Monday, 18 August 2008

The Society of Authors

I’d advise anyone with the offer of a contract but no agent to negotiate it for them to head straight for the Society of Authors. Once you have that offer in your hand you can join for a relatively low fee (£90 at the time of writing) and once you’ve joined you can send your contract in for a completely free review. The last time I used this service I got four or five closely-typed pages back from them which advised on several revisions I should request, and gave the reasons for those revisions. If I had paid a solicitor for this service it would have cost me several hundred pounds, which made the cost of joining the Society well worth it.

They run lectures on many aspects of publishing, publish a fantastic magazine which is only available to members, always seem to have on hand appropriate statistics and information about the industry, and are very valuable in all sorts of other subtle ways.


Anonymous said...

They also do excellent booklets on all sorts of aspects of being a professional author, which are free to members, and a pound or five to non-members. If you're negotiating directly with a publisher it can be much easier to say 'The Society of Authors advises,' than 'I don't think that's fair!'. They will also advise on all sorts of tricky situations. Even if you have an agent, it's worth being a member, because even relationships with agents can go horribly wrong, and then you need advice and support more than ever.

On a purely personal note, I think a lot of aspiring writers aren't aware of just how raw a deal authors used to get. Most of the aspects of contracts that have become 'standard' - like the right to see covers before they're published, and I think to have rights revert to you if a book goes out of print, for example - were fought for by the Society in tandem with the Writers' Guild. To my mind, they deserve our support for everything they did in the past, as well as all the support they give us now and in the future.

Jane Smith said...

Beautifully put, Emma. I should have asked you to write the original post!

Michael Scott said...

No Comment really, just politely returning a visit. A very informative blog. Will add you to my favourites