• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
France's famed writers now earn less than minimum wage
More than 100,000 writers took part in the survey. Photo: Bertrand Guay/ AFP

France's famed writers now earn less than minimum wage

AFP · 21 Mar 2016, 15:36

Published: 21 Mar 2016 15:36 GMT+01:00

French writers have never felt more badly paid, undervalued or under pressure, with a new survey showing more than half of established authors earn less than the minimum wage.

Many are so depressed by the state of the book industry that they are considering giving up altogether, according to a new report.

"Authors have a high social status but almost empty bank accounts," said Marie Sellier, president of the SDGL, one of the five writers' and publishing groups behind the vast study.

Like their counterparts in the US and the UK, French writers have seen their incomes plummet since the 1990s, the report found.

More than a third of even the highest-earning authors had to have another job to make ends meet, mostly as teachers, it said.

Established writers with years of relative success behind them struggled to make a living, with their median annual earnings of €17,600 ($19,800), less than three-quarters of national average.

The most staggering statistic of all in the report, which was backed by the ministry of culture, is that six out of 10 published writers make less than €1,500 a year ($1,700).

Grim reading

Despite French publishing growing for the first time for five years, authors remained deeply downbeat about their prospects.

The survey of more than 100,000 fiction and non-fiction writers as well as poets, illustrators and translators found they were they "generally worried, disenchanted and discouraged.

"Many were asking themselves whether they should diversify into other work or stop altogether," it concluded.

Although exact comparisons are difficult to make, French writers appear to be still doing better than their British or American equivalents.

Established British authors tend not to make even half the industrial wage, with latest data showing them averaging 11,000 pounds (14,000 euros) a year.

Nor has the boom in self-publishing and e-books made much difference to writers' often miserable earnings, according to the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society.

Story continues below…

An online US survey last year by Digital Book World made even grimmer reading, finding a third of published authors earned less than $500 a year from their writing.

Philip Pullman, president of the British Society of Authors, placed much of the blame at the feet of Internet giant Amazon and publishers when the last round of British statistics were published last year.

"While Amazon makes earnings of indescribable magnitude by selling our books for a fraction of their value, and then pays as little tax as it possibly can, the authors whose work subsidises this gargantuan barbarity are facing threats from several directions," said the author of the acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy.

"In the past ten years, while publishers' earnings have remained steady, the incomes of those on whom they entirely depend have diminished, on average, by 29 percent."

Today's headlines
13 injured in Welsh bus accident in France
The bus ended on its side in a ditch. Two helicopters were dispatched to the site. Photo: AFP

Thirteen people were injured, three of them seriously, when a bus carrying teenagers from Wales tipped over on a motorway in eastern France on Saturday, the local gendarmerie said.

Libya armed groups urge fight against French troops
Dozens of protesters rallied Friday outside the GNA’s former headquarters in a Tripoli navy base. Photo: AFP

Armed groups including Islamists have urged Libyans to mobilise against French and other foreign troops deployed in the country, denouncing their presence as a “blatant aggression”.

EgyptAir flight broke up midair after fire: report
The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean. Photo: AFP

An EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean in May likely broke up in midair after a fire erupted in or near the cockpit, the New York Times has reported.

IMF boss Lagarde to stand trial over $400 million payout
Lagarde will be the third successive IMF chief to face trial. Photo: AFP

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was ordered Friday to stand trial in France over a massive state payout to a colourful tycoon when she was French economy minister, dealing a setback to her stellar career.

Hollande defends minister under fire over Nice attack
The Nice assault was the third major attack on French soil in the past 18 months. Photo: AFP

French President Francois Hollande on Friday defended his government from accusations it relaxed its anti-terror defences after the Euro championships, and announced plans to arm the fight against the Islamic State group which claimed the Nice attack.

Why was Nice ordered to delete CCTV images of attack?
Photo: AFP

The fact that city authorities in Nice were asked to delete images of the truck attack has only given weight to those criticizing the government.

Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Photo: Runs With Scissors/Flickr

Struggling to learn French? Here are some free and easy ways to help you conquer the language once and for all.

32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
Photo: Tatyana A./Flickr

How many of these have you committed?

France to supply Iraq artillery as it steps up fight against Isis
Photo: AFP

France is stepping up its battle against Isis in the Middle East.

How to show solidarity with France? Don’t cancel your trip
Photo: AFP

The best way to show fraternity with France after the latest terror attack is not on Facebook or Twitter, but by coming to visit.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Very Stupid' village in France honoured for its silly name
Travel
Ten crazy things to do in France if you dare
Society
Paris: an obstacle course for wheelchair users
Brits ignore Brexit fears to make dream move to France
2,763
jobs available