Writers' Union of Canada Members Vote to Admit Qualified Self-Published Authors

Writers' Union
Press Release

Writers' Union of Canada Members Vote to Admit Qualified Self-Published Authors

Referendum requiring a 2/3 majority vote passes
With a large majority, members of The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) voted in favour of opening membership in the Union to professional, self-published authors. The referendum was held following a unanimous recommendation from delegates to the 2013 TWUC AGM in Ottawa last June.
The Union consulted with members on the question for a year in advance of the 2013 AGM, and continued to debate the question in a series of face-to-face regional meetings, and in public forums such as the TWUC Showcase event at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors Reading Series. In the referendum vote, held online over the last three weeks, TWUC members voted 79% in favour of admitting qualified self-published authors. 18% voted against the idea, while 3% abstained. As a constitutional amendment, the question required at least a 67% majority to pass.
"The membership and volunteer leaders of the Union have taken a long, hard, and responsible look at the state of the writing and publishing industries worldwide,” noted current TWUC Chair, Dorris Heffron, “and we have concluded there is a population of highly professional self-published authors who would be well-served by membership in TWUC.”
The change to TWUC’s membership criteria will require amendment of the not-for-profit’s constitution, which will take place at the upcoming TWUC AGM in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  The new criteria will allow self-published books as professional credit toward membership, as long as two important criteria are met. Self-published books presented by authors applying to join the Union must demonstrate commercial intent, and must be peer reviewed before being forwarded to the membership committee of the Union for approval based on existing criteria.
The full step-by-step procedure for assessment of self-published books will now be developed, and will be launched by the Union’s Membership Committee at the time of the constitutional change.
“It’s important to note we have not simply dropped the gate,” added Heffron. "TWUC membership criteria has always maintained it is not ‘easy’ to become a professionally published author. This vote is simply a recognition that the gatekeepers for this accomplishment have changed somewhat. The publishing industry remains a central arbiter of professional authorship. TWUC is now taking up the responsibility of gate-keeping as well.”
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The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing more than 2,000 professional authors of books. The Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers.  www.writersunion.ca

For additional information:

John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers' Union of Canada
416.703.8982 Ext. 221

Dorris Heffron           
Chair, The Writers’ Union of Canada