An informal survey at the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) finds indie authors have no plans to retire. But safeguarding intellectual property is key to security in later life, says ALLi Director Orna Ross
London, UK, January 30, 2019 — Independent authors have no plans to “retire” or stop writing and publishing as they age. However, according to the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), all authors need to pay more attention to intellectual property and estate planning. And the long-term management of publishing and other creative assets is particularly pressing for self-publishing authors.
A survey conducted informally by ALLi through one of its member forums (of more than 1600 independent authors working in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and the EU), revealed that the overwhelming majority have no plans to retire from their writing.
“I decided to retire from running a little publishing company when I was 75,” says Tony Whelpton, author of literary fiction. “I published my own first novel at the age of 79 and am well underway with my eighth. I am 86 and I intend to carry on until I drop.”
“I’m 69, have written over seventy books, work every day, seven days a week,” says Wendy Soliman, romance and crime fiction writer. “The possibility of stopping hasn’t even occurred to me.”
Writing is Central to Identity
Findings by Associate Professor Alison Baverstock of Kingston University, currently finalizing a survey of authors’ development and processes, confirm ALLi’s survey results. Writing is central to a writer’s sense of identity and only reluctantly relinquished, says Professor Baverstock.
“Writers write,” she says. “In particular, we consistently heard from writers about the immense importance of writing to their wellbeing, helping them through times of personal crisis and significant health problems, and providing an ongoing sense of self-worth to sustain them.”
Protecting and Exploiting Intellectual Property
When it comes to publishing that writing, questions of retirement and succession are more pressing for independent authors than those who are exclusively trade-published.
“This awareness is key to ALLi’s Self-Publishing 3.0 campaign,” says Orna Ross, founder and director of ALLi. “Independent authors are not content providers for other publishing and media organizations but business owners exploiting their own intellectual property and the associated creative assets embedded in their businesses. They need to make plans for what will happen when they are no longer able to run their businesses.”
“All businesses face succession issues,” agrees Karen Myers, fantasy and sci-fi author and regular business commentator on the ALLi Self-publishing Advice Blog. But, she points out, many independent authors are one-person businesses and already of retirement age, making succession and estate planning more urgent than most like to contemplate. “[Indie authors] should be looking for partners to roll up the catalog,” she says, “with an agreement to pay the seller or seller’s heirs a percentage of earnings from that catalog.“
The Need for Succession Planning
Some indie authors are taking their succession and estate planning a step further, appointing literary executors to exploit licenses and rights of their intellectual property, says Ross.
“Whenever I think of posthumous licensing, I am reminded of authors like Phillip K. Dick,” says Maggie Lynch, author, ALLi member and founder of Windtree Press. “Dick’s books were not bestsellers or well-known during his life but after his death, his novels and short stories were made into movies.”
Commercial issues aside, indie authors plan to keep on writing until they can no longer.
“I’ll be trying to tap in one more word on my next novel as they’re closing the lid on my coffin,” says crime thriller author Janet Pywell.
The Alliance of Independent Authors is the only global, non-profit association for self-publishing writers. ALLi aims to foster excellence and ethics in self-publishing; to support authors in the making and selling of their books and licensing of their rights; and to advocate for author independence through the building of sustainable digital businesses.
ALLi Press Manager