From The Korea Times: “For writers, things could not be more grim. Ninety-four percent of the 200 respondents said they earn 500,000 won or less per month on average from activities related to their original job _ writing _ with 37 percent earning nothing.”

Poor souls. They’re members of a very distinguished club.

According to this 2005 story, children’s authors in England earn peanuts too:

“J K Rowling’s fellow children’s authors..a third of whom earn less than the national minimum wage of £8,827 a year. And yesterday they published a survey of their own, claiming that some work for about 2p an hour.”

SF writers don’t do much better, according to this oft-cited survey on Tobias Buckell’s blog.

And a new survey of UK writers is deeply discouraging:

The latest research reveals that the typical UK author earns 33% less than the national average wage. If this trend in earnings continues will creators be able to continue contributing 8% of GDP in the UK? If we value our creative industries so highly, can the nation afford to let this decline in authors’ earnings continue?

W H Auden would have been less sympathetic. The Sunday Times reprinted his views on people who wanted to be writers:

“[When asked what they want to be in life]….an astonishing number reply “a writer”, and by writing they mean — dreadful word — “creative” writing. Even if they say: “I want to go into journalism”, this is only because they are under the illusion that in that profession they will be able to create. Even if their most genuine desire is really to make money, they will still make for some highly paid sub-literary pursuit like Advertising.
Among this host of would-be writers, the majority have no literary gift. This is not surprising in itself. A marked gift for anything is not very common.
What is surprising is that such a high percentage of those without a marked talent for any particular profession should think of writing as the solution.”

Might have made the old curmudgeon happier if he knew they were suffering for their art.