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 of writers. Since our founding, we have served as the collective voice of American authors, and have long supported the rich and diverse literary culture of our country. Our members include novelists in all genres and categories, nonfiction writers, journalists, historians, poets, and translators. The Guild welcomes traditionally published authors as well as self-published, independent authors.
We are a guild in the traditional sense of the term—a group of artisans who have come together to create an association of authority and influence. We give authors—who belong to an often lonely profession—a sense of community and belonging, with opportunities for sharing, networking, and conviviality.
The Guild defends and promotes the rights of all authors to write without interference or threat, and to receive fair compensation for that work. We advocate for authors on issues of copyright—a right enshrined in Article 1 of the Constitution, guaranteeing authors the right to own and profit from their work. We fight for fair contracts. We work with Congress to make sure authors are treated fairly in tax law. We fight piracy. We push back against the “information wants to be free philosophy” that would impoverish authors in the name of free digital content. The Guild vigorously represents authors’ concerns in Washington. We educate and advise Congress on legislation that would help—or harm—authors. We develop and shepherd legislation. When necessary, the Guild takes to court those corporations and other malefactors who have trampled on the rights of authors or taken their work without permission, winning millions in compensation.
Read about more of the Guild’s work on behalf of authors here.
The Authors Guild is actually two essential organizations.
The Guild consists of two organizations: a membership organization that provides excellent benefits to dues-paying members, and a foundation that effectively advocates for all authors.
What are the benefits of Authors Guild membership?
- Free legal assistance, from contract reviews to advising on and intervening in legal disputes. Joining the Authors Guild essentially provides an author with a free attorney on retainer.
- Liability insurance.
- A back-in-print program and website hosting.
- A vibrant online community forum.
- Local chapters that host informal gatherings and opportunities to meet fellow authors.
- In-person and phone-in seminars on the business of publishing, tax law, self-publishing, and more.
- An annual black-tie gala and other social events.
What is the Authors Guild Foundation and how does it differ from the Authors Guild?
The Foundation has a much broader mandate, with its own Board of Directors and President. Its mission is nothing less than sustaining the literary life of our country through education and advocacy. It fights for all authors and journalists, in many ways and on many levels. The Foundation works to defend free speech and the vigorous flow of ideas so fundamental to our democracy. It works to give voice to marginalized authors and communities. It helps sustain the literary marketplace, allowing authors to make a decent living from their work.
This Foundation’s mission can be broken down into a number of important current initiatives.
- Defending free speech and maintaining a Freedom of Expression Watchlist.
- Fighting book piracy and the theft of creative work.
- Promoting literacy and increasing access to books in disadvantaged communities.
- Supporting increased funding and outreach for public libraries.
- Exploring ways to help working writers make a living wage, particularly through legislative action and smart FTC enforcement in the book publishing and retailing industry.
- Shepherding legislation that would set up a Copyright Small Claims Tribunal, which gives authors, artists, musicians, and other creative people access to a small claims court, in which they can sue copyright infringers without having to hire a lawyer.
- Advocating for a federally funded “Fairness in Lending” arrangement, which would compensate authors for the physical and digital borrowing of their books, as is universal in Europe and most other developed countries.
- Working with Congress to bring the Copyright Office into the digital world, which would provide the Office with funding to upgrade its technological infrastructure, essential to maintaining and protecting authors’ copyrights.