Introduction to publishing
Publishing is the umbrella term for a series of processes that a manuscript goes through to get to the finished form, on the shelves of a bookstore or pages of digital retailer.
What is the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing?
A traditional publisher will sign a contract with an author, taking on all the financial risks associated with publishing the author’s book. This will cover the cost of editing, typesetting, printing, marketing and distribution. If the book doesn’t sell as well as expected, the publisher takes the loss, not the author.
With self-publishing you take on the role of both author and publisher, meaning you are responsible for all the processes mentioned above. Self-publishing is a commercial transaction; it will cost you money. Self-publishing offers authors a greater share of the profits, but it also means the author assumes all of the financial risk.
It is very important to seek qualified legal advice before signing contracts. QWC is unable to provide this advice as we are not a legal body, but there are several links listed below that offer this service for writers:
We also recommend Australian Book Contracts published by the Australian Society of Authors.
Pay rates for writers
Not all writers have the goal of making money from their writing, but for those who do, there are many different earning avenues to consider and decisions to make.
How much money can an Australian writer expect to make?
It’s important to know that most professional writers in Australia don’t make a huge amount of money from their craft. According to ‘The Australian Book Industry: Authors, publishers and readers in a time of change’, a study by Macquarie University, the average Australian book author earns $12,900 per year from their writing.
While some writer do make enough money to live on, and some are very wealthy, many writers supplement their writing income with that from part-time or fulltime jobs in other fields. Most writers who write for a living ‘fulltime’ also undertake a lot of other writing-related paid activities to build up their income, like paid appearances at festivals or events, teaching or writing about their craft.
Thinking about writing as a business
If you intend to start making money from your writing, you’ll need to start treating your creative pursuit as a business. In order to invoice for payment, you’ll most likely need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN), and investigate whether or not you’ll need to pay GST.
The Australian Government Business website has resources to help you start your small business: business.gov.au. There you will find lists of the things you need to keep track of for tax purposes, including receipts, invoices and log books. If you’re not confident in managing everything yourself, it can be a good idea to talk to an accountant who understands the arts industry, who can help you understand your legal business requirements.
The Australian Society of Authors details recommended rates of pay for writers
asauthors.org/findananswer/rates-of-pay. These rates are not legally enforceable, and some writers will be offered less or more by editors, publishers or clients. ‘Who Pays Writers In Australia?’ lists rates that different publishers have paid to writers in Australia heypayup.tumblr.com.
There are various funding opportunities available for writers for all kinds of projects and levels of development. If you are looking for funding to create a new work, cover the cost of travel, or undertake a research project, explore the websites of the organisations listed below to see how your project might be eligible.
The first step is always to familiarise yourself with their criteria to make sure you’re applying for the right kind of grant. Each organisation has different criteria for how funding may be spent. It could encompass, for example, funding a professional development trip overseas, or attending a writing course in another state, so be sure to read the fine print. Grant funding opportunities for writers are extremely competitive in Australia.
Eligibility varies depending upon the funding body involved, and both you and your project/outcomes will need to meet the criteria. You will be required to acquit your grant at the end of the project, so keep good financial records.
Funding opportunities are constantly evolving so be sure to check the guidelines, dates, and requirements before beginning an application.
- Arts Queensland offers funding to support artists, arts and cultural workers and organisations: arts.qld.gov.au/funding
- The Australia Council for the Arts is the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body. Each year, we deliver over $200 million in funding for arts organisations and individual artists across the country: australiacouncil.gov.au
- The Australian Copyright Council supports a creative Australia by promoting the benefit of copyright for the common good and offers funding opportunities through the support to various arts organisations and writing prizes: copyright.org.au