Getting paid for what you do. Last week, I received my first royalties as a published author. Woo-hoo! It won’t be paying the bills yet, but it is the first income from my career change. As such, it is a much-needed affirmation.

This income wasn’t from directly from book sales nor from my publisher. Rather it came from secondary uses of my work. For example, an education establishment must pay to photocopy work and authors are due a payment when their work is borrowed from a public library.


Fortunately, authors do not have to do the leg work in contacting each university or library themselves. The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society set up in 1977 as a non-profit organisation to collect such payments on behalf of their membership. They collect payments for books as well as for articles or scripts and disburse them in yearly payments.

My debut book came out in late December and was registered with ALCS in January. I was not expecting anything in their March distributions as my sole registered work had been out less than three full months. However, I did receive a distribution payment for photocopying & audiovisual use! A small one, but incredibly welcome.

Join the ALCS

If you are writing, editing or translating any combination of:

  • books
  • articles
  • scripts for TV
  • scripts for radio

Then get in touch with ALCS:

Lifetime membership of ALCS costs just £36, and I made that back easily in this first payment. Alternately, membership is free if you are already a member of:

  • Society of Authors
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain
  • National Union of Journalists
  • British Association of Journalists
  • Chartered Institute of Journalists

Public Lending Rights

When a book is borrowed from a public library, the book’s contributors may be eligible for a payment. These are known as Public Lending Rights (PLR). Like the ALCS, there is a scheme which can collect such payments on the author’s behalf. And, like the ALCS, it is worth joining.

The PLR scheme for the UK is administered by the British Library and payments are made in January. I missed the distribution this year so will have to wait patiently until 2022.

Eligible works include printed books, e-books, and audiobooks. Payments can be made to illustrators, authors, editors, translators, or audiobook narrators. Find out more about eligibility here or join the scheme at

Society of Authors

I mentioned the Society above and, while they do not arrange direct payments to authors, membership has been essential in my first year on this new career path. The Society of Authors is the UK trade union for authors, translators, and illustrators. I joined the Society as soon as a contract offer from a publisher meant I was eligible.

One of the key services which the Society offer is scrutiny of contracts. Even while my membership application was underway, staff at the Society were scrutinising the contract. This was a boon for a novice author, and their service broke down many of the terms and complications.

Over lockdown, they have provided emergency funds to struggling members and held online events to help with training, creativity and even simple socialising. If you are not yet a member, please have a look at their eligibility and services: