Baltic Writers Council (BWC), General Assembly 6–7 May 2022
Ville Hytönen (The Union of Finnish Writers)
On behalf of the Union of Finnish Writers, I would like to greet our colleagues in the Baltic Sea in these terrible times of scare and havoc of humanism.
We all hope that our prestigious Sea will long live in peace.
Shortly about Our Writers union: We represent about 820 professional writers of all fiction genres. Union was founded 1897. Our task is to strengthen the professional position of authors and promote Finnish literature.
The main topics that we quickly added to these conversations are related to copyrights and audiobooks.
1. As we all know, the popularity of audio books in nordic countries has given us a lot of new questions about the revenues, the income of the writers.
The most recent win for writers ’rights came this year when we made loanable ebooks and audiobooks eligible for library compensation. In these terms we are also interested in compensation in other countries for e-books.
In Finnish writers unions magazine “Kirjailija” we also made an issue considering audio books. In this issue there was also perspective… or point of view of the Swedish Writers Union.
Two main Swedish audio literature distributors BookBeat and Storytel are also the main audiobook companies in Finland, as well they own three of the four biggest publishing labels in our home country. For these reasons we are interested in how BookBeat and Storytel do work in your literature market.
2. During these days we are undergoing the reform of the copyright law in Finland, mostly because of the implementation of the DSM directive. So we are discussing possibilities of the collective agreement about minimum compensations with publishers.
As a former publisher I remember that we have had some kind of proposal templates to publishing agreements about 15 years ago but maybe it will be possible to deal with the law.
3. In Finnish Writers Union we are undergoing a change as our long-term Verksamhetsledare, executive manager, has moved to other positions and we are looking for a new manager now.
In this intermission of the opera play called representing Finnish writers, we, members of the board, are here to present all the roles for these acts.
Alexander Løken (Norwegian Writers for Children)
Norske Barne- og Ungdomsbokforfattere (Norwegian Writers for Children) was founded in 1947 and has 387 members (as of May 2022). NBU is an independent association. The purpose of the association is to safeguard the professional and financial interests of Norwegian authors of children´s fiction-literature, as well as to protect and promote Norwegian children’s literature.
The NBU is mainly financed through collectively collected fees, including Biblioteksvederlaget (library fees) which are distributed via the Norwegian Writers ‘and Translators’ Fund (NFOF) as individual stipends, scholarships, as well as funds for administration and various activities for writers.
Membership is open to all authors residing in Norway, as well as Norwegian authors residing abroad, when they alone or in equal collaboration with another author have written at least two children’s or young adult books (fiction) which, regardless of written language, have been purchased by the Norwegian Cultural Council.
Other applicants with a minimum of two books are assessed by NBU’s literary council according to further guidelines.
NBU’s motto: The best books for the most important readers.
1) NBU shall ensure good laws and collective agreements for the authors.
2) NBU shall provide advice and assistance to authors to safeguard their professional rights and needs.
3) NBU will work to ensure that more people can make a living from being children’s books and Young Adult authors.
4) The NBU shall be a visible and clear player in cultural policy and public debate to promote children´s literature and the authors’ interests.
5) The NBU shall be the most important academic and social environment for authors of children´s and YA-fiction.
6) The NBU shall contribute to Norwegian literature for children and young adults reaching more readers and being world-class in terms of quality.
– The Norwegian book law
– The national reading strategy
– Negotiating a collective agreement for use of books in digital school libraries and learning materials
– Updating and renegotiating the standard contracts
– Working for an increase in fees for speaking engagements and school visits
– Aiding Ukrainian refugees and writers
– Working for pension and social rights for writers
Negotiation: Audiobooks in streaming
In January 2021, NBU started negotiations on an association agreement (standard contract) for audio books in streaming services with the Norwegian Publishers’ Association.
In the first negotiation meetings, we were concerned with gaining insight into the streaming services ‘statistics, mapping young listeners’ user patterns and seeing how different remuneration models could affect the income of authors of children´s books. At the same time DnF and FF were negotiation their own agreement.
Before Christmas of 2020, the NBU warned its members that Storytel wanted to go from unit price-based royalties to a time-based model. This would drastically affect the children and youth book authors, especially the authors of the shortest books. When we arrived at the negotiating table, the message from the publishers was clear: They wanted a time model, and the starting point was just over 1 kroner per hour.
The NBU worked hard in the first months to avoid a time model that would drastically reduce members’ incomes. The NBU insisted that literature is not by the meter, and that the length of the book should not be what determines its artistic value. After many rounds and hard pressure from the NBU, we received the good news that Storytel Norway decided to move away from the plan for a time model and preserve the unit price model. We are currently the only country in the world that has a unit price agreement with Storytel.
Another important point of negotiation was the problem of repeated listening – that is, that a subscriber listens to the same book several times, and how this should be remunerated. There has been a concern among publishers that the shortest children’s books receive a disproportionate number of repeated listens. In order not to incur a fee for repeated listens, we still had to accept a somewhat lower fee rate for the very shortest books.
In the last phases of the negotiation rounds, the NBU collaborated with DnF and the Norwegian Writers’ Association. An agreement was made to set up a joint technical calculation committee for literature which will collect data from the subscription services and present relevant statistics. It was also agreed that the parties can meet for annual renegotiations.
Heidi Marie Kriznik (Norwegian Authors’ Union)
Norwegian Authors’ Union, founded in 1893, has about 700 members, and is an association for authors of works of fiction for adults. Its aim is to promote Norwegian literature and uphold the interests of Norwegian fiction writers. Both members and non-members can apply for grants and receive support and legal advice from the union. When The Norwegian Authors’ Union celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 1993, the Ministry of Culture gave the union an annual gift in the form of the Freedom of Expression Prize Today, the award is worth 200 000 Norwegian kroner. The prize is given annually to a Norwegian or foreign author who has excelled in their work for freedom of expression and tolerance in the broadest sense. The winner of the award is selected by The Norwegian Authors’ Union international committee. DnF’s operating costs are covered by collective funds, primarily from the Public Lending Right scheme, Norwaco, and Kopinor.
