Romance By Catherine: To join RWA... or not to join RWA... that is the question.

Friday, November 14, 2008

To join RWA... or not to join RWA... that is the question.

Okay, so my title is a bit cheesy. Give me a break. This is my first blogger blog. Yeah, I've blogged on MySpace. I've posted several comments on blogger, but never bit the bullet and wrote my very own blog here.

Here it goes...

I'm blogging today about my decision to stay with Romance Writers of America. As some of you know I signed my first e-book contract this last week, and I couldn't be happier. I've worked long and hard for this contract and at the current time have four other manuscripts being reviewed with E-Publishers. Needless to say, I'm a e-pub author at this stage in my carrier. When I first started on this journey to publication everyone told me to join RWA. "It shows the publishing world and agents you're serious about your career." So, I did. I've not had the time to go to local chapter meetings and in all honesty have found a wonderful support system on-line. My critique partners and fellow authors are one instant message away. I guess what I'm saying is I don't see the need to spend the money on gas to go to a chapter meeting where I don't know anyone. Now, I like the RWR magazine, and have found many of their articles worth reading. But the one that really stuck out to me was the last one from the new President of RWA.

Us vs. Them: Those of you who've read this know what I'm talking about. Many of you have blogged about it but have any of you let your membership to this organization lapse? Are any of you going to not write that check this year because you see no need to be a part of this organization? I haven't decided yet. I don't like that my books will never be eligible for the RITA. And I want to ask RWA why not? What are they afraid of? If a e-book wins a RITA will that book change every ones view of e-pubs and maybe open the eyes of the nay-sayers out there?

Let me know your thoughts.


Kaye Manro said...

Hey Catherine! Welcome to blogspot! I've been posting here for a while now. But I'm still no expert for sure. I do like it here because it allows you to hop to different blogs on blogspot and your own blog will show up on another's blog. Anyone can get to yours by clicking on your name, provided you are signed in to yours.



Anne Sorgeson said...

Welcome! I love blogger! I will add you to my list of blogs. :)

Now as to what you say, I have not joined because of the issue of not being able to afford it. I keep going back and forth but we'll see. lol

Catherine Bybee said...

Thanks, Kaye.

They don't call me chatty Cathy for nothing. grin

Catherine Bybee said...

You know, Anne, I think a lot of people are thinking harder about every dollar they spend. Which makes me wonder why RWA is thinking of raising thier rates.

Stephanie said...

Hey Catherine!

Yeah I'm at the same point: do I or Don't I? Right now the main factor is the cost of membership, but I've decided that is where the first $100.00 of royalties should go.

I've decided to for one main reason. Ebook writers can't expect to be taken seriously by RWA unless we change it from within.

Catherine Bybee said...

There is some truth to that, Stephanie. I wonder how we are going to do that?

Kealie Shay said...

Hi, Catherine! Welcome to Blogger. I have the same dilemma as you. I have yet to be published at all beyond my free short stories, but I don't know that I want to spend my hard-earned money on someone who won't even acknowledge my accomplishments.

I can see the reasoning behind the thought that it could be changed from within, but how in the world would we accomplish that?

Catherine Bybee said...

Hi, Kealie.

I'm at a loss. I come from the thought... If your gonna bitch about something be prepared to do something about it. But it feels a bit like fighting city hall... you know?

Celia Yeary said...

Catherine--Oh, shoot! You already have 7 comments, and I wanted to be the first on your new blog. Okay, so I'm number eight. So be it. RWA. To pay your dues or quit? Much has been said, I know, but I've never given my opinion--now I will here. As long as RWA fills some need I have, I will pay. I don't like the extra cash, it's expensive enough as it is. Actually, I pay dues to very few things, and I take no magazine--read what I want in the library, then I don't need to re-cycle them. Also, I cannot belong to the San Antonio Romance Authors group without being a member of RWA--now that part really makes me angry, but I understand the reason. So, I will remain in both for a while--how many years, I can't say.Right now, I want my name and book covers and publisher on the SARA site. And I want to send "good news" to SARA--you get the drift.RWA served its purpose for me when I was entering contests--I did so to get critique sheets--helped me enormously. I don't do that anymore,but I like the magazine, and especially, I like the member's on-line site where I can scan romance publishers and what they want. Enough. Good questions, and good luck with your blog--Celia Yeary

Catherine Bybee said...

This is a hot topic, Celia.
I have to wonder if $85.00 for a magazine subscription is worth it. I guess I just need to pull our a pen and paper and put Pro's and Con's on it and start a tally. Thanks for your two cents.

Angel Martinez said...

Does make one wonder about the print snobbery still out there.

Of course, it may just be something that you need to put off for a few months. They'll still be there in six months or a year.

Catherine Bybee said...

I guess thats true, Angel. I could just let things lapse and see if I miss anything.

Cindy K. Green said...

