It conjures up a romantic image of gracefully caressing the keys of a vintage typewriter as authors bring their characters to life on the page as they chip away at their next best-seller.

However, new research shows a different story as a study has found that the future of writing as a main profession is under threat in the UK following a substantial drop in earnings in the past 16 years.
Earnings for self-employed writers who spend more than 50per cent of their working time writing have fallen from £17,608 (controlling for inflation) in 2006, to £7,000 in 2022, the study found.
In the same survey undertaken in 2006, 40% of authors earned all of their income from writing, compared to 19% in 2022.

The Herald: Author Theresa Talbot is also a talent florist and gardening expertAuthor Theresa Talbot is also a talent florist and gardening expert (Image: Newsquest)
The report said "there are serious questions over the future of writing as a profession" and that writing in itself "cannot sustain an income that is consistent with a minimum wage".
Researchers also found that diversity is an issue in the profession, with women, black and mixed-race authors, the very young and very old all earning less than their respective counterparts.
The study was carried out by CREATe (the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Research Centre based at the University of Glasgow's School of Law and Advanced Research Centre) and was commissioned by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) to conduct the independent research.
Amy Thomas, project investigator for the survey, said: "Our report has been fairly unique in its timing, taking place after both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, and now the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
"Although there has been a general decline in author earnings over the past two decades, our 2022 survey shows an accelerated decline that has no doubt been exacerbated by world events. This raises serious questions about the sustainability of the writing profession in the UK.
"Consistently, we find that earnings from writing are decreasing and creative labour becoming de-valued. Whilst many of our respondents talked about their love of creating, and passion for writing, relying on their altruism has been used to justify an increasingly unlivable wage.
"We also found that writing is far from an equal opportunity profession. There are substantial inequalities between those who are being adequately rewarded for their writing, and those who are not.
"This begs the question whether we are stifling our creative culture by disincentivising a broad and diverse group of writers from participating in this market."
Glasgow-based author Theresa Talbot, who has four books under her belt, including Keep Her Silent and The Lost Children, says it isn't easy to make a living from out of it, but says it is a fantastic profession to be part of.
Despite her success she explored other revenue paths and went back to one of her great loves, horticulture, and now runs her own business, Willow & Herb, and has had a long career in radio presenting and scriptwriting.
"It is an easy profession to break into, but a difficult one to make an income from," said Ms Talbot. "Yes there are some very successful authors with large publishing houses behind them, but it can be hard to get your book out there.
"It can take you a year to write a book and that could be a year without an income coming in. In Scotland we are lucky that through the Scottish Book Trust's Live Literature fund authors can supplement their income with appearances at festivals or events, but that is unique to Scotland."

The Herald: A new report reveals earnings from writing have droppedA new report reveals earnings from writing have dropped (Image: Newsquest)
Researchers found "extremely high levels of earnings inequality" in the profession, noting the top 10% of authors earn 47% of total individual earnings.
Many authors appear to rely on other members of their household who typically earn well, with a median household income of £50,000 per annum across all respondents.

Scots author Paula Johnston, who self-published her debut novel The Lies She Told, said: "Self publishing has the potential to make money to match a living wage, but not everyone reaches that. I had no option but to give up previous employment and go down the self-employed route due to my health, and was fortunate enough with The Lies She Told that it provided a wage for me that covered my cost of living. However, there was no guarantee, and almost three years on, and waiting for a new book to be released, I receive little to no wage at the moment. It’s unpredictable and stressful wondering if you’ll sell enough books to make a profit at all, never mind one that’s enough to live on. The price for following your dreams in this industry is that your finances lack stability and therefore security."
The survey was issued to 58,260 members of the ALCS in spring this year and received 2,759 responses, some of which did not answer all questions.
Researchers found the pandemic had a negative effect on the majority of authors, with men more frequently reporting a positive or neutral experience than women.
The report also noted that copyright continues to be little understood and under-utilised by authors - which can curtail an author's earning potential - while advances are becoming rarer, with almost half of all authors never having received any such payment.
Meanwhile, despite a growing trend in audio-visual streaming, this does not appear to be filtering through to authors, researchers found.
The findings were to be presented at the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group Winter Reception at the House of Commons.

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