With the change of government in 2021, a booklaw was again possible and is now being discussed between the parts in the bookindustry.
In Norway, we have fixed prices on books only by an exception from the Norwegian competition law and the fixed prices has been debated a lot. The new government has promised a booklaw and that will secure the fixed prices. The fixed prices are crucial for the authors, while the fixed prices decides their basis for royalties and gives the authors some economical predictability. The Norwegian Authors’ union are in dialogue with the government and have had several meetings. A law proposal will be presented for the parliament this autumn and there will be a public parliament enquiry. We are told that the booklaw can be implemented January 2023.
The standard contracts in Norway define the rights and obligations of the given writer and publisher. The agreements ensure for example that authors published by a publisher who is a member of the Norwegian Publishers Association are entitled to royalties in line with the current rates. However, we have seen that the publishers are lowering the authors’ royalties, and the basis for their royalties without any negotiation between unions/associations. The Norwegian Authors’ Union and Norwegian Writers for Children have spent a lot of time discussing and debating the publisher’s extension.
Linked to the previous description of the misuse of our standard contracts, The Norwegian Authors’ union look forward to work for a good implementation of the DSM-directive to achieve more balance between the publishers, the streaming of audiobooks, and the authors, as well as to achieve more transparency into the money flow.
The CRM directive which was implemented into Norwegian legislation in 2021 has been a source of concern for The Norwegian Authors union – as well as the other authors organizations – due to the changes it inflicts on the distribution of funds allocated to the authors organizations through collective management organizations.
Under the pandemic situation many writers lost income and honoraries when arrangement were cancelled. The Norwegian Authors union wanted to find new ways to give authors income, and applied to Art Council Norway and got support for our plan, which were to have a pool of authors to be digital lent out for free to reading circles and bookgroups in Norway. The meetings with the author was digital, on zoom or TEAMS, and the author of course got paid.We did these in both 2020 og 2021.
The Freedom of Expression Prize: In 2021 The Freedom of Expression Prize was given to the Belarusian poets Dmitri Strotsev and Hanna Komar. In march this year the price was given to the Kurdish author Ilhan Comac and the turkian author Ahmed Altan.
The Norwegian Authors union has had contact with the Belarusian writers since 2017 and every year we send a Norwegian author to join the writing school or/and the festivals. This year the Stralcou poetry festival was arranged in Vilnius, of reasons we all know, and the Norwegian poet Bendik Vada participated and read on the festival.
Last year we started to cooperate with afghan writers in Norway together with the Norwegian non-fiction writers association. This year we arranged a seminar titled How can Norwegian readers get to know afghan literature? Both publishers, translators, authors and Norwegian pen among others were invited.
Hilde Lyng (Norwegian Association of Literary Translators)
Founded in 1948, 340 members who translate from 45 languages into Norwegian and from Norwegian into 17 different languages
Membership requirement: two published fiction translations (books, plays) judged by a vetting committee to hold sufficient quality, or one translation judged by a vetting committee, as well as proof of a production of three translations over the previous four years
Organises annual three-day members’ seminar in the autumn, annual end of year meeting, AGM, all attended by approximately a third of the members
Awards the Bastian prizes
Provides legal advice and support for members and other literary translators
Represents literary translators in a number of national organisations, federations, committees
We share quite a few of the same concerns as other European organizations regarding the DSM directive. But Norwegian writers and translators already has have an exemption from the competition legislation and are allowed to enter collective bargaining agreements.
The CRM directive which was implemented into Norwegian legislation in 2021 has been a source of concern for NO – as well as the other authors organizations – due to the changes it inflicts on the distribution of funds allocated to the authors organizations through collective management organizations.
The implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty will also effect the compensation for production and use of audio books for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled.
NO and the artists network Kunstnernettverket, consisting of 19 artists organisations, are working towards better welfare schemes for freelance cultural workers. In the wake of the pandemic the main focus is on establishing better sickness benefits, as well as a permanent unemployment compensation for self-employed cultural workers. A bill with the aim to put such a scheme into effect was passed in the Parliament in March 2022. The network is also working on improving pension schemes for freelancers, in addition NO has its own task force working towards the same goal, more specifically for wage earning freelancers.
The new standard contract for fiction and non-fiction translations, negotiated between NO and NFFO on one side and The Norwegian Publishers Organization on the other, took effect in January 2020. The contract covers e-books, audio books and streaming (of both e-books and audio books), as well as traditional paper books. NO has also negotiated new agreements with the collective management organization Kopinor and the Association of Norwegian Theatres and Orchestras. NO has also been involved in the central PLR negotiations with the Ministry of Culture.
It turns out that a new publisher on the Norwegian market, Swedish Bonnier, has made their own interpretation of the contract regarding audio books from backlist. Moreover they have published more than 50 audiobooks without paying the translator, and thus violating the copyright legislation
The Norwegian PLR (Public lending rights remuneration) differs from most other countries’ PLR in that it is not copyright based and thus distributed to individual copyright holders but is rather a part of Norwegian cultural politics and is allotted to artists organizations, which in their turn distribute the remuneration as grants and other subsidies, as well as the running of the organizations. It is the most important source of income for the literary organizations.
As a result of the modern library ideology of scrapping, as well as the closure of smaller, local libraries, the model for PLR allocation needed renovation, and a new PLR agreement between the authors organizations and the Ministry of Culture was negotiated and settled in 2019. The sum allocated to PLR is now calculated based on items in the National Library (rather than on loans from all libraries as in some other countries) and is adjusted according to the consumer price index. The new model secures a year by year growth in the remuneration. The agreement was prolonged for the period 2021-2024 and is then to be evaluated.
