Meeting our members: Edinburgh

In keeping with our pledge to meet ALCS members around the country, we had the pleasure of meeting some of our Scottish members in Edinburgh last month.

Pete Wishart MP, Vice-Chair of the All Party Writers Group, and Joanne Harris, ALCS Board member and renowned author of Chocolat and The Strawberry Thief, joined us at the National Museum of Scotland at a reception for members, where they spoke about the importance of protecting authors’ earnings and keeping the writing community spirit alive.

Pete Wishart MP spoke passionately about the need to protect the creative industries, in particular writing, arguing that what MPs need to do is “create the optimum conditions so that writers and those working in the creative sector can develop and thrive”. His speech supported the findings of the All Party Writers Group inquiry, Supporting the Writers of Tomorrow, which makes six key recommendations  to Government that will ensure writers’ futures. Wishart touched briefly on some of these recommendations, including ensuring the continued existence of independent booksellers and libraries, and the axing of the VAT tax on ebooks, which he suggested could be easily implemented by the Government.

Joanne Harris’s speech also emphasised the need to protect writers. She spoke about the importance of community among writers, saying not only did writers need the space to work, but also the support of people who understand what they need to work. She was supportive of the idea that the creator is at the heart of the creative industries but added that this did not always guarantee writers the remuneration they deserve. She concluded by expressing her hopes for the next generation of writers who are rising through the ranks: “We owe it to the writers of tomorrow, we owe them to keep believing in what we do, and to support each other because we are a community and we should be looking out for each other”.

We were also pleased to hold a focus group with some of our members while in Edinburgh, during which we discussed customer service, the soon-to-be-launched ALCS podcast and ALCS communications. Thank you to all our members who attended and provided feedback.

If you can’t make it to a focus group or any of our regional events, you can still get in touch with us if you have any thoughts or opinions you’d like to share.

You can read the full APWG inquiry report, Supporting the Writers of Tomorrow, here.