Friday, December 5, 2008

RWA...Rumblings AGAIN!!!


Once again there are grumblings among members of Romance Writers of America members. I'm always prepared for it because it happens every year. And every year members who are e-published are dissed in some way by the RWA powers that be. It's getting ridiculous. I finally got really sick of the shoddy treatment and I let my membership lapse after being a member since 1992. That's a long time to be a member of an organization that basically did NOTHING to further my career. Doesn't say much for my common sense does it?

I guess I kept waiting for the organization to say that I was as much of a successful published author as anyone else. Now I realize I don't need them to validate my success.I understand many members have local chapters that are supportive and you have to be an RWA member to belong to the local chapters but that isn't the case with me. I have no local chapter. I WAS allowed to be a member of Passionate Ink, which is an on-line RWA chapter for writers of erotic romance and I liked the group very much. Informative and supportive. Unfortunately, I've had to drop this group because I allowed my RWA membership to lapse. One of their rules to be elegible for PRO and PAN was to have sales of a certain amount for a single book and I found it kind of funny that I actually HIT that number the month after I dropped my membership.

RWA has continually looked for ways to exclude the writers who basically help pay for the things they do throughout the year, including the yearly bash. Every year, new rules and little picky details were instituted that smack of exclusion. I don't know why epubbed authors continue to support them with their money. The latest uproar is over the RITA awards, the romance industries equivalent of an OSCAR. E-pubbed authors now cannot enter the contest unless their book is in print. I could be wrong but I believe a certain number of these books have to be in print, too. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I understand that a big part of the problem is RWA's lack of judges for the contest so only authors with New York houses will be able to enter. Most of us realize that part of the beauty of e-books is they are inexpensive to the buying public and know too, that it costs money to print a large quantity of books. Most publishers do the POD thing because it's simply easier and cheaper to print a book when it's ordered, cutting down on costs of warehouses, etc. Not to mention the books that go unsold and just sit there collecting dust.

RWA did nothing for me. Went to a few conferences and they were fun but definitely not all they are cracked up to be. Seems to me it was more of a 'fan fest' for the NY published authors than anything else. I don't regret giving up my membership. I get plenty of feedback and advice on-line or through my author friends and they don't charge me a dime.

What are your thoughts?

48 comments:

Margay said...

That is totally disheartening. Kind of reminds me of the whole exclusion from the vote thing way back when due to gender or race. This simply isn't right. I have yet to become a member due to the high fees, but now I wonder if I should even bother. Who wants to be part of an organization that excludes people - especially for such a silly reason?

Adrianne Brennan said...

I'm a member and beyond receiving a magazine haven't gotten anything out of it. I joined interest groups, sent off my money...and watched it go off into a black hole when I heard back from no one on my membership. If there are local groups, I haven't heard about.

The only happy members are the ones who are in local groups, and that's why they stay a member. I'm reconsidering my membership as well for that reason. But with my luck, I too will reach the appropriate sales for a single book to meet their requirements. :P

May I recommend EPIC? I've been utterly thrilled with them thus far. They're not perfect--no org is--but I've received a lot of benefits from them and I've only been a member since this past Feb or so.

BrennaLyons said...

I can't fault you what you're feeling. This has been a problem spot with RWA since its earliest years.

More and more, I hear of members leaving for reasons like this. Those that do are almost never sad to lose RWA National, though they may well miss individual chapters.

If RWA keeps it up, the entire membership is going to consist of unpublished authors and NY-published authors and nothing between, which belies their claims to be industry-wide, doesn't it. Why would anyone stay where they are abused and dissed this way?

I'm not sure about e-book entries into RITA, though they've consistently thrown up roadblocks to it. I'm still too busy being irritated with their dismissal of a large portion of erotic that could be entered in RITA.

RWA refused to create an erotic category in the RITA, saying that (with the change from one man, one woman to two protags) they were welcome to compete with the genre books. Well, not all of them are, even by that definition. Erotic romance includes menage and more groupings in books. If it's two protags in a relationship only, where do these books compete? They don't, as far as I can tell.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all FOR e-books being equal in RWA. I'm just saying they aren't the ONLY thing maligned and excluded.

