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No Press Pass for Bloggers at RWA

This will make some authors deliriously happy, but RWA is no longer providing press passes to internet media at the annual convention.

Over the past several years, RWA has had a lenient Conference press-pass policy; however, due to the increased number of on-line outlets, RWA is no longer able to waive registration fees for Internet media, which include blog sites, fan sites, and review sites. Beginning with the 2008 Conference, an Internet media outlet must be affiliated with a nationally distributed media source in order to be eligible to receive a press pass.

Please know anyone considered to be Internet media is still welcome to attend the Conference by registering and paying the member or non-member registration fee.

I asked for a clarification of the word “affiliated” and received the following response:

Please understand the change in policy relates to all Internet media sites that are not sponsored by national media, such as Publishers Weekly, NY Times and Time Magazine. Any policy that RWA establishes must be one that can be objectively applied. The change was made due to the growing number of requests for press passes which impacts RWA in terms of expense, space allocation, and staff time. The purpose of RWA’s annual conference is to provide education and networking opportunities for authors, agents, publishing professionals, booksellers, and librarians. As the market has expanded, RWA is challenged to provide high-quality programs and services members have come to expect at the lowest price possible. In reviewing the overhead costs for the conference, the number of comps came under scrutiny. New standards were established for publishers who wish to earn comps by participating in appointments and workshops, and the number of press passes had to be limited as well.

As of this morning, there are nearly 600 registered attendees, which means this Conference will likely sell out. When registration maxes out, for every comped registrant, RWA must turn away members who would gladly pay to attend the event.

I can understand where RWA is coming from. I paid my registration fee last year and I’ve paid it again this year.

RWA’s decision to limit the number of comped registrants by excluding the internet media makes a distinction that is based, in my opinion, on who they feel is valid member of the press (of which I admit I am not). Given that romance is given so little press and what press it gets is not likely to be positive, it seems that excluding internet media on the basis that it is internet only and not a national media outlet is short sighted. After all, I doubt that RWA will exclude a local San Francisco paper from covering the event.

There is a resistance to bloggers and other online sites being designated as journalists. At the Consumer Electronics Show, there were press badges and blogger badges. There were certain events that only those with “press” passes were allowed. One person on the Gizmodo team was given a press pass and another a blogger pass. (and then Gizmodo did a really asinine thing which probably made CES rethink its grant of a press or blogger pass).

While I understand a need for an objective standard, for a sites like The Romance Reader or All About Romance which has been in existence for over 10 years and provide the community with a great service, this policy doesn’t help the genre.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

108 Comments

  1. Wendy
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 14:39:39

    Part of me understands RWA’s position, but another part of me thinks their stance is a bit too broad. Sure, I can understand not giving “reader” bloggers (like myself!) a press pass – but like you said romance is so often dismissed by traditional media outlets. So even though a site like AAR that has been around for 10 years, provides news, commentary and reviews – because it isn’t run by a team of people with journalism degrees they don’t get a press pass?

  2. Tonni
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 14:52:17

    I have been doing a lot surfing on these bloggs since I became a reviewer and no seems to be able to answer my questions about the RWA. And that question is who made them (RWA) the guru of romance and who can or can not blogg about their conference?

    It’s just something that been on my mind for a while now.

  3. Jane
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 15:02:55

    Tonni – I don’t think that RWA can proscribe who blogs about the conference. It’s just a matter of who is willing to pay the $500+ to attend the conference (not to mention the hotel and airfare). Last year, I think that there were around 10 comped individuals. I could be wrong and it was more, but I don’t think much more. Apparently the board (as it is the board that makes these decision as opposed to the RWA staff who carries them out) determined that there will be too many requests for press passes that it would be a) too costly; b) prevent authors or aspiring authors to attend; c) a different standard could not be objectively applied.

    I haven’t thought much about a different standard but it wouldn’t have bothered me to see some sites grandfathered in or a time of existence requirement (i.e., any internet media over 5 years is exempt and considered a national media source) or perhaps you could prove that you have x amount of visitors which makes you are “legit” source.

    I admit that I felt better having paid for the conference last year, particularly in light of the fact that there were authors who were not happy bloggers were at the conference so I had always planned on paying this year. I did request a press pass for Robin, a blogger here, so she could attend as well.

