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Department of Economics



This component of the study investigates the changing profession of book authorship.
In February 2015 the Macquarie University research team surveyed Australian book authors about the impact of changes in the industry on their creative practices and livelihood, particularly in response to technological changes that are currently affecting the book industry worldwide.

The online survey was conducted with the support of nearly 30 authors' associations, including the Australian Society of Authors, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Australian Poetry, the Alliance for Independent Authors, the Copyright Agency, writers' centres and specialist genre associations including Romance Writers of Australia. Over 1000 book authors participated in the survey, including Australian authors located overseas (note that the first stage of analysis refers to authors in Australia).

The findings of the survey were released on 7 October 2015 as a working paper and a series of industry briefs.

Australian authors Industry Briefs

The industry briefs are a series prepared for Australian book authors and other members of the Australian book industry to highlight key findings of the 2015 survey.

Thank you to all of the authors who generously gave their time and expertise by participating.

  1. Key Findings
  2. Demographics of Australian Book Authors
  3. Authors' Income
  4. Changes in the Financial Position of Australian Book Authors
  5. Authors' Changing Professional Practices
  6. Authors' Allocation of Time
  7. Rights Sales, Translations and Piracy
  8. Promotion
  9. Authors and Publishers

Further details on the survey can be accessed from the Department of Economics Working Paper, Book Authors and their Changing Circumstances: Survey Method and Results.

Prior to the survey, in mid-2014 the research team ran an invitation-only online discussion forum with over 60 Australian authors who are writing in a broad range of genres. We asked the authors about their experiences in the changing industry. 

Australian Author Online articles


How did you define a 'professional author' for the purposes of your national survey?

We know that there is no single criterion and we had long discussions with a range of organisations to come up with the following definition:

  • Do you author fiction or non-fiction books, poetry, short stories or transmedia works derived from book genres (eg., not including Facebook pages, blogs, online games, TV programs or films as part of this activity)?
  • Do you view authoring these works as your main vocation/occupation OR
  • Do you view authoring these works as an important task that is allied to your main occupation? (eg., screenwriter, playwright, journalist, academic, subject matter expert, public commentator)
  • Does authoring these works result in copyrightable intellectual property?
  • Are you paid for this activity, either directly through a fee for service arrangement, advances, royalties or some other revenue derived from the sale of your work?

In summary, we surveyed:

  • Full time paid professional authors
  • Part-time paid professional authors who supplement their income with other paid work
  • Occupations & professions that may extend to book authoring (eg., screenwriter, playwright, journalist, academic, subject matter expert)
  • Authors whose work is critically reviewed and/or supported by arts funding bodies regardless of their level of income

 If authors answered 'yes' to the following question, they were eligible to complete survey.

Contact us
if you require further information.

Copy of the 2015 author survey information and consent form

This is a copy of the Authors Information and Consent Form for participants in the survey.

Welcome to the 2015 Macquarie University Australian Book Industry survey of Australian authors.

You are invited to participate in a national survey of Australian authors.

The survey investigates the experiences of Australian authors in the contemporary international book industry. It examines authors' experiences of epublishing, self-publishing, use of social media and other promotional strategies, changes in income, and copyright infringement. It also examines whether authors are changing their creative and work practices in response to shifts in the industry.

We are interested in the views and experiences of a diverse range of professional Australian authors in the book industry.

This survey is part of a study conducted by Prof. David Throsby, Dr Jan Zwar, Dr Tom Longden and Mr Paul Crosby, Department of Economics, Macquarie University. The research is funded by the Australian Research Council.


Your progress through the survey can be viewed at the bottom of each screen.

We estimate the survey will take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete. 

If you wish to take a break, the survey software will save a place for you to continue. 

Note that this function will only work if you return to the survey using the same computer or device that you used to start the survey.

We recommend that you complete the survey using a tablet or computer. 

We do not recommend completing the survey on a mobile phone.

The web browsers that are officially supported by the survey software are Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Internet Explorer.

Allocation of prizes

No payment of money will be made for participating in the survey.  

However, to demonstrate our appreciation, two prizes of $1,000 each will be given to randomly selected respondents who complete the survey in full. (Note that the legitimacy of the winners will be verified by the researchers before the prizes are awarded.)


This survey is anonymous and the analysis will be performed using de-identified data. In order to protect your anonymity, your responses will be randomly assigned an identification number.

After the data collection stage of the survey is completed, your contact details will be stored separately from the de-identified raw survey data in another file that is accessible by only one team member.  This file will be destroyed at the end of the project.

Your name and contact details will only be used by the researchers for administrative purposes (such as emailing research findings, invitations for the 2016 and 2017 survey, notification of prizes etc.).

The outcomes of the survey may be used in scholarly journal articles, book industry newsletters and general media coverage. After the three year research project has concluded, the de-identified raw survey data may be made available for use by future academic researchers.

Below you are asked to confirm that you have read and understood the information contained in the Authors Information and Consent Form (this page).

The ethical aspects of this study have been approved by the Macquarie University Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any complaints or reservations about any ethical aspect of your participation in this research, you may contact the Committee through the Director, Research Ethics and Integrity (telephone (02) 9850 7854 email Any complaint you make will be treated in confidence and investigated, and you will be informed of the outcome.

Further Information and Updates

Further information on the survey and updates about the progress of the research can be obtained from Prof David Throsby at or phone 02 9850 8474;  Dr Jan Zwar, email, phone 02 9850 8591 or Dr Tom Longden, email, phone 02 9850 4842.


I (the participant) have read and understand the information provided, and any questions I have asked have been answered to my satisfaction. I agree to participate in this research, knowing that I can withdraw at any time. I have been given a copy of the Authors Information and Consent Form (that can be accessed and printed using the link provided - to keep.