And thank goodness some of the chapters are accepting of e-books...like FFP is. Not everyone in RWA has their collective heads in uncomfortable orifices, I'm glad to report.

There's a reason I love EPIC. All published authors, print and e (even self-published), are welcome...a body of works allowance for authors who only write short stories, all genres of fiction and non-fiction...even a list where unpublished non-members are welcome, though unpublished can't join EPIC proper yet! How much more inclusive can you get?

Brenna

Desiree Holt said...

I think there is a distinct them and us attitude at RWA, dating back to the firdt emergence of ebooks and the attitude that ebooks aren't 'real'. I see it as a frightened reaction to the thought that here come a bunch of new authors cutting into the sales of the print only authors, who;ve ruled the marketplace. Now I think the fear is even greater, as NY publishing houses are dodwnsizing (see all the articles on Black Wednesday), reducing aquisitions and generally reeling from the dismal October and November numbers for book sales. Last year, AFTER the rules for RITA were first published, they threw in a curve by saying the books also ahd to be available to the public in print. This year AFTER the rules were published, they added the curve that POD books weren't included because only those books available at all times in boook stores were eligible. Well, as Regina says, with the book sales numbers so low, doesn't it make sense to print books only whejn the publisher receives orders for them> And POD houses don't get hit with massive returns that take money otu of the pockets of both publisher and author. It's fine to print fifty thousand copies of a book. It's NOT so fine when 40 thousand of the get returned. As more and more authors are turning to digital publishing, the entire face of the industry is changing. Too bad RWA can't understand they have to change with them. I get nothing from my membership except the feeling that my books are lacking in quality somehow because I'm not with a NY house, and the support of my local chapter. Call it sour grapes on my part, but I'd sure love to see a mass exodus from RWA of all the epubbed authors who are treated like second class citizens.

Mona Risk said...

I am a member and will continue paying my dues. Even if RWA didn't do anything directly for me, it helped me discoiver a whole new world of writers and I made so many friends. I am convinced that soon they will recognize epubbed authors. Oprah reserved a whole show to ebooks. Computers are taking over the world. RWA has no choice but to open its eyes and follow.

BrennaLyons said...

RWA will acknowledge e-books, when they are dragged, kicking and screaming into it. They haven't relented since the early 90s. So they have well over 15 YEARS of this going on, and they aren't going to change quickly.

I fully expect that they will acknowledge ONLY e-books released by the NY biggies FIRST. Indie press has always been the red-headed stepchild in RWA, and that won't change soon. So, even when NY e-books are acceptable, they are going to put up that wall to separate NY e-books from indie e-books.

Brenna

lainey bancroft said...

I'm done with them!

Regina Carlysle said...

Well, said Lainey!

I agree with Brenna that RWA will be dragged kicking and screaming into this brave new world and they'll probably have a chip on their shoulders about it. Just read an article a few days ago. This wasn't a romance industry article but one on a tech sight talking about the success of the Kindle and Sony e-reader. The author of the article mentioned mega giant publishers who are busily gearing up to release ALL their titles in e-format.

I've also been closely watching the decline of newspapers. Newspapers? They will be a thing of the past unfortunately. They have been around forever and I honestly can't imagine a world without them BUT, major newspaper CEO's are already talking about the demise of them. Advertising and production costs are killing them slowly. Where will people get their news? From devices like the kindle and on-line.

Minnette Meador said...

I agree with Mona. I predict the entire industry is going to go through some major changes over the next year and opt for short runs, then POD, then ebooks. With the major emphasis on the environment, people won't stand for killing trees to put books inside a warehouse, let alone destroying them when they come back from book stores. Transitions are tough and have to be done gradiently. There's lots of people employed by the printing industry. I honestly think the requirements will have to change soon, especially with the reading public demanding more and more eBooks. We're pioneers and what we do now will help bring publishing into the 21st century - I like being in that place ~grin~ I have two wonderful local RWA groups that I wouldn't give up for anything; they have supported me from day one and helped me in so many ways I can't even begin to say. I also belong to two on-line RWA groups and they have been incredibly supportive, as well. So, I don't mind paying the money to RWA for now - it's a great investment for me because of these groups. However, I will be watching RWA through the coming year. EPIC is also wonderful... they have been very helpful, as well...and you can't beat the price! ~LOL~

Regina Carlysle said...

