Authors call for boycott on non-paying festivals

Authors call for boycott on non-paying festivals

Prominent writers including Linda Grant, Denise Mina, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon have responded to Philip Pullman's protest over the Oxford Literary Festival's failure to pay author fees by joining a call for publishers and fellow authors to boycott events with the same policy.

Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, has stepped down from his role as patron of the festival, saying it is a case of "simple justice" that authors should be paid for their appearances.

Now novelist and critic Amanda Craig has written an open letter to The Bookseller calling for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals which expect authors to work without a fee. "For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free - even though the public is paying in good faith to see us," she wrote. "We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said No."

Craig's letter has attracted immediate support from many other authors, with Linda Grant, Louisa Young, Denise Mina, Francis Wheen, Joanne Harris and Francesca Simon among those who have put their names to it. (Full letter and list of signatories below).

The fact that many literary festivals do not remunerate authors for appearances has been a long-running grievance among writers, with the Society of Authors currently campaigning on the issue and "working with them [festivals] to agree reasonable fees and best practice guidelines", as chief executive Nicola Solomon told The Bookseller earlier this month.

Novelist Robert Harris yesterday tweeted a response to Pullman's comments on his resignation, saying "So true! A few (insane) punters paid £50 for a front-row seat at my last event. I was given a mug, appropriately."

If you're a writer and want to add your signature to the petition, leave a comment on this piece.

Letter to The Bookseller:

Sir/ Madam,

Further to Philip Pullman's resignation from the Oxford Literary Festival, we would like to call for all authors and publishers to boycott literary festivals which expect authors to work for free.

For too long, authors have been persuaded to give our services to the public for free - even though the public is paying in good faith to see us. We are the only people in festivals who are not paid, and yet without us the festivals could not exist. Writing is a vocation but it is also a profession, and it is time we all stiffened our spines, dug in our heels and said No.

Amanda Craig

Linda Grant

Alex Preston

Denise Mina

Louisa Young

Paul Dowswell

Katherine Langrish

Nicola Morgan 

Clare Mulley

Julia Williams

Fiona Pitt-Kethley

Lucy Coats

Annalisa Barbieri

Nicholas Blincoe

Francis Wheen

Jo Nadin

Danuta Kean

Tim Lott

Oisin McGann

Guy Walters

Harriet Lane

Anthony McGowan

Joanne Harris

Bel Mooney

Helen Grant

Francesca Simon

Mary Hooper

Chrissie Gittins

Anna Perera 

Ben Johncock

Brian Moses

Jay Rayner

Wendy Cope