In 2005, before I’d published any full length fiction, I joined the Society of Authors.
I can’t even remember why I did it now; probably advice from someone older and wiser. Initially, all it involved was going to parties and meeting writers outside my genre comfort zone – pleasant and informative but not exactly useful.
The moment I had my first deal on the table, with Beautiful Books, everything changed. I was able to phone SoA and then email the contract. Within a few days, they came back to me with a clause by clause breakdown, advising me what changes I should request. I took this to BB, showed them the recommendations and the agreement was amended. We then signed.
Until late 2012, all my novel sales were unagented. Without the backup of the Society of Authors, I’d have accepted all kinds of contractual stipulations that didn’t favour me. Negotiation isn’t war but there’s always that fear that you might, through ignorance, blow an offer altogether. With the Society behind me, I never felt that way. I even turned down a deal once based on their advice, only to place the work with a more reputable publisher later on.
There are many side-benefits to SoA membership, including discounts for insurance, hotel chains, bookshops, London clubs and much more.
Every author should, at the very least, consider becoming a member. SoA’s help and support over the last few years has protected me and given me confidence. I don’t know what I’d have done without them.