The Australian Society of Authors has told a Federal Inquiry into the Creative and Cultural Industries that the sustainability of writing careers is under threat and has called for an overhaul in the way the Australian Government invests in and supports Australian writers.
Our submission to the Inquiry addresses the immense value of Australian literature but also underlines the significant challenges facing Australian authors.
Author earnings are disastrously low, with this year’s ASA survey results showing:
- 79.5% of respondents earn less than $15,000 per annum
- Only 14.8% of respondents earn more than $25,000 per annum
- Advances are low: 52.3% of respondents receive no advances for their publications, and 75.8% receive advances under $5,000
The few success stories of writers at the very top obscure the fact that for the vast majority of writers, income is precariously low and payments are irregular. While this year more Australians have been reading and sales of print books are up nearly 5% on last year, it is clear that revenue is not enjoyed across the board.
Government funding for literature has plummeted despite reading being the second-most popular way Australians engage with the arts. Indeed, literature receives the lowest level of Government funding of all the art forms. This is unsustainable.
In decades past, many of Australia’s most celebrated authors began their careers with government investment and in return have written stories that define our national identity and enrich our culture; created jobs for publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians; fuelled some of our most impressive stage and screen adaptations; generated export income; inspired a generation of thinkers, and brought joy, comfort and inspiration to countless readers.
Despite the significant challenges authors now face, Australian literature is widely popular, globally-recognised, and a successful cultural industry of which the nation should feel enormously proud.
But to drive the creative economy of the future and to ensure the sustainability of writing careers, it is time for the Australian Government to significantly boost investment in Australia’s writers.
Read the full submission here.