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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

RWA Membership...to Renew or Not to Renew

For those who don't know what RWA is, it stands for Romance Writers of America. I've been a member since 1994...and find myself wondering if I want to remain a member.


Which way should I go?

Can you publish without being a member? Yes.

Have I found them helpful in the past? Yes...but not the recent past.

Has any fan ever asked me if I'm a member at a book signing or anywhere else? No.

Their magazine is full of interesting articles...but I now have access to so many interesting articles on the Internet.

Their switch to forums/whatever they call the new system they use is somewhat confusing and annoying. I've dropped out of a group that used their system because I felt it was time consuming to "join" different themed forums/loops/whatever.

PAN. I'm a member. Got in before the decision to make it hard for ebook authors. 

Twice (with two chapters), people were removed as members...without the other members knowing why. When I asked for answers, they went unanswered. When I asked for help with one chapter seriously depleted by their actions, I got no response.

The past five years, I've paid my dues, only because I'd miss my local chapter. I stopped going to the big RWA conferences after the shabby way epubs were treated in 2007 (?). While RWA is improving in it's attitude toward epubs (and I think that's due to the advent of Carina Press - a Harlequin imprint), there's still a long way to go.

I'm annoyed that RWA can't create a category for erotic romance. The reason given to me? They couldn't come up with a definition of erotic romance. Lame excuse, and pitiful.

The Golden Heart Contest is a great contest. The RITA...more of a popularity contest...makes it difficult for epubs to enter since most have ebooks done first, and print versions published later. It's a matter of timing, and this makes it hard for epubs to even think about entering the RITA.

So many things to consider. More in the minus column than in the plus column.

In the end, I'll probably join for another year...because of my local chapter...hoping for better treatment/acceptance of epubs.

These are just my opinions. What do you think?
Photo: Flickr: massdistraction photostream


17 comments:

Barbara Donlon Bradley said...

Back in 2009 I had to drop my RWA membership because of finances. I had remained a member for a long time for the same reasons as you. I loved my local chapter. But the cost for RWA is high and I wasn't getting that much for my money anymore and when I had to choose RWA or food on the table you know which one won out.

I learned that there a lot of wonderful on groups that do everything my local chapter did and more. Although I don't converse with my local chapter buddies as often as I used to I still keep in touch and find I kind of like having the time I used to spend at the meetings writing.

I feel I'm getting everything I need right now from my online groups.

Liz said...

I belonged for exactly one year, the first year I started writing, hoping for some guidance and help. I got none, except when my membership lapsed when I got bombarded with helpful reminders to pay up. I never joined a local chapter. I'm too busy to go to meetings that don't directly effect my bottom line.

I have a philosophical issue with a group that will gladly take a LOT of my cash in exchange for telling me I am not "valid" as an author in their eyes. But if it does help you, and you can get what you need from it, by all means, you should belong.

Melissa Keir said...

I joined for the prestige but you're right in that you aren't getting a whole lot. I've enjoyed some of the classes that they had. The one on taxes was amazing and my local chapter is also amazing. To keep my membership with the local, I have to keep my national. They do not recognize the smaller publishers or the ebook industry in general. I'm saddened by that because even the big guys see it as the way to go.

As far as the erotica issue, they do have their own chapter for just erotic romance writers. If they can't define it, why have it? Maybe the problem is that it is too big... the smaller chapters are handling the day to day stuff. I'm on the fence for now and will have to keep evaluating.

Mona Risk said...

I joined RWA in 2002 when I joined my local chapter. I belonged to three chapters I like a lot. That's the only reason I still belong to RWA. I'm a PAN too. Ironically, I became a PAN because of my self-published ebooks that did so well last year.
Did RWA help me? Not at all.
But I will remain a member to stay in the local chapters. Although I found their fees outrageous.

Kiru Taye said...

Great post. I'm not a member of RWA. I've debated joining but I'm not sure of what benefit it'll be to me. As I don't live in the US, I can't join local chapters anyway. So what's the point?

Cara Marsi said...

Marianne, I'm with you on everything you've said. I too struggle with the decision to stay with RWA. I've been with them since 1992, and the main reason I stay is because of my local chapter. I too am in PAN with my first published book with Avalon Books. I worked hard to get that PAN membership and if I leave RWA, I lose that. I'm conflicted. RWA helped me a lot in the beginning. I really don't need them as much. I hate the new forums and don't see why they changed. You're right about the RITA being a popularity contest. I judge every year and find some wonderful books by unknown authors, but those books never final. It's always the same big names that final. I also agree there should be an erotic romance category in the RITA. RWA is very slow to change. They're just now coming around to accepting ebooks. How long before they'll allow indie books to enter the RITA?

Renee Vincent / Gracie Lee Rose said...

