• 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
It's official: France finally gets its new map
Photo: AFP

So, how well do you know the new map?

Sexism at the wheel: France wants more women drivers
Photo: State Farm/Flickr

Because the men are causing all the accidents.

VIDEOS: France's raunchiest TV commercials of all time
Photo: Gifi

Two sexually-charged adverts have got people hot under the collar in France, a little strange perhaps given the history of the French for making raunchy adverts. Take a look back through time at these famously steamy ads.

Why are foreign students in France 'Europe's unhappiest'?
Students at a university in Normandy. Photo: AFP

... for the fourth year in a row.

Education in France
The troubles with French universities laid bare
Students in Lyon. Photo: AFP

Classrooms overflowing, a serious lack of funding, and a flailing reputation abroad... what exactly is wrong with France's university system? The Local's Oliver Gee takes a closer look.

Studying in France
How to survive Paris on a student budget
Are you a student in Paris? Here's how to save some money. Photo: AFP

With students from all over the world descending on Paris for the start of a new term, we take a look at the best ways to save money while living in the French capital on a shoestring.

Where in France has the cleanest and dirtiest air?
Photo: AFP

No, Paris doesn't have the dirtiest.

Court could give 'depressed' French nation right to smile
Photo: Jens Bergander/Flickr

"Is it really responsible, in a depressed France, that the authorities forbid the French from smiling... (on their ID photos)"

Is Hollande's last budget target really credible?
Photo: AFP

The president says the budget is "serious" but many would disagree.

China turns to Brittany cows to feed its babies
Photo: AFP

Far east giant provides a boost for Brittany's beleaguered dairy farmers.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Education
The troubles with French universities laid bare
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
2,731
jobs available