There was an article in Writing Magazine some time ago about The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, suggesting that all published authors should sign up and log their publications on the website. So I did, not really knowing what it was all about.
The ALCS collect money for ‘secondary uses’ of writers’ work – such as photocopies, cable retransmission, digital reproduction and educational recording. Now, I don’t understand what most of those things are, or why they would apply to the paltry number of publications I’ve managed to log on the site.
Whenever I get something published, one of the things I now do is log it with the ALCS. This requires providing the name of the publisher, the title of the work, the ISBN of the publication and the date it was published.
They then do whatever magic investigations they do and collect fees from people who are using that work for the purposes listed above.
The ALCS website says:
“For many members, we’re a mysterious organisation that sends them a payment every so often. Some even find us secretive. Yet for others, the reality of where the money comes from is possibly too detailed. There are even potential members who think we’re a scam — until their first payment arrives.”
As they were featured in Writing Magazine, I knew they weren’t a scam, but I had no real idea what they did and how it might benefit me as a writer. But it was only £36 for lifetime membership, which would be taken off my first payment, rather than as an up-front fee. So I figured why not?
Then, last week, based on the fifteen works I currently have registered on the site, I received my first statement. And it was over £400 - after the ALCS had taken their 9.5% cut and the one-off membership fee!
I was flabbergasted, not least because this is about four times what I was actually paid in total for the first publication rights of those stories! Even having read the statement, I have no idea where this money has come from (it was listed mostly as “reproduction of journals”). But I’m certainly not complaining.
So, if you’ve had anything published in the last few years (I think it has to be logged within a certain amount of time to be eligible), sign yourself up. You never know what might come out of it.
Mysterious they may be. But the ALCS can have their 9.5% and gladly. Keep up the good work!