Making Millions

It’s something we like to ask of BBC Directors and famous authors: Ooh, how much money do they make? There is a wealth of evidence that writing will not buy you the golden rocket car you deserve, but still the myth persists that published writers are wealthy people.

Ooh, are they? This article over at Guardian Unlimited, entitled ‘Harry Potter and the stony broke authors’, provides a nice antidote to the perception that children’s authors – buoyed by the examples of J. K. Rowling, Mark Haddon, et al. – are diving, each night, into their swimmingful pools of gold bullion.

In case you’re too busy to read the article, here is the nub of the matter. Of UK children’s authors:

7%, all women, earned nothing last year

22% earned £1-£5,000

15% earned £5,000-£10,000

12% earned £10,000-£15,000

12% earned £15,000-£20,000

14% earned £20,000-£30,000

17% earned over £30,000

The top earner made £185,000.

And think about this: A third of these authors earn less than the national minimum wage of £8,827 a year.

I’m not going to talk about my own earnings (let’s just say that I’ve so far earned far less than 1p per hour) because I didn’t publish my book with any expectation of financial return, but I thought I’d draw your attention to the gap between the myth and the reality.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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