NO has two dedicated lobby groups that work with improving state welfare schemes and strengthening the library purchase schemes respectively.
FOR THE PUBLIC
Courses and seminars
In November 2021 NO organised a seminar for translators of romantic and crime fiction, and in February 2022 a seminar for translators of children’s and YA literature was held. In January we organized a seminar on translators rights, welfare and mental health: “How to Become Rich and Happy as a Translator”, and a seminar on poetry translation will be held in 2022. NOs seminars are open to members and non-members alike.
NOs flagship project, NOleks, the Norwegian Translators Encyclopedia, was initiated in 2016 and now comprises more than 140 articles, both biographical and thematical, about late translators and translations. In 2020 The Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association (NFFO) entered as a partner in the project, and the project has also received support from the Arts Council, the Freedom of Speech Foundation and the Goethe-Institut. In collaboration with University of Oslo NO arranged the seminar Translators and Translations Through History in January 2022.
Workshop for authors in exile
In September, during the Kapittel festival in Stavanger which focuses on freedom of speech, NO organised a workshop for authors in exile in collaboration with PEN Norway. For two days four authors collaborate closely with four translators on the a translation of a short text, which is then presented at a public happening on the second evening. The concept has proved very successful, and last year’s workshop was the seventh so far. Funded among others by the Arts Council and The Freedom of Speech Foundation.
NO was also present with a literary programme at Norwegian Festival of Literature (Lillehammer, May 2021 – in 2020 a digital programme) Bjørnson Festival (Molde, August 2021) and LitFest Bergen – Bergen International Literary Festival (Bergen, January 2022). NO also participated in a panel about diversity in translation at the Good Night Oslo Festival (Oslo, August 2021)
NO presented two papers at the Conference Northern Winds of Change, organized by
The Baltic Writers and Translators Council (BWC), Conseil Européen des Associations de Traducteurs Littéraires (CEATL), Féderation Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT),
International Authors Forum (IAF), Nordic Council of Authors and Translators (NFOR) and Nordic Translators Network (NORNE).
Marius Burokas (Lithuanian Writers’ Union)
According to the latest figures, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union has 353 members, of which 5 do not have the Status of Art Creator, meaning they do not have a right to vote. The number of true Union members is 348 (141 women and 212 men), which means that the number of members is decreasing. For comparison, 18 years ago, in 2002, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union had 373 members. However, 13 new members have joined the Union in just this year and the year before.
The last two years of the pandemic have seen the Lithuanian Writers’ Union become more modern and pursue different avenues of activity; perhaps it was the pandemic that prompted the Union to build a more active presence on the internet and social media. The Union has become involved in numerous audio and visual projects with its writers. An updated version of the LWU website www.rasytojai.lt was developed, addressing technical aspects with more modern solutions, which gave the website a fresher design and made it more convenient to its users. Its writer database was also updated with new information and photographs of the writers.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union also launched its podcast called Rašytnamis, which has already aired 7 episodes of its contemporary literature show “Žmonės ir tekstai” (People and Texts, audio recordings are available on Podbean, Spotify, 15min Klausyk, and www.rasytojai.lt). Based on the episodes 7 articles were written and published on www.rasytojai.lt and www.15min.lt. Eighteen artists and other professionals were involved in the process.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union conducted and published a cycle of 12 original interviews with creative literary professionals called “Viršukalnės ir buitis” (Mountaintops and Households), which were supplemented with professional photographs of the interviewees. The interviews were uploaded on www.rasytojai.lt and the news portal of the Union’s information partner 15min.
The Union has also prepared a cycle of lessons on literature, which were designed to accommodate the interests of students of secondary and third education institutions, their teachers, as well as anyone curious about poetry and prose. The project team led by poet Indrė Valantinaitė recorded 21 lessons, where well-known Lithuanian writers discuss Lithuanian literature as well as their own writing and the ways in which readers can understand works of poetry and prose. These lessons are not only an excellent educational tool for Lithuanian schools but also hold significant cultural value. The project, sadly, had to be put on hold, as it has not received any funding this year from the Lithuanian Council for Culture.
The LWU continued to work with young artists. The Union organized its “Summer Academy” creative workshop in Anykščiai for sixteen 9th–12th grade pupils from schools across Lithuania, where they attended lectures, seminars, and courses taught by professionals from various creative fields. The Union also organized five open mic readings “Literatūrinis sprintas” (Literary Sprint), where more than 120 beginner writers of all age groups read their original works in front of an audience (three of the events were conducted remotely, one was held in Vilnius, and one in Nida).
The continued activities of the network of Baltic literary organizations were successful: during the course of festivals organized in 2021, members of the network met five times to share their experience in organizing literary festivals (twice in Lithuania, twice in Estonia and once in Latvia). The meetings in Lithuania were organized during the 2021 Poetry Spring and Druskininkai Poetic Fall festivals, including four readings by Baltic authors.
Six professional writers and translators from Lithuania participated in three translation workshops organized at more than one Baltic studies center, which were attended by 35 young translators seeking to perfect their craft.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union worked together with the Estonian Writers’ Union, Latvian Writers’ Union, the Latvian Literature organization, and cultural magazines The Vilnius Review and Estonian Literary Magazine (ELM) on founding the first yearly magazine No More Amber – The Baltic Literary Review, which publishes work by authors from all three Baltic States and the first edition of which was published in July 2021. In addition to being founded and having published its first issue, the magazine also has an active presence on social media (Facebook, Instagram) and has its own website at www.nomoreamber.com. No More Amber was presented on five occasions at various Baltic and international literary events. The second issue of the magazine is currently in the works.
