About the Society
The Society of Authors is a non-profit making organisation, founded in 1884, "to protect the rights and further the interests of authors".
The Society now has over 8,500 members.
The first president was Lord Tennyson, and a great many prominent writers, including Shaw, Galsworthy, Hardy, Wells, Barrie, Masefield, Forster, A. P. Herbert, and countless contemporary writers, have assisted in its activities and campaigns.
The Society is run by the Management Committee, which consists of 12 elected professional writers (who serve for three years).
The current Chair is Tracy Chevalier and the Society’s President is P. D. James. The Management Committee is overseen by a Council of eminent writers, which meets twice a year.
While all major policy decisions are taken by the Management Committee, the administration of the Society lies with the General Secretary, Mark Le Fanu, and his staff.
The staff, who have experience in all areas of the profession, run the office on a day to day basis. In addition the Society has immediate access to solicitors, accountants and insurance consultants.
The Society represents the writing profession by campaigning for improved terms and changes in legislation, such as copyright and libel laws.
The Society is represented on the Public Lending Right Advisory Committee. Public Lending Right is the government-funded body through which authors receive a payment when their books are lent from public libraries.
The Society was instrumental in the establishment of ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society) and SoA members have free membership of ALCS, so you will receive fees from photocopying and other uses of copyright material, which can best be handled collectively.
Nationally and internationally, the Society is represented on the British Copyright Council, the Creators Rights Alliance, the National Book Committee, and the European Writers’ Congress.
We are in regular communication with our sister-organisations overseas, including those in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Society has a number of minimum terms agreements with publishers. It is recognised by the BBC for the purpose of negotiating rates for writers’ contributions to radio drama and for the broadcasting of published material.
We continue to negotiate for improved terms and conditions.
The Society carries out inspections of publishers’ royalty accounts in relation to randomly-chosen individual authors’ titles.