Thirty years ago, I became a member of the Authors Guild and yet I just realized (to my chagrin) that I’ve never shared with you the advantages of belonging to this organization. So forgive me if this post seems like a “pitch,” but it’s for our collective benefit.

American authors have access to a rich variety of professional organizations, including several dozen groups that specialize in particular genres of writing. These networks allow us to share writing techniques and lend emotional support, especially in long stretches of rejection. The Authors Guild does all of these things on a national scale for authors of every genre. And it does more.

The Guild is a leader in legislative and judicial advocacy for authors. When Congress held hearings to draft the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 2001, Authors Guild officers and legal counsel testified. Their comments significantly influenced the new law.

When the Internal Revenue Service solicited professional advice to help improve its regulations on business expense deductions, the Authors Guild provided insight into the cash-flow concerns of authors and screenwriters, whose projects may stretch over several years–even decades. Again, the Guild’s input had a formative influence on new regulations that now govern the tax preparation of all self-employed professions.

The Authors Guild joined forces with several book publishers to sue Google.com, which was digitizing hundreds of thousands of books (including many current titles) to make them available for online search. The final verdict has not yet been handed down, but the case has already forced significant changes in industry practices to safeguard authors’ rights in today’s high-tech environment where book piracy is easier than ever.

More than a professional network or a curator of writing resources, the Authors Guild is a proponent of significant change on our behalf. I encourage every author (and aspiring author) to consider becoming a member.