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Professional Associations for Canadian Writers

Updated on January 12, 2015

Professional Writer

Professional writers and authors deserve industry recognition, support and standard of payment fees
Professional writers and authors deserve industry recognition, support and standard of payment fees

Professional Associations for Canadian Writers

In most any business, belonging to an industry related association is a good idea. It's no different for writers, especially freelancers. Writing is not only a creative pursuit, it is also a business for those who make a living at it.

Professional associations usually have minimum acceptance requirements. Clients know it. Ergo, if you are one of the lucky ones who get accepted, keep your dues paid and are able to paste a pro logo on your site and letterhead, you have an edge.

Belonging to a professional association lends you an authority and gives potential customers one more reason to trust and hire your services for their writing needs. Association membership also gives you access to a community of like-minded people, helps you command professional fees for your work and may even assist if you run into trouble with a publisher. The features and benefits can differ slightly between organizations but all membership dues should be tax deductible if you're a self-employed writer.

The following list of professional associations is for Canadian writers. Sorry to all my friends from other countries but being Canadian myself, this only makes sense for me right now. Perhaps I'll try other countries at a later date.

Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC)

This is a well known one here in Canada. They have a database resource, of around six hundred professional writers, that clients can search when they're in need of a good wordsmith. Another reason to join, if you can. Some people will stick with association sites when on the look out for their next ghostwriter, journalist, travel writer or whatever.

PWAC is possible thanks to the support of the Canadian government, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. It's main purpose is to encourage, nuture and protect authors under its umbrella. The PWAC's credo is on their website:

"PWAC protects the rights and careers of freelance writers."

To become a member of PWAC, you must meet the criteria applicable to the category you belong in:

Professional, $240 per year - To be deemed a real professional writer, you must have sold (yes, for money) any three from the following within the past twenty-four months:

  • magazine or newspaper article
  • major writing project (script, newsletter, etc.)
  • published one non-fiction book

Credit is also given if you have magazine or newspaper staff writing experience.

Associate, $240 per year- If you have published at least one non-fiction freelance article or major writing project within the past 12 months, you can become an Associate Member. The article or project must have consisted of at least 300 words and again, you must have done it for pay.

Student, $40 per year - Students are allowed to join the Professional Writers Association of Canada, as long as they are enrolled as a full-time student in a recognized post-secondary institution.

To read all of the details of membership criteria, visit the PWAC's membership page.

The CAA is a strong advocate for copyright protection
The CAA is a strong advocate for copyright protection

Canadian Authors Association (CAA)

"Writers Helping Writers" is the CAA's tagline. The CAA has been around since 1921, so it is a reputable and respected organization to be associated with, offering networking, promotion and protection of Canadian writers, along with a wide range of services and a more relaxed membership criteria.

These are the folks responsible for founding the Governor General's Literary Awards, the yearly publication of the Canadian Writer's Guide and National Newsline. The CAA has a rich history which includes members such as, Stephen Leacock and Robert Service. Constantly striving for improved copyright protection for Canadian writers everywhere, CAA is tirelessly committed to their cause.

Becoming a CAA member is possible not only for professional writers but also for aspiring writers, people who wish to support the association's authors, painters, poets, producers, booksellers. Anyone who creates or produces material that requires copyright, or anyone who is sympathetic to the CAA ideals can find a home with this association.

Membership is divided into three categories, same as PWAC. There some exceptions between the two organizations that can be found in the category descriptions.

Professional, $150 per year - You must write for pay (does not have to be for a living) and submit your application with accompanying documentation to support that fact.

Associate, $150 per year - Anyone who is not a professional fits into this category. You can upgrade to pro at any time.

Student, 50 per year - Students who can prove they attend a recognized educational institution full time.

This is just a brief summary. For further details, please read the CAA Membership page.

Even if you don't join the Canadian Authors Association, do read their history. It makes for fascinating reading, I recommend at least a scanning of all the literary notches CAA has in its belt. If nothing else, it will give you greater appreciation for the strides made in the writing industry.

The Writers' Union of Canada is for book authors who have a project/contract in the works or has already been published
The Writers' Union of Canada is for book authors who have a project/contract in the works or has already been published

The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC)

The TWUC is for book authors. It has been working to better the position of writers since 1973. This organization provides resources and support, going to bat for writers whenever necessary. As with CAA and PWAC, The Writers' Union of Canada offers a wealth of helpful information, tools and programs, along with the camaraderie of other industry members.

If you're a book writer looking for a bulldog of an association to join, this may be for you. TWUC is fearless when it comes to protecting its members. Currently, they are taking on Google, the Canadian government and income tax legislation. It seems that no issue is too big or too small for this association. All that matters is that a writer's work is safe from copyright infringement and that writers are treated and paid fairly.

Eligibility for membership with TWUC is based on two things. Obviously, you have to be Canadian, or at least a permanent resident of Canada. The other criteria? This is from the TWUC website:

"you must have had a trade book published by a commercial or university press or the equivalent in another medium. Writers who have a first book contract in hand with a trade or university press may apply for membership prior to the publication of their book. Membership renewal will be dependent on the publication (or pending publication) of the book."

The cost to join TWUC is $190 per year. This association does not have categories of membership, however they do offer a discounted rate of $95 for the first year.

Myriad of Other Professional Associations for Canadian Writers

There are at least sixty-seven different associations for Canadian writers. I know, I counted. I'm already at over a thousand words in this hub, so obviously, I can't detail them here. What I will do is just list some of the national ones below. There are lots of provincial and regional organizations that I may do hubs separately for.

Giving Back

This site appeals to my heart. If you know of a writer who is a senior and in dire financial circumstances or ever become one yourself, think of seeking help from the Canadian Writers' Foundation. If you're able to, please donate to this worthy cause.

© 2010 Shirley Anderson


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