Thursday, November 14, 2013

Supporting Creativity by Jacqui Dent

The Australian Society of Authors  works to advance and protect the interests of literary creators, so enabling them to make the most of their creativity. 

With around 3000 current members in Australia and overseas, we represent people who write or illustrate for publication.

Our members include children's writers, graphic novelists, biographers, illustrators, academics, cartoonists, scientists, food and wine writers, historians, ghost writers, travel writers, romance writers, editors, bloggers, computer programmers, journalists, poets and novelists.  We even have a special membership category for junior writers.

If you are interested in the craft of writing but are not yet published, you can join as an Associate Member, as can individuals and organisations that support authors and their work. 

Ann James provides a professional consultation for an emerging illustrator

The Australian Society of Authors maintains a strong connection to writing for young people through our Education writing portfolio, held by Hazel Edwards, and our illustrators portfolio, held by Ann James.

Our Authors in Schools program runs creative writing courses in schools, aiming to build the narrative and literacy skills of school students.  You can read about author Laurine Croasdale's experience as a writer-in-residence at Birrong High School, here.

Since 2011, we've been bringing children's illustrators together around the country for our One Word One Day program, which raises money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, sending books to children in remote Indigenous communities. 

Elise Hurst, illustrator Melbourne during One Word One Day 2013

Since the ASA was established 50 years ago, in 1963, we've lobbied, represented and campaigned to promote authors’ and illustrators’ professional interests, working with government as well as arts organisations, booksellers, publishers, writers’ centres and literary agents. 

Our current campaigns include fairer eBook royalties and contracts, digital lending rights and the introduction of tax-free grants, awards and prizes for authors.

Some of our past achievements for authors includes instrumental work which led to:

the introduction of Public Lending Right and Educational Lending Right

Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) are Australian government cultural programs which make payments to eligible Australian creators and publishers in recognition of income that is lost through the free multiple use of their books in public and educational lending libraries.

establishing the Copyright Agency Limited

Copyright Agency is a not-for-profit rights management organisation which enables the use of text and images in return for fair payment to writers, visual artists and publishers. This includes managing the Viscopy business which provides services to visual artists and users of images.

setting up the Australian Copyright Council

The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation. Founded in 1968, it represents the peak bodies for professional artists and content creators working in Australia’s creative industries and Australia’s major copyright collecting societies.

Authors Tansy Rayner Roberts and Lian Tanner discuss writing at an ASA member event in Hobart

Information and Advice

The ASA provides friendly and accessible information and advice on all aspects of writing and publishing including setting standard rates of pay for authors and illustrators for different uses of their work such as book publishing, freelance writing, anthologies, online use, book illustration, comics and graphic novels.

Some of our other author services include:
  • a free-call advice line to members for questions about publishing, copyright, contracts and other professional interests;
  • contract assessment service for publishing and literary agent contracts;
  • contract negotiation advisory service for authors wishing to negotiate the terms of their publishing agreements; 
  • manuscript development service for experienced authors looking to work with an editor before the work is published; and 
  • a US tax advice service for authors selling their work through US e-tailers such as Amazon.
In 2013, the ASA launched the Authors Unlimited program to help authors sell their work as e-books.

Author Linda Javin and Jacqui Dent at an ASA Authors event in Sydney

Other Services

You can read about the ASA's other services online, including our Professional Development Program and our Awards Programs.

We also help authors protect their work by maintaining a trust fund for legal action to advance and defend the rights of copyright holders as well as conducting and contributing to research on issues concerning Australian literary creators.

Our journal, Australian Author,  is published twice-yearly in print, with additional articles published continuously at on a range of topics including publishing, self-publishing, copyright, defamation, ebooks and more.

In this digital age, it is more important than ever that literary creators have a say in how their work is used and a right to fair compensation for these uses.  They can then get on with using their creative talents to make wonderful books for us to enjoy.

About the Author

Jacqui Dent is the Communications Officer at the Australian Society of Authors. 

She has been working with writers since 2009 when she joined the NSW Writers' Centre and then took up at internship at NewSouth Books. She is also a writer whose short works have appeared in journals including Voiceworks and have been broadcast on ABC Radio National.  Her life-long love of literature began with The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien and the works of Roald Dahl.

Visit or call (02) 9211 1004 for more information.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Jacqui.

    It is good to know that readers who borrow books from public libraries and school children "do their bit" for authors rights through the PLR and ELR schemes and through the CAL licences held by educational institutions - all of which returns money to authors whose works are held in these collections. So, just by reading and being in school you are enabling authors to make a living from their writing. Another good reason to keep reading!