Fewer than 1,000 fiction authors in North America are projected to make a livelihood from their work. This is about 0.5% of the population.
In fact, most authors don't make any money at all from their work. According to data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, only 4% of authors made $60,000 or more in 2014. The average salary for an author is probably closer to $30,000 or less.
Like many other creative fields, being an author requires a significant amount of risk and effort before you can expect to see any return on that investment. It's also difficult to break into this industry, so it's important to have something special or unique to offer readers.
The number of authors who can live solely off their work tends to be even smaller. Only about 150 people in the United States are estimated to make a full-time living from writing fiction alone.
Of course, not every author wants to make their entire living off their work. Some authors want to write more commercial books that will sell lots of copies but don't expect to earn very much money.
In 2019, approximately 45,800 writers and novelists worked in the United States, up marginally from the previous year but still much more than the total reported in 2011. The number of writers working in fiction is about equal to the number working in non-fiction.
The most common way for an author to get their name out there is by writing a book. But writing books isn't easy - it takes time, effort, and talent. So how do you find enough of the last to make it worth your while? The answer: publishing companies. There are two main types: publishers who look for new authors to publish and agents who search out deals for already published ones.
Now, not all authors need agents or publishers. However, without them, getting your work noticed can be difficult if you plan to write full time. Agents can help by searching out potential publishers or changing the label on your manuscript so it fits with what's currently popular. They can also put in requests on behalf of their clients. Publishers want to sign new authors who will sell lots of copies so they can increase their revenue stream. Thus, the competition is high for spots on journals' lists of upcoming authors and for slots on books' bestseller lists.
Publishing companies and agents both have their advantages and disadvantages.
From 2011 through 2020, the number of writers and authors in the United States will increase. Over 44.2 thousand writers and authors were employed in the United States in 2020, a tiny decline from the previous year but a big rise from the figure reported in 2011. When combined with self-published authors, the total number of writers in the country rises to 46.2 million people.
In 2016, an average of one writer was employed for each author who published one work. For example, if it is assumed that each of the 100 most popular authors wrote one book, this would mean that 1 million books were written by American authors that year. If it is assumed that each of the other 46.1 million employees didn't write even one book, this would mean that 110 million books were not written by Americans that year. The actual figure may be closer to 90 or 95 million since some authors have more than one book released in a year and others may write non-fiction.
The number of writers has been on the rise since 2001, when there were 42.9 million authors in the country. This means that there are now more writers than musicians or actors.
In 2017, it was estimated that the total income of American authors was $740 million, with an average salary of $75,000.
How many authors exist on the planet? Again, it's unclear because the numbers aren't compiled by a single entity. However, if we use the United States as a model and just consider middle-income nations, there would be around 650,000 in-house writers and slightly more than 1 million freelance writers worldwide. If we included low-income countries, the numbers would be even higher.
The number of words written in English every day is estimated to be about 50 billion. That means that each writer has an average of 4500 words to use in their life time. Of these, two thirds are used by only 10% of writers. The other third is shared among the other 90%.
The most common way for writers to make money is through advertising. This includes articles and essays published online as well as books with large ad sections. Other ways include teaching English, writing software manuals, and consulting or coaching others. There are also occasional jobs available as a ghostwriter or researcher.
So, how do you become a writer? It takes a lot of hard work and persistence. You need to find a subject you are interested in and feel compelled to write about. Then, you need to read a lot and practice your writing skills. Finally, you need to get out there and market yourself. Start small by publishing articles on websites that cover your topic, such as eHow or Wikipedia.