The LWU has organized book launches for three Kartvelian anthologies, involving more than 20 professional artists.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union founded its annual “Centenary Award,” the first recipient of which was writer Vytautas Martinkus, who received the award for his intellectually charged and meaning-driven prose, dignified attitude, and public artistic efforts.
The cultural press of the LWU has also managed to survive the pandemic period. It still publishes its biweekly literary magazine Literatūra ir menas as well as the monthly Metai. Both of these magazines have had their websites updated. Also still flourishing is The Vilnius Review, an online magazine for Lithuanian literature in English that publishes works by Lithuanian authors and has also released its paperback anthologies both in 2020 and 2021.
In spite of the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the annual Poetry Spring and Poetic Druskininkai Fall literary festivals were still held, although because of the pandemic, Poetry Spring was moved to the summer, held in the months of July and early August in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Effort was put to maintain both the number of events and the structural integrity of the festivals. However, the number of foreign guests, understandably, was much smaller and consisted of writers from neighboring countries (Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary).
In 2021, the publishing house of the LWU published 57 new books: 13 poetry books, 17 Lithuanian prose and 27 foreign authors’ books, and 4 children’s books. The Lithuanian Council for Culture provided funding for publishing 28 of these books in 2021 and 26 in 2020.
The Lithuanian Writers’ Union is planning to rejuvenate its physical presence as well: it is currently preparing two funding projects for the renovation of the Palace premises belonging to the Union. One of these projects will be submitted to the Department of Lithuanian Culture, while the other will be put forward through European Union funding programs.
Tiit Aleksejev (Estonian Writers Union)
Estonian Writers Union unites fiction writers, translators, literary scholars, altogether we have 330 members. The authors who apply for membershipo, they need belonging to an organization and validation of their works. We live on our rent income and are independent from the state. COVID has affected the situation, rent income has decreased. In 2022 October we will celebrate 100th anniversary of EWU. We also have established our own youtube channel where recordings of literary events are dissiminated. We have good connection Finnish writers and collaboration with Baltic authors (journal “No More Amber“). Withe help of private money and Estonian Cultural Endowment it has been possible to create project Hieronymus that supports translating classical literature. Estonian state provides 5 salaries for writerss a year (with social guarantees). EWU is supporting friends from Ukraine and Belorus. As a recap, we can say that EWU unites trade union field with mission based field
Anna Klingofer-Szosatkowska (Polish Assciation of Literary Translators)
Since 2020, that is since the beginning of the pandemic, many activities have changed both in form and the number of participants. Most meetings and literary events, such as discussions, workshops, seminars, as well as book fairs, took part online. Now we are slowly returning to the off-line environment. The landscape of our activities has been greatly impacted by the war in Ukraine, with all the organizations being involved in providing support for the refugees.
1. Working Conditions Survey Results: Between 13th January and 9th February 2020, the Polish Literary Translators Association conducted an extensive survey on translators’ working conditions, based on 550 contracts submitted by 196 respondents (about 20% of active literary translators). It concerned elements such as fees, contracts, copyright and license regulations, gender gap, and the impact of membership in a professional organization on the situation of a translator. This year we are preparing a new edition of the survey, and planning to make it a regular activity.
2. In 2020, together with writers and illustrators, we have entered discussions with a group of publishers, with the intention of reaching an agreement on minimal requirements and a code of good practice. We have formulated our expectations and are currently awaiting comments from the publishers as well as their own set of expectations. We are hoping to have a preliminary agreement by autumn.
3. Since 2021, we have been providing legal aid for our members, in cases regarding contracts, copyright infringement, or other legal disputes between translators and publishers. Our association finances the first consultation with a lawyer, and the translator involved is obliged to summarise their conclusions to the board.
4. At the central level, in 2020-2021, we organized various workshops and training for our members, on topics such as Building self-confidence, negotiating, relations with clients, Translator-editor collaboration, or Feminine forms, loanwords, youth language, as well as physiotherapy. Currently, we are preparing a workshop about the effects of the pandemic on professional burnout.
5. Every year we participated in book fairs in major cities, such as: Warsaw, Gdańsk, Kraków, and Poznań, with panel discussions, workshops, and other activities. In 2020, the events were organized online, in 2021 they had a hybrid form, with only some organized online. This year, in cooperation with NORLA, we will host a panel discussion and a workshop on the situation of literary translators in Poland and Norway.
6. Local divisions of the Polish Literary Translators Association organized various events promoting the visibility of translators, the most popular in the last year being „Przekład przed publikacją” and „Przekład przed korektą” – readings of translated works before publication and discussions with translators about their translation process
7. Every year in October we celebrate International Translation Day, in Warsaw in cooperation with EUNIC, and in other cities with more and more cultural institutions interested in promoting the role of the translator in the creative process. In 2020, the celebrations took the form of an online translators’ gallery, covering most of the European languages, and in 2021 we returned to in-person meetings with a two-day event.
8. In cooperation with our fellow Polish writers’ organization, the Literary Union, we have organized an information hub for Ukrainian writers and translators, providing information on housing, funding, and collaboration options, and connecting them with Polish writers and translators who offer help with everyday issues.
9. We have participated in organizing literary residencies in Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdańsk. At the moment, the second round of the literary residency programme for writers, playwrights, and translators in Warsaw is open to authors from Belarus and Ukraine, with the support of Staromiejski Dom Kultury.
10. We have been forced to limit our expenses in the nearest years due to the economic situation (as our only source of income are membership fees).
Barys Piatrovich (The Union of Belarusian Writers)
The Union of Belarusian Writes was shut down by government in 2021. Nevertheless the activities of the union continued unofficially. The authors write in Belarusian and Russian languages, there is also a section of Ukrainian writers. Some authors act as regional writers. There are no book launches, the gatherings are forbidden. The books of the Belarusian authors are published in Poland. The Union of Belarusian Writers tries to find ways to register the organization abroad as international Belarusian Writers’ organisation. The have been collaboration with other countries – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Sweden. We thank for the support.