And ANOTHER THING...lol...okay, on a tear here...does no one in RWA read about the industry changes? Surely if they are well-informed (as they say they ARE) they would be on top of things but, again, it seems they are so jealously guarding the successes of their NY pubbed authors, they care about nothing else.

I'm with Desiree. Unless the epubbed authors drop en masse, we will see no changes. Thinking they need a wake up call.

Tess MacKall said...

I've never bothered with RWA. I couldn't see the sense in joining. For a magazine? Nope. And to be included in a club that won't allow me to be there unless I pay homage to a group of some self-proclaimed kingmakers? Not me.

Such snobbery shouldn't be tolerated and you are well rid of them.

In the end, e pubbed authors and publishers will have the last laugh. We are the wave of the future and if RWA was indeed the "be all, end all" in romance writing it purports itself to be, then RWA would cater to e publishing rather than exclude it.

In actuality, RWA is just another clique. Who needs it? Not me. I'll rely on EPIC. And better yet, the support of my online family.

Great Rant, Girl! Love it when you get pissed off!

Tess

Brenda Gayle said...

I've worked for non-profit associations for over 20 years and the RWA attitude toward e-pubbed authors doesn't surprise me. Staff of associations are overworked and always looking for the path of least resistance. To treat us equally would mean going through all the rules and protocols and seeing where they need to be changed. Elected officials are rarely up to this challenge. They arrive in the position with their own agendas and rely on staff to advise them on everything else.

Associations that operate like RWA are going the way of the dinosaurs. They are large, bureauocratic and unable to handle the fast pace of change.

I will keep my membership in RWA solely to continue to belong to my local chapter. However, as costs rise (and in Canada we get hit with an additional $10 charge for postage), this decision will become harder and harder to justify.

Kim Smith said...

I am with you ladies.I quit RWA about a year ago.So, who's gonna start an E-RWA type of group? I do not know anything about EPIC.

Regina Carlysle said...

Something funny. I seldom go into a bookstore these days because I buy most of my books on line but I was out the other day and color my surprised when I saw my local Books A Million displaying the SOny eReader. This in a BOOKSTORE. Customers could hold the device and play with it. The kid behind the counter overheard me talking with my daughter about it and he started asking questions. He's selling them but didn't really know much. His interest was amazing. Young people love tech stuff.

In the tech article I mentioned, they also spoke of textbooks being made available in eformat.

RWA will, no doubt, be among the last of the dinosaurs to see the benefit of ebooks.

Melissa said...

When I first became epubbed I considered joining but the cost put me off. The second year, I could afford it but was put off by the biter acrimony directed at ebook authors being all "porn-lit", as if we couldn't write a romance with explicit sensuality, balancing passions with emotions. Then the costs went even higher and I was faced with having a "local" group that is nearly 75 miles away when I can't drive (seizure disorder). It just isn't worth it to me, not for a magazine from a bunch of frigid frumps that would stick their snoots in the air before ever deigning to reviewing one of my stories.

Regina Carlysle said...

Yes, Tess, you are 'right on' when you talk about snobbery because that's what it is. It's an "we're better than you" mentally.

With our dues we pay for a spectacular party once a year that basically pays homage to a handful of writers. Uh Uh.

Next year I'll do my partying at the Ellora's Cave Romanticon. Other networking options include EPIC's convention or Romantic Times. They have workshops, agent/editor appointments, and lots of networking. They also have ACCEPTANCE and we won't find that at an RWA convention.

BrennaLyons said...

EPIC is at http://epicauthors.com Check it out. It was originally PLANNED to be an RWA chapter, but RWA of the time refused the charter application, so they went out and incorporated on their own. Since then, EPIC has become inclusive of pretty much all published authors.

