What Would George Bernard Shaw be Campaigning for Today? - Andrew Crofts
The Society of Authors has kindly put my name forward as one of four nominations for its Management Committee. If all goes smoothly and I join the other distinguished committee members I thought it might be useful to have a clearer idea of what it is that we would all like the Society to be doing for authors in these exciting times?
What, I wonder, would George Bernard Shaw, (an early and active member of the Society), be campaigning for if he was around today? What would his views be on e-books and self-publishing, for instance? Would he be championing Amazon for making books so accessible or criticising their monopolistic and capitalistic tendencies? Would he be sympathetic towards struggling high street independents or would he see them as the architects of their own downfall?
What better place to launch such an investigation than here amongst a group of authors operating on the “cutting edge” of the electronic publishing industry. I would greatly welcome any ideas anyone might have on ways in which the Society should be making itself useful to its members.
Below is a short biography which the Society has published in The Author to support my nomination.
Andrew Crofts is a full-time author and ghostwriter. He has published more than 80 titles, a dozen of which have spent many weeks at the top of the Sunday Times best seller charts.
As well as using traditional publishers to reach readers, (including Arrow, Blake, Bloomsbury, Century, Ebury, André Deutsch, Hamish Hamilton, Harper Collins, Headline, Heinemann, Hodder, Hutchinson, Little Brown, Michael Joseph, McGraw Hill, Orion, Pan Macmillan, Penguin, Pocket Books, Sidgwick & Jackson, Sphere and Weidenfeld & Nicolson), he has also experimented with e-books, publishing “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer”,(a prequel to his traditionally published “The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride”), on both Kindle and Smashwords, and has guided a number of international clients successfully through the minefield of independent publishing.
His books on writing include “Ghostwriting”, (A&C Black), which was extensively quoted by Robert Harris in his thriller “The Ghost”, and “The Freelance Writer’s Handbook”, (Piatkus), which has been reprinted eight times over twenty years. In 2010 he wrote “The Change Agent – How to Create a Wonderful World”, a biography of James Martin, the futurologist and biggest ever private donor to
. Andrew lectures on the subject of making a living from writing at Oxford University University and frequently guests at writing workshops, literary festivals and in the media. He blogs and tweets regularly on matters pertaining to publishing and writing. Kingston
1. push for greater media coverage of self-published books
2. push for more mainstream coverage of the content of books, especially ebooks, and not the business or sales side - the latter belongs in the business pages, the former belongs on the culture pages, and they can happily sit side by side in features
3. push for greater opportunities for self-published authors at festivals
4. a genuine commitment to poetry being treated equally, especially when it comes to appearance fees and a call for solidarity from all writers with poets, including performance poets, who are not treated equally and not just with their fellow "proper" (i.e. fiction & non-fiction) writers
very very best
But I agree with Dan. The rules of the game are changing fast. We really are on the cutting edge and we know it full well, even though we usually seem too jokey to be really serious about it. The SoA, which is by and large a forward-looking organisation and not too trammelled by the traditional publishing model, could and should have huge influence - and with someone like you on the committee, not only would AE know its interests would be looked after and its potential recognised but also the alternative literary movement represented by Dan would be valued and taken seriously - though, heaven forfend, not be absorbed into the establishment.
What will your attitude be to the new constitution? I see no reason why the change shouldn't be made. The first constitutional change since GBS and your accession to the committee might be a very significant coincidence.
As the old advertisement for Redex, the petrol additive, used to say, 'cannot do harm, may do good.'