Anna-Säflund Orstadius (Swedish Writers Union)
Annual report drawn up in Swedish kronor by the thousand, TSEK.
Swedish Writers’ Association – Business Year 2021
According to its charter, the Swedish Writers’ Association must protect freedom of expression and strengthen the ability of its members to work professionally as writers and translators. In 2021, the Board of Directors chose to focus its work in this area on
– Increase the value of books – Following developments and meeting the challenges of the digital book market with regard to copyright, contracts and remuneration.
– Strengthen cultural policy to include sharp proposals concerning the role of literature and libraries in society – By continuing the debate and maintaining dialogue until the 2022 elections.
– Look after the financial interests of authors and translators by giving them increased access to social security and public reimbursement systems.
– The association should be perceived as a relevant and important organisation for professional authors and translators, both now and in the future.
Covid-19 continued to affect the association in 2021, just as it did the rest of society. In accordance with the advice of the government, staff have largely been working from home. Most meetings and events have been held digitally, which reduced travel and accommodation expenses. However, the annual meeting in August could be held in person as usual in Stockholm due to a relief in the infection numbers and a lifting of the most strict restrictions. Furthermore, as a result of the pandemic, the association has granted rent discounts to tenants (restaurants and guesthouses) and received partial compensation for this measure via the state aid that was provided at the beginning of the year.
Announcements and use of scholarships has also been impacted by the pandemic as scholarship recipients have not been able to travel as planned. As such, we have chosen to delay the majority of the scholarships. It should also be mentioned that the property in Athens owned by the association has unfortunately been subjected to multiple cases of vandalism and burglary. This is also a result of the pandemic as the property is located in an area that has been more or less uninhabited due to restrictions.
The crisis fund that was set up in the spring of 2020 through contributions from multiple authors, foundations and publishers was also able to distribute smaller amounts to authors and translators in acute financial situations due to the pandemic in 2021.
In 2021, negotiations have been held with a publisher concerning translation agreements. Discussions are also ongoing with other publishers on the author’s side.
The Writers’ Association have also been part of two committees regarding the implementation of the DSM Directive. The committee has submitted its proposal and following a period of intense work analysing the proposals, a statement was submitted in December 2021.
We have also participated in the evaluation of the Private Copying Levy. We are also currently working on the so called Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. We have also handled issues concerning hybrid publishers, as we have received many queries regarding this in our consultations. Advice and information on this matter are now available on our website. Consultations with members and debutantes continues.
We were happy to learn that the talking book allowance subsidy was raised to SEK 12,169,000 in 2021, with administrative deductions being applied. The talking book multiple for the 2020 production year was SEK 0.56. (the 2017 level was SEK 0.95) per half hour of original prose. As the use of talking books is becoming more common, the Association continues to petitions for a higher allowance.
The Swedish Writers’ Association has also continued working to elevate public opinion of the value of books, with the aim of highlighting how copyright and remuneration are being eroded in the digital market, not least through the increased importance of streaming services.
The library remuneration rate for loans at the library is renegotiated every two years between the state and the literary authors. The outcome of the 2021 negotiations is that the remuneration rate is raised by SEK 0.08 to SEK 2 for 2022 and then by an additional SEK 0.04 for 2023. This amounts to a total increase of SEK 3,696,000. As representatives for the author organisations, we would have liked to see a larger increase. Therefore, another important outcome from the negotiations has been that policy makers share our analysis of the expanded lending of e-books and the increased digitisation has changed the conditions for the library remuneration rate, and that we were promised a more in-depth dialogue on the issue in the autumn ahead of upcoming negotiations.
Substantive political work
In 2021, two of the Authors’ Association’s focal areas have provided guidance for the work, those being
– Strengthen cultural policy to include sharp proposals concerning the role of literature and libraries in society by continuing the debate and maintaining dialogue until the 2022 elections.
– Look after the financial interests of authors and translators by giving them increased access to social security and public reimbursement systems.
In 2021, many investigations that are important to the association have been circulated for comment. These include investigations concerning income qualifying for sickness allowance (SGI), the DSM Directive (a directive intended to further harmonise EU copyright law in order to facilitate a common internal market for digital use of copyrighted material), blank media tax (PKE), relief for micro businesses, deposit copy, the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, and the “Restart Investigation” (“Återstartsutredningen”). The Writers’ Association has actively worked on all of these and have submitted its own statements on the matter in most cases. The Swedish Writers’ Association is also a member of KLYS (the Swedish Joint Committee for Artistic and Literary Professionals) and is involved in both the organisation’s board and various working groups.
Another priority area for the Writers’ Association has been to continue to follow, petition and debate the situation with public libraries, the proposal for a national library strategy and the school library investigation.
The Writers’ Association continues to work with regional observers in counties that are revising their regional cultural plans, and in Sápmi. The main task is to monitor and influence how the word area is safeguarded in regional cultural plans, as well as specifically for the Sámi representative, to help improve the conditions for Sámi literature in Sweden and increase understanding of Sápmi as a cultural and cross-national region. There is also a council for Sámi literature. Three statements regarding regional cultural plans have been submitted during the year.
During the year, the association has also recruited a literary policy secretary to strengthen the association’s efforts.
Freedom of speech
The work is carried out on an ongoing basis, for example through the defence of freedom of expression in Sweden and globally, as well as work to promote minority language literature. The area includes efforts to combat threats and hatred, as well as support initiatives for vulnerable individual literary authors, including ICORN authors.
