Monday, December 01, 2008

Canadian Writers Group has signed almost 200 to its list; Vancouver meeting planned

The Canadian Writers Group, the agency that former Toro editor Derek Finkle is launching to represent, among others, freelance magazine writers now has almost 200 signed up. Finkle says he is holding meetings in Vancouver in December to brief and recruit western writers.

Both meetings will be on December 11 at Simon Fraser University in Room 1415, 515 West Hastings Street. The first meeting will take place at 3 pm; the second will at 7 pm.

Meetings are also planned for Calgary and Montreal in January but details haven't been confirmed.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friendly advice to Mr. Finkle: It will be easy to represent esteemed writers like David Hayes who deserve every penny they get.

But anticipate grief from the crappy writers who get 10 cents a word and expect more.

You will discover there's a reason they're only getting that rate.

5:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, now's a good time to try and pressure publishers for more money. You might have noticed that magazines are dropping like flies. Paper costs go up, ad revenue goes down...guess what happens to freelance compensation.

5:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed: with ad revenues tanking, the year ahead will be one of penny-pinching, not dispensing larger writers' fees. Add to that the fact that editorial budgets are already set for 2009, and it's easy to predict Mr. Finkle's initiative will have a tough inaugural year. One wonders how many successes the group can reasonably expect, and how many losses it can sustain before members start to jump ship.

11:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last two decades have been about penny-pinching, not dispensing larger writers' fees, Mr. Van Winkle.


9:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad this group is coming to the fore, it'll open up some work for other freelancers. Good luck folks, see ya at the Food Bank!

10:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Mr. Finkle is doing is irresponsible. In his quest to establish himself as an icon in the Canadian writing field he will lead hundreds of writers down a path of false hope.

Just wait until editor's are forced to pass on writers because of expectations of exaggerated compensation bolstered by Finkle's rhetoric. Existing bridges will be burned and there won't be any going back.

This is the same kind of arrogance that killed Toro

12:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm amazed at the antagonism towards writers evident in many of these posts. Some thoughts:
* Know what 10 cents a word gets you? A crappy writer.
* Magazines dropping like flies? Come on, let's get real. Two St. Joe's magazines--publications that have been on the ropes for years--have closed. Anyone who saw the numbers would have guessed it was coming even without a recession. And Masthead? Life continues online--a better model for it.
* Budgets set for 2009? We all know budgets get revisited quarterly--and in this environment, likely monthly. Let's not pretend the numbers can't be shifted--if paper prices went up, they would be.
* Exaggerated compensation? Even if rates DOUBLED they'd still not have kept pace with salaries for every other staff position in this industry over the last 30 years.

2:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Writers Group? Whining about how little money you make is pathetic.

3:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re that last posting, I've never seen a budget revisited and then plumped up with more money for the editorial department. Quite the opposite, actually. And in the current environment, well, dream on. Of course, all of this is not to say good writers don't deserve more money. They do. I was merely pointing out some rather unfortunate realities that Mr. Finkle is up against.

3:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, you can get some dynamite writers for 10 cents a word. Just read Spacing and Maisonneuve.

What I'm sure irritates a lot of editors are writers who think whatever comes out of their ass is gold.

5:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will always be reasons and excuses for paying freelance writers slave wages. We could be in a recession or in a boom time.

The association is a nice idea, but in practice I don't know how it would work. There is no one running the association who has any experience with the the business of magazine publishing. How can they negotiate a writer contract when they are missing half the story? Do they really think they can increase rates so much that it would cover the commission? Good luck.

10:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, they can increase rates by more than 10 percent, and magazines can afford to increase rates.

If the industry actually depended on paying contributors 1970 wages in 2008 dollars to survive, it would have been extinct long ago. Freelance contributions are about the smallest expenditure in a magazine's budget, after petty cash.

And there's no time like the present to do something about the situation. What is different about the CWG, and the reason it may finally make a difference, is that a bunch of writers are sticking together to hold out for more money.

Writers who don't join should be opportunistic -- by also asking for more money, NOT by taking on more assignments at existing rates. That way, rates will rise across the board, and not just for an elite group.

1:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People in the CWG aren't whining anymore -- they're taking action. That is far from pathetic -- it is courageous and long overdue.

2:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea if they'll be successful or not. But I'm certain of this: the "industry" is a joke, created on the backs of a creative serf class.

It needs to be dramatically overhauled, or put out of its misery.

7:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a writer who was approached by CWG and will not be joining. It doesn't make financial sense if you do make a decent income--and some of us do, thanks very much. I've spoken with colleagues listed as the first wave of those "who have indicated their desire to join" on the CWG website and they've only indicated an interest in perusing a copy of the (as yet undelivered) contract, not joining.

To say they're signing on is misleading and dishonest --trying to create a fake critical mass where it simply doesn't exist.

Sure, we'd all like to make more, but for in-demand writers, $1.50/word and up exists: you just have to ask for it, and prove you're worth it.

2:30 pm  

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