Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.
A great way to become an educated author is to join a professional Writing Organization (or two or three, if writing across multiple genres). While some limit membership to published or multi-published authors, some focus on educating new, unpublished writers as well as published ones. Many organizations offer discussion forums, workshops, conferences, critique groups, and other benefits.
The writers’ groups in the list below are either national or international organizations. Several have regional, local, and/or online chapters, which may require an additional membership fee. The majority are genre specific, as fiction writing differs slightly from one genre to another. This is by no means a complete list. A Google search of “writing organizations” and the genre will yield more results. I’ve also included a regional writing organization that focuses on education, offering workshops and conferences around the country and online. Please note that dues and membership requirements are subject to change. Refer to the organizations’ websites for the most up-to-date information.
1) RWA (Romance Writers of America) – Members must be 18 years of age or older. Membership consists of three levels – General (for published and unpublished writers actively pursuing a career in the romance fiction genre) $95/year plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstated members; Associate (for writers of other genres, those who write as a hobby, and acquiring editors, agents, and publishers) 95/year plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstated members; Affiliate (for librarians and booksellers) $10/year plus a $25 processing fee for new and reinstated members. In addition to national membership, RWA has more than 145 international, local, and online chapters. RWA offers free and/or paid online workshops and a monthly magazine to members as well as its annual national conference to members and non-members. The organization also sponsors the Golden Heart and RITA Awards for unpublished and published romance authors. www.rwa.org
2) NINC (Novelists, Inc.) – International membership consists of a single level. NINC accepts multi-published authors only and has specific income requirements. Click the website link below for more information. Dues are $65/year plus a $15 application fee. The application process can take up to two months with the verification of publication and income information. Its focus is on the needs of career novelists in all fiction genres, and only members and industry professionals may attend the annual conference. NINC produces a monthly newsletter for its members. www.ninc.com
3) SinC (Sisters in Crime) – SinC is an organization for the mystery genre. National membership consists of two levels of membership – Professional (published and unpublished authors pursuing a career in mystery writing and booksellers, publishers, librarians, editors, or one who has a business interest in promoting Sisters in Crime) $40/year, $80/2 years, $400/lifetime; Active (those who do not have a business interest in Sisters in Crime, including but not limited to fans and readers) $35/year, $70/2 years, $350/lifetime. In addition to national membership, SinC has nearly 50 chapter in the US and Canada. Members receive a quarterly newsletter and can participate in an organization-wide critique group. www.sistersincrime.org
4) HWA (Horror Writers Association) – HWA is for published authors in dark literature. Active members are published professional writers of horror (required minimum number of publications, word counts, and income). Affiliate members must be minimally published (example: receive $25 or more for a 500-word story in the genre). Non-writing professional (publishers, booksellers, librarians, agents, etc.) may join at the Associate level. Annual membership dues for Active, Affiliate, Associate, and Non-writing Professional levels are $69/year. Supporting members are non-professionals who would like to explore and share their interest in horror. Dues for this level are $48/year. HWA currently offers six regional chapters, a mentoring program, and networking through several events held each year. www.horror.org
5) SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) – SFWA represents the science fiction, fantasy, or horror and has five levels of memberships. Active membership is based on a minimum number of paid sales for a minimum income to an eligible publisher. ($90/year dues) Associate membership also requires a paid sale to a qualifying market, but at lesser scale than the Active membership. ($80/year dues) Affiliate membership is open to those with professional involvement in the science fiction or fantasy genres and are not eligible to become Active or Associate members. ($70/year dues) Institutional membership is for schools, universities, libraries, etc. and must present credentials and provide references from three Active members. ($110/year dues) Those representing the estate of an Active member may apply for Estate membership. ($80/year dues) SFWA is also the creator and sponsor of Writer Beware, an excellent resource for those researching the publishing industry, publishers, agents, and contracts. www.sfwa.org
6) MWA (Mystery Writers of America) – MWA focuses on crime fiction and non-fiction writing. The organization has four categories of membership, all of which cost $95/year for dues. Active membership is open to professional writers in the US who are published in the crime, mystery, or suspense genres by approved publishers. Associate membership is open to professionals in the US who work as publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, librarians, etc. Affiliate membership is open to crime/mystery/suspense writers who are not yet professionally published, unapproved publishers, unpaid reviewers, and fans. Corresponding members are those who qualify for any of the above classification, but live outside the US. MWA has regional chapters for no additional cost to members. www.mysterywriters.org
7) HNS (Historical Novel Society) – HNS promotes historical fiction and membership is open internationally to all readers and writers. Dues are $50/year. Published members receive free promotion of their historical fiction books. Reader members are encouraged to write reviews and most feature articles published by HNS on the website and in their magazine are written by members. The organization offers critique groups, conferences, and thirteen local chapters in the US and UK. www.historicalnovelsociety.org
8) WWA (Western Writers of America) – WWA is open to published authors whose subject matter deals with the American West. Active membership is granted to multi-published authors in the genre. ($75/year dues) Associate membership requires publishing credits on a smaller scale and is also open to publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, etc. ($75/year dues) Sustaining membership is granted to Active and Associate members who wish to further contribute to WWA. ($150/year dues) Patron membership is for companies, corporations, organizations, and individuals with a vested interest in the literature and heritage of the American West. ($250/year dues) WWA offers a national convention and regional, state, and local seminars. www.westernwriters.org
9) SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) – SCBWI is the only international professional organization for writers and illustrators of children’s literature. Full membership is open to those whose books, poems, stories, illustrations, photos, etc. have been published or produced. ($95 dues for the first year and $80/year thereafter) Associate membership is open to unpublished authors and illustrators in children’s literature and media. Journalists, bloggers, teachers, librarians, and those with an interest in children’s literature may also join at the Associate level. ($95 dues for the first year and $80/year thereafter) SCBWI offers networking, an annual conference, informational podcasts, an online bookstore for its published members, over 80 local and regional chapters, and a speakers bureau. www.scbwi.org
10) ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) – ACFW is an international organization for those in the Christian fiction genre. Membership is open to published and unpublished authors, editors, agents, and librarians. ($65 for first year dues and $45/year thereafter) ACFW offers writing courses, critique groups, an annual conference, and local and regional chapters. www.acfw.com
11) Authors Guild – The Authors Guild is and advocate for published writers’ interests. It provides legal assistance and web services to its members. General membership requires a minimum number of approved publications with a minimum income. Associate membership also requires publication, but includes self-publishing and the minimum income is reduced. Membership-at-large is open to literary agents, attorneys and accountants who represent authors, and heirs, trustees, and executors of deceased authors who would qualify for General membership. Dues are $90/year. www.authorsguild.org
12) MWW (Midwest Writers Workshop) – This regional organization focuses on writing craft and networking. It offers intensive writing craft courses, agent and editor pitch sessions, and critiques at its annual conference. No membership is required. See MWW’s website to sign up for the newsletter. www.midwestwriters.org
Writing is often a solitary career, and joining a writing organization can provide interaction, education, and networking opportunities. If finances prohibit joining one of these groups, the local library or university may be able to provide information on private writing groups in the area. Online groups through Yahoo, Google+, and Facebook are another option, and many publishers have forums for their authors to communicate with each other. Take advantage of these options to support and be supported in the writing community!
Romance...With A Kick!