In English

In English


The Union of Finnish Writers is the ideological and professional organization of fiction authors who write in Finnish. The organization was established in 1897 and its purpose is to develop the material and non-material conditions of writers’ work as well as to promote Finnish literature. The Union of Finnish Writers has 767 members at the moment. 50.46 % of them are female, 49.54 % male.

The Union’s values are:

  • Community
  • Equality
  • Expertise

The Union’s vision is to ensure that:

  • The diverse literature sector thrives in Finland.
  • The writing profession is equal to other professions and that writers can focus on their work.
  • The Union is attractive among professional writers and as a co-operation partner, and that it is regarded as an expert and influential entity that is consulted in all matters related to writers.

The Union’s operations are run by an elected Board of Directors, which is composed of a Chairman, 8 members, and 4 deputy members.  A Board of Directors term covers three years.

We promote writers’ professional standing by taking measures to improve the size and number of grants, as well as by improving writers’ social security, developing copyright legislation, supporting the domestic book markets and safeguarding citizens’ literacy skills and education. We influence legislation that affects writers’ status by, for example, issuing expert statements. We carry out research into developments in writers’ earnings and other essential features of the writing profession. We support writers’ ability to work and their health.

We support writers in their profession by providing guidance in all matters related to writers’ contracts, copyright issues as well as social security and taxation. We offer advice related to publishing contracts even to writers who are not members of the Union, for example, writers who have not yet been published. You can contact our lawyer in all matters related to the writer’s profession even if you are not a member of the Union of Finnish Writers.

We promote literature written in Finnish by supporting our members’ work from our own funds. We distribute grants and awards, maintain writers’ houses, offer work spaces, residencies, and affordable recreational sites. We produce events for the stage programme at the Turku and Helsinki book fairs as well as other literary public events. We produce the “Miten kirjani ovat syntyneet” (How my books came about) book series, the Kirjailija Magazine (Writer), as well as the Kirjailijakuvia (Writer Profiles) video documentary series about the writing profession in Finland.

We are founding members of the Finnish Reading Centre, which promotes reading and literacy, and the Sanasto Copyright Society. We work together with other literary and copyright associations in Finland and abroad. We defend freedom of speech and freedom of publication.



To become a member of the Union of Finnish Writers an applicant must have published at least two independently created, original works of fiction written in Finnish that are of an artistic and professional standard that allows the applicant to be considered a writer. For further information about the application process click here (only in Finnish).

Writers working in the Swedish language may apply for membership of the Society of Swedish Authors in Finland.

Non-fiction writers may apply for membership with The Finnish Association of Non-Fiction Writers.


Good to know – writer’s income

Writers’ median income for writing fiction in Finland is EUR 2,000 a year. Various grants account for a significant share of writers’ incomes – grants and other income related to the writing profession raise the median income for writers to EUR 9,745 a year.

Book sales are the sole income for very few writers, as the market in Finnish-speaking areas is so small. Even selling 3,000 books is a great achievement in Finland. For a writer, this translates to about EUR 9,000 in income for 1-2 years’ work.

For 75% of writers, grants are a significant source of income. A writer’s average grant is EUR 8,500 a year. Grants are provided by the public sector and various foundations and funds.

Compared to other Nordic countries, funding via artistic grants is at a low level in Finland.

Good to know – literature grants

Writers that live or have lived permanently in Finland and whose production enriches Finnish culture may apply for the Arts Promotion Centre Finland writers’ grants. The application period is in January each year. Please click here for further information in English.

Writers that live or have lived permanently in Finland and whose production enriches Finnish culture may also apply for a state artist grant. The application period is every year in March.  State artist grants can be awarded to professional writers for a period of 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years. Please click here for further information in English.

In Finland, foundations are also significant providers of literature grants. For more information about other literature grants available in Finland, including application periods, see our grant calendar.


Good to know – writers’ contracts

Publishing contracts

A publishing contract is a writer’s most important contract. Publishing contracts are always made in writing, and a writer should carefully read all of its terms. The Union of Finnish Writers offers writers assistance and guidance related to publishing contracts.

With a publishing contract, a writer gives a publisher the permission to print and publish a work they have written. A contractual relationship between a writer and a publisher is based on mutual trust. A publishing contract is somewhat different from other contracts because its object is an artistic work.


What should a publishing contract include?

Below is a list of matters that must be settled in a publishing contract. Even if every contract is different, and this is not an exhaustive list, it is still a good starting point. You can contact the Union lawyer in all contract-related matters. Contracts handled by the Union of Finnish Writers are treated confidentially.


