Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Q & A 28 Book Sales vs. Memberships


Here's my question...comment... rant. I actually HAVE sold two books to an RWA acredited publisher. Alas, I have never been a member of RWA, nor do I have a desire to join. I wonder, does having books actually out there, published, in print, hold more sway than being part of a big name organization like RWA? The problem is that, once you've been "published", that doesn't mean you'll ever get published again. And some people--even evil editors--seem to hold high stock in those aforementioned organizations. If a long period of time comes between publishing period one and hopeful publishing period two, will editors still be impressed by the fact that you're published to begin with?

Given the little information Evil Editor has, he would give a qualified Yes, Yes, Yes! It costs a lot of money to publish a book. A good-sized publisher isn't going to have a print run under ten or fifteen thousand. Add cover art and design to printing and binding and coffee and doughnuts and rejection slips and Evil Editor's salary, and we're talking a big investment. Either they're idiots, or they believe you have the right stuff. Even if you were published by a very small press, they must have put five or ten grand into your book, and to a small press trying to run in the black, that's not chump change. Somebody likes your writing. Compare that to a writer who has written something that hasn't yet sold, and has invested some money in joining an organization. She's serious about her writing, but it remains to be seen whether she can produce the goods.

Now, if your books tanked, that's why your original publisher isn't on you to write more, but you can blame it on the ugly covers they gave you, if anyone asks.

18 comments:

Kara said...

I'm just curious why this writer is so anti-joining RWA. Not that I believe EVERY writer should be a member, and RWA isn't perfect. But for anyone writing romance/women's fiction/chick lit/romantic suspense, RWA provides an awful lot of resources.

If this person had been an active RWA member, he/she would have already known the answer to the question he/she asked!

Naresh said...

I don't if you joined RWA or not?

I also don't know what RWA is? :)

But what I know is that your blog was fresh! I hope you understand what I mean by fresh. In the past 2 hours, browsing through random blogs, I have been looking for a post that I can bear to finish reading. Yours was the first. Its not an honor to have your post read by me. But it being good enough to latch onto a stranger's interest does point in some direction.

Kudos!!!

sweet sapote said...

I wondered too.

Anonymous said...

The writer seems to be comparing apples to oranges. What do published book credits have to do with membership in professional writer's organization? I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

Answers:

1) RWA is Romance Writers of America. You can find out all about them at https://www.rwanational.org

2) I'm not anti-RWA, but neither am I pro-RWA. I do believe that it can't hurt to get the opinion of other people on what you write. I'm not big on paying an organization my hard-earned cash to sit around with other authors and would-be authors to discuss my craft. Maybe that's cynical, but unless it's Nora Roberts, what can they possibly tell me that will help me sell my manuscript?

3) Apples and oranges? Maybe. More like grapes and raisins... they come from the same stock, but they taste a whole lot different. My original question actually came due to a previous post by Evil Editor (who I have a huge crush on, by the way) about the wisdom of mentioning the critique groups or organizations you belong to in a query letter.

And to the dear, dear Evil Editor, thank you for your answers to my question. I was caught in the maelstrom of an editor at a large publishing house who loved to collect authors, but then decided to really love only a chosen few. To say the least, this has diminished my love of writing, at least for the time being. I appreciate hearing that someone felt I had talent (besides my mother, of course), and that even with a gap in the first publishing and the second attempt, an editor would still feel that I had enjoyed a small success. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a romance writer, but I do get the impression those resources are perhaps more geared toward writers breaking in than those who have sold a few books, made a few contacts, and know the basics--and that most of their members are new writers, though there are some prominent established writers involved, too.

Bookview said...

I'm a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Some members have been questioning the value of their membership, if they're not using all the resources, and when there are free discussion boards for children's book writers out there. However, I see quite a few major children's book publishers in the market guides who want to hear "from agents or SCBWI members only." So membership does have value. How much value it has to individual writers depends on the individual.

Jenna Black said...