You know Catherine, I've yet to join RWA. The price has always kept me from joining and the fact that I am an hour away from a local chapter. Now with all these changes and insults, I don't think I want to spend my money that way.

Susan Macatee said...

I've just renewed my membership with RWA. I don't know about next year if they raise the price. But RWA was a valuable resource for me in starting my romance writing career. I've joined a very supportive online group, made connections with other writers I never would have met otherwise and took quite a few RWA workshops that helped me emensely. I don't know why POD and e-books aren't considered equal to mass market books, though. And I don't understand the idea that TWRP is recognized by RWA, but our books can't be entered in the RITA. Doesn't make much sense.

Catherine Bybee said...

Hi Cindy and Susan,

Yeah, Susan. That got me too. TWRP and RRP's books are recognized but don't try for the RITA. It's like the right and left hands aren't talking to each other.

Delores Walker said...

I am letting my membership lapse this year. I do believe that RWA helped me in a lot of ways.
However, ebooks are the way of the future. I believe there will always be a spot for traditional print.
However we need our little spot in the world.

Catherine Bybee said...

Thats how I'm leaning, Delores.

Cate Masters said...

Kudos, Catherine! Very timely subject, and well put. Perhaps if enough people take a stand and hit RWA in the pocketbook (where it hurts the most), they'll take notice and take epubs seriously.
Welcome to the blogosphere!

April Vine said...

Hey, there.
I just wanted to stop by to congratulate you on your contract and your blog.
About RWA, I’m South African, don’t even know if I could be a member, could I?
And even if I could be a member, your 1 dollar cost has a 10 time value to our rand or about there, last time I checked, I’d literally be paying through my nose.
Anyway, good luck with your other manuscripts under review.

Caitlyn Hunter said...

Hey Catherine!

I too am an RRP author and when I saw your post on the daily digest from the loop, the subject caught my interest because I'm debating renewing my RWA membership. Like you, my first book was an e-book, as was my second, and I never felt the need to join RWA. Then my third book was accepted by a small print publisher and I had short stories accepted for two print anthologies and all I heard was, "You have to join RWA." So I did. I can't say being a member has helped me any, though that could be because I'm not a member of a local chapter since the closest one is at least two and a half hours away. Even if I joined, I probably wouldn't ever make the monthly meetings because I hate to drive.

So, I'm juggling the same decision; to re-join or not. I do love their magazine and I'm told it doesn't hurt to have that "RWA Member" in your bio, it really worth it?

Anyway, welcome to the world of blogging. You picked an interesting subject for your first post!


Cari Quinn said...

Hi Catherine!

I've been a member of RWA for about 3 years, and of my local chapter and Kiss of Death for the past year. I look at it as a necessary expense, but some people may not see it that way. I found my critique partners online, not in my local chapter, but I'm starting to take a more active role in it. That said, I can see why so many people are questioning belonging to a group that seems to be excluding them. Hopefully, this latest firestorm will instigate some real change within the organization. After all, epublishing is truly the future.

Lynn Reynolds said...

Welcome Catherine! I've just started up my own blog here too. I'll add you to my list.

I'm not crazy about RWA's attitude toward e-publishers, but as I've ranted previously in other places, I think the entire publishing industry is in a period of change and upheaval. It's going to take a while for everyone to adjust to and accept new technologies. In the meantime, I still think RWA is the most open and welcoming writers' organization I've ever belonged to - and having written poetry, literary fiction, mysteries, press releases and newspaper articles, I've belonged to a LOT of writers' organizations over the years. I do enjoy the comradery and networking in all my various RWA chapters, both face-to-face and online. So I think I'll be retaining my membership and just hoping that over time, all publishers and writers' organizations will be more supportive of all writers, no matter how their books are published.

Debra St. John said...

HI Catherine! Congrats on your new blog. I'm on the fence about the whole RWA National thing. I really don't know what to think. But I do know that without my local chapter (Chicago-North) I would not be where I am today. The ladies there are wonderful and so supportive. Without them, I wouldn't be a published author. For that, a National membership is worth it.

Catherine Bybee said...

Wow! Apparently I hit a hot topic. Not really be design either. I'm happy to give everyone a forum to talk about something on many people's minds.
And thanks for the kudos and congrats on the contract. I really am jazzed about that.

Helen Hardt said...

Hey Catherine! Great to see you blogging. Lots of great comments here, too. I am a member of RWA; I have to be an RWA member to be a member of my local chapter, and it's been well worth the money to me. I met some great CPs at my local chapter, and lots of other friends as well. I also attended the RWA conference this year, and I have to say, it was a wonderful experience.

Yes, I read the letter from the new RWA president, and like most of you, I resent the fact that she doesn't consider epubbed authors "career focused." The fact is, there are only a certain number of spots available with the NY publishers. Many talented authors with exceptional stories never make it there. Epubs and smaller presses serve a valuable purpose. And don't forget that epubs and small presses have launched many a NY career. Think Angela Knight, Sylvia Day, Julia Templeton, among many others.

