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Class, today’s math question is: How many UK authors can you buy for the cost of a single full-page New York Times ad? And we’re going to compare the average median income of a British author, as calculated by the the UK Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS), with the cost of a full-page ad in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, as provided by … the New York Times.

“The Times ad, which cost $104,000, was paid for by a handful of the more successful writers,” states the NYT. “In 2013, the median income of the professional author was just £11,000 [$18,834], a drop of 29 percent since 2005,” declares the ALCS.

So, class: let’s divide $104,000 by $18,834. What’s the answer? Just over 5.5. Yes, for the cost of a single full-page Sunday NYT ad, you can buy 5.5 UK writers – assuming they’re willing to sell themselves for a check equal to their entire annual writing income. But in these hard literary times, who wouldn’t? (And don’t ask me what a half of a UK author looks like – if you need to know, just go look on the train tracks near Victoria Embankment after they’ve had their latest meeting with Hachette UK’s commissioning department.)

Oh, and if James Patterson has finished dipping in his pocket to pay for full-page NYT ads to defend his income stream, he can buy 4779.6 UK authors per year from his annual take. With his net worth of $400 million, Stephen King can probably buy every single British author outright – except J.K. Rowling, who tops even him at $1 billion.

These are hard times for authors indeed. All those NYT ads you have to buy to protect your money tap. But there are ways to make the best out of any difficulty. You can always buy yourself a UK author to write the next ad …

 
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