The object of a publishing contract is a book

When negotiating a publishing contract, you should pay particular attention to what rights are being transferred. Contracts may also include annexes that include provisions regarding transferable rights. The basis is that with the publishing contract you transfer the exclusive right to the publication of the book in certain publishing formats, for example, in print, print-on-demand, in electronic format or as an audio book. Remember, audio visual rights, for example, are always agreed on in a separate contract.

The writer’s fee must be reasonable in light of the work the writer has done. The writer’s fee is calculated as a percentage of the book’s net sales revenue excluding VAT.
The writer must and should negotiate over the fee percentage, which usually is between 21 and 26%.


When negotiating a publishing contract, review at least the following details:

  1. Mention the name of the work to which the contract pertains
  2. Define the contract parties, the publisher and the writer
  3. Mention that the writer has exclusive copyrights to the work to which the contract pertains
  4. Define the rights being transferred, i.e. list which publishing rights the writer is transferring to the publisher with the contract. These can include:
    – the right to publish the work in printed formats (book, paperback, print-on-demand)
    – the right to publish the book as an e-book or an audio book
    – the right to sell the foreign rights for the work
  5. Agree on the non-compete cause
  6. Agree on a delivery date for the work
  7. Agree on the writer’s fee
    – amount of the fee, which should be reasonable in light of the writer’s work
    – settlement obligation/payment schedule for the writer’s fee
    – guaranteed advance and a timetable for paying the advance
    – mention that the writer has the right to inspect the accuracy of accounts, i.e. the Right of Inspection
  8. If the book has illustrations, agree on illustration design as well as the copyrights related to illustrations
  9. Agree on the author’s free copies in various publication formats
  10. Define the publisher’s rights, which may include:
    – promotional copies
    – the right to decide on the appearance and cover of the book
    – the name of the work
    – decisions related to marketing
    – pricing
    – remaindering of unsold books
  11. And obligations, which may include:
    – copy-editing
    – marketing of the work
  12. Agree on when the publication rights will cease and rights are returned to the writer
  13. Define how disputes will be settled, for example, via arbitration and later in court
  14. Date and signatures

You must negotiate over a contract!

Take your time and read the contract draft carefully. The Union of Finnish Writers recommends that the contract is reviewed with the publisher through discussions. The contract can be signed when the contents and terms of the contract are completely clear and acceptable to both parties. The agreement covers two parties whose interests are being co-ordinated. A one-sided agreement is not an agreement.

A publishing contract is a private law agreement. Once signed, it binds both parties. This is why it is important to negotiate the terms of the contract before it is signed.

The Union of Finnish Writers is a member of the Tekijäfoorumi, which represents performing artists. Tekijäfoorumi has produced videos to help artists in contract negotiations.

Good practices

Together the Union of Finnish Writers and the Finnish Book Publishers Association have compiled a list of good practices and a checklist that aim to promote smooth interaction and fair play in contracts between writers and publishers:

  1. The parties of a publishing contract, the writer and publisher, are loyal to each other
  2. A publishing contract is always done in writing before co-operation begins
  3. The writer and publisher go through the contract in discussions and parts that may need clarification are written out clearly in the contract
  4. Vague expressions such as “reasonable timeframe” are discussed and then defined precisely
  5. Discuss what the non-compete term in the contract in question covers in practice
  6. Parties keep each other up to date in matters related to the work, such as changes to the timetable
  7. Written accounts of payments are clear, including at least the writer’s fee, sales figures of various formats, as well as remaining editions
  8. Both parties make sure that the work’s copyrights are respected and notify the other party if they become aware of copyright infringement
  9. The parties discuss plans and schedules that cover the publication formats covered by the publishing contract
  10. The primary approach to disputes is negotiation


Publishing contract or printing contract?

Sometimes contracts are called publishing contracts even when the matter being agreed upon is actually the printing of a book. Publishing a book and printing a book are two separate things. Hallmarks of publishing include:

  • The publisher takes on the financial risk of publishing the book
  • The publisher offers an editor to work on the book
  • The publisher takes care of the promotion and marketing of the book

If the contract requires the author to pay printing costs or to buy a certain number of copies of the edition, this is not a publishing contract, even if it has been titled that. The Finnish Book Publishers Association publishes a list of publishers operating in Finland.


Other contracts for writers

Books come in many forms. You should always negotiate a written agreement, whether over different uses of a work or over producing new work. The Union of Finnish Writers assists writers in all questions related to contracts.

Examples of how literary works can be used

Audio-visual applications
Radio play
Vocal music art, for example, setting poetry to music, opera librettos
Dance art
Visual art
The use of the text in anthologies
The use of the text in educational material
TV series

Literature is also used in, for example, art exhibitions, museums, concert programmes, and other cultural contexts as well as in commercial marketing and advertising.

The author always has the right to decide in which connections and under what terms his/her work is used.

How a work is used is to always be negotiated with the writer. Members of the Union of Finnish Writers can contact the Union in all contract-related matters. Contract issues are confidential.