It doesn't do everything RWA does, but EPIC has only been around 11 years, so it's smaller. Then again, RWA is only so large because (well their age helps but) they accept both unpublished and published authors.

B

Regina Carlysle said...

I was unpublished when I joined and I remember that at the first RWA convention I attended, most of us WERE.

Kelley Nyrae said...

I'm a member. I like my local chapter. We have critique groups and workshops which I enjoy.

Regina Carlysle said...

Lots of authors feel this way, Kell, and that's the primary reason they hold onto their RWA membership. You're lucky to have a supportive local chapter. Many aren't so lucky. It DOES get cost prohibitave when you are paying dues to TWO groups...local and national. With the current economy, that's tough for people to justify.

Anne Rainey said...

I don't agree with RWA's constant practice of snubbing their nose. All forms of snobbery is annoying to me. Get with the times already. It's like trying to talk to my dad about computers. He's so completely against using them and I know what anything i tell him about them go in one ear and out the other. He'll never change his views, but I'll keep talking and maybe something will get through. Same with RWA. My hope is that eventually they'll get some young blood in there and they'll bring them into the here and now.

In the meantime, I will continue with my membership, not because I think they rock, not because they've helped me in ANY way at all, but because it allows me to be a member of my local chapter and I wouldn't give that up for anything. :)

Great post Regina!

Judy said...

Being a "newbie" (I have my first book contract), I've been especially interested in all the "RWA Rumblings". I've had RWA recommended to me on the basis of the local group. though I haven't yet joined. I stumbled upon EPIC the other day and thought that looked more like something I'd be interested in. So the blog and all these comments have given me food for thought. I'll be considering my options and make a decision sometime in January.

Catherine Bybee said...

I just posted a blog on this subject a few weeks ago. I too am going to let my membership lapse. First, $75.00 for a magazine sub. is just to darn much money. Second, I find most of my support on-line and don't need to 'pay dues' to access these lovely people. Third... RWA will be there if they change their ways and give e-books their just reward. Perhaps if the bottom line,$$$ is down they'll see the light.

Regina Carlysle said...

Congrats on your upcoming release, Judy!!! YAY. If you are debating the issue, there is a lot of commentary out there on the subject.

Regina Carlysle said...

I know what you mean Catherine. When I was unpubbed, RWA was the only source I knew of. Now, after a lot of books under my belt, I've learned their are lots and lots of ways to network with other writers and publishers without the expense. There is no shortage of love, acceptance and support out there FREE OF CHARGE.

And as I said a big ago, if you want a PARTY where you can meet your on line friends and fellow authors, there are plenty of those too.

Regina Carlysle said...

I know what you mean, Anne, about the dinosaurs out there but we are reaching a point when the tech-savvy young people will be in charge and things will begin to change. RWA must adapt or they will be no longer viable as an organization. Even publishers GET IT.

Phoebe Jordan said...

I'm an aspiring author and I've head that I should join RWA if I want to succeed. I don't know if I'll be published either in print or eBook but either way I want to be in an organization that supports both. I have joined RWA yet because it is too much money for me since I am only 19 and into my second year of college and can't afford it right now. I don't think I will join it if they are going to be so discriminate.

I did join a free organization that just started a couple of months ago. It's called Romance Writers United and it has over 30 members so far and it has helped me so much in getting to know published and newly published authors in the romance genre in both print and ebook. They are very supportive and I've even got a monthly column that I write for them called The Voice of Romance.

They are always giving their members opportunities of free promotion for their books either print or ebook. They have Literary Agent Kelly L. Mortimer of the Mortimer Literary Agency hosting a column called "Ask An Agent" in their newsletter. Member send in their questions in for Kelly to answer and it's archived so new members could see old questions. This is the kind of organization that I'm proud of being a member of and it's free!

Amy Ruttan said...

PRO was good, PAN not so much.

The only reason I keep my RWA membership is because I am totally in love with my supportive chapter.

