10,000 authors, 10,000 voices: as SoA membership reaches five figures, Pullman, Harris and Rankin welcome Member 10K

17 July 2017

We started July with a total membership of 10,051.

The 10,000 milestone will be celebrated on Tuesday 18 July at the SoA’s Summer Party at Waterstones Piccadilly, with an address from SoA council member Antonia Fraser dedicated to ‘Member 10,000’, the ten authors whose sign-up in June took membership numbers into five figures.

‘Dear Member 10,000…’

We invited current members to write welcome messages for Member 10,000, to be published this week in a booklet, ‘Dear Member 10,000…’ (PDF download).

In his message to the newest members, SoA president Philip Pullman writes:

‘Our profession is a solitary one; much of our time is spent slowly building something substantial (we hope) out of evanescent things like memory and language; but when we need fellowship or guidance through fields we may not be familiar with, such as matters legal or contractual or financial, it is a great thing to know that the Society is there, with knowledge and experience and willingness we can rely on ... The work we do is important as well as difficult; we need the Society of Authors to help us do it confidently and to claim a fair reward for doing it.’

Council and management committee member Joanne Harris says:

‘Dear Member 10,000 - congratulations! I’ve been with the SoA for twenty years ... Without them, I would have felt very lonely and disconnected from the writing community, but with them, I feel confident to deal with authority with publishers, agents and festival organisers ... We’re all on a perpetual learning curve, and the SoA allows experienced writers to connect with and to help those who are just starting out. I hope that, wherever you are on the curve, you’ll be a part of that, too.’

They are joined by more than 70 other authors, including Malorie Blackman, Margaret Drabble, Philip Ziegler, Joanne Trollope and SoA Chair David Donachie, who wishes new members the ‘success as well as the pleasure of belonging to an organisation that has played such a valuable role in protecting authors since 1884’.

We gave Ian Rankin the last word: ‘The Society of Authors is a heartening hub where ideas are shared, help offered, and friendships made. Welcome. Make yourself at home.’

Meet Member 10K

The ten authors whose membership brought us to the 10,000 milestone hail from all over the UK, as well as one from Canada, and represent a wide range of disciplines and professional experience. They are:

Writing about his SoA membership and being named one of the Member 10,000s, Dan Dalton said:

‘I felt it important to have the backing of a union dedicated to helping navigate those opportunities and challenges, and who I can trust to continue to protect my rights. It’s an honour to be member 10,000, but even more so to be part of the SoA.’

0 to 10,051 in 133 years!

The Society of Authors was founded in 1884 on two guiding principles: ‘that the relations between author and publisher require to be placed once and for all upon a recognised basis of justice’ and ‘that questions of copyright – domestic and international – require to be kept steadily in the public mind’. The landscape for authors may have changed drastically since then, but those principles are as much a part of our campaigns today as they were 133 years ago.

The first SoA chair was Walter Besant, and its first president Alfred Lord Tennyson, with early members including George Bernard Shaw, John Galsworthy, John Edward Masefield, Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, J. M. Barrie and E. M. Forster.

Greeted initially with scepticism by the trade (The Bookseller in June 1884 dismissed the fledgling union as a ‘Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Authors’!) we have since been at the forefront of many successful campaigns for authors’ rights, including the protection of copyright, the introduction of Public Lending Right, and of course the recent extension of PLR to ebooks, in addition to advising thousands of authors each year on contractual and other professional issues.

Our members are academic writers, biographers, broadcast writers, children's writers, fiction and non-fiction writers, illustrators, poets, playwrights, translators and more. Our youngest member today is 18; the oldest is 106.

As the landscape in which authors make a living continues to evolve, and as membership continues to grow, the work of the SoA has never been more relevant.