The Australian book industry is one of the most important among our cultural industries, both in the contribution it makes to the economy and its role in Australia’s cultural life.
The 2022 National Survey of Australian Book Authors investigates the practice of Australian authors in the contemporary book industry, examining work patterns and incomes, approaches to publishing and promotion, as well as the impacts of COVID-19.
This research was carried out by Paul Crosby, David Throsby and Jan Zwar from Macquarie University, supported by funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.
The research aims to improve our understanding of the circumstances of book authors in Australia today, and to support efforts to foster the growth of a sustainable and productive book industry.
A central theme emerging from the research is the persistence and resilience of Australian authors, who have faced profound changes in all aspects of working life in recent years.
- The average annual income from practising as an author is $18,200.
- While this is a slight increase from 2015 (after allowing for inflation), it is still an extremely low income, particularly given that, as a group, authors have a markedly higher level of formal education than the population as a whole.
- With the need to generate income from other sources, writers typically spend only around half their working time producing original work. This represents a huge amount of untapped potential.
- While the most common form of publishing is with a traditional publisher, self-publishing is increasingly prominent. At least one-third of authors have self-published a book during their career, and one-fifth of authors in the past year. Self-publishing is most popular among genre fiction authors, with almost two-fifths of genre fiction authors having used this model.
- More than a quarter of authors have had their copyright infringed in Australia or overseas and a further 25% are unsure if this has occurred.