The Toronto Romance Writers are so supportive and totally rock. They don't care if you're e-published or not. And they list all their pubbed authors regardless of whether they are RWA PAN or not.

That's the only reason I'm sticking with the RWA because of the fantastic support and comraderie of the TRW.

Regina Carlysle said...

It's great that you've found such a positive group, Amy. I might still be in RWA if I had something like that.

Oddly enough, most belong to RWA simply because of their local chapters. National is pretty much worthless, as far as I'm concerned.

Susan Macatee said...

I'm starting to think along those same lines. I've been an RWA member for years and did benefit in the beginning from workshops, entering RWA chapter contests and networking with other members. But now that I've reached the pinnacle of finally being published, I feel sort of let down, because I've chosen to go with an epublisher who only prints POD books. And the reason I submitted to this publisher was because the New York publishers wanted nothing to do with my American Civil War set romances, while my epub, The Wild Rose Press, embraces the genre. So, although I've already renewed my RWA membership for this year, I don't know if I will next year.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hi Susan! I recognize you from TWRP. Anne and I (as Rita Thedford) are with TWRP too. Aren't they great to work with? To them, all romances are viable. This is great because it gives readers even more options.

That's the thing about epubs that are so great. They keep their minds open to all genres.

Taylor Tryst said...

What a hot topic! Good job.
I left RWA two years ago now, and I haven't missed anything! I lived in the Twin Cities, and belonged to the local group. I moved north, too far away to go to meetings, and couldn't believe it when they wouldn't allow me to become a PAN member or advertise with the other published authors becasue I was 'only' a epub'd author...That was it for me!
The world is changing, I think the American people are clammoring for it, and RWA will either have to follow along or drop into oblivion. To basically say that epublished authors aren't up to parr just because we weren't pub'd in NY is absurb. I joined EPIC, which is at least more suited to epublishing as a whole, and looking into the future of publishing instead of the dismal past.
Taylor Tryst
www.taylortryst.com
www.taylortryst.blogspot.com

Sascha Illyvich, erotica romance writer and real estate investor said...

I saw the article in the RWA mag recently and had to look objectively at it. From the outset, it looks like the new president is slamming e-book authors indirectly, while trying to remain diplomatic.

RWA is useful for me, I take their money while providing them with seminars LOL! But that's about it so far since I'm an e-book author.

Maybe that one reader was right. Romance writing does need a shot of testosterone...

BrennaLyons said...

Funny story time, for...good gracious...whoever said it's sort of dogma that you HAVE to join RWA to be successful...

A friend was multi-published in indie/e. She got a NY contract, and her agent IMMEDIATELY told her she had to join RWA?

Why? She has no close local group. She doesn't have time for online groups, save ones for marketing and such. It's unlikely that she'll be going to National Con...and she's already got an agent and publisher, so she doesn't need that particular networking.

"Well...that's the way it is. You sign with NY, you have to join RWA." This from the agent, again.

"Why? What are they going to do for me that my current groups won't?"

No answer to the question, in specific. "That's the way it is. That's the way it has always been."

My friend's answer? "No thanks."

Three years and four contracts in NY later, she's still not sure why she HAD to join RWA, and she still hasn't joined.

Brenna

CJ Parker said...

I renew my dues every year hoping RWA will get off their high-horse. But I've come to accept that they are a bunch of elitist who will never change. I serve as secretary for a local chapter. I really like my fellow members and will miss them terribly, but like you, I've come to the conclution that $75 (soon to be $85) is too much for a magazine subscription. I'm tried of them looking down their noses at me just because I chose a small publisher over one of the Big Guys in New York.

Margay said...

This looks like a great site, Phoebe. I just joined. Thank you for posting about it.

Regina Carlysle said...

Are you kidding me, Brenna??? That's the craziest, most nutso thing I've ever heard! Did RWA help her get published OR land this particular agent? Obviously not. I'm glad she asked questions and made the decision that's right for her.

And for what it's worth, all the money ISN'T in NY pubs. RWA needs to realize that, too.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hi Taylor! Glad you came by. When I let mine lapse, I thought I might miss them but I haven't a bit. I'm still writing and still publishing. I DO miss Passionate Ink but there are lots of avenues for fresh opinions and ideas.

