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Insights from Dutch authors at the International Authors Forum's meeting in Amsterdam

13/01/2017

Interviews with successful Dutch authors: journalist, translator and visual artist, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Image © Katie Webb: Bench in Amstelpark, Amsterdam. IAF's meeting was held in a nearby hotel.
Image © Katie Webb: Amstelpark, Amsterdam. IAF's meeting was held in a nearby hotel.

FUIS is a member of the International Authors Forum (IAF) and attended FUIS attended IAF's meeting in Amsterdam on 31st October 2016. FUIS was represented by its General Secretary Simone di Conza and International Co-directors Ida Baucia and Katie Webb, who has been newly appointed and is based in London. While in Amsterdam, FUIS exchanged information and strengthened its links with associates in other countries, holding meetings with organisations representing authors in the Netherlands, the United States and Ireland.
 
IAF’s event featured interviews with two Dutch writers and a Dutch visual artist. Jeroen Thijssen, a writer and freelance journalist, chaired a discussion between Nicolette Hoekmeijer and journalist Kees Schaepman. This was followed by a conversation between Anouk Siegelaar (Association of Dutch Designers) and Lois Van Baarle, a freelance illustrator and animator.

You can read a summary of the discussion below, and read a more detailed report here.
 
Hoekmeijer and Schaepman talked about their own experiences as independent, self-employed professional authors in terms of the Dutch public funding system, which offers grants for certain types of work such as translation, but draws a distinction between translation work which is regarded as ‘literary’, and other types of translation which don’t carry such a high status.
 
They also discussed the importance of the Dutch Authors’ Guild to freelance authors. The Guild offers services such as model contracts and grants. Such organisations are important to their members, in order to give them access to supportive, informed communities which help writers manage their own professional development; managing themselves being, of course, in the nature of the profession of author.
 
Both authors were very experienced, and discussed the challenges that their professions face nowadays compared with earlier in their careers. They discussed the lack of opportunity for truly independent journalism, given the dominance of multi-national corporations who are chasing money through quantity of output rather than quality. Schaepman suggested that authors today need to be entrepreneurial to be successful – in particular, they need to use social media to the full.
 
Providing a model example of such an entrepreneurial approach, Lois Van Baarle who is an incredibly successful freelance illustrator, was presented next by Anouk Siegelaar. Van Baarle juggles work for corporate clients with whom she is in huge demand, with her own freelance, more creative work, also raising money for different projects in other ways, such as Kickstarter funding her artist’s book. She has 573,000 instagram followers, showing that social media can be a path to success, but still has to work incredibly hard to meet the demands of her workload. Luckily for her, it’s work that she loves!