  4. Keishon
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 15:31:17

    Well, I’m glad you’re going again this year. I loved your reporting of the event last year. Hopefully, this conference will be hosted closer to home and I could finally go to one of these things just to meet other online/offline readers, but I digress.

    As for RWA not allowing certain passes for those blogs that have a pretty good audience base, they are shooting themselves in the foot, sorta speak.

  5. Wendy
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 15:47:50

    Jane: For me it boils down to how long the site has been around and content. Sure, I’m ancient in blogging circles (almost 5 years!) but how often do I talk about romance industry news? Um, hardly ever! My blog is mainly part vanity, part reviewing, part talking about my job. So the fact that I can’t get a press pass from RWA hardly chokes me up. But I do think they should evaluate these requests on a case-by-case basis. Sites like AAR and Dear Author cover a lot of industry news and provide commentary – so they seem like natural press pass people to me.

    That said, that might open up a whole other can of worms for RWA. They would then have to “explain” why some Internet outlets got press passes and some didn’t – so this might be their quick and dirty way of avoiding a headache! And I can’t say I necessarily blame them there….

  6. Kay Webb Harrison
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 16:00:53

    How difficult would it be for a blogger or a site like AAR to become the special representative of a “nationally distributed media source” in order to report on the RWA Convention?
    Kay

  7. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 18:14:12

    Can someone please explain what is the problem that some authors have with bloggers?

  8. Jackie L.
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 21:11:41

    If bloggers were all sweetness and light, like *cough* RT or Harriet K., I doubt that authors would have any problems with them. But when meangirl bloggers start talking about “quality” or “standards” or other uncomfortable topics, well! What do “they” know?

    But heh, the bloggers getting kinda kicked out of RWA nats puts them in good company with folks like Angela James (who is I think a class act kind of internet person).

    On another note, a blogger here in Denver, an award winning blogger, I might add, was denied a press pass for the Democratic convention, because she is a very conservative blogger. So now my political party is a bunch of meangirls, too.

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 21:14:46

    I guess I understand that. I just don’t grok it, IYKWIM. Sigh.

  10. emily
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 21:19:22

    Color me surprised. The discriminate by format not size of publication, reputation or specialty. I think we have been here before.

  11. Jane
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 21:26:27

    I understand where RWA is coming from in terms of the growing number of online reviews sites and blogs and I understand that there are a some authors who see bloggers as not contributing positively to the community or not contributing to the community at all.

    Nationals is, after all, a convention for authors or aspiring authors. It is not a fan convention and to some extent bloggers who don’t aspire to write are nothing but fans.

    However, I do think RWA should revisit this at some point because the number of individuals who receive information through the internet is growing exponentially each day. We see it at Dear Author. Every month, we have growth in the number of daily visitors. I would venture to say that is true for almost every blog / internet site out there. At some point, whether you believe that point is now or in the near future, the exclusion of internet media will be near impossible (ie. the owner of the NY Times envisions being internet only at some point and maybe even in 5 years I recall reading). Perhaps RWA will revisit this on a blog by blog basis rather than a bright line standard.

  12. emily
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 22:11:18

    Add to that, how many print places give significant coverage to romance? I know where I get my romance news and it ain’t the print media. The few romance mags out there give me hives.

  13. azteclady
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 22:28:56

    How would you measure the influence of any given online review site? Unique hits per day/week/month? (displaying utter ignorance of all things technical, I’m sure). Because that would probably be the best measuring stick for the RWA to ‘justify’ which sites/blogs get press passes and which don’t.

    Sarah Frantz, what does the acronym stand for, if I may ask?

  14. Sarah Frantz
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 22:35:31

    If you know what I mean. Nothing profound.

  15. azteclady
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 22:36:39

    *blink* Well, of course now it seems obvious. Thank you for explaining!

  16. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 06:12:43

    I think it’s a shame, I really do. But.

    If RWA said, well, okay, DA and AAR and these other specific blogs get passes. Then sites like IHEARTRomance And Puppies would want to know why they can’t get a press pass. RWA would be hammered for passes and explanations by countless sites. Some of which would threaten to sue for discrimination (or whatever). Some of the some WOULD sue.

    Now if RWA said bloggers can no longer attend, I’d be right there with you. But if I’m reading this right, they’re saying you can come, just not for free.

    I think, as evidenced in DA’s and the SB’s reports on last year’s conference they were welcomed and well received by the majority of attendees. I’m delighted they’re coming back.

