The New Statesman reports that it's getting harder than ever to make a living as a novelist in Great Britain:
In today’s market, selling 3,000 copies of your novel is not unrespectable – but factor in the average hardback price of £10.12 and the retailer’s 50 per cent cut, and just £15,000 remains to share between publisher, agent and author. No wonder that the percentage of authors earning a full-time living solely from writing dropped from 40 per cent in 2005 to 11.5 per cent in 2013.
Barring the few true literary superstars, writers have always needed a side hustle just to get by. But an abundance of publishing options has left most writers with a smaller share of the pie, and money doesn't go as far anymore.
The truth is, this is less of a publishing story and more of an economic inequality story. A true and just society would allow more citizens to follow their dreams — and not just if their dreams involve making some shitty app that sells advertising on the back of a huge user base. Until we fix these problems, it's not going to get any easier to make a living through following your dreams.
Coincidentally, we're talking about economic inequality in next month's Reading Through It Book Club at Third Place Books Seward Park. We'll be discussing Robert Reich's cartoon guidebook to economics, Economics in Wonderland, which is published by Seattle's own Fantagraphics Books. If you want to get a basic understanding of the forces that are making everything shittier for everyone, you should RSVP on Facebook and then drop by.