The Professional Briefing: May 2020

Well, here we are and it’s a month on. Not much has changed for most of us and everything has changed. Like Camus says, given time we get used to anything and the New Normal gets familiar. As I write there are stirrings about unlocking the lockdown but no one is able to say when nor how. For many people – aside from staying in and keeping well – the biggest worry is to be able to maintain an income now and in the future. It’s hard to pitch if you are feeling demoralised or fragile so maybe this is a time for regrouping and considering how best to monetise what you have already done. Exploit your back catalogue to its maximum – make sure you have registered for and are claiming all your subsidiary and secondary rights / royalties (that’s through ALCS and PLR). Check, by Googling yourself, that no one has helped themselves to your work and is selling you in a foreign edition or giving you away in another territory. Chase up breaches that you find – even very big publishers are guilty of this. Special giveaway editions of your works may have been attached to magazines without your knowledge and you can be owed money. (Reader, trust me, it’s happened to me twice.) Use not only your name but use random specific recipe titles, chunks of text AND do a few image searches – this takes time and usually might not be seen as cost effective but, in these strange days, could be so.

Make sure that you know what help is available through the Government furlough and self-employed schemes – gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme. The Royal Literary Fund may be able to help depending on the sort of work you do – rlf.org.uk. The Authors’ Emergency Fund – alcs.co.uk/news/alcs-offers-additional-financial-support-to-writers-through-the-society-of-authors-330000-emergency-fund has been set up to help as so many talk, tours, workshops and appearances have been cancelled.

Money saving Expert, the Martin Lewis site, has collated all sorts of information and is a really useful tool: moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/

This all sounds gloomy. It needn’t be. On good days, when you can harness creativity and positivity, use your time to dream big, explore ideas or find new avenues. A pause in your old life could give you renewed impetus or new direction. Seize the day (or week) and write a new synopsis, flesh out a proposal or simply research possible new contacts. Good luck and bon courage.

If you need any more information or have any other ideas that might be of assistance to your fellow members, please feel free to contact me directly via iamsarahbeattie@gmail.com. Sarah Beattie