Ask an advisor

Unsure about a contract? Concerned about payments or copyright? Stuck with an obscure problem that nobody can help you with?

Our members have access to a free, confidential advice service run by a team of specialists with decades of experience.

Our advisors vet contracts for fairness, break down complicated copyright issues and answer queries from members in all disciplines. No question is too big or too small.

I am a member, and I have a query. What should I do?

The best and quickest way to get advice is to email us. Unless the advisors have prior knowledge of your situation, (for example if you are already in touch with someone here and know who you would like to speak to about an existing query), it is usually better to ask in writing rather than by telephone. There are a few reasons for this:  

  • to allow our team the time to do any necessary research before responding;
  • to allow queries to be looked at by multiple advisors if necessary;
  • to allow the team to work through the queries we’ve received in chronological order, ensuring that all our members get a response as soon as possible;
  • to allow the team to include relevant paperwork (guides and articles etc.) in their response; and
  • to ensure that they are giving the best, most up-to-date and thorough advice possible. Particularly with any questions regarding contractual or copyright law, the careful consideration needed to phrase the response is best done in writing.

I would like to email in a query or contract; to whom should I address it and what should I include in the email?

Please email info@societyofauthors.org with your question and any supporting papers. There is no need to address a specific person, but if possible, please quote your SoA ID number in the email and include as much context as you can (e.g. some information on the kind of work you do; the project this contract is for; your existing relationship with the other party, etc.).

Please make sure you send in your query only once.

If you’re getting in touch about a contract, or you’d like to include supporting information, please attach it to the email (preferably as a scanned PDF file or Microsoft Word document - but at a pinch a legible photograph will do). Feel free to ask about specific clauses or phrases in your cover email, though this is not necessary and you can also just ask to have it vetted.

If I email you, when will I hear back from someone?

One of our frontline team will pass on your email to the advisors on the day and acknowledge receipt of your email, and one of our advisors will then endeavour to get back in touch within 5-10 working days.

N.B. No agent, publisher or other contract-offering party should be put off by your taking the time to have your agreement thoroughly vetted.

Will I be advised by a lawyer?

No. We have a team of six specialist in-house advisors who are highly experienced in UK publishing and have been helping authors for many years. They are not lawyers, and the SoA is not insured to give definitive legal guidance, nor can we become directly involved in matters pre-dating or pending your joining the SoA. However, we will always do our best to help.

Are my queries treated confidentially?

Yes, always. Furthermore, our advice is confidential; we will not inform anybody that you have sought advice from us without your express permission.

Do I have to tell the other party that I’m seeking advice?

It is completely up to you, but as a courtesy (perhaps if you are asking a prospective publisher to wait for your signature), you may wish to let them know. A publisher who has sent you a fair contract will not have any problems with this.

Indeed, it may be cause for alarm if they are unhappy with your having a contract checked. We are professional advisors and you are entitled to seek advice from us. 

Can I get advice if I am not a member?

If you are not a member, and you are not currently able or eligible to join the SoA, you can still contact us with a burning query. One of our administrators will do their best to respond as quickly as possible, either answering your query or pointing you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the advisors must prioritise the questions of more than ten thousand SoA members, and we cannot offer in-depth advice to non-members. Interested in joining?

Can I get advice if I have an agent?

Of course. It is often helpful to let us know that you have an agent. You may also wish to inform them that you are seeking our advice, but it is absolutely not necessary.

Can I get advice if I am an agent, solicitor or publisher?

Yes. Our advisors prioritise the queries of our members, and we primarily advise authors, but we will try and offer assistance to those in other roles within the industry where possible.

I'd prefer to speak to somebody on the phone. What can I do?

You can call the office at any time between 9.30am and 5.30pm on 020 7373 6642 (except on Fridays, when the office closes at 5pm), but it will not usually be possible for you to speak to an advisor straight away.

One of our administrators will be happy to take a message including some details of your query, and then ask one of the team to call you back when they are available. The advisors may also want you to send in additional material, which you are welcome to do by post.

Can I make an appointment to see someone in person?

Given the ratio of advisors to members, it is only possible to make a face-to-face appointment if there are extenuating circumstances.

I need advice very urgently; what can I do?

You can email or call us. We will try to prioritise your query, but we cannot promise an immediate response.

Is there somewhere I can go for advice before getting in touch with an advisor?

Yes. We have put together a range of materials to help you get the answers you need for yourself straight away. Check out our FAQs as a first port of call; we have put together a range of answers for some of the queries we get most often from writers. We also have a wide selection of guides and articles written by our team that are incredibly informative on a huge range of topics. They are free and accessible to members online and usually available to non-members for a small fee. We have also put together the most useful information on rates and fees for writers of many different genres.  

What if nobody gets back to me?

If you have sent in a query and not received a response within seven days, please do get back in touch with info@societyofauthors.org email address or give the office a call.

While we do our very best to ensure every query is answered as quickly as possible, the volume of emails coming in does mean that occasionally something is missed. It is very helpful for us to know if you have been waiting for a response for over a week.

I’m not sure how to attach a document to an email; is that the only way?

Email is the quickest way. If you do have a scanner at home, it’s very useful once you have selected ‘Scan’ to make sure that the file type is a PDF rather than an image (JPEG or other), and to make all of the pages, once scanned, into a single PDF document.

Please go here for more help on scanning documents. If you are unable to send the document digitally, please do send us a copy by post.

We look forward to hearing from you.