JK Rowling
Very few writers earn anything approaching the income of JK Rowling Carlo Allegri/Reuters

Authors are struggling to earn a living as the median income of professional writers dropped to £11,000 last year, according to the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society.

The organisation, which commissioned Queen Mary, University of London to survey more than 2,500 working wordsmiths, also found that only 11.5% of authors earned their incomes solely from writing, down from 40% of respondents in 2005.

The study revealed that the median annual income of writers plummeted by 29% from £12,330 ($21,116, €15,508) or more than £15,000 in real terms.

According to social policy charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, single people in the UK need to earn at least £16,850 before tax to achieve a Minimum Income Standard.

"If writers are to continue making their irreplaceable contribution to the UK economy, they need to be paid fairly for their work," said Owen Atkinson, chief executive of the ALCS.

"This means ensuring clear, fair contracts with equitable terms and a copyright regime that support creators and their ability to earn a living from their creations."

The creative industries are now worth £71.4bn per year to the UK economy, according to official figures from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

In contrast to the median income of her contemporaries, the author of the Harry Potter series JK Rowling is worth $14m (£8m) as of June 2014, according to Forbes.