Translation agreement

A book’s translation rights are agreed upon either in the publishing contract or in a separate agency agreement.


Sanasto contract

Sanasto, established in 2005, is a literary copyright organization that offers writers a so-called Sanasto contract (only in Finnish and Swedish). Sanasto negotiates contracts on behalf of writers over the use of literary works in, for example, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s radio and television programmes. Sanasto collects the levies and distributes them to writers. Writers that have signed a Sanasto contract also get levies if their works are used by Celia, the library for the visually impaired.

By signing a Sanasto contract with the copyright society Sanasto, the writer authorizes Sanasto to grant user rights to their work on their behalf. Writers should sign such a contract because this is the only way they can collect levies when their works are used on, for example, television and radio.

Writers can also request that Sanasto handle negotiations over the dramatization of their works. When a request for a dramatization is received, Sanasto always contacts the writer before concluding contracts.

With Sanasto contracts, Sanasto also grants rights for the use of literary works in, for example, poetry readings as well as public book circles and seminars. Users of literary works deliver user reports to Sanasto and based on these Sanasto invoices the user. Collected levies are paid to writers according to Sanasto’s payment schedule.

It is important to note that a Sanasto contract does not grant rights to the publication of literary works or other activities that resemble publication. The important relationship between writers and publishers is thus unchanged. Sanasto manages the rights that a writer does not usually hand over to a publisher.


Kopiosto power of attorney

Copyright society Kopiosto promotes creative work by enabling the use of different material and works. It grants licenses for a variety of uses such as the photocopying of literary works and the transmission and recording of television programmes, and distributes remunerations to copyrights holders.

Kopiosto represents roughly 50,000 Finnish copyright holders who belong to 45 member organizations representing authors, photographers, performing artists and publishers in all fields of creative work.

Thus Kopiosto does not have individual members. If you join a Kopiosto member organization, you can apply for grants, which are funded from copyright royalties paid to the Kopiosto member organization.

With a Kopiosto power of attorney, a writer gives Kopiosto the right to grant licenses for the use of their work. The power of attorney is given to the Union of Finnish Writers, which then transfers the rights to Kopiosto. The power of attorney allows the writer to be remunerated for the use of their work and for the monitoring of copyrights. Remunerations for the use of audio-visual works are paid directly to the producer of the work while fees collected from photocopying are paid to organizations that represent writers and publishers. The Union of Finnish Writers uses these fees for grants and to produce, for example, the Kirjailija magazine.

Teosto customer agreement

Teosto grants licences for performing and recording music and pays remunerations to writers. A writer should become a Teosto customer if their text has been set to music and performed publicly or recorded.

Contracts covering various written works

Writers are sought after columnists for newspapers and magazines. Many authors also write serial stories. Writers should be careful when it comes to contracts with the press and remember that they are better off not granting a magazine all rights to works so that they themselves can make use of that material in their own later production. More information about press contracts is available on the Union of Journalists of Finland website. A writer may be commissioned to write a piece for a specific purpose, for example, a celebratory poem or a text on a particular subject. You can ask the Union for advice for negotiating a contract.


Good to know –  copyright royalties and copyright organizations

Sanasto contract

Sanasto, established in 2005, is a literary copyright organization that offers writers a so-called Sanasto contract (link only in Finnish and Swedish). Writers that have signed a Sanasto contract receive royalties from the use of their work on Finnish TV and radio programmes as well as from loans made at the Celia library for the visually impaired. With the Sanasto contract you can authorise Sanasto to agree on the use and pricing of your works. Once you have signed a Sanasto contract, you can direct matters related to the permission to use your work to Sanasto as well as receive copyright royalties via Sanasto.

A Sanasto contract does not affect a publishing contract between a writer and a publisher and a Sanasto contract does not prevent a writer from personally agreeing on the use of his/her works.

You can sign a Sanasto contract online.


Public lending right

The public lending right gives writers access to copyright royalties from books loaned from public libraries in Finland. The size of the remuneration depends on the number of times the work has been borrowed. If your works can be borrowed from public libraries in Finland, you should register with the public lending rights system and add a list of your works to Sanasto’s customer system. This is the only way you will have access to remunerations.


Being a Teosto customer

Even if you have only one work (poem, text, translation) that has been set to music and recorded or publicly performed in Finland, you should become a customer of Teosto, the copyright association of Finnish music authors.


Kopiosto promotes creative work by enabling the use of different material and works. It grants licenses for a variety of uses and distributes remunerations to copyright holders.

Kopiosto represents roughly 50,000 Finnish copyright holders who belong to 45 member organizations representing authors, photographers, performing artists and publishers in all fields of creative work.
Thus Kopiosto does not have individual members. If you join a Kopiosto member organization, you can apply for grants, which are funded from copyright royalties paid to the Kopiosto member organization.