    I believe there are more comps than ten. I’d want someone from RWA–or more sure than I am–to confirm, but I don’t think publishers pay the conference fee. We NEED them to come, to host their parties, give editor appointments, mix and mingle. H/S probably sends ten editors and marketing people–and that’s one publisher. I think the keynote and luncheon speakers are comped.

  17. emily
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 08:49:15

    But presumably small and irrelevant print creds still get a pass?

    If enormous veterinary and medical conventions can gives passes to recogniosed industry bloggers I really don’t see why they can’t.

  18. emily
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 08:54:53

    As for how you measure influence–how is it done for magazines, down to tiny zines and newsletters? They could find a way. It really is just the same as the recognition of ebook writing. Writing is writing, reporting is reporting and all it takes is a little thought to decide where to draw the line, no matter how roughly, based on a legitimate variable rather than the usual ‘print is real, digital is fake’ decision.

  19. Wendy
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 09:17:23

    If RWA said, well, okay, DA and AAR and these other specific blogs get passes. Then sites like IHEARTRomance And Puppies would want to know why they can't get a press pass. RWA would be hammered for passes and explanations by countless sites. Some of which would threaten to sue for discrimination (or whatever). Some of the some WOULD sue.

    Exactly Nora. I think this is their quick way of avoiding a major headache. That said, it’s still kind of a shame for those bloggers/sites that cover a lot of industry news etc.

    I want to say that the Librarian Of The Year and Bookseller Of The Year get comped as well. But I’m not 100% sure on that….

  20. Jane
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 09:32:20

    I meant that there were under 10 bloggers there. I actually think that there were only four or five but I could be wrong.

    I do understand the need for an objective standard, but bloggers are beginning to be accepted at many other venues from tech shows to literature conferences (I believe that BEA comps bloggers under certain circumstances) and RWA should revisit this policy at some point.

  21. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 09:47:54

    ~I meant that there were under 10 bloggers there~

    Oh, sorry.

  22. emily
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 10:06:34

    Is avoiding heartache and trouble an association’s primary goal–or is it just the price of providing member services? I think an association should have the courage of its convictions, and in fact I think excluding digital media *is* one of their most vehement, crystal clear and oft-repeated convictions. After all, they are more than willing to court heartache and trouble by making some pretty outrageous suggestion on other issues like the definition of romance.

  23. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 10:18:23

    ~After all, they are more than willing to court heartache and trouble by making some pretty outrageous suggestion on other issues like the definition of romance~

    I’ve got to say I really wish it would be remembered this was ONE person’s agenda–and that the board quickly responded to its membership’s overwhelming objection to this.

    I just can’t see this is a sweeping exclusion of digital media. Nobody’s saying bloggers are excluded from attending. Just that they’re going to have to pony up.

  24. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 10:35:57

    It’s important to remember that the RWA con is a different animal from the RT con. The RWA con is an industry conference for authors. It’s not a fan/reader con. While I personally think it’s immensely helpful to meet the bloggers who review my books, share a few drinks, and put a face to the blog, I do understand that many other authors feel like they’re being spied on when they know the halls and bars are full of bloggers (esp if said bloggers happen to have given them a bad review recently). I discussed this with a bunch of my friends last year, and several of them felt as though a safe place had been invaded and they had to watch their backs. Do I agree? No, but that doesn't change the fact that some people-’for whatever reason-’felt threatened.

  25. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 11:12:44

    Sticking my neck out here:
    Like so many other areas of life, it’s all about the money. I suspect other professional conferences and conventions can afford to hand out more free passes because the cost of their conference is underwritten by vendors in a trade show. RWA doesn’t have a trade show, though it’s been tried several times. The few vendors who showed up didn’t earn enough to make it worth their while, so they said no thanks to coming back. Every free pass RWA hands out is money out of RWA’s pocket. Last year, 13 press passes were given, which = $4,225 less revenue last year, and if those same passes were extended this year, would = $5,525 less revenue. San Francisco is going to be awesomely expensive. One pot of coffee = $85. And it’s a union city, which always adds to the total cost.

    Yes, there’s an agenda, and it’s called being a good steward of the association’s money. Handing out press passes in the past wasn’t a terrible strain because there weren’t that many. But that’s changed dramatically, just in the past couple of years. What you don’t see in the 13 passes that were given last year are the requests made for passes that were denied.

  26. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 11:22:01

    Well, it is a big pot of coffee. An urn, if you will.

