Authors now publishing's 'whipping boys' says SoA

<p>The Society of Authors (SoA) is to explore options for urgent collective action against the cuts in author advances, new chair of the SoA Tom Holland said this week. The news came as the acting president of the Association of Authors Agents Anthony Goff confirmed that advances were being cut by as much as 70%.</p><p>Holland, a historian, said authors were &quot;becoming the whipping boys for the revolution going on in publishing&quot; and that the recession was being used &quot;as an excuse&quot; by publishers to cut back on advances. </p><p>&quot;The increasingly monopolistic Amazon and the supermarkets are kicking the high street chains who are kicking the publishers who are kicking authors,&quot; he said. &quot;The recession is being used as an excuse but the real reason for cutting advances is structural changes [in the industry]. We want to make sure that we are not at the bottom of the food chain.&quot; </p><p>Holland said he would be canvassing &quot;a broad range of opinion&quot; as to what action SoA could take, and that time was of the essence. &quot;Such is the pace of change that any opportunity for action will be lost within two years,&quot; he said. &quot;The SoA will never be a mass block trade union, and trying to organise authors is as easy as herding cats, but equally there is no point in having the society if it does not respond at a time of unprecedented change.&quot; </p><p>Holland spoke after the SoA a.g.m. last week, at which retiring chair Margaret Drabble said that authors were &quot;worried about short termism&quot; from publishers and about the polarisation of advances between a lucky few and the majority. Other authors raised fears that their contracts would not be renewed at all by publishers.</p><p>Separately, Anthony Goff of David Higham Associates, acting president of the Association of Author&#39;s Agents, confirmed that cuts in author advances had gone as deep as 70%. &quot;For big brand authors their position is stronger than ever,&quot; he said. &quot;Elsewhere the reductions range from 5% to 70%&mdash;if it is much below 70% you are just dropping the authors. Publishers are cutting lists and there is less competition out there in the market, so there is a natural economics going on.&quot; Goff said the question remained as to whether this shift was a &quot;blip&quot; in the market caused by recession, or a permanent shift.<br /> </p>