Our mission is to support working writers. We advocate for the rights of writers by supporting free speech, fair contracts, and copyright. We create community and we fight for a living wage.
Who We Are
The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Since its beginnings over a century ago, we have served as the collective voice of American authors.Our members include novelists, historians, journalists, and poets—traditionally and independently published—as well as literary agents and representatives of writers’ estates.
The Guild advocates for authors on issues of copyright, fair contracts, free speech and tax fairness, and has initiated lawsuits in defense of authors’ rights, where necessary. We represent authors on the Hill, in state legislatures, and in government agencies. Recently, we have fought in several major court battles to protect authors’ copyrights, including our lawsuits against Google Books and HathiTrust, and we have worked to establish fair royalty rates for both e-books and print books. Learn more about some of our success stories here.
Our members have access to a broad range of legal and web services. The Guild’s legal staff reviews members’ book and freelance contracts and intervenes in publishing disputes. We provide liability insurance at group rates, a Back-in-Print program, and a free subscription to our quarterly Bulletin, as well as host and help develop members’ websites. Our new, re-designed website includes a more robust member directory (searchable by numerous categories), an events calendar, daily and weekly news updates, digital archives of the Bulletin and recorded seminars. We also hold in-person and phone-in seminars and symposia on issues critical to the writing life, and more informal gatherings throughout the country.
The Authors League of America began in 1912, headquartered in New York City—its mission “to protect the rights of all authors, whether engaged in literary, dramatic, artistic, or musical competition, and to advise and assist all such authors.” It became the Authors Guild in 1921, when playwrights, composers, and lyricists split off as the Dramatists Guild of America. The governing Council, elected by the membership, has included leading authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, among them winners of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes and National Book Awards.
A long roster of prominent authors has led the Guild as president, among them the novelists Pearl S. Buck, Rex Stout, Madeleine L’Engle, Erica Jong, and Scott Turow, and Roxana Robinson; the biographers Anne Edwards and Robert Caro; the journalists Herbert Mitgang and J. Anthony Lukas; the historians William Shirer and Robert K. Massie; the impossible-to-categorize Roy Blount Jr.; and now James Gleick.