The Swedish Writers’ Union is the central professional organization for writers and literary translators in Sweden. The union safeguards the economic and moral interests of the members by defending freedom of expression and of the press, and keeping up to date with copyright stipulations and the laws regulating copyright. The Swedish Writers’ Union promotes the right of the members to a reasonable return on their work by safeguarding their moral rights, seeing to it that their works are not misrepresented or made public in ways not intended by them as authors, by entering into agreements which give the members financial gain and provide for their social security, and by protecting and aiding our members when, in the practice of their profession, they find themselves in conflict with employers, commissioning parties or the authorities.
The Writers’ Union office provides extensive membership services. A member may consult the office for individual help with interpretation and negotiation of contracts and agreements, tax counselling, and other issues specific to the professional activities of writers and translators.
The Writers’ Union provides its members with free negotiation services on agreements and copyright disputes. The Writers’ union may also absorb the litigation expenses incurred in lawsuits, for example relating to freedom of the press, if the executive board considers the dispute to be of interest as a matter of principle.
The Swedish Association of Authors was founded in 1893, and was initially open to all writers. The bylaws were amended, however, during the 1930s, to some extent excluding translators and writers of non-fiction. This led to the founding of Minerva in 1946, the Association for Swedish Writers of Scientific Works and Works of Popular Science; the founding of The Swedish Association of Writers of Juvenile Literature in 1948; and the Swedish Association of Literary Translators in 1954. In 1956, these four associations merged to form the Swedish Central Organisation of Free Literary Professionals (FLYCO), and in 1970 this organisation was restructured into the present Swedish Writers’ Union.
Today, the Union has approximately 3 000 members. The office has been located in Stockholm, in the “Writers’ House” on Drottninggatan in the city centre, since 1989. The building also houses an international guest apartment with rooms for visiting writers and translators.
The writers’ unions and organizations in other countries with which The Swedish Writers’ Union co-operates internationally include the Nordic Council of Writers and Translators and the European Writers’ Council.
The Swedish Writers’ Union also has a long history of exchanges with other writers’ and translators’ organizations, and with individual authors. It receives many visits each year from individual writers and delegations of writers from other nations wanting to learn about it’s activities and Swedish cultural policy, and to come into contact with Swedish literature and writers. The Writers’ Union also initiates study visits abroad for Swedish writers and translators.
In the early 1990s, The Swedish Writers’ Union and the other organizations for writers and translators in the countries around the Baltic Sea held a joint two-week seminar entitled “Waves of the Baltic Sea”, as a result of which the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby on the island of Gotland in the Baltic came into being. A similar seminar was held a couple of years later with authors and translators around the Black Sea and the Aegean, after which an equivalent centre was established on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean, Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Centre.
WALTIC (Writers’ and Literary Translators’ International Congress), an international congress to manifest “the value of words” was held in Stockholm, Sweden from 29 June to 2 July 2008. Authors, literary translators and scholars from all over the world met during the first WALTIC congress ever. WALTIC was organized by The Swedish Writers’ Union.
A second WALTIC was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2010.