  27. Robin
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 12:21:07

    Although I’m not the biggest fan of the RWA, I don’t think there’s any way for them to slice the comped pass pie without making it seem unfair. Perhaps they’re assuming that podunk print pub will be less likely to attend than moderately successful blog, so the inclusive policy for print pubs will likely mean that the Chronicle will show up, but not a slew of small, perhaps unrelated print outlets.

    My solution if I were the RWA: *discounted* admission for bloggers, in the great tradition of “student” conference rates. Like, say, 50%, especially since bloggers aren’t as likely to be there to “use” RWA resources like workshops, etc. They’d probably drink coffee, though.

  28. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 12:45:00

    If enormous veterinary and medical conventions can gives passes to recogniosed industry bloggers I really don't see why they can't.

    Uh… but vets and docs tend to earn more. Plus, almost every single medical or nursing type thing I ever attended had ‘sponsors’ ie…. huge pharmaceutical companies with lots of money to toss in for the promo.

    I haven’t been to RWA, but does RWA have ‘sponsors’?

    In addition, RWA membership costs $75.

    Membership to the AMA, (American Medical Association) for established physicians is $420. For students/first year/retired, it is lower, but most members pay that $420. And there are more doctors, I’d think, than writers. I don’t know if they do yearly conferences or not, but I’d imagine if their yearly fee is $420, what’s the conference fee going to cost?

    These are two very, very different organizations~one is in a professional that is well known for providing a very, very decent income. The other one is made up for aspiring as well as published, and even a lot of the published ones don’t make the kind of money a doctor would.

    Bottom line is professional organizations like the AMA have more money to spread around so it’s not really a fair comparison at all.

    Before I made a call on whether or not this was a fair decision, I’d want to know how many requests they’ve received or how interest in press passes they received. Considering the amount of attention that came last year, something tells me they ended up getting more requests/interest than previous years. Without knowing all the facts, it’s hard to make a well-thought out decision, IMO.

  29. stephanie feagan aka voice in the wilderness
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 13:31:04

    *whistles* and wonders why I bothered…

  30. Gennita Low
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:00:45

    I paid attention, Stephanie! :) Your numbers explains RWA’s decision very well, esp. that one pot of coffee. They better make good coffee!

  31. Robin
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:04:49

    *whistles* and wonders why I bothered…

    LOL, Stephanie. Unfortunately, I’ve had too many years in conference planning and attendance to take the “it’s all about money and there was no other way” assertion at face value. Because it’s still all about choices, and while I don’t think RWA could ever really “win” on this point — that is, come out without any criticism — RWA still made a choice here. Obviously it’s RWA’s choice to make, and maybe not having, say, AAR comped but a small print pub comped isn’t something you think people should wonder about. In the end, people who want to come will pay, and those who don’t want to or can’t pay won’t attend.

  32. azteclady
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:13:57

    those who don't want to or can't pay won't attend.

    And that includes a goodly number of RWA’s own members, I’m willing to wager.

  33. Jane
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:17:46

    Stephanie – I appreciate your comments. I don’t doubt that RWA is in a difficult position. Obviously if RWA is inundated with requests by bloggers and other internet media, it makes it difficult to employ an objective standard. All I am saying is that in the future, I think a different objective standard should be employed so as to not exclude bloggers entirely. Since I paid, though, I plan to drink lots of coffee. ;)

  34. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:29:11

    Thanks, Gennita. And ditto on the coffee. (BTW, I’m still sending people to read your Greek tragedy – that, my friend, was priceless.)

    I admit with no reservations that I’m defensive when it comes to RWA. It’s hard not to be when decisions I agree to as a board member are given motivations by people who weren’t there, don’t know me, have no idea all the details that went into that decision. I sit on my hands a lot and don’t say anything in the way of explanation because I can’t speak as a board member – officially, I mean – and I always worry that what I say as simply someone who was at the board meeting when this decision was made could be misconstrued. I kinda laughed at the irony of finally gutting it up to say something…and no one noticed. HaHa!

  35. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:51:50

    Obviously it's RWA's choice to make, and maybe not having, say, AAR comped but a small print pub comped isn't something you think people should wonder about.

    Given the new publisher guidelines, I highly doubt any small print pubs (or ePubs) will be compted either. Or at least that’s my understanding from reading them over.

