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December 13, 2023

2023 Survey results: author earnings remain perilously low

Last month the ASA conducted our Annual Member Survey to gain insights into our member’s needs, to deliver better services, and to track important industry trends. Our warm thanks to all the members who gave their time to complete the survey – your responses are invaluable.

This year’s survey findings are very similar to previous years: authors and illustrators are still reporting perilously low earnings.


32% of authors received no advance, and almost 70% reported an advance of under $5,000. Even with low advances, only 59% of authors reported earning out their advance.

Income and sales

We asked respondents to reflect on their annual income from their creative practice in the last financial year, including advances, royalties, events/workshop income, Copyright Agency payments, PLR & ELR, and prizes.

Of the respondents, 52% earned between $0 and $1,999 from their creative practice in the last financial year. An overwhelming majority (80%) earned less than $15,000, which is on par with results from previous years.

These results are even more alarming when we look only at respondents who are full-time authors: 55% reported earning less than $15,000 in the last financial year, with 23% of the total full-time author respondents reporting earnings between $0 and $1,999. 

There was, however, a trend towards authors being paid a rising royalty in their publishing agreements: 40% of respondents indicated their agreements included rising royalties, which represents a 4% increase from last year. 

We’ve been watching the audiobook boom with interest so, this year, we introduced a question about audiobook sales: in the last financial year, what percentage of your overall royalty income was attributable to audiobook sales? The majority of respondents (68%) did not earn any audiobook royalties in the last financial year and only 1.92% indicated over 25% of their royalty income was attributable to audiobook sales. These authors reported predominantly working in genre fiction and non-fiction.

Finally, most respondents do not have an agent: only 15.42% do. Of that number, 74% have an agent based in Australia, 15% have an agent based overseas, and 11% have agents in both Australia and overseas.


We asked our members about their funding applications over the last twelve months. Again, the results are on par with previous years and continue to reflect a pessimistic view of funding for literature, which is seen to be competitive and sparse.

Most respondents indicated they have not applied and do not intend to apply for funding from funding bodies: Creative Australia (58%), Copyright Agency (57%), State Government  funding bodies (62%). Of the respondents who have applied to funding bodies, 35% indicated they were successful with Copyright Agency, 33% successfully applied to State Government funding bodies, and 21% successfully applied to Creative Australia.

Our thanks again for your participation in the survey. The information you provide to us helps us advocate for you. 

Earlier this year we were buoyed by the announcement of the National Cultural Policy, Revive, and in particular the establishment of a new body for literature, Writers Australia. We particularly noted the Government’s special recognition of individual creators in Revive, and will continue to ask that the spotlight on the financial challenges faced by individual writers be maintained.

You can help us keep up to date on author earnings throughout the year by contributing to our rates trackers. There are three trackers: one for publishing agreement rates, appearances rates and journalism rates. Your input will help us to monitor rates of pay in the industry and to advocate for better rates of pay for all writers and illustrators.