I can honestly say the ONLY reason I keep my RWA membership is so that I can remain in my awesome chapter groups: Ohio Valley RWA, and Celtic Hearts. Without them, I'd be lost. So, it's worth the $95 (or whatever it is this year with the increase) to be able to be in my chapters.
That being said, I think it's ridiculous that the dues for RWA are that high. With each increase in dues, I ask myself every year "Is it worth it?"

Truth be told, I think that is the major consensus with most RWA members.

Kathy Kulig said...

I've been a member of RWA since 2003 and I believe the support and information I received from them and my local chapters is what helped me become published. No professional organization is everything for everyone. That's impossible. I take what I can, offer what I can by helping out with my chapters and forget the rest. I've learned a lot about networking, craft, and the publishing business I wouldn't have on my own. As a member I show other publishing professionals I take my writing seriously as a professional, not that other non-members aren't as serious. It's a form of documentation I suppose. If you look at many of the big named authors, they're members. I try to learn by watching the successful ones and seeing what they're doing. My opinion for what it's worth. :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I've been an RWA member for years, but this year I decided the costly dues weren't worth it any more. I have never received help of any kind from RWA. I have often felt like a reject because of the RWA's negative attitude toward epub authors and publishers. They didn't become supportive until Kindle set the world on fire for epub books. I thought they were going to take book piracy to task, but that fizzeled out, too. They seem to be an old dinosaur to me with out dated ideas and prejudices. I find it confirmng that many of the comments site feelngs and opnons smilar to mine. Great blog subject.

Jillian said...

I renewed only because of my local group. National treats us epubbed folks really bad and they've left me feeling no love for them.

Vijaya Schartz, author said...

I asked myself the same questions and came up with the same answers. But I did renew this year, only because of the two wonderful chapters I belong to, and the support of so many other authors, who, like me, chose small press over New York. What irks me, though is this new obsession about defining romance. As always, it favors the traditional publishers. Shame on RWA for remaining stuck in the past and not evolving and changing with the times.

Marie Harte said...

Great post, Marianne. Years ago when I lived in GA I used to attend the monthly chapter meetings, which were 2 hours away from me. I got some really helpful advice but was never treated like a part of the group, and that was after attending for over a year. Then when I wanted to share the good news of being epublished (back in 2005--before ebooks were "cool") they snubbed me. So I left. I only remained a member of RWA for Passionate Ink, the erotic chapter. But after they changed the whole forum and format, I found it hard to access info. So I dropped out of PI. Now I'm a member or RCRWA in Oregon. My friends I found from that local chapter. I've never attended a meeting, but the local RWA folks are wonderful. For that alone I thank RWA, as a common meeting ground. I do enjoy the RWR mag, but honestly, the new website/forums are clunky and not user friendly. The attitude in RWA has changed much in the last 8 years, but it's still a group predominated by tradition. Change is hard to get moving. If not for my Portland chapter, I'd bail. But I think for new writers it really helps provide a network of support.

Great post! I wonder how much longer I'll be a part of RWA...

VICKI BATMAN, said...

Hi, Marianne, I ask all of the questions too and then still go to the conference. The last two years, I've concentrated on marketing. Yes, there are plenty of other places to get that information, but it works like a crash course with so many at once. I belong to a very good chapter, too, and to be with them, I have to belong to RWA. I find how they handled the WF chapter deplorable. I think the organization moves too slowly. The myRWA is awful. What about short fiction writers like me? I won't ever be recognized as a PAN even though I've had 23 pieces published. I don't have many pluses either, yet I remain.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I never joined RWA or any other organization after (or before) being published. In my opinion they cost way too much to be justifiable. But, that's just my opinion.

Arline Todd said...

Great post, Marianne. I've been a member of RWA for about seven years. The only reason being that I had to join to be able to join my local chapter.

I think it's getting too expensive and delivering too little to keep on. I've been thinking of running a small book ad in the RWA Romance Writers Report and members get a break in ad cost. Will probably do so this year since I've already paid my membership--and see what results. However, nonmembers can also advertise so that's not a good enough reason to continue my membership in RWA.

I keep missing more and more local chapter meetings. There are a number of writer-oriented online groups that are available now that take up my time. Also, I've noticed that the original group of members in my local chapter seem to leave little-by-little as they publsh.

I'm leaning toward making this my last year as a member of RWA and the local chapter.

Patricia Preston said...

Read this post with great interest as it is time to renew and I'm seriously thinking of not renewing even though I have been a member for almost 20 years. There are no chapters close enough for me to attend meeting regularly and since they did away with the email loops, what is left? Plus their philosophy seems out-of-date now.

Sandy said...

Marianne, I agree with you. I dropped out of my local chapter and RWA last year, or the year before. They were helpful until the publishing industry changed.

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