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The Authors Guild — Advocacy and Benefits for Working Authors

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hand with pen signing book contract

Expert legal contract review is among the services offered by the Authors Guild to its members.

Stockbyte / Getty Images

The Authors Guild:

31 East 32nd Street
7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 563-5904
Fax: (212) 564-5363
e-mail: staff@authorsguild.org
website: www.authorsguild.org

Read this to see if you qualify, then check out the Authors Guild membership application page

Overview:

Founded in 1912, the Authors Guild is the nation's oldest and largest professional society of published book authors, representing more than 8,000 writers. The Guild lobbies on the national and local levels, advocating on behalf of authors on issues such as copyright, taxation, and freedom of expression. As e-book and other media technologies are constantly changing the book publishing landscape, the Authors Guild activity in the area of protecting intellectual property rights is an increasingly important function to help ensure the ongoing preservation of appropriate allocation of book royalties. These activities help ensure and preserve authors’ abilities to make a living.

In addition to its advocacy for author's intellectual property rights, the Authors Guild provides access to insurance, legal counsel, and other business services.

Authors Guild Qualifications:

The Authors Guild offers three types of membership, depending on the prospective member. The three membership levels are:
 

  • Regular Membership: Book authors, book co-authors, ghostwriters (and other collaborators), or book translators all qualify for regular Authors Guild membership. In order to qualify, the author must be published by an established American book publisher. Self-published books, or books published by subsidy publishers or by foreign presses are not accepted as qualifications for author membership.

    Freelance writers may also qualify for regular Authors Guild membership if they have published at least three works of fiction or non-fiction in a periodical or periodicals of “general circulation” (that is, periodicals found on newsstands nationwide, not trade or professional journals) within a period of eighteen months. Publishing on high-traffic websites may qualify a writer for Guild membership under the same terms, if the site has editorial oversight and if the writer is significantly compensated for the work. Periodical payment and/or circulation requirements may be sometimes waived in the case where the print or web periodical in question has a national literary reputation.
     
  • Associate Membership: Writers who have not yet published, but who are under contract with an American publisher or an established literary agency may join the Authors Guild as an associate member. Associate members are non-voting members, but otherwise enjoy the same benefits and services as regular members. When their eligible book is published, associate members become regular members.
     
  • Membership-at-Large: is a non-voting membership category available those with a vested interest in the work of members, but who do not write themselves. Membership-at-Large is available to literary agents who have placed work with established American publishers, and to attorneys and accountants who represent authors. Membership-at-large is also available to widows or widowers, or other heirs, trustees or executors of the estates of deceased members.

 

Authors Guild Requirements:

 

  • Proof of eligibility for Authors Guild membership: Authors must submit proof of eligibility in the form of the name and details of the most recent published book, an agent reference, list of articles written. Applicants for associate membership are generally asked to submit their book contract; ghostwriters will need to submit a copy of their collaboration agreement.
     
  • Dues: First-year dues are generally $90. Thereafter, dues are charged on a sliding scale—that is, the more author income, the more the member is asked to pay. According to the Guild, most members continue to pay $90.

 

Authors Guild Benefits and Services:

The Authors Guild provides its members with a host of benefits to help enhance and sustain their writing careers, including:
 

  • Contract Review: Upon request, the Authors Guild's experienced legal staff reviews its members' publishing and agency contracts free of charge to ensure the author’s adherence to industry standards.
     
  • Dispute Intervention: The Guild intervenes in publishing disputes and advocates for the rights of its members.
     
  • Informational and Educational Panels and Programs: The Authors Guild and the Authors Guild Foundation sponsor informational discussions and phone-in seminars on topics of critical value to writers ranging from the changing e-book landscape and its impact on author royalties, and tax tips for writers.
     
  • Authors Guild Publications: A range of print and online publications keep Authors Guild members up to date on issues of importance to their writing profession.
     
  • Insurance: Under the auspices of The Authors Guild, members in some states have access to health insurance and members in all states have access to media liability insurance, which covers claims of libel, invasion of privacy, copyright or trademark infringement, plagiarism, errors and omissions, and other author-related risks.
     
  • Reprints Out-of-Print Titles: The Authors Guild offers members a BackinPrint.com service through the print-on-demand facilities of iUniverse. The service makes Guild members’ previously published but out-of-print works available to the public through online bookstores (such as amazon.com and bn.com) and available to booksellers through Ingram (the country’s largest book wholesaler).
     
  • Website Development: The Guild offers members free website development and web hosting with very modest fees.

     

    For author advocacy that's genre-specific, read about The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and the Romance Writers of America (RWA).

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