The Professional Writers Association of Canada is a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides support, development and networking opportunities for professional writers while also working to improve working conditions and rates for writers across Canada.
Who Should Join?
Most of PWAC’s members are non-fiction freelance writers, “but if you are a professional writer getting paid for your work as a technical writer, blogger, copywriter, magazine/newspaper journalist, ghost writer, or a writer in any type of communications role, you would benefit from membership,” explains general manager Margaret DeRosia.
There are three levels of membership: Professional, Associate and Student. Professional Members make up the majority of the organization’s membership. To qualify, applicants must have professionally published at least three articles or major writing projects within the past two years, have been on a magazine or newspaper writing staff for at least one year, or have published one non-fiction book. Associate Members, who enjoy the same benefits but are not eligible to serve on the national or chapter boards of directors, need to have published at least one non-fiction article within the previous year. To qualify as a Student Member, an applicant must be registered as a full-time student at a recognized Canadian post-secondary school.
PWAC members pay annual dues. Current national dues are $240 a year for Professional and Associate Members, and $40 for Student Members. In some regions, chapters may also charge an additional fee to cover the cost of local events.
Benefits of Joining PWAC
Some of PWAC’s benefits are available to anyone with an internet connection. These online resources include a downloadable standard agreement template, in-depth information on copyright law in Canada, and guidelines on setting fees.
Members get access to more resources and contacts. They also get their own database profile on PWAC’s sister site, Writers.ca, which can be a powerful tool for self-promotion. Writers.ca allows those looking for freelancers to search the entire database by subject, type of writing, geographical area or publication name.
Beyond the standard material available to the public, members also gain access to other publications, including the PWAC Guide to Roughing it in the Market, the PWAC Guide to Editing as a Sideline and the PWAC Copyright Kit, as well as a number of reports, such as the PWAC Canadian Professional Writers Survey Report, and the Respect and Remuneration Report. Those who join the association are also given a PWAC press card and are eligible for discounts at certain hotels, insurance firms and retailers.
Members may also find themselves featured on the PWAC website, such as through one of the spotlights on member achievements and awards, or in its promotional listing of books and materials written by its membership.
What Events Does PWAC Host?
For those seeking networking opportunities or even just personal support, some of the chapters offer mentorship programs, as well as local social events, workshops and professional development opportunities.
“Chapter events vary considerably, depending on the region, number of members, and access to resources,” notes DeRosia. “Generally events fall into one of two categories: first, professional development events in writing and building a career as a freelancer, or second, more general social events for networking with other writers.”
PWAC also hosts online discussion lists, a LinkedIn group and forums for its members.
Once a year, the association puts on its National Conference and AGM in conjunction with MagNet, the biggest publishing industry event in Canada, inviting members from across the country to take part in a weekend of socializing, networking and professional development. The event takes place in downtown Toronto.
History of the Organization
PWAC was founded in 1976 as the Periodical Writers Association of Canada. The group changed its name to the Professional Writers Association of Canada in 2005 to reflect the broadening scope of their membership. Today, it has over 600 members and 21 chapters across the country, with a main office in Toronto. Some of their current members include author and New York Times syndicated columnist Craig Silverman (currently the President of PWAC), author and Toronto Star columnist Ann Douglas, and Paul Lima who is known as “The Six-Figure Freelancer.”
To join PWAC or ask questions about the organization, visit its website for contact information.
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