During 2021, the Swedish Writers’ Association continued its collaboration with Svenska Pen and others to push for the release of Dawit Isaak and Gui Minhai. Numerous debate articles were published, and public demonstrations were organised. The association has also followed the situation for authors, translators and cultural workers in Belarus in a close dialogue with peers from the country and from the rest of Europe. Tragically, our sister organisation in Belarus was liquidated on 1 October 2021.
Organisation and events
Much this activity in 2021 had to be conducted digitally due to the Corona pandemic. At the semi-digital Book and Library Fair in September, the association arranged a full-day programme which will be publicly available at our website until the end of the year. As in previous years, “Rum för Översättning “ (“Room for Translation”) was arranged, but this time the event was held at the semi-digital Book and Library Fair.
Over the course of the year, a number of digital courses for members have been organised, in part with support from the Swedish Arts Council. The association also launched a member survey regarding income, editions and formats. The results from the survey will be processed and presented in 2022.
At the association’s annual general meeting for 2021, the members once again demonstrated their confidence in Grethe Rottböll, who was re-elected as President of the Swedish Writers’ Association. The meeting was planned for May but was delayed until August and could be held as normal (almost) at the ABF building in Stockholm. The Board of Directors held 11 meetings during 2021, most of which were conducted remotely as digital meetings. Co-opted from the sections, the Library Council and the International Council participated in working committee meetings as well as the annual strategy meeting.
There were a number of changes on the personnel side. Jon Dahlén and Ulrika Nyh resigned from their positions as association lawyers in the spring of 2021. In their stead, Maria Wande and Åsa Anesäter took up the positions as association lawyers in March and August respectively. Ludvig Berggren assumed the position of literary policy secretary in June, filling the vacancy left by lawyer Ana Rahbari who resigned from the position in 2020.
During the year, the Board of Directors initiated a review of the association’s capital and investments, which resulted in an updated investment policy and a change of asset manager. This resulted in capital gains and unbudgeted revenues.
The association’s property on Drottninggatan 88B-C is in need of renovation and a maintenance plan has been drafted. According to said plan, 2021 has seen improvements made to the roof for safety and sweeping reasons. All windows have also been renovated and painted externally.
Jenni Kaven (Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters)
• Founded in 1955
• The oldest association representing translators and interpreters in Finland
• Approximately 1,750 members, including 355 professional literary translators (fiction, non-fiction)
• Other members in different sections (I-V): specialized/document translators; court, conference and community interpreters; audio-visual translators; researchers or teachers in the field of translation/interpreting; student members
• Office in Helsinki
• Local sections in other cities: Tampere, Turku, Vaasa
• Member of 19 national associations or organs and 9 international associations or organs (for example FIT, EULITA, AVTE, CEATL, BWC. In 2021: a board member on FIT Council, Pia von Essen)
• SKTL’s researchers’ and teachers’ sections symposia publication MikaEL was accepted a member of the Council of Editors of Translation and Interpreting Studies for Open Science.
SKTL Board in 2021: 1 person from each section and local branch
Sirpa Alkunen, president
Taina Helkamo, literary translators’ section
Laura Pascual, specialized translators’ section
Juhana Korhonen, AV translators’ section
Ruta Rannat, interpreters’ section
Esa Penttilä, teachers’ and researchers’ section, vice president
Pia von Essen, Tampere local branch
Aulikki Vuola, Turku local branch
Gun-Viol Vik, Vaasa local branch
Office: 3 full-time, 3 part-time, 1 trainee
SKTL promotes the conditions and valuation of translation and interpreting in Finland. It is in contact with authorities, cultural organizations, businesses, and trade organizations. SKTL provides on-demand guidance and pre-arranged training sessions on, for example, negotiations and contract issues for its members, as well as a community of professionals that makes up a prominent networking forum for translators and interpreters in Finland. SKTL also publishes and awards grants. SKTL participates actively in international organizations and maintains strong contacts in the translation and interpreting sector worldwide.
Promotion of interests/lobbying
SKTL has actively participated in the national and Scandinavian work of influencing the implementation of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Directive. SKTL is represented in numerous expert bodies and councils under the Ministry of Education and Culture. We also have a member in the Boards of the Finnish copyright society Sanasto and Kopiosto as well as Forum Artis, which is a common expert body of all artists in Finland, and an umbrella organization, the Finnish Authors’ Forum (Tekijäfoorumi), via whom we have been working for the DSM directive.
SKTL has actively participated in the work of the Finnish literary copyright society, Sanasto, of lobbying EU and national decision-makers. Sanasto launched a campaign in which translators and writers worked as literary mentors/tutors for the Finnish MPs, which has helped them to understand the work of the literary field. Translators Laura Jänisniemi and our former president Heikki Karjalainen, both SKTL members, have been doing a great job in this project.
The DSM Directive is now passing transposed into national legislation by the Finnish Parliament, and the new Bill is better than the version we were able to comment on in 2021. The new Bill has more similarities with Sweden and Denmark. The new Finnish Copyright Act is estimated to be passed in the beginning of 2023.
A new law on translators’ and writers’ grants is under preparation. SKTL hopes it will remedy the unjust situation where non-fiction writers get only 10% of grants. We hope the Ministry of Culture will raise the sum and that fiction and non-fiction writers and translators would be able to apply for the same amount of grants. Of course, the sum of the grants given to the authors/translators of fiction would have to stay the same.
Education and information for translators
Information on intellectual property rights has also been in focus last year. The expanding audiobook and e-book market has had a negative impact on literary translators’ contracts and income level. Our legal counselling services have been in frequently demand. In 2021 the income of SKTL literary translator members reached the level of 2016. Meanwhile, our research shows income was a little lower than usual. In 2021 e-books and audiobook sales increased by 29% on 2020. This should be reflected in translators’ fees. Audiobook publishers in Finland are mainly owned by Swedish companies (Storytel, Bookbeat).
