According to a survey of author incomes published by Digital Book World, half of self-published authors earn below $999 (£650) a year.
Meanwhile, the average income for traditionally published authors, even taking into account the smaller percentage they get from book sales, was $3,000-$4,999 (£1,900-£3,200).
The survey also reports that hybrid authors (i.e. those who use both traditional and independent publishing methods) are the ones most likely to make the most money.
Writing about the survey, author and book industry researcher Dana Beth Weinberg says the emerging picture is one of the supply of books increasing whilst consumers’ reading habits and spending on books does not keep pace – so most authors (both traditionally and independently published will earn little income.
However, this she views as a reflection of the way that publishing has always been – that only a small number of authors are able to make a living from books.
On the other hand, changes to the publishing industry mean there are more opportunities for writers than ever before.