Canadian Freelance Writers: Characteristics and Issues


101 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-662-12212-7




Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


This report comes from the Research and Statistics Directorate of the Arts and Culture Sector of the federal Department of Communications. The material is based on a 1979 survey of writers that applied to the 1978 income year (the eleven-page survey is appended). The tables and graphs of plotted information certainly give a depressing picture of the status of freelance writers in Canada.

The four major topics (with some of the conclusions given in parentheses) are: demographic and social characteristics (most writers are male, and most live in Central Canada); training and career (high levels of education but little formal training as a writer; most are active in non-fiction; the book is the predominant medium of principal earnings; many manuscripts are never published); book writers, newspaper and magazine writers, and script writers as the three major types (script writers make about three times as much money as the other two types); and income and employment (writing incomes are extremely low — below the national average; most freelance writers have other jobs; many such writers are teachers). Based on my own experience and knowledge of others, nothing really new has developed over the past five years, except that the situation must have worsened since many “outlets” for writing (newspapers, book publishers, magazines) have folded, merged, or gone bankrupt, without a corresponding increase in new markets. And there are more “freelancers” around, which results in more people chasing fewer dollars.


Harrison, Brian R., “Canadian Freelance Writers: Characteristics and Issues,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,