Canadian writers are making less money than ever — with incomes from writing dropping 78 per cent from 1998, according to a report released Monday by the Writers’ Union of Canada.
The numbers, accounting for inflation, have been undergoing a steady drop. According to the report, writers made $9,380 in 2017, down from $12,879 in 2014 — a 27 per cent drop in just three years.
The median income in Canada overall is $34,204 per cent, says the report.
Similar findings were released in the U.K. by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) in June, which found that earnings for writers in that region fell from 12,300 pounds in 2005 to 10,500 pounds in 2017.
The findings come from a survey the Writers’ Union undertook, asking its membership a variety of questions based on their income in 2017. Some 1,499 writers participated, according to the report. The gender makeup was 58 per cent women, 41 per cent men and 1 per cent with other gender identities. They are an educated bunch, with 88 per cent with an undergraduate degree and 53 per cent with a master’s or doctorate.
The writers overwhelmingly resided in Ontario (42 per cent) and British Columbia (25 per cent), with Alberta at 9 per cent, Quebec and Nova Scotia at 5 per cent, and the territories each at around 0.
How writers make their money was also measured. The bulk of writers’ incomes — 45 per cent — still comes from traditional royalties paid by their publishers. Corporate/government and freelance writing made up 32 per cent combined. The fourth largest source of revenue for writers is now self-publishing, measuring 8 per cent of the average income.
Another large portion is made up of Public Lending Right payments, public arts grants and Access Copyright payments which, pooled together, account for 19 per cent of income.
The Writers’ Union has been active in pushing for changes to copyright legislation and has been citing “vast amounts of uncompensated copying that occurs in educational settings” as a factor in the lower incomes. According to the report, respondents noted that their Access Copyright income has decreased, on average, 42 per cent in the last three years.
By DEBORAH DUNDAS – Books Editor | Toronto Star