I will continue to be an RWA member. The dues are tax deductible, after all :). No, I don't agree with everything RWA does. But I have my vote, and I'll exercise it. To me, the benefits outweigh the problems.

Great post, and again, welcome to blogging! I hope to visit again soon!


Catherine Bybee said...

Thanks, Helen.

I guess I simply haven't made the most of my membership and thus far haven't used any of their service. Then again, there is no telling if a publisher has seen my connection to RWA and read my manuscripts with more thought. hum... A question for the editors... another blog post?

Christina Phillips said...

Welcome to blog-land, Catherine, and congratulations on your contract!

I don't belong to RWAm, but am a member of RWAus and RWNZ and both organisations are very supportive of members who e-publish. Then again they are both much smaller organisations than the RWAm so I guess there's far less internal politics involved.

I'd certainly resent paying the same dues as every other member, but not be allowed to reap the same benefits.

Catherine Bybee said...

Good point, Christina.

Never thought of it that way. We do pay the same money but don't have the same benefits. I guess that goes under the 'con' list.

Dayana said...

Well, Catherine, I don't know what I will do when my membership is up for renewal but this is actually the second time since I've been a member where the RWA has negated epublishing. My publisher to my knowledge, The Wild Rose Press, is recognized with the RWA which is a plus but you are correct in questioning whether or not we would be considered or even have a chance to win the various prestigious contests offered through the RWA. I have honestly never entered their contests--the Rita, etc.--because I really couldn't establish whether or not I actually qualified.

Of note, I do belong to a chapter of wonderful supportive writers but I rarely get to the meetings as much as I'd like to. And I have met and made some lifetime friends in joining.

Membership, I don't know. I'll have to see how things go.


By the way, congrats on your new blog *grin*

Catherine Bybee said...

I've asked a couple of editors to add their two cents.

Here is what one of them had to say...

Great topic you stumbled on!

My personal feeling is membership doesn't necessarily equate to a quality manuscript, which is the No. 1 thing we all want. BUT, it can indicate:
1. a commitment to the craft of writing
2. an awareness of the genre's trends and news
3. the possibility the author is "plugged in" and understands book promotion

My bottom line response? It certainly doesn't hurt, and it just might help!

Kaye Manro said...

Good post and great responses, Catherine!

It is probably a good idea to be a member of RWA or RNA for the very reasons the editors told you. But on the other hand, you don't have to be a member to become published. And there is another point-- if RWA doesn't recognize e-books and many that are here do e-pub, it is a subject that needs to be presented to them. That's my opinion, anyway.

Julie Robinson said...

"I've not had the time to go to local chapter meetings and in all honesty have found a wonderful support system on-line. My critique partners and fellow authors are one instant message away. I guess what I'm saying is I don't see the need to spend the money on gas to go to a chapter
meeting "

Catherine----Exactly the dilemma I've been struggling with! I have been thinking that come January, I will not renew my membership with the local chapter for the reasons you stated. A friend of mine within the group feels the same way. However, I will remain a part of RWA because you can still be a member of RWA and not be a member of a local chapter. It does not work the other way. Julie

Rhonda said...

There's no right or wrong decision here. If you are part of a local chapter that you enjoy you can't stay a member of that chapter unless you belong to RWA. That's one thing to consider and its the reason a lot of writers stay RWA members even if they get nothing else out of the dues.

Frankly, it'll be years before you see any real change at the National level. The old regime is still very much in control. Until they move on and younger, more "up to date" people take over, you won't see any changes from within. Younger authors, who are familiar with small press and epublishing will eventually be the norm. You can't expect that after all this time change will occur overnight.

As I"ve said many times, our generation, and even the one directly behind us is still working on this whole epublishing concept. Its the kids in their late teens and early twenties who will change things. They are the ones who download everything from music to movies and books. They don't have the hang ups we still have about holding a printed book in their hand.

To this day, an author's first question to me isn't about her electronic release - its always "when does my print come out?". Until we, as authors, stop thinking this is the ultimate reward no one else will.

We read newspapers online, magazines on line and we need to recognize that a book on-line is just as good as printed. Until we embrace this how can we expect an old established organization like RWA to embrace it?

Rhonda Penders

Catherine Bybee said...

I wonder when we will see real change? I also wonder if writing RWA would make a difference? It feels a bit like fighting 'City Hall' don't you think?

Rebecca J. Clark said...

If an ebook wins a RITA, then how embarrassing would that be to the big-time authors/agents/publishers who are the other finalists? I'm thinking RWA is getting lots of pressure from NY pubs/agents to not allow epubs in the RITA.

Catherine Bybee said...

You're probably right, Rebecca.