced author advances and loss of earnings from live events. Overall, 39% of authors reported that their income had decreased a lot, and 22% reported that it had decreased a little.

A third of authors reported increased income, including 19% who reported it had increased a lot. This is attributed in part to the pandemic’s digital shift boosting these authors’ earnings and raising their profile, ‘while well-established authors are said to still be receiving competitive advances’, said the Bookseller.

The UK’s Society of Authors (SoA) said that 250 members have applied to its hardship fund so far this year, on top of 1200 applicants last year. SoA CEO Nicola Solomon called on publishers to ‘look at their models and ensure that money and resources go to a wider range of authors—and particularly into supporting midlist and backlist instead of paying huge advances, which often do not earn out, for celebrity works’.

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