Recent Studies Show Writers’ Incomes Have Dropped Dramatically

According to a recent New York Times article, survey results show that full-time writers made $20,300 in 2017 and part-time writers made $6,080, a drop from previous years.


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Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, is quotes in the article as saying that “in the 20th century, a good literary writer could earn a middle-class living just writing.” She goes on to state that just because most people write in their daily lives, does not mean that professional writing is not a skill. “What a professional writer can convey in written word is far superior to what the rest of us can do. As a society we need that, because it’s a way to crystallize ideas, make us see things in a new way and create understanding of who we are as a people, where we are today and where we’re going.


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The survey shows that, since 2009, the figure for part-time writers has seen a 42% drop from when the income was $10,500. In 2018, across all genres, self-published authors and traditionally published writers produced 5,000 books within the year.


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Freelance journalism, print publications, newspapers, and magazines are a reliable source of income for writers, but the decline of freelance journalism creates challenges for writers, thus creating less opportunities. Manjula Martin, author of Scratch; Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, notes:


The people who are able to practice the trade of authoring are people who have other sources of income.


The earnings for full-time writers are down 30% since 2009. Times are hard, but as writers, we like to believe that anything is possible.



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