While at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, I met with the vice chair of the Swedish Writers’ Union (Sveriges Författarförbund), Sweden’s formal and officially sanctioned support institution for writers, in the context of discussions on official support for writers. The Swedish Writers’ Union is “the central professional organisation for writers and literary translators in Sweden,” as their materials state. “We safeguard the economic and moral interests of our members by defending freedom of expression and of the press, and keeping up to date with copyright stipulations and the laws regulating copyright.”
This is the feedback they gave me on how their body operates.
“To become a member of our union you need to be an active author or translator, which means you need to have published at least two works to be accepted as a member,” the Writers’ Union spokesperson told me. “However we also support new writers. Among other things, we offer advice from our legal counsels regarding their agreements and negotiations with publishing houses.We also offer them to participate in our conversational forum ‘Fyren’ (The Lighthouse).”
The Writers’ Union also operates the Swedish equivalent of the UK’s Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, in partnership with the Writers’ Guild, the Educational Writers’ Union, and the Journalist’s Union. Through this, the Writers’ Union helps channel official support for writers and translators, but “the most important is the public lending remuneration,” according to the spokesperson. “We are currently working to increase the remuneration since we have had a political climate for a number of years, [towards] not supporting authors and translators.”
Furthermore, according to the spokesperson, “until about 20 years ago, the Swedish Writers’ Union had a general agreement with the Publisher’s Association. Since they cancelled the agreement, we have been working to negotiate with each publishing house separately. However we still have a general agreement for translators, for which we are very happy.”
Further details can also be found on the Writers’ Union website, here.