  36. Robin
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:54:12

    I admit with no reservations that I'm defensive when it comes to RWA. It's hard not to be when decisions I agree to as a board member are given motivations by people who weren't there, don't know me, have no idea all the details that went into that decision.

    I understand that you take this all personally, Stephanie, and I’m sorry if my comments sounded dismissive. I would like to suggest, though, that there is a difference between trying to understand the logic of something presented *without* all that information you are privy to during the discussion and decision making process, and assigning motives to the RWA (let alone any individual).

  37. Robin
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 14:55:33

    Given the new publisher guidelines, I highly doubt any small print pubs (or ePubs) will be compted either. Or at least that's my understanding from reading them over.

    Are you talking about press passes or comped admission — are these the same things?

  38. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 15:30:20

    I agree whole-heartedly, Robin. I don’t take it personally so much as it bothers me when statements are made with no basis in fact. Is RWA determined to expunge all digital media of any kind from the rolls, from conference, from anything remotely related to RWA? This is my 3rd year to sit on the board and if this agenda is there, nobody told me about it. I just don’t think it’s fair to be painted with a broad brush and the insinuation remain that I wish to exclude anyone from RWA, particularly when the decision was solely a matter of dollars and cents.

    It essentially all boils down to money – not only who is invited to attend conference for free, but what concessions are granted. Free advertising and/or publicity in the conference brochure, space for author interviews or appointments, staff time in coordinating appointments and interviews. It’s not just the coffee that costs RWA money. Editors and agents agree to teach workshops or give appointments to authors in return for their comps. Not even the publishers get an altogether free ride. What is it, specifically, that RWA gets in return for handing out press pass comps? Hopefully some national media coverage that will get the word out about romance and the authors – hopefully in a positive light.

    The cost of comps has to be covered by the conference fee paid by attendees. Due to the high costs associated with hosting a conference in San Francisco, this year’s fee is higher than usual. In an effort to cut costs to keep it as low as possible, the comp program came under the microscope and the decision was made to change the policy. There’s no agenda other than saving money.

  39. Tonni
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 15:42:15

    Thank you to everyone who explan about the blogging. But for me personnally I see blogging as being helpful. And still no one question my about the RWA (And that question is who made them (RWA) the guru of romance?) And for me it seems that all they want is money. I have a friend who is an author and from blogging I let her know about contests for writing that are going on but when she goes and check, she tell me that you have to be a memeber of the RWA to do the contests. And why is that? It seems to me that the RWA is hindering up and coming writers who can’t afford their membership.

  40. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 15:52:00

    To the voice in the wilderness, I heard you.

    While I haven’t always agreed with some of the views shone I’ve seen in RWA, I’m aware that those views aren’t reflective of all the members.

    As to the board’s decision regarding press passes, money tends to be a contributing factor in a lot of big decisions… like my decision not to go to Nationals. ;-) I’m waiting until it comes closer to the midwest. Ya know, things are a lot more reasonably priced in the midwest.

  41. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 15:57:05

    Shiloh, you mean we could get a pot of coffee for less than 85 bucks? :)

  42. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 15:58:32

    ~It seems to me that the RWA is hindering up and coming writers who can't afford their membership.~

    I’m sorry, but where does this come from? What should an organization, of any kind, offer benefits to non-members? How is holding a contest for the organization’s members hindering those outside the membership?

    And where is this idea that RWA is claiming to be the guru of Romance? It’s an organization which offers networking opportunities, education, promotion and support. Take it or leave it. As any other organization it designs its own mission statement, its membership requirements and fees, its rules and regs–which are often adjusted to suit the changing market.

    Seriously, I’m with Stephanie. I get tired of people outside the membership sniping at it because it doesn’t offer all things to all people, even if they can’t or won’t pay the membership fee.

    Robin, this wasn’t directed at you–esp since I had the same thought about possibly offering a discounted conference fee to bloggers who meet the requirements (whateve they might be) at some point in the future.

    But, Jesus, RWA is ‘hindering’ writers who don’t join by excluding them from entering a contest? If that’s the case, it’s amazing any of us who started publishing before RWA formed, or any who have chosen not to join have gotten anywhere.

  43. Jane
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 15:59:43

    Tonni – this is going to sound really asshatty and I’m sorry for that but $75 is all the membership costs. $100 the first year and $75 each year after. If it is worth it for her to enter contests to have her name in front of potential editors and publishers and avail herself of her local networking chapter, then I don’t see $75 as prohibitive. What is the value to her for these contests? Is it worth $75? or alternatively $6.25 per month?

