Industry & Advocacy News
December 24, 2014
I’d like to wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2015!
I am delighted to be the new Executive Director of the Authors Guild. For over 100 years the Guild has been working arduously for the rights of authors to make a living—and providing services to enable them to do so. As I begin my tenure at the Guild, I can attest to the fact that the hard work continues. Our work is more important than ever in these turbulent times when many authors find it more and more challenging to make a living with their words.
It’s an exciting time to be at the Guild. The Council and staff have done a tremendous job laying the groundwork for a number of new initiatives and services. In the coming months, we will be focusing on new programs such as recruitment, branding, an ambassador program, and further development of the new website, together with our ongoing advocacy and litigation initiatives. We will also be fundraising to help us carry out these initiatives.
It has been a busy couple of months. For one, there has been much activity on the advocacy front. On December 3rd, we argued our appeal in the Google Books case, Authors Guild v. Google, to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. We expect a decision in two to six months, and, if necessary, may take the case to the Supreme Court.
We have been very active in Washington, D.C. on legislative and other policy initiatives. Congress has undertaken the first major review of the copyright law in decades and its first-ever examination of the Copyright Office to ensure it meets the needs of authors in the 21st Century. Our General Counsel Jan Constantine testified last spring in front of the House Judiciary Committee as part of the review, and this fall we have met with legislators and their staff to discuss some of the key issues for authors that are under consideration. We will continue to actively participate in the more focused discussions that are expected to commence on the Hill in the next couple of months.
We have also been busy finalizing our re-designed website, to be publicly launched in mid-February. It will include a brand-new interactive Forum, with conversation threads on a number of topics of interest, where members can discuss and share information on various topics related to the writing life. In addition, each member will have access to an events calendar where you can post your own events, such as book tours and talks; daily and weekly news updates; a digital archive of the Bulletin and recorded seminars; as well as a Members’ Directory, where authors can list their books and their areas of interest, searchable by literary agents, bookstores, and anyone else looking for writers. Additional features will be rolled out later in the year. Members will also have access to our full range of web and legal services through the new website, including Sitebuilder, as well as searchable electronic editions of The Writers’ Legal Guide and The Model Trade Book Contract and Commentary.
In 2015, we will start launching informal Authors Guild “chapters” in cities throughout the country for the purpose of helping to create communities and hosting educational and networking events from coast to coast. We will continue to hold phone seminars and webinars, as well as in-person events in many regions.
Last, please be sure to renew you membership before the end of the year. As you know, the Council voted unanimously last summer to raise membership dues—for the first time since 1989—to $125. We are offering all members the opportunity to renew for 2015, in advance, at the 2014 rate of $90. So, get your renewal in by January 1st and party like it’s 1989! The reduced rate applies no matter what the actual date your membership expires. And if you are late in payment, the $90 rate will of course apply (but please do yourself and us a favor and pay now anyway!).
I look forward to making progress with you on the many issues facing authors and together meeting the challenges to making a living as a writer today. With your support, we’ll do everything in our power to foster a better ecosystem for writers in the coming years.