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Now that I’ve recovered from the shock…

About three months ago, I received an extraordinary email. “Are you sure this is meant for me? It must be a mistake,” I said. But it wasn’t. I had been invited to join the Council of The Society of Authors. I was genuinely and completely astonished! Not only had it never occurred to me that this could happen but, if you’d asked me if it could ever happen, I would have been entirely certain that it couldn’t. I mean, for goodness sake, look at the other people on the list!

The SoA is effectively the authors’ trade union. It fights for the rights of writers, illustrators, translators, broadcasters. Members get free advice about contracts, including personal advice on individual publishing contracts. The Society’s job is to boost and protect the power of creators, taking our side where our rights, value and needs are attacked or restricted, whether by publishers, government, individuals or organisations who try to reduce or steal our rights to earn from and control our creations. It also looks after some estates and hands out lots of money in prizes, grants and hardship funding.

I’m proud of being a member of the Society of Authors and playing a small part in what it does. I served on the committee of the Scottish branch of the SoA and was Chair from 2006-2009. I was on the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group committee and Chair of that – can’t remember which years but ending in approx 2017. And I was on the campaigns group of the Management Committee (the Board – though I was only ex-officio).

I wouldn’t have spent all that time and energy fighting for authors’ rights if there weren’t some things I feel strongly about.

Here are my chosen battles:

  1. The rights of authors to earn from their creation and to control what can be done with them – copyright and publishing rights
  2. The rights of authors to be paid when asked to speak and share their expertise and experience – I am well known for shouting about this
  3. The rights of authors to be partners with their publishers
  4. The funding and support of public libraries – and the PLR scheme
  5. The funding and support of school libraries
  6. Diversity in its widest sense – not just race and gender/sex but also viewpoint, geography, age – and diversity in bookselling, too, so not just online bookshops beginning with A, but also B, C and anything else
  7. Decent behaviour towards others, even if I think they don’t deserve it!

When I got the invitation, I felt embarrassed because for the last nearly three years I’ve kept my head down and not been involved in campaigns. I’ve had a bit too much on my plate. I still have too much on my plate – even more than before, to be honest – but I’m asking for a bigger plate for Christmas so all will be well.

Meanwhile, thank you to the Management Committee – the Society’s Board – who decided to invite me to join this select group. And one of the best things is…there are no duties! I do love a role with no duties.

 

 

 

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