    As for who made RWA the guru of romance, I don’t know who did and there are several authors who write in the genre and who are not members of RWA. I think RWA and its definition serves as a guidepost for the idea of what romance genre is about but it is not definitive to everyone.

  44. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:05:57

    Thanks, Jane, for a much better presented comment than mine.

  45. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:06:26

    Tonni, I might be mistaken, but I don’t think it was said that people can’t blog about RWA. It’s that RWA isn’t giving press passes to bloggers for admission.

    As to who made them the guru of romance, I can’t really say that they are, but the vast majority of published romance writers belong to RWA. A wide variety of opinion/view/writing/genres are represented by the membership as a whole.

    I can’t be 100% certain, but I don’t think all RWA contests have a requirement that all entrants must be members. Some do charge a higher fee for non-members.

    But the members of RWA pay to be in the organization and frankly, it would seem unfair for them not to get a bit of better price versus non-members.

    It’s kind of like Sam’s Club… members pay a price to join, but they get a cheaper price on products. Anybody can shop at a Sam’s Club, but if they aren’t members they don’t get the cheaper price. Plus, anybody can join RWA. It’s not a girl’s club that only select people can join. All you have to do is pay the fee and fill out the paperwork.

    There are definitely contests, like the Golden Heart, that are aimed at members, but since RWA develops these contests, promotes them, arranges everything, if they want to make it something for their members only, I’d think they have that right. This is just my opinion but these contests weren’t all that common before RWA was established, and might not have existed at all if it wasn’t for RWA. RWA has done a lot of to promote romance and to support romance writing as a whole.

    As to them just wanting money, it’s a huge organization and organizations do have to have money to keep going.

  46. emily
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:06:31

    RWA is a large, slow moving target and so sniping is inevitable. I eventually decided to stop mentioning them on my own blog. But I still think it is legitimate to point out that many formats and genres of ‘Romance’ are not fully served by this organisation, but their own choice. I suspect there would be room for another association with erotic,urban and online aspect front and centre but I would not be foolish enough to attempt such an endeavour.

  47. azteclady
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:11:27

    Perhaps Tonni’s friend is not all that familiar with what the RWA actually is?

    From RWA’s main page:

    Romance Writers of America is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.

    The association represents over 9,500 members in 144 chapters offering local or special-interest networking and education.

  48. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:11:55

    Shiloh, you mean we could get a pot of coffee for less than 85 bucks? :)

    I’d imagine! And I bet the hotels are more affordable too. Say… some place like Cincinnati. Indianapolis. Lexington. Not that I live anywhere within that immediate area or anything…. *G*

  49. Jane
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:12:11

    I think “fans” have a big problem here and that is the lack of a “con” that they can attend where they can mingle with authors and so forth without having to go to the big nude chest fest that is RT. I know that there is a Celebrate Romance conference that is marginally well attended but its nothing like the numbers you get at RWA.

    It seems that in the sci fi/fantasy area there are tons of “cons” all over the place where fans and authors rub dirty elbows together.

  50. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:30:48

    But I still think it is legitimate to point out that many formats and genres of ‘Romance' are not fully served by this organization, but their own choice. I suspect there would be room for another association with erotic, urban and online aspect front and centre but I would not be foolish enough to attempt such an endeavor.

    To what point?

    There’s nothing stopping these subgenres from forming their own chapter to promote themselves, their genre, and their work. In fact, erotic romance HAS a chapter (Passionate Ink)! As do tons of other “special interest” groups: The Beau Monde (Regency); Chick Lit Writers of the World; Electronic and Small Press Authors Network; Faith, Hope, and Love (Inspies); Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal; Gothic; Hearts Through History; Kiss of Death (Mystery/Suspense); RWA Online; Outreach International. Most of the groups you’ve brought up pretty much already have it covered under the RWA umbrella.

    Is RWA all things to all writers? Of course not. No organization can be all things to all people. There's nothing stopping writers who feel RWA doesn't serve their needs from forming an organization that does, or from getting their butts elected to the board of RWA and effecting some changes! I've grown really tired of listening to random grousing about how RWA isn't an all-inclusive club where every member is recognized and applauded for being a unique snowflake.

    The fact that RWA allows aspiring writers to be full members makes them a hell of a lot more inclusive than any other professional writers group out there. All of the others require you to be published before you're allowed to join!

