Myriad Ways to the Book Publishing Market – Part One

by Steven Threndyle

Most magazine writers and newspaper journalists think about writing a book at some point in their careers. Maybe it’s a deeper dive into a story that was part of a feature package, or a biography of an important event or persona in Canadian life.

Recent non-fiction books by Bruce Kirkby, Justin Ling and Bob Joseph took very different paths to get into print and show how fractured and complex the book publishing landscape is right now.

None of them followed the traditional agent/proposal/advance sale that has been the norm until recently.

Persistence… and an agent’s assistance

Although he graduated from Queens University in engineering physics, Bruce Kirkby has fashioned a professional career as an adventure travel writer based on impressive exploits like crossing Oman’s Empty Quarter by camel and making the first rafting descent of the Blue Nile Gorge as part of a National Geographic team.

He’s a bit of a media polymath; in addition to book and magazine writing, Kirkby hosted No Opportunity Wasted, a reality TV show that aired on CBC and he does corporate speaking engagements throughout North America.

His newest book, Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya, (Douglas & McIntyre, 2020) proved to be his most challenging creative endeavour yet.

As an antidote to the endless restlessness of “always-on” modern Canadian life, Kirkby, his wife Christine and their two kids Bodi and Taj journeyed (by canoe, ocean freighter, rail and on foot, but not jet!) to a remote village in the northern Indian state of Zanskar, living as guests in a Buddhist monastery for three months.
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Posted on February 25, 2021 at 9:02 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,

CBC Freelancers: Sign a union membership card before March 12 and be entered to win a prize

The Canadian Freelance Guild is proud to partner with the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch, our colleagues in providing services to freelance communicators in Canada. CMG Freelance represents all freelancers who provide services to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

If you have freelanced for CBC in the last 12 months, you are eligible to become a member in good standing of the CMG Freelance Branch. All CBC/Radio-Canada freelancers are automatically covered by the collective agreement between CBC/Radio-Canada and CMG (You’ll notice that union dues are already subtracted off your invoice). Among other protections, our collective agreement outlines minimum pay rates for freelancers. Freelance Branch members are eligible to receive support negotiating contracts, run for elected office, vote in elections, access training opportunities, and more. Contact your Freelance Branch representatives to learn more.

To sign your CMG membership card, please fill in this form and you will receive your card in the mail.
Note: When you get to the drop-down menu for employer, select Freelance–CBC/Radio Canada. You do not need to fill out the Employee Number or Department Fields.

CBC Freelancers who sign up for a membership card between February 23 and March 12, 2021 will be entered to win one of the following prizes:
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Posted on February 24, 2021 at 7:35 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Tax Tips webinar now available on CFG website

On February 10th, about 5 dozen people took part in the CFG’s Business of Freelancing Tax Tips for Freelancers webinar.

This was a very lively discussion about the important questions facing freelancers at tax time — such as eligible expenses, dealing with foreign income, the G/HST, CERB, CRB, and so on.

The webinar is an excellent source of tax advice and it’s now available for streaming on the CFG website.

Members can view the recording for free, it’s now at the top of the list on our members-only Webinars page. The webinar is just $15 for non-members — go to this link and use the discount code TAXINGFL.

And you can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG right here.

Posted on February 21, 2021 at 8:06 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

Call for Nominations in the 2021 Canadian Freelance Guild Board of Directors Election

Nominations are now open for all positions on the Canadian Freelance Guild (CFG) Board of Directors.

We will be electing for the positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two Directors, one of whom will have responsibilities in Membership Management and Development. Terms will be staggered so that no board will be constituted of entirely new directors.

For this first election the President and Treasurer positions will each be 3-year terms. The Vice-President, Secretary, and the two Directors will be 2-year terms. All terms following the first terms will be three years.

Candidates must be nominated and seconded by CFG members in good standing. Members can find the nomination form in the Digital Deli section of the CFG website. Authorized nominees will have a chance to place a 500-word biography, photo and statement on the CFG website.

Nominations will close at 6pm Eastern Time, Thursday, February 25th, 2021. Candidates will have a chance to ‘meet and greet’ with members during the CFG Monthly Mixer at 4pm ET on Friday, February 26th.

Electronic Voting will take place on March 12th, 13th, and 14th, 2021. Details to follow. Results will be announced via an all-members email on Monday, March 15th.

If you’re a member, you can find the CFG’s election policy in the Digital Deli section of the CFG website. Questions about the election can be sent to CFG Organizer Don Genova in order to be forwarded to the Election Team for consideration.


Your Election Team

Karen Tankard, Helen Edwards, and Elle Andra-Warner

Posted on February 16, 2021 at 8:42 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Highlights of the First Annual General Meeting of the CFG

On Saturday, February 6th the Canadian Freelance Guild held its first-ever Annual General Meeting. The online event took just under three hours and accomplished several important goals.

Bylaws: The first-ever set of Bylaws establishing the CFG were passed, after some considerable discussion and constructive ‘friendly amendment’ editing.

The new bylaws include details about the CFG’s Board of Directors, which will consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two Directors who will have varying responsibilities. There will also be a Past President after the first term has been served. Terms will be staggered so that no board will be constituted with entirely new directors.

