Thursday, 16 June 2011

Unwarranted attack on the Society of Authors

I have been startled to see an unwarranted attack on the Society of Authors on the Bookseller website by Gregor Dallas, an historian who is standing for election to the Society's Management Committee.

I have also had my name put forward for the Committee, but I would have felt defensive of the Society even if that were not the case, since I have always found them to be unwaveringly supportive of their members.

Mr. Dallas's complaint is that the Society does not stand up to the big publishers and try to influence the books that they choose to publish. The thought of an organisation with such a vested interest actually having the power to influence the books that people get to read is positively Orwellian.

Authors as a breed do tend to live a little outside the bustle of mainstream life and we are not always the best judges of what sort of stories the vast majority of people want to read, hear or watch. It is always good to listen to the paying customers. When Shakespeare sensed that the groundlings were growing restless he was always very quick to adapt whatever work he was presenting to them. The big publishers spend their lives trying to divine the tastes of today's groundlings.

There are an infinite number of ways of bringing books before interested and relevant readers that do not involve the "Big Six" publishers or supermarkets or even W.H. Smith.

Long may the Society of Authors continue its good work in helping its members to survive in the jungle of modern publishing.


Pauline Rowson said...

Well said, Andrew. There are some great books being published and marketed by innovative independent publishers.I have found my membership of the SOA extremely valuable for advice, networking and representing my interests as an author.

Gregor Dallas said...

This has only just been drawn to my attention. Andrew, your position has evolved since you had your name ‘put forward for the Committee’. Whether you like it or not you are now a public candidate in a Society-wide election, the first, apparently, in living memory. What is your programme, what is your policy, and what do you intend to do about the current disastrous state of publishing in Britain if and when you get on to that Committee? Eight thousand author-members of the SOA have a right to know. Best, Gregor Dallas, Chairman, Society of Authors, France (SOAF),

jack59 said...

I wish you would divulge some of those infinite ways of selling books because displaying them for sale on Amazon or Smashwords is like hiding needles in haystacks.