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Writers’ Union Expands Its Membership Criteria

Wednesday, January 08, 2020 12:17 PM | Helena Aalto (Administrator)
The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is pleased to officially launch a new set of membership criteria, expanded to recognize and respect the many ways authors learn and develop their craft, and to reflect the many forms of literary expression practiced by today’s authors.
More writers than ever before can access benefits such as funding for readings, professional development events and publications, group health insurance, as well as contract advice and grievance assistance.
For many years after its founding in 1973, the Union had one main membership criterion – that the applicant have “a book published by a commercial or academic press.” In 2013, after much research and internal debate, that rule was expanded to include self-published books that demonstrate commercial intent. This past year as part of the Union’s equity initiatives, the criteria was expanded further.

Authors at All Stages Can Benefit

“We now use a points-based system to determine eligibility,” noted TWUC Chair Anita Daher. “In this way, authors at all stages of their career can join the Union and benefit from our services.”
Following on work by TWUC’s Membership Criteria Review Task Force, discussion at the Unions’ annual general meeting, and a membership-wide referendum, the point system was approved.
Applicants need six points to qualify for membership. A professionally published or self-published book qualifies for all six points, but writers without books can put six points together with other qualifications. Creative writing degrees, magazine and journal publication, co-authorship, and the winning of a juried literary prize can all count toward an applicant’s points total. As well, the points system values other forms of literary expression, such as public readings and spoken word.
“The path to book publication has never been direct,” continued Daher, “and today writers come at publication from many different angles. Our new criteria is designed to respect this reality, and we look forward to welcoming and assisting new writers into the Union.”

Contract Advice Before Authors Sign

“What this means for the Union’s work,” added TWUC Executive Director John Degen, “is that we will now be able to offer contract advice to authors before they sign their first book deal. Too many first-time authors enter into agreements they later regret for one reason or another. We look forward to helping up-and-coming authors make better deals for themselves.”
Full details about joining the Union are available on TWUC’s website at

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The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is the national organization of professionally published writers. TWUC was founded in 1973 to work with governments, publishers, booksellers, and readers to improve the conditions of Canadian writers. Now over 2,100 members strong, TWUC promotes the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. TWUC believes a lively and diverse literary culture is essential in defining Canada and its people. Learn more at

For additional information
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 ext. 221

720 Bathurst St., Suite 412, Toronto, ON M5S 2R4

Phone: 1-416-515-1559

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