Regina Carlysle said...

I've heard about this group Margay. Glad you joined up. Let us know if it's helpful to you. Phoebe likes it. It might be something to look into.

Kissa Starling said...

I've never been a member and I'm doing just fine. I did attend one local meeting and that was a lot of fun but not great enough for me to pay all that money to join.

Regina Carlysle said...

Think more and more people will begin to think that way, Kissa. Not a good economy right now and everyone is cutting back on unneccessary things.

Sara Thacker said...

I think I'm done with RWA too. I like my local group but there are other writer groups in the area.

Maddie James said...

Great post, Regina. For some it is a clear-cut decision to drop the membership and for others it is a sticky wicket. I'm both NY and epub/small press published. I've been a member since '89. I have a lot of friends and contacts I've made via RWA. And I love my local chapters. I am, however, appalled at the resistance to small presses and epubs from the RWA board/administration, whathaveyou. I think there will come a day when they will regret and eat their words. Look at how the big publishers are cutting staff, changing practices, not taking new authors, etc. This economy is a big trigger for all of this and I think the end product will be change. I predict small presses and POD will come out smelling like a rose in this new green world we are moving into. Change has to happen and if RWA wants to survive, they will have to open their eyes and recognize the importance and power that epub/small presses are going to present in the very near future.

Joanna Waugh said...

My local RWA chapter was forced to dissolve earlier this year because RWA decided every chapter needed to adopt new bylaws. None of us had the expertise--or the inclination--to try to reconcile our existing document with RWA's new one. (Which may sound like a cop-out but there were a lot of things we did for our members the new bylaws wouldn't allow--like a bestow scholarship to RWA conferences.) This stuff about the Rita is just one more nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. I was already disillusioned by the organization.

KellyMarstad said...

I've been a member since 2000, mainly for my ties to the MFW chapter in Minnesota. I've worked for that chapter, supported it, volunteered my time for it and have many great friends there.

But it isn't worth the cost and my membership lapses this year too. I won't be renewing but then I knew that back in September. RWA has become elitist. No thanks.

Genella deGrey said...

Regina - Awesome post! You really made me think. My dues had to lapse this year due to the economy. I'll admit, I'll miss the chapter meetings, but you are right. RWA disses E-pubed authors and their houses. (And erotic romance . . . ) In addition, they can keep their whole phobia about M/M, F/F romantic fiction. *everyone* deserves a HEA, IMHO.

I did enjoy their publication, though. (& the admin ladies were totally wonderful.)

The other thing I'll miss is the yearly convention -

*However* - Last year I attended for the very first time, the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. (aka, “RT”) *Way* cooler than RWA – Themed dinner parties every night (and you can wear a costume if you want.) They even have an e-book signing! They have booksellers, readers, and everything else RWA has (classes, editor/agent meetings, etc.)

Did I mention the yummy male cover models who roam around, sign autographs and pose for pictures?

Yeah. Way worth it.
I'll be there again this year.
:)
G.

PS – This has been an unpaid advertisement for RT. LOL – JK!

PPS – Thanks, girls, for the EPIC website & info!

Genella deGrey said...

Oh, and Phoebe - Thanks for your links, too!

(I hope I didn't miss any more!)
:)
G.

Caffey said...

So many books are now in ebook! Because in some ways, that's the way technology is going (among other reasons) so using the excuse of being 'epubbed' is so wrong! I have to say that I've read so many authors epubbed that are amazing reads that I can't imagine having missed them! To me it totally doesn't matte how the story comes to me (even some listen to audio) but the idea having to be in print is wrong, and its totally misunderstood to assume it means all are erotic reads, which its not (I've read hotter reads too in print!) That's just my assumption of partly why.

My point is, keep doing what you are doing as authors. Keep believing in YOU, because you have alot of us readers that will always be there supporting you as an author (or will be begging you for more, than we already do!) THANK YOU for ALL YOU DO!! Cathie, a reader :)