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The Author

The Society's quarterly journal

"The face of this journal has changed, but its soul has not." James McConnachie, Editor

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If you are not a Member or an Associate and you wish to subscribe, please download the appropriate form: UK Subscriber or Overseas Subscriber and return it to the Membership Department.

Summer 2014

Can't wait for your Summer issue to drop through the letterbox? Here is a taster of what's to come Fool's Gold: Alison Flood investigates the controversies surrounding self-publishing service companies.

From the Editor

As I write this, Anne Sebba and Nicola Solomon, the Society’s Chair and Chief Executive, are competing to spend a night in Hammersmith nick. They hope to draw attention to the Ministry of Justice’s recent ban on prisoners receiving parcels – including book parcels. 

The Society is not fighting for your royalties here. Many SoA members believe passionately in the transformative power of reading. Many of us would find being deprived of books a form of torture. ‘Oh, but prisoners can always get a book out of the library’, you might say. Not necessarily. The effects of the book package ban are amplified because many prisons fail to honour their legal obligations to provide decent library stock and offer inmates a minimum half-hour library visit every fortnight.

To read more about the books for prisoners campaign or to donate, click here

At least prisoners have rights to library access. Schoolchildren, by contrast, enjoy no such protection. The SoA continues to lobby for school libraries, just as vociferously. We want schools to be legally required to have a library and trained librarian. We want Ofsted to recognise the importance of author visits. We want schools to inspire a love of reading for pleasure – to teach literature as well as literacy. 

Anne and Nicola may have been saved from jail by the time you read this. They faced stiff competition from a constellation of book-industry grandees, and the opportunity to send down a publisher or agent may have been one that few authors could resist. 

That ignoble urge may be all the stronger once you have read this issue’s rousing article on library loans of ebooks. Sounds specialised? Imagine if your ereader offered ‘buy’ and ‘borrow’ options, with the same outcome. Scale that up by a factor of a million, and imagine what would happen to authors’ incomes if we are not fairly remunerated for ‘remote elending’. 

Further alarm is raised in Alison Flood’s investigation of the controversies surrounding self-publishing service companies, notably Author Solutions. But I have not forgotten my promise to make The Author a pleasurable read, not an anxious one. So we have Tobias Jones on the ugly side of the bel paese, and poet Salena Godden on the writer as outsider. 

Nor have I forgotten that we promised to redesign The Author. This is it. (When you receive your paper copy, drop us a line to let us know what you think). And in celebration of new looks, this summer issue focuses on images. Alan Garner describes how his writing is informed by the landscape and mediated through photography. Art critic James Hall zooms in on book illustrations. Jill Dawson and Jane Casey cast wry glances over the author photo. (We considered running a competition for ‘most out of date author photo’, but reckoned few would dare enter. Please prove us wrong.) And we present a new cartoon from Posy Simmonds – the first in an occasional series of cartoonists’ caricatures of that hapless figure, ‘the Author’.

The face of this journal has changed, but its soul has not. It will continue to be not just the mouthpiece of the Society but also a forum for your voices, and those of booksellers, agents and publishers. (We’ll let the odd one out for exercise from time to time.) It will remain by turns reflective and provocative, professional and idiosyncratic, full of flair and quiet purpose. In short, it will remain unabashedly, distinctively authorial. 

James McConnachie

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Summer Contents



"I always find something to enjoy in The Author but the latest edition is something else: every article is a winner. Congratulations to the editor and to all the contributors." Jonathan Smith  

About The Author

The Author is an invaluable source of information, news and opinion for Members and Associates as well as for publishers, literary agents and other professionals working in the book industry. It has a circulation of approximately 9,200. Members and Associates receive The Author free of charge.


If you are not a Member or an Associate and you wish to subscribe, please download the appropriate form: UK Subscriber or Overseas Subscriber and return it to the Membership Department.


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