RWA has terrific resources for published authors as well as those just starting out. You won't find a better writer's organization for teaching you the business side of writing. And there are many, many prominent established writers involved with the organization. Including Nora Roberts, by the way. She's at the national conference every year.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Funny you should mention Nora Roberts. She's the speaker at the PRO Retreat this year - a 3-4 hour workshop targetted specifically to those that aren't "regular, anyone can join" members. And just what Jenna said: she's at National Conference EVERY year, still contributing and giving her wisdom and insight.

See? Benefits even by your own definition, anon!

Anonymous said...

It's true that Nora has gone every year, but isn't it also true that last year she walked out in disgust and refused to give her scheduled presentation, due the right wing political agenda being pushed by the RWA and their hamfistedness in doing so?

eggs.

Watercolorz said...

It's true that Nora has gone every year, but isn't it also true that last year she walked out in disgust and refused to give her scheduled presentation, due the right wing political agenda being pushed by the RWA and their hamfistedness in doing so?

Let’s google and find out…

http://www.alisonkent.com/blog/?p=1254

I come from a family with 3 generations of Watercolorz women who belonged to a sorority with social and cultural cache. I would have been a shoe in as a legacy, choose not to join.

I never was a corn flake girl… (insert shrug here)

Did the decision cost me… sure I guess everything does.

Going your own way is cool but you need to have a real good understanding of what you are giving up or maybe missing out on ~W

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous #1.Only I'd say it's comparing apples to hip waders.

sweet sapote said...

Yes, anon, that happened. It was an unfortunate event. But I'll point out that even Nora, who was in the center of it, recognizes that RWA is so much more than that. Which would explain why she is speaking at this year's RWA National Conference PRO retreat.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

Yup - what Sweet Sapote said.

December Quinn said...

To be honest, the only reason I've kept my RWA membership for the last few years is the RWR-the monthly magazine-I didn't really find that they gave me any info I couldn;t get elsewhere.
Now I need it to keep up my membership in the Passionate Ink erotic romance chapter (www.passionateink.org). I'm interested to see what changes now that I qualify for PAN, though. (The Published Author's Network.)

I think if you go to meetings of your local chapter it's more worth ir-certainly I get a lot now from PI. But before that...

Tawny Taylor said...

Like any other organization, RWA can and will be what a member makes of it.

If an author is looking for companionship and support, there are cheaper places to find that. But if they are looking for accurate and current information about the market, then RWA is the leading source. IMO those who are members of either an active online or land-based chapter get the most out of RWA.

I don't bother mentioning my membership in RWA or any other writer's groups in queries anymore. Writing credentials and knowledge of the market are key.

Anonymous said...

Bookview, I'm a SCBWI member too, and I gotta say, I've been questioning the value of my membership. Lots and lots of good resources for beginners (and I point would be kids' book writers there all the time), but very little for published writers--I think SCBWI is one of the worst of the writers' organizations out there in that regard. (RWA at least offers pitch sessions--and has a more professional air about themselves--even if they do have that silly "PRO" designation.) Renewing SCBWI was a near thing for me, this year.

I've never put "SCBWI member" on anything I've submitted. All that tells anyone is I forked up the 60 bucks or so to join, really.

Allison Brennan said...

FWIW: I have confidence that I would have been published with or without RWA; however, I do believe that I learned the ropes a lot faster with the networking and information available through RWA. The support is great, but the published authors who gave advice, helped newbies, and provided invaluable resources is the strength of the organization for an unpublished author. They sped up my publication table; I learned the craft and ropes faster. Because of that, I will always be a member--shaving off a couple years of my struggling is definitely worth it, and I like sharing what I've learned with others who are in the same boat I was a few years ago.

For the published, there's some benefits--probably not as many as there are to the unpublished. But for one, the networking and support for newly published authors is fantastic through chapters like PASIC. I've never regretted my decision to join, even though I don't write traditional romances. But what's traditional these days, anyway?