Business of Writing: Sources of Advice

[No sooner has November (and NaNoWriMo) faded into history than we are in December and the long, slow run up to Christmas. Except that it’s not slow at all. In my town, as in many others, the season started with the Advent Service yesterday and swings into full action with the Christmas Fayre and lights switch-on this Thursday, an event with which I’m heavily involved and which is taking up rather a lot of time at present. So I hope you will forgive a slight rehash this week, especially as this is a topic of great importance to many writers (and other small business owners as well).]


All businesses, whether limited companies, partnerships or sole traders need legal advice on occasion, for example when we are setting up our business, signing contracts or drafting our wills. The obvious option, and one that many businesses will use, is to engage a lawyer.

However, that is not a low-cost solution and there are alternatives that can be explored. There is the Business Link helpline which provides a quick response service for simple questions about starting or running a business or a more in-depth service for complex enquiries. There is the Citizens’ Advice Bureau which would be able to provide support to individuals, but probably not to limited companies. Or there are business support organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses which provides members with legal and financial advice. As writers, we have our own support via the Society of Authors which can help members with queries relating to the business of writing. Services include the confidential, individual vetting of contracts, and help with professional disputes.   

I’ve often found the answer to a query on the HMRC website, but there are also helplines that deal with specific questions, such as the New Employers Helpline, the New Self Employed Helpline, the Self Assessment Helpline and the VAT Helpline. These numbers can be found via a quick internet search.
So whatever our query or problem, there will be someone who can help us, either for free or as a paid service, depending on the circumstances. It’s worth being aware of all these services, so we can call on them rapidly if we need them.

What sources of advice do you find most useful? What would be your first port of call if you have a legal query?

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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