ACE moves to help authors in sales crisis

The Arts Council is setting up a support structure for literary fiction authors in the face of a slump in retail book sales, revealed in an ACE report published today.

It shows that sales have fallen steadily over the last decade, the price of literary fiction books has also fallen over 15 years, and that with authors earning on average £11,000 a year from their, few are able to make a living from their writing alone.

The details come in a report commissioned by ACE for the digital publisher Canelo to examine every aspect of literary fiction’s sustainability. It finds that interventions such as the internet, Amazon and the end of the net book agreement have had a devastating effect on traditional literary publishing.

In response ACE is creating a new grants programme starting next April. Working with funded organisations to ensure writers from diverse backgrounds have opportunities and personal support, strengthening support for independent publishers through strategic funding, and doing advocacy work to support independent bookshops 

“The starting point for tackling any problem is understanding its root cause, and this report provides both evidence and a real depth of insight into the issues that writers of literary fiction currently face in this country” said ACE’s deputy CEO, Simon Mellor. “It provides a valuable road map to help the Arts Council work out how it can best support and develop this important part of our creative industries. 

“The proposals we’re putting forwards will we believe help to address some of the issues identified in the report – but really significant long term change can only happen if we work with in partnership with all those organisations that are committed to ensuring that literary fiction continues to flourish in this country” he said.

The full report and the Arts Council’s response to it can be downloaded here.




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