  51. emily
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:50:17

    That point would be that the RWA isn’t really being anything to some of these writers–other than being something of an obstacle. I would join an association that offered me any benefits or even just a feel good factor. RWA only offers periodic increases to my blood pressure and I can get that for free from blogs. ;)

  52. Jules Jones
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:55:48

    I’m not exactly an RWA fangirl. But I think they’re in a difficult position with this, and they’ve made a sensible decision to get them through this year. I hope that they’ll then sit down and think about where to go in future — but for *this* year’s conference, it’s a reasonable criterion to use.

    It costs money to run a con. That money comes from the membership fees paid by ordinary members. The people who get free membership get it because they’re bringing something that’s of value to the paying members — agents, publishers, etc. Big time journalists can offer something of value to the memberships, in press coverage that will pay off in the long term in better exposure and thus sales for the genre. Bluntly, small time journalism isn’t going to give enough value in advertising to cover the cost of giving them free membership, especially if a need to cap the number of people attending for hotel capacity reasons means that paying members end up excluded.

    Where does RWA draw the line? Wherever they draw it, there’ll be people complaining that *they* should have been included. Saying “nationally distributed media” may exclude some people who would give value in return for a press pass, but it is at least a reasonably objective criterion.

    If they were trying to exclude bloggers and review websites from attendance altogether, it would be a different matter. But they’re not. I hope that they’ll rethink this policy next year, and spend some of the intervening time on thinking about objective criteria to use that could broaden the type of media who qualify for press passes. Look at what SFWA came up with for measuring whether a webzine qualified as a professional market, for example. In the meantime, this at least lets them stop arguments about why one website got comped, but not another.

  53. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:58:52

    I've grown really tired of listening to random grousing about how RWA isn't an all-inclusive club where every member is recognized and applauded for being a unique snowflake.

    Yeah, I’m kind of getting that way.

    I mainly stay with RWA for my local chapter. I adore it. The ladies in KYRW rock, plain and simple. And… I’ve never once been made to feel lesser because I write erotic romance or because I’m epubbed. I don’t get as much from a national level, but it’s because I’m not much of a group person. You get out anything what you put into it, and I just never got involved in much outside my local chapter.

    Yes, there are some moments in RWA history that have been less than shining. But those moments don’t reflect on the industry as a whole. They simply don’t. One of their more controversial decisions, I actually understood. The graphical standards thing got shelved, but I understood some of it. It’s unfair that authors at the convention couldn’t sign their books because of the covers… but it’s a professional conference with media attention. Media gloms onto whatever is going to grab the most attention.

    Now this is an extremist example, but what kind of attention is a cover with nekkid man handcuffed in front of a leather wearing Dominatrix with a flogger going to get? Is it going to convey that romance, both erotic & traditional, is a genre serious and worthy of respect?

    Frankly… not. It’s going to just reinforce the beliefs that it’s all about sex. I think the authors that were treated unfairly at that one and I know the covers in question were not so risque as my example, but the general idea still applies.

    More, I’d rather not have to hide my RWA copy because of the covers inside it. I have three very nosy young children and if it’s not age appropriate, I have to hide it. If I have to hide a magazine, I’ll forget to read it so it’s useless to me.

    But I also understood the opinions of the authors who were affected by this. Very well understood, because I’m one of them.

    I’m an NY pubbed author because of my career in the ebook industry~ebooks launched my NY career, and my story of “The Call” happens when an editor from Berkley approached me, not because I sent anything in. Stories like this give validation to the ebook industry and to erotic romance and the industry as a whole is becoming more open to the idea of digital fronts, more readers are reading erotic romance every day and that acceptance is being reflected within RWA. On a huge level? Maybe not, but few things start out huge. They get that with time and momentum.

    There are two sides to every story. Plain and simple. And there isn’t always a wrong and a right.

    More, change to any slow moving entity happens from within, not without.

  54. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 17:05:05

    ~That point would be that the RWA isn't really being anything to some of these writers-other than being something of an obstacle. ~

    How an obstacle? I’d just like an example of how RWA poses an obstacle to any writer’s career–member or not.

  55. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 17:10:29

    That point would be that the RWA isn't really being anything to some of these writers-other than being something of an obstacle.

