I joined the Society of Authors in 2001. I’d been writing semi-seriously since 1988 and very seriously since 1998. The very week I graduated from my MA in Writing for Children (Winchester) I sent ten ideas to a new educational publisher, thinking they might ask me to develop a couple of them. They actually accepted all ten and that was my ticket to becoming a member of the Society of Authors. I had my first publishing contract. It was a milestone. The Society was a strong gatekeeper and I had a pass in.
How I’ve benefited
My first trade book was published in 2003. And that was also the first time I used the Society’s contract vetting service. My contract had looked fine to me but they pointed out such things as it didn’t say my name would be on the spine of the book and it didn’t indicate how long they were taking the rights for. I was able to get back to the publisher and they happily agreed to a few changes.
· I’ve been able to join some very informative specialist groups – educational writers, children’s writers and academic writers.
· I’ve attended some excellent sessions in London, Manchester an in other places in the north where I now live.
· I’ve joined regional and town groups - Society of Authors North and Society of Authors Manchester. I was formerly part of a central south group.
· There is a fantastic amount of information on the web site.
· I’m able to list all of my works on the web site and advertise myself as a creative practitioner.
· There are some good deals on public liability insurance, indemnity insurance and now health insurance. I get my public liability insurance through another organisation and I’m too rickety to benefit from health insurance - too many pre-existing conditions but I do use the public indemnity insurance.
· Lots of discounts in bookshops and magazine subscriptions, accommodation, at the moment Specsavers
· Most importantly the society acts as our trade union and the work they do in looking after our rights and livelihoods is tremendous.
· We receive a print publication and frequent emails (from the main group and the sub-groups) that keeps us informed about the world of publishing and writing.
A special relationship ALCS / Society of Authors
The ALCS collects some foreign Public Lending Right fees and fees from broadcasting and photo copying our work. Each year what I earn from that more than covers my SoA membership fee. The ALCS is also a very informative organisation. Your SoA fee covers ALCS membership. You should register all of your books with both ALCS and the Society of Authors – and of course with PublicLending Right UK and Ireland.
Special work during the pandemic
The Society of Authors has put on several on-line sessions, most of them free of charge though we are invited to donate to the Authors’ Contingency Fund. Also books associated with every talk hare available from the on-line shop and a percentage here also goes to the Authors’ Contingency Fund.
Last night was the AGM. It was hit by a technical issue for the first ten minutes or so but that was soon sorted out and it all worked very well indeed. We even went into break out rooms at the end and I was involved in a lively discussion about whether we should include the pandemic in our writing.
If you’re a writer you should join. There are now also student and emerging writer memberships for those who are not yet published.