SKTL continued its mentoring programme in 2021 despite the Covid pandemic – meetings were held virtually. Mentors guided young translators or newcomers to the profession on good practices when meeting clients, marketing, occupational health, contracts and so on. Both parties were highly satisfied with the programme. New mentors were recruited in early 2020. Interest from both mentors and mentees is still there, albeit not as high as before the pandemic.
The literary translators’ section also organized:
• virtual “translators’ café” meetings for colleagues on different topics, for example presentation of different translator’s residencies, copyrights topics, informal discussions, presentation of the results of translators’ income survey, a visit to the Runokuu/Poetry Month poetry festival
Information to the public
Several events were intended to inform the public.
SKTL launched a popular podcast during the Covid years. It is in Finnish and on Spotify: https://soundcloud.com/sktlry.
Our popular Translation Wednesdays continued in 2021, with professional literature journalist Taru Torikka as the interviewer. In the beginning of the pandemic she launched a podcast called “a small quarantine book club”, where she interviews writers and translators.
We maintained our positive visibility campaigns for translators and interpreters in social media. These included #kehukääntäjää, #tykkäystulkille ja #muistakääntäjä (praisethetranslator, likeyourinterpreter, rememberthetranslator).
SKTL has had a stand at two Book Fairs in Finland every year, both in Helsinki and Turku. In 2021 a new book fair was launched in Tampere, which SKTL attended. SKTL contributes actively to the fair programmes. SKTL created a high-class programme on the stages:
o With FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange, Translated dystopias and feministic dystopias – writer Johanna Sinisalo, translator Lola Rogers (USA), translators Kristiina Drews and Hilkka Pekkanen.
o With the Tammi publishing house, Helene Bützow, translator of Kazuo Ishiguro, on stage.
o With the Tammi and Gummerus publishing houses and Nuoren Voiman Liitto literature association, Amanda Gorman’s poetry and translations, translators Laura Eklund Nhaga and Aura Nurmi with translator Saana Rusi and journalist Mona Eid.
o With the Tammi publishing house – translator Lotta Toivanen and her translation of Éric Vuillard’s L’Ordre du Jour (Päiväkäsky). The translation won the Finnish J. A. Hollo prize in 2020.
o Translating and subtitling opera librettos, translators Laura Vierimaa and Leena Vallisaari, interviewer translator Aulikki Vuola.
o With the Tammi publishing house, Helene Bützow, translator of Kazuo Ishiguro, on stage.
Some planned events had to be postponed because on the Covid pandemic, but altogether SKTL organized 75 events in 2021. Some of the biggest events in 2021 were:
• The International Translation Day webinar in September (180 attendees)
• KäTu Symposium (ca. 100 attendees)
• Book Fairs
• Finnish–Swedish Translator seminar
In 2021 we also organized a meeting on the Åland Islands with CEATL and organized some virtual events with the Swedish translators’ association SFÖ (Sveriges Facköversättare).
We are a member of an association established in 2019 called Tekstin talo – Textens Hus – The House of Text. Its goal is to find a suitable room for a new literary house in Helsinki with 9 different literature organizations as members. Tekstin talo received a €200,000 grant from the Kone Foundation for the project start-up.
Two big literature translation prizes in 2021. Both prizes were given online in 2021 due to the pandemic:
• The Mikael Agricola fiction translation prize was awarded to the translator Tero Valkonen for his Finnish translation of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (Päättymätön riemu, Siltala/Sanavalinta, 2020).
• The J.A. Hollo non-fiction translation prize was awarded to Jussi Palmusaari for his Finnish translation of Emanuele Coccia’s book La vie des plantes: Une métaphysique du mélange (Kasvien elämä. Sekoittumisen metafysiikkaa).
Some recent news from 2022
• The Finnish Parliament decided to award €1 million for the royalites paid for the Finnish public library lending of e-books and audiobooks. (This is a beginning, but the actual sum needed is approximately €3 million– we will continue our work.)
• The Finnish Cultural Foundation (SKR) has revealed a new form of funding for high-class world literature to be translated into Finnish. The foundation hopes that the grant will encourage publishers to commission and publish Finnish translations of 100 landmark works of contemporary world literature. The works to be translated must comprise prose, poetry or essays that are directed at adult readers. (1 million). We of course hope there will be some new translation from Ukrainian as well. https://skr.fi/en/whats-new/funding-cultural-foundation-make-more-world-literature-available-finnish
• Our cooperation partner The Finnish Literature Exchange FILI will direct additional funding to the translation of Ukrainian literature into Finnish. (https://fili.fi/en/additional-funding-for-the-translation-of-ukrainian-literature-into-finnish/)
Timo Tossavainen (TheAssociation of Finnish Non-Fiction Writers)
The pandemic has caused that all events including the meetings of the Board and the general meetings, have been organised online. The same applies also to our courses, lectures, and other activities for the members. However, moving to online has succeeded surprisingly well. For example, our webinars have often received a much larger number of participants than conducting the same lecture physically would ever have.
Our most important tasks include sharing grants and awards to distinguished nonfiction authors (including also authors of learning materials). Here the pandemic has not caused any other limitations, except for that this has not happened in the front of live audience.
Interestingly, the pandemic has not affected nonfiction writers’ interest in the membership; the number of members in our organisation is at the same level as before the pandemic. It is about 3300.
There are many legislative processes going on in Finland that are related to us. An example of this is how Finland implements the DSM directive. Here, and in other similar issues, we collaborate closely with other Finnish literature organisations, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and also with our international partners.
Digitalisation and the audio books are not per se a threat to us, but there is a lot of work to be done to guarantee a reasonable compensation for the authors and the translators. The situation seems to be similar in many other countries, too.
