Largest survey of U.S. professional writers ever conducted, generating data from 5,067 published book authors from The Authors Guild and 14 other writers organizations.
Literary writers experienced the biggest decline (down 27% in four years) in amount they earned from book-related income, followed by
general nonfiction (down 8%), raising serious concerns about the future of our literary heritage.
Participating organizations: The Authors Guild and the 14 other writers organizations listed below participated, as well as several independent publishing platforms:
Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Textbook and Academic Authors Association, National Association of Science Writers, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association for Garden Communicators, Independent Book Publishers Association, PEN American Center, Authors Alliance, Next Big Writer, B&N Press, Authors Registry, Ingram Spark, Reedsy, and Lulu.
Survey dates: The survey was fielded from June 7 to August 21, 2018 to give all participating groups a chance to get it to their members.
Incentive: Participants had the option of entering a drawing for 100 $50 Visa gift cards.
Completion rate: Of those who started the survey, 55% completed it out of 9,288 starting participants, far lower than the 74% who completed the 2015 Authors Guild member survey—due to concerns about hacking, the ISBN stratification question, and increased privacy concerns in today’s digital environment.
Survey respondents demographics: Of authors who responded,
• 53% consider authoring books their primary occupation, spending half or more of their work time writing.
• 56% write fiction.
– 18% write literary fiction.
– 38% write genre fiction.
• 22% are academic, scholarly, or textbook authors.
• 18% write general nonfiction.
• 9% publish books to advance their work or personal brand (thought-leadership).
46% traditionally published; 27% self-publish only; and 26% do both—meaning that slightly more than half of the respondents have done some self-publishing.