Some Writers’ Organizations and What They Do:
The Authors Guild: Traditionally, the Authors Guild represents the interests of book authors. Amongst member services are: staff attorneys to review contracts; negotiating tips (about what is realistic); disputes (eg. piracy issues); media liability insurance; free website building; and an author site (for a nominal fee per month). There are three tiers of membership: (1) those with an agent contract or a book deal; (2) those who are self-published or freelance; and (3) an emerging writer membership (these are not eligible for contract review). Currently, the Authors Guild is trying to expand, to look at ways in which it can better serve freelance writers as well as book authors.
The News Guild: Formerly the Newspaper Guild, the News Guild represents journalists and other media workers in digital and traditional news organizations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. This includes reporters, columnists, copy editors, photojournalists, graphic designers, editorial cartoonists and workers in advertising, circulation, business offices and other departments related to print and online publications.
The Writers Guild of America East and The Writers Guild of America West: The Writers Guild of America represents screenwriters for T.V. and the movies. This is an industry based largely on projects rather than continuing staff where, when a project is completed, the workers must look for the next project. Thus, the workers in this industry have somewhat in common with freelancers. The guild has traditionally been a very strong union, providing strong contracts and high minimum pay that has provided a decent living, pensions and health care for is members. The current challenge is organizing writers for so-called reality shows, which have been hiring non-union writers.
The National Writers Union: Last but not least is the National Writers Union, which fights the fight for all freelance writers, including academic writers, app content writers,
copywriters, ghostwriters, bloggers, business/technical writers, editors, web content writers, and work-for-hire and contract writers, as well as the kinds of freelancers one usually thinks of (eg. book authors, journalists, etc.).
In addition to providing advice on agency contracts, publication contracts, and disputes with employers, the union defends the writers’ right to control the use and payment for electronic uses of their work. NWU President Jonathan Tahini, along with other journalists brought the groundbreaking lawsuit against the New York Times, Lexis/Nexis, Time Inc., and other distribution services, for reissuing freelancers’ articles on the Internet without permission or additional compensation. And NWU’s Publication Clearing House is a way for writers to set payment terms for republication of their work.