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The Writers’ Union of Canada expands membership criteria to early-career writers

Writers hoping to secure their first book deal may now be eligible to join The Writers’ Union of Canada and access its member support programs.

The advocacy organization is changing its membership criteria to a six-point system that welcomes writers with a combination of experiences and achievements. Qualifications that earn points include creative-writing degrees, journal publications, juried literary prizes, public readings, and spoken-word experience.

When TWUC was founded in 1973, members were required to already have a book published by a commercial or academic press. The criteria was expanded after a 2013 referendum in which 78 per cent of TWUC members voted to admit self-published authors.

TWUC members receive benefits such as funding for readings, professional development, group health insurance, and contract advice.

In a press release, TWUC executive director John Degen says, “What this means for the Union’s work 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.”