Frequently Asked Questions

What does the SoA do?

The SoA is a trade union for professional writers. We are a membership organisation representing over 10,000 professional writers from all genres. We campaign and lobby the government on issues that impact all authors, offer detailed advice and contract vetting to our members and produce guides and resources. Read more about us and what we stand for.

How can I join the SoA?

Find out if you are eligible to join the SoA by taking our eligibility quiz and sign up online today.

Why should I join the SoA?

Being a member of our community of professional authors has a huge number of benefits from advice to discounts, guides to boardroom hire. Find out how you can make the most out of your membership.

How do I get an agent? How can I get published?

As a trade union we must stay neutral and so we are unable to recommend or endorse any particular agent or publishers, however a useful resource is the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. This book has full listings of all agents and publishers in the UK and contains some useful articles on all aspects of publication. It’s available to buy or you can pick a copy up at many local libraries. To find out more about agents you can download our guide to authors’ agents or contact the Association of Authors Agents.

Can you recommend a publisher to me?

Due to competition law we are unable to recommend authors to a specific publisher. A useful resource for authors at any stage of their career is the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook which provides a guide to all publishers in the UK, contact details and specialities.

Do you have a standard contract?

We aren’t able to provide our members with a standard contract but we have a team of experienced advisors who are happy to vet your contracts and ensure that you are getting a fair deal. You can also check our Guide to Publishing Contracts for an idea of the clauses that might be included and the rights you should consider.

How do I copyright my own work?

If you write something, the copyright is normally automatically yours (unless for example you are writing for an employer). An old fashioned way to 'prove' copyright is to post yourself a copy of the document in question, so it is postmarked, and then not open the envelope. But that is more symbolic these days. For further guidelines on copyright see our resources pages.

How can I renew or cancel my subscription?

For further information on how you can manage your subscription online, see our membership section. You can also manage your subscription over the phone by getting in touch at 020 7373 6642.

Who can give me advice about a contract and how can do I contact them?

Our team of six experienced contract advisors are able to give advice to authors on all aspects of your contract. To talk to a member of the advisory team email or get in touch at 020 7373 6642. For more information on the advice we offer, take a look through our advice pages.

Where can I find out about rates and guidelines?

We think it is crucially important that writers and authors of all genres are paid for their work. That’s why we have put together a helpful table on rates and guidelines to help authors’ professional careers.

Is my SoA subscription really tax-deductible?

Yes. The technicalities can be confusing, though, so read on for an explanation.

Authors as self-employed writers: 

The SoA subscription is an allowable expense for self-employed writers.

Authors as employees:

Confusion sometimes arises because the SoA subscription is not on the ‘approved list’ - but that list is for deductions under PAYE (i.e. employees trying to claim subscriptions in their tax returns to offset against their salaries).

Authors as limited companies:

The company can pay the subscription and claim tax relief on it, but it constitutes a taxable benefit in the hands of the author, so you could find that the company saved 20% tax and the author paid 40% tax on the same figure.

Should the SoA be on the approved list?

The approved list comprises mainly professional associations, learned societies, etc., but no trade unions (possibly for political reasons). There is one seemingly-similar organisation on the list, the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

However, Tim Walford-Fitzgerald at accountants H.W. Fisher says

"I have applied before (for the Musicians Union) and despite having very similar objectives to ISM, it was refused."

Walford's view is that the SoA would likewise be refused unless significant changes are made to its Aims and Objectives. 

The underlying principles for eligibility on the list are:

  • Advancement or dissemination of knowledge;
  • Maintenance or improvement of standards of conduct and competence;
  • Provision of indemnity or protection against claims incurred in respect of that profession.

Walford concluded that at present the SoA’s Aims and Objectives, essentially to promote authors and their interests, would be deemed too narrow and inward-facing.