For further information, please click here.


Good to know – social security for writers

Social security is meant to compensate for a loss of income in situations where one cannot work due to, for example, illness or parenting. A writer’s earnings-adjusted social benefits are determined differently depending on their working situation or grants. During a grant period covered by MYEL insurance, the daily allowance is based on MYEL income. If a writer has entrepreneur pension insurance, the allowance may be calculated based on YEL income. If a writer does not have entrepreneur pension insurance, the writer gets the minimum amount of social benefit. Tax-free grants and copyright royalties influence allowances only via the entrepreneur pension insurance.

For advice regarding applying for daily sickness allowance, parental allowance, or unemployment benefits see Kela.


Pensions for writers

In Finland, a writer’s pension provisions are composed of an entrepreneur pension, grant recipients’ Mela pension, and the government’s discretionary supplementary pensions for artists.

Entrepreneur pension
Because writers do not work under an employment relationship, they must take out YEL pension insurance on their income from writing after they exceed a certain annual income level. A writer’s entrepreneurial income includes, for example, the writer’s fee, copyright royalties, and other income from writing. The pension premiums are about 22% of your income, and it is tax-deductible. Pension insurance companies offer more information on this.

Mela pension for grant periods
If you have received a grant for working on a writing project for four months, you must get insurance from the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution Mela. The MYEL insurance fee is smaller than YEL insurance, about 11-14% of the grant.

State supplementary pensions for artists
A writer who has turned 60 can apply for the State’s supplementary pension for artists. The Ministry of Education and Culture can grant the pension in recognition of artistic achievement.

Good to know – taxation for writers

Tax authorities consider writers to be individuals who get their income from artistic work or grants intended for such purposes. An artist may deduct occupational expenses.

Deducting occupational expenses

A writer may deduct expenses incurred from practicing their art, as long as the expenses are convincingly connected to making and maintaining an income. Usual deductions are:

  • Rent for a working space
  • Working tools
  • Literature related to your profession
  • Membership fees, e.g. Union of Finnish Writers membership fee
  • Compulsory pension insurance fees

The law does not provide an exhaustive list of occupational expenses a writer can deduct. Other expenses can also be deducted as long as you can explain to the tax authority how they are related to your income generation.


Accounting income and expenses

Writers are not accounting entities but they should still record expenses and income. Personal accounts make it easier to deal with the tax authorities and helps get deductions approved. Personal records of occupational expenses make tax declarations much easier and often they help you avoid having to add supplementary information to your tax declaration. You can keep records according to your preferences, whether it be in a simple exercise book or an excel sheet. Receipts are not included in tax declarations but you must keep them and present them to the tax authorities if necessary. Experience has shown that the tax authorities want to see receipts when people make major deductions related to, for example, travel expenses.


How fluctuating income affects taxation

A writer’s income may fluctuate wildly from year to year. It is usual that a writer does not publish every year but that they keep working and have expenses even in years when they do not publish a work. If occupational expenses exceed income in a year, a writer can request that the losses be confirmed by the tax authorities so that they can be used as a deduction once the book is published and generates income.

In good years, when your income rises, so does your tax percentage. Athletes can even out income peaks by placing money into a coaching/athlete fund. Artists do not have this option, at least for the time being. The Union of Finnish Writers would like to see a similar system in place for writers so that they can even out their fluctuating income in their favour.

If a person receives an income of at least EUR 2,500 in one tax year but that income has been gathered over two or more years, they can demand income equalisation, which is a computational procedure that reduces the amount of tax you have to pay. A writer can demand income equalisation for royalties from the year a book was published or the following year.


Taxation of grants and awards

Grants and awards are tax free up to the annual value of the State Grant to Artists.  In 2016, the State Grant to Artists was valued at EUR 20,293.40. How grants exceeding this amount are taxed depends on where the grant comes from. Grants and awards from public entities (state, municipalities, cities) are completely tax free. Taxes will be imposed on the total from grants and awards from private organisations, foundations and funds that exceed the annual value of the State Grant to Artists.

The tax free status of grants means two things: they are not subject to tax withholding and you cannot deduct occupational expenses from them.


Awards of recognition and applying for tax exemption

A literary award increases your income and thus your tax percentage. When the award has been granted in recognition of artistic achievement, a writer can, in the year the award was granted, apply for tax exemption for the award from the Ministry of Finance with appeal to section 82.3 of the Income Tax Act.


Contact information for The Union of Finnish Writers

The Union’s offices are open Mon-Fri 9am-3pm, closed in July.

The Union of Finnish Writers
Runeberginkatu 32 C 28
FIN-00100 Helsinki
Tel. +358 (0) 445 392