Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society

I’ve finally got around to joining the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and registering my short stories and articles that have been published over the last three years.

Being a member of ALCS ensures that you get paid any secondary royalties earned by your works, for example if an article is photocopied by an organisation like a school.

Life membership of ALCS costs £25 but this is deducted from the writer’s first royalty payment – so there is no upfront charge and therefore no risk of being out of pocket by joining ALCS.

I have to admit to not totally understanding how ALCS knows what has been photocopied and how payments to writers are calculated. And I don’t imagine that at this very moment zillions of people are photocopying my work and handing it out to all and sundry. So will I actually ever see any money from ALCS? I have absolutely no idea, but you’ve got to be in it to win it, as they say.

Registering work published in magazines (newspaper articles are not accepted) is easy and can be done on-line. But only things published in the last three years are eligible – so it’s better to do this sooner rather than later and then keep it up to date.

The only problem that I encountered was finding the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) for some publications. The ISSN is an identification number for periodicals but not all magazines have them. I’ve had several articles published in Freelance Market News which I discovered had no ISSN. However, when I contacted the magazine’s lovely editor, Angela Cox, she went to the trouble of obtaining an ISSN for Freelance Market News (thank you, Angela!) So I’ve now been able to register those articles, although I’m not sure of the implications if the ISSN wasn’t in existence when the article was first published.

Has anyone else got any experience/knowledge of ALCS?

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  1. #1 by Tracy Fells on July 27, 2014 - 9:13 am

    I’ve only recently joined this too, Sally, and interested to find out I can expect. Have a couple of stories coming out in anthologies later in the year so thought it wouldn’t hurt to be in the scheme. For well published womag writers I imagine the royalties can mount up so it’s definitely worth registering your stories and articles.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on July 27, 2014 - 6:44 pm

      No, it can’t hurt, Tracy. You seem to do well with getting in anthologies so hopefully ALCS will make those stories work extra hard for you!

  2. #3 by Shirley Cook on July 27, 2014 - 9:14 am

    Yes I signed up 3 years ago and thought I wouldn’t get much but I was surprised to get over a hundred, even when the fee was taken out. Worth doing and poems count too!

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on July 27, 2014 - 6:45 pm

      Thanks for letting us know a rough figure, Shirley. It seems like it is worth taking the time to register. Good to know poems count too (although, being a rubbish poet I’ve had none published!)

  3. #5 by Wendy Clarke on July 27, 2014 - 9:17 am

    Hi Sally. There has been a lot of discussion on Facebook about the ISSN numbers. The problem I found with submitting magazine stories was that in several cases the ISSN number in the drop down box did not correspond to that in the actual magazine. Some people use the ISSN number from the bar code and others the site’s dropdown box – when I queried it with ALC, the very nice lady on the phone gave the impression that it didn’t really matter what you put if it is a UK published magazine. How the whole system works is still a mystery to me!

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on July 27, 2014 - 6:48 pm

      Thanks for the info. Wendy. I got the impression from the website that everything is checked manually by ALCS after it’s been uploaded – which must be a mammoth job!

  4. #7 by Debbie Young on July 27, 2014 - 9:27 am

    Well done, Sally! I must admit I didn’t know much about the ALCS until recently, when I was introduced to its newsletter editor who lives near me. I’ve since found out much more about their work and think they deserve to be much better known. Anyone who publishes anything has nothing to lose by joining them, and much to gain – not least the knowledge that they’re lobbying for fair pay and enforcement of copyright protection for authors. I think they deserve to be much better known, and it’s great that you’re spreading the word about them here, Sally.

    I think they work on general principles and averages re payments, applying some sort of clever algorithm to issue payments – I don’t think they have the magic powers that would be required to know precisely who should get what. But it’s a fabulous system.

    By the way, I was very pleased to be asked to write an article about self-publishing for them earlier this year: I’m hoping that by plugging my article there on my blog and social media, I’ve been able to do my bit to raise the ALCS’s profile too.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on July 27, 2014 - 6:50 pm

      Thanks for the information, Debbie. And it’s definitely a fabulous system if it directs extra money to writers!
      Great to know you’ve been plugging it too, well done.

  5. #9 by juliathorley on July 28, 2014 - 4:24 pm

    I’ve recently registered, too. I don’t know how it works – it’s very clever. Interetsing to hear that FMN has an ISSN now. I must check it out with Angela. BTW, I see we are both in the latest issue!

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on July 28, 2014 - 6:58 pm

      Yes, I noticed your competition win in FMN. Well done!The ISSN for FMN is 2056-5461.

  6. #11 by hilarycustancegreen on August 1, 2014 - 5:36 am

    Yes, Sally, I use ALCS (via the Society of Authors). My husband and I get around £100 a year each, my husband a little more than me (more publications?). We have no idea how it works, and I am sure no one is photocopying my work. I think it is simply a share out of funds obtained for copying. I just bank it with gratitude.

    • #12 by Sally Jenkins on August 1, 2014 - 12:14 pm

      Thanks for the information, Hilary. It sounds like it’s definitely worth taking the time to register.

  7. #13 by Nick Daws (@nickdaws) on August 3, 2014 - 1:36 pm

    Yes, definitely well worth doing. In recent years I’ve been making more from ALCS than PLR. You do get a breakdown of how payments are calculated when you get paid, and quite a large proportion are simply shares of bulk payments received by ALCS, e.g. from German PLR. They don’t work out how many times your books are borrowed from German libraries (if at all) though. As far as I know, you simply get paid pro rata according to how much work you have registered with ALCS.

    • #14 by Sally Jenkins on August 3, 2014 - 6:00 pm

      Thanks for the info. Nick. I do wonder if more & more people join ALCS then the payout will become less for each person?

      • #15 by Nick Daws (@nickdaws) on August 5, 2014 - 7:57 am

        Fair point. The trend has been upward for the last few years, though. Although more people may be joining, I guess the total funds distributed are increasing as well.

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