The CFG will also welcome the formation of ‘Communities’. Each Community will have at least 10 members from a common geographical area, or such an interest as ‘Food and Travel Writing’, ‘Photography’, ‘Non-fiction Authors’, and so on. Communities will have the ability to apply for funding from the CFG board but are also able to raise funds for their own use.

The CFG will also set up ‘Teams’ to accomplish a variety of goals. There will soon be a call for volunteers for the Teams which will likely include Advocacy, Equity, Communications, and Membership Growth.

Election Policy: The CFG now has an approved Election Policy and an Election Team. The Team will be in touch with all members soon with a call for Nominations for the board positions and election dates.
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Posted on February 9, 2021 at 7:15 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Born Freelancer on “personal protection” for freelancers

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.


Since the pandemic, never have the words “personal protective equipment” appeared together so ubiquitously.

And it got me to thinking:  what about the average freelancer’s personal protection?

We here in Canada tend to think of violence against media as associated with demonstrations elsewhere, but recent developments have proven otherwise.

In Vancouver, a working photographer was punched in the face last month by one of a handful of hostile protesters staging a “political rally” in support of extremist views. It was a timely reminder that personal safety must never be taken for granted and all of us in media today must remain vigilant in safeguarding our well-being and security of all kinds.

So, to begin a new year on a “safety-first” footing, let’s review some basic safety protocols for the average freelancer. These are just general guidelines. Not every suggestion will be appropriate. Your specific circumstances will require making a thorough risk assessment.
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Posted on February 3, 2021 at 7:15 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Business of Freelance Series: Tax Time Tips

Freelancer tax questions?

Register for the next Canadian Freelance Guild (CFG) Webinar:

Wednesday, February 10th  – 9 a.m. PT

(10 a.m. MT/11 a.m. CT/12 a.m. ET/1 p.m. AT/1:30 p.m. NT)

Marginal tax rate?
Foreign income?
Eligible expenses?
Is COVID relief taxable?
What’s different in 2020?
New exemptions?

Join CFG and Shannon Lee Simmons, founder of the New School of Finance for a lively (yes, lively) Q+A session that will help keep you square with the CRA. Go to this link to register.

Member registration is free. Not a member? Choose the ‘Friends of CFG’ registration option and enter TAXINGFL to reduce your rate to $15 from the regular price of $25 for non-members.

Registrants will also have access to an ‘On Demand’ video once the recording becomes available.


Posted on January 25, 2021 at 6:26 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

2021 Travers Fellowship applications open

Applications are now open for the 2021 Travers Fellowship, an international reporting bursary that helps finance foreign reporting projects by Canadian journalists working in any medium.

Freelancers, students enrolled in a graduate level journalism or equivalent program, and full-time journalists are welcome to apply for the fellowship, which provides a $25,000 award to cover travel, reporting and research expenses, and a stipend. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants are advised to keep in mind that they may not be able to travel outside, or even within, Canada and should frame their applications accordingly.

The fellowship is named after Jim Travers, a reporter, foreign correspondent, and former editor of The Ottawa Citizen who spent six years reporting from Africa and the Middle East. When Travers died in 2011, his friends and colleagues created the fellowship to commemorate his contribution to Canadian journalism. The award is administered by Carleton University.

The application deadline is Monday March 1, 2021 at 12 p.m. (noon) ETMore information and application instructions are available on the Travers Fellowship website.

Posted on January 17, 2021 at 3:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

WEBINAR: Pitching NOT Bitching!

This week, CFG Guelph is proud to present:

Pitching NOT Bitching!
How to make a good pitch about a story and get published
Online Zoom, Tuesday, January 12th, 7pm ET

Pitching is either something you feel challenged by or procrastinate about doing. No matter the type of article you want to write, a good pitch letter will get you noticed by an assigning editor.

You have a good idea for an article, then what? Explore the simplicity of pitching, the instruments to finding outlets to pitch, the opportunities to mine your own life for ideas, and the different perspectives your topic can have.

Successful pitch samples will be shared. Come prepared with your questions. Your presenter is Melody Wren, a food, travel, and lifestyle freelancer with 30 years of experience.

This event is just $5 for CFG members and $15 for non-members using this code to register: CFG2101.

You’ll find more information and the registration form at this link.

Posted on January 10, 2021 at 1:30 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

The 5-Minute Freelancer Q&A #44 — Francesca Bianco

In this regular feature, Story Board asks Canadian freelancers to share a few details about their work habits and their strategies for navigating the ups and downs of freelance life.

Francesca Bianco is a Canadian freelance writer currently living in Germany.

Her Maisonneuve feature “The Hand That Feeds You,” which is about the impact of the pandemic on migrant farm workers in Canada, is one of the winners of the 2020 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards.

The piece originally started as a course project for an advanced non-fiction class during her Master of Journalism degree at UBC — a class taught by 2008 Greber Award-winner Deborah Campbell.

Bianco took the time to speak with Story Board recently about the challenges of freelancing during a pandemic, the best opportunities for freelancers just starting out, and the importance of writing about what matters to you.

Why did you decide to report on migrant farm workers in Canada? 

There was a daily news story, it was this report called Beyond Our Plates and it came from one of the migrant advocacy groups. It was personal stories of migrant workers, one of them getting his finger cut off and being told to go back to work, those kinds of things. And it inspired a kind of outrage in me.
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