    Why should it be? In what way is RWA obliged to be everything to everyone? And in what way is RWA an obstacle to anyone? They’re not a gatekeeper to the publishing world. It's not like membership is obligatory before you can query agents or editors. Plenty of people get published without ever even knowing that RWA exists.

  56. Lynne
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 18:12:59

    RWA wasn’t an obstacle for me, but the drama was definitely a distraction and a time-suck I didn’t need. Some people get a lot out of RWA, and more power to them. I’ve done much, much better without it.

  57. Sela Carsen
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 19:03:09

    RWA, like any other sizable bureaucracy, can be its own worst enemy. Given our predilection to close ranks rather than deal with legitimate critiques, it’s difficult to propogate change, even from within. If a decision is made that puts up the backs of a significant number of members, there needs to be a way to address the issue openly, rather than the entire board shutting the doors and essentially telling the members to bugger off because what’s done is done. As a member, I’d like to see a lot more transparency in the decision making process.

  58. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 19:17:25

    I can’t recall anyone on the board or staff telling any member to bugger off when asked a question about how or why a decision was made, or lodges a complaint about any decision. We spent a large part of yesterday drafting a reply to a member who wrote and asked about a recent decision made by the board. Considering the time we took to give her a well thought out and rational explanation, I wouldn’t qualify it as telling her to bugger off. She may have been opposed to our decision – I have no idea as she hasn’t put forth an opinion – but if she were, and said so, it would be taken into consideration. There have been changes in policy in the past brought about because enough wheels squeaked.

    Frankly, considering that one of my primary reasons to run for the board was to improve communication within the association and to streamline what seemed to me some archaic policies, I have to take issue with your assessment. If our lack of transparency within BlogLand is the problem, I have to say that’s unlikely to change. One doesn’t discuss one’s business in public.

  59. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 19:56:53

    ~I've done much, much better without it.~

    That’s absolutely fine. No organization works for everyone–and some work better outside an organization. That’s not the same as said organization putting up obstacles in your career.

    I agree with Stephanie on this. RWA is not obliged to disclose every move, every decision on public blogs. It cannot possibly please everyone, or meet the specific needs of every writer in the genre, or indeed the wishes of every member.

    I don’t think RWA is perfect, but then I don’t expect it to be. While it may offer me some benefits, it certainly doesn’t–and never has–created, built or maintained my career.

    Drama? Time sucks? Hey, you don’t need a membership fee for those. We can find them on blogs–it’s part of the appeal.

  60. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 20:06:51

    Example, a personal one.

    I was a member of Novelist’s Inc since it’s inception. I attended several of its conferences. I found it informative, interesting and helpful.

    Until I didn’t.

    I found I no longer found any benefit–to me–didn’t like the direction in its newsletter, and focus of its conferences. Just didn’t suit my style.

    I gave it a couple years, then didn’t renew my membership.

    Is Ninc to blame? No. We just didn’t suit. It suits lots of other people very well, writers who still find value there. I didn’t find it. It posed no obstacle to my career. I didn’t feel it told me to bugger off. I didn’t feel it was unfair or useless. It’s a perfectly good organization that serves the majority of its membership. It wasn’t required to change for me.

  61. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 20:36:59

    If our lack of transparency within BlogLand is the problem, I have to say that's unlikely to change. One doesn't discuss one's business in public.

    This is very true point.

    The big mess surrounded the plagiarism issue recently, there was some miscommunication that there’s an intentional silence on the part of romance authors in general to ‘not’ discuss the white elephant and a lot of authors came out to say that isn’t exactly true.

    It does get discussed…maybe not debated to the point it has been the past few weeks, but it does get discussed.

    There are those hated QA type meetings at the doctor’s office where I used to work. What was discussed in those meetings DOES affect the patients, but we didn’t take out a bulletin to let the patients know the meeting was held and this is what was discussed.

    The romance community is different in many ways, and especially over the past few years, because there is so much interaction between authors and readers. But for authors, it is a business, has to be treated as such and with any business, there are things that happen in the background that aren’t always made public.

    Editing issues, cover art issues, promo issues, industry issues. A lot of the stuff would bore many, many people silly. I mean, how many people really want to hear that I spent a couple hours today designing a flyer for booksellers? Or that I spent some time checking out hotels for a thing I’ve got in Cincy in a few weeks?

    None of this is ‘secret’ but many of the biz aspects are just that… biz aspects.

  62. Lynne
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 21:13:16

    Drