Dun Rome-in’

ROME 008I am back from The Eternal City. It seems to have taken me all week to a) recover! (erm, there was a lot of walking and a lot of Negronis and b) to get into the swing of writing again.

Does anyone else find that? When you stop, it’s hard to get going again?

Now of course, it’s only right that I ‘decorate’ this blog post with a little bit of culture, so here is a photo of the Colosseum in all its glory. We had a guided tour and it was well worth it.

And, ahem, I also should mention that we visited the Keats-Shelley House at the foot of the Spanish Steps, in support of the English Romantics (hmm, it was a bit depressing, to be honest. There we were, in the actual room where poor Keats breathed his last, at the tender age of 25…)

But if you scroll down to the end, there’s also a bit of ‘tat’. Otherwise known as ‘fraternising with the locals’. Well, it had to be done! (I can only put a small version of this photo on here because my friends, unlike me, are serious career women – I know, shame – and will kill me if they spot this!)


Now, there comes a time when the writing has to stop (which makes it sound like I do nothing else – sadly, that’s not the case) and ADMIN must be attended to!

I had a bit of a shock the other day when HMRC (otherwise known as ‘the tax man’) sent me a stern letter, informing me that my self-assessment tax return for the year 2010-2011 was INCORRECT!

To cut a very long story short, it turned out that a previous employer of mine (who shall remain nameless – suffice to say it was the one that I wanted to SKIP away from when I finally left, but my sprained ankle prevented me), got my P60 wrong and failed to send me a P45 when they should have and, consequently, I didn’t declare some earnings that I should have declared and I owed the tax man £450 plus, possibly, penalties for getting it wrong. Aaagh.

As a person of ‘low means’, this was rather a frightening prospect but they clearly took pity on me and when the bill arrived, I hadn’t been charged penalties but, fair enough, I’ve had to pay the outstanding tax.

So, those of you who also complete a ‘self assessment’ every year (and if you’re earning anything from your writing, then you really should be), beware! And don’t be afraid to query things like P60s if you don’t think they’re right, because it’s YOU that will get it in the neck if you fill your form out incorrectly!

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society

Which brings me nicely onto The ALCS.

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society is something else that you need to consider, if and when you’re earning any money from your writing. (Writer and tutor Elaine Everest gets all her students to register with ALCS the moment they have their first piece of work accepted for publication!)

I have now registered – it’s easy, you can apply on-line here and then it just costs a one-off fee of £25. The idea is, you list everything (books, magazine articles or stories) you’ve had published in the last 3 years (since January 2011) and the ALCS will search for – and advise you of – any royalties you’re owed. So you can just sit back and wait for the money to roll in…! (I’m sure it’s a bit more complicated than that but hey, it’s worth a go, isn’t it?)

Gladiators 1

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14 Responses to Dun Rome-in’

  1. Jan Halstead says:

    Welcome home, Helen, and welcome back to the grindstone. I have to endorse your advice about the ALCS. I joined just in time to backdate to 2010, expecting maybe a tenner if I was lucky since I don’t write very much. But I was stunned to receive royalties in four figures. To be fair, I notice from my statement that more of these come from a little column I used to write for the nursing press rather than my short stories, but everything over 250 words (I think) counts. The biggest headache is finding out the ISSN numbers for the publications – I had to e-mail some of them to find out. Once you’ve done the work though, you do just ‘sit back and wait for the money to roll in’ as you say. Just remember to add everything you’ve had published to your account as it happens. One annoying thing though. Since you can only backdate 3 years, it’s best not to dwell on the money you should have claimed and didn’t.

    • Wow, Jan, you must have been amazed when you got all that money! Fantastic! Apparently, you do get paid more if you write ‘scientific’ articles and as articles in dog magazines count as ‘scientific’ (according to Elaine Everest and I’m sure she’s got her facts right) then I’m sure your nursing ones did too, which may account for the high amount that you received. I’ll be happy if I get anything!

  2. ALCS collect sums of money from schools, colleges etc for photocopying and then share them out amongst writers. It’s nothing to do with your work, only the volume of your work. I was bored one day and read all their small print so may not be 100 percent correct but it is nothing to do with royalties. Hope that helps. I have condensed ALCS long explanation into 18 words.

  3. Linda Lewis says:

    You can just type in the name of the journal/magazine and the ISSN will come up. Glad Rome was good. I had my worst ever honeymoon there in the 80s and would love to go back to lay those ghosts. Soon, I hope. I agree about having to get back into the swing. I had two years off thanks to personal stuff and it’s taken a while to get back in gear.

  4. Jan Halstead says:

    Agreed, Lynn. I didn’t mean to confuse people. I used the word ‘royalties’ because that’s the word ALCS use on their statements. I’m always pleased to receive money, whatever they call it. When I said most of mine comes from a column I used to write, I said that because they use headings on your statement, and I have larger sums next to the ‘medicine’ headings than the ‘lifestyle’ or ‘humanities’ headings, and, since I don’t write for the nursing press anymore, I’m expecting something of a drop next year. But this is all detail. It is a bit complicated but I think we’re all agreed. Sign up.

  5. Thanks for your comments, Jan, Linda and Lynne. Royalties or whatever they want to call ’em – I like the sound of them!! And I am looking forward to August now, when they pay out the next lot (err, of course I’ve still got to register all my work over the past 3 years but that’s a minor detail!)

  6. Tracy Fells says:

    Rome sounds wonderful and good to have you back, Helen. Sound advice re Taxman (or woman) and thanks for reminder about ALCS, I must get on and register!

  7. Wendy Clarke says:

    Glad to have you back, Helen. Am old employer of mine once put me on the wrong tax code and I had to pay the Inland Rev back over £1000! Hope that makes you feel a bit better.

    • Wendy Clarke says:

      Forgot to say that I had two years worth of stories to register and it took absolutely ages to write them all out – I had to send them as I couldn’t do it online. Do you know how long it is before they get back to you with a membership number or something, Helen – I did mine last week but haven’t heard anything.

      • Wendy
        I registered on line and then within a few days I got my log-in details (password, memorable word, log-in name) sent to me by post. Over the weekend I logged all my stories of the last 3 years on their website and I’m going to do articles tomorrow, time permitting! I think, if you sent them yours by post, they will log them for you and then let you know they are on there!

    • Wendy, that does make me feel a bit better, thanks – but OUCH!

  8. Sound advice about the ALCS.. I’ve put it on my to-do list. Very envious of your trip to Rome. I’ve nearly been: it’s also on my to-do list.

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