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Authors, literary agents - and tax

17 July 2006

'A good agent guides his or her client confidently through mine-fields such as foreign rights, audio, film, radio and TV, the weasel clauses in contracts that may strip authors of rights they need to retain, queries from foreign publishers, publicity enquiries, rights reversions, downloads, podcasts, websites, double taxation indemnity agreements and so on. Agents also need to respect that awkward need of an author for time and privacy in which to write...

Self-employed authors live tightrope lives, their careers often poorly paid and wildly erratic. They have no public service or corporate cushion of sick pay, pension, paid holiday or maternity and paternity rights. They cannot be expected to shoulder the disadvantages of self-employment without being able to offset necessary, legitimate expenses against tax.'

Helen Dunmore, Chair of the Society of Authors in the Bookseller