The present president has started in this position in January 2021 and the executive director of the Association, Sanna Haanpää, in November 2019.
Mudite Treimane (Latvian Writers’ Union)
Latvian Writers’ Union unites 279 poets, prose writers, playwrights, literary scholars, critics and translators. Writers’ Union popularizes and supports Latvian literature and its authors and arranges different literary events at the premises of the Union. The Union has its office also in Liepāja (in Kurzeme region). Writers’ Union co-operates with International Writers’ and Translators’ House (Ventspils House).
Latvian Ministry of Culture supports the membership of Latvian Writers’ Union in three international organizations: BWC, EWC and Three Seas.
The co-operation with Lithuanian and Estonian Writers’ Unions is renewed and very good.
During the COVID-19 pandemic (2020 – 2021) all literary events took place online – on Zoom.
Very popular literary event – organized by Writers’ Union, every year at the beginning of December – isPROSEREADINGS, which lasts for several days in different places in Riga. Latvian writers as well as guest writers of different generations are reading their latest, unpublished works or fragments of them. Guest writers/poets usually are also our colleagues from Estonian and Lithuanian Writers’ Unions.
The Annual Latvian Literature Award (LALIGABA) is the most important literary award in Latvia organized by Latvian Writers’ Union and Ventspils House. Each year the award goes to Latvian authors for the best prose and poetry book, the best translation of foreign literature into Latvian, and the best debut in literature. Every year the award for lifetime achievements goes to one author.
Also in2020 and 2021 Latvian Writers’ Union organized Poetry festival(the largest and oldest literary festival in Latvia) – supported by State Cultural Endowment and Riga City Council. The festival programme included readings of young poets, poetry slam, classical poetry evenings, master-classes and readings of foreign guests. The programmes were traditional and experimental ones with many different events, devoted to poetry. The events took place all over the country.
The programme Literary Academy (with the support of Latvian Ministry of Culture) – carried out by the Writers’ Union – still continues to give the possibilities to authors – eager to go in for prose, poetry and playwriting – to attend courses, lectures, seminars and master-classes. The teachers of the Academy are best and beloved prose writers and poets. The activities are taking place at the premises of Writers’ Union and also in Kurzeme and in Latgale.
Residency Ventspils House www.ventspilshouse.lv is still popular – not only in Latvia but also abroad.
Ventspils House continues to promote translation of Latvian literature in other languages and attends Book Fairs in Frankfurt, London, Gothenburg, Bologna.
The House is the organizer of the ceremony of The Annual Latvian Literature Award and The International Jānis Baltvilks Baltic Sea Region Award – the most important literary award for achievements in children’s literature in Latvia.
Malin Kivela (Society of Swedish Authors in Finland )
Country report for the past three years:
We just re-elected our relatively new chair, Hannele Mikaela Taivassalo, and Johanna Sandberg, the manager, is also still quite new on the post. With these two, some adjustments, formalizations and organizations of structures have started to happen, a modernization concerning for example the digitalization of the communications, application forms and the monthly letters to the members.
The society has also recently employed a lawyer full time to take care of the authors’ rights and to help us navigate the jungle of EU-directives and such.
Otherwise the DSM-directive is still a hot topic as is the crisis of the cultural field due to the pandemic. FSF conducted a member survey about the authors’ economical situation before the pandemic and then again after, and it showed that the pandemic really affected it, even though we mainly work from home anyway and books still were bought etc.
We have had four different ministers of culture these past years. They change so often that they don’t have a chance to get into the artists’ social and economical realities. Taike, the Arts Council, on the other hand, has stepped in, and worked even more without enough personnel. The culture budget has been cut down. Still we have quite a good situation compared to most countries, but it has to be maintained constantly. Culture and arts tend to be compromised, and especially in times of crisis.
Kazimiera Astratoviene (Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators)
The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators was founded in 2004, now it has 135 members. It is a member of FIT, CEATL, BWC and many of its activities already became traditional, they are an important part of the cultural life of Vilnius city.
For example, it is hard to imagine Vilnius Book Fair without the election of the best translated book of the year. This year as many times before experts (literary translators and critics) made the long list of best translated books and presented the best translated book of the year, elected by readers from the long list. This year it was prepared 3 long lists: of translated contemporary literature, classics and humanitarian literature. Many readers are using the long lists for selecting the books, so the competition reached its goal – to help readers select the most significant works of world literature, promote reading. And even to popularize the profession of a literary translator.
It is also traditional to announce that a year is dedicated to certain literature: we already had Asian literature, Ukrainian literature, Belarussian literature, Hungarian literature, Polish literature, Italian literature years. And 2021 was declared the Year of Greek literature. There were published interviews with translators from Greek, published articles about Greek literature, organized seminars and a workshops for translators from Greek language and many other activities. The whole issue of an online magazine „Hieronymus“ was dedicated to Greek literature and translation.
The aim of the online magazine „Hieronymus“, that is prepared and published by The Association, is to publish most valuable texts of prose and poetry translated from different languages, focus on the most important literary news, also publish interviews with the translators and translation reviews. It was first published in 2017. In 2020 there was also established a publishing House by that name aimed to publish translated literature of high quality.
The Lithuanian Assocation of Literary Translators also has many awards for translators and not only them: it‘s St Jerome Awards to a literary translator for his/her translations into the Lithuanian language as well as to a translator from the Lithuanian language; awards to the editor of fiction and humanitarian literature for the lifetime achievements; award to a novice translator for the best translation début; Friends Award which is given to an individual or an organization for contributing substantially to artistic translation during the recent year.
As every year, there were contucted some seminars and workshops for novice literary translators: this year they were for the translators from French, English Italian and German languages. And a popular competition „I want to be a translator“ was organized. The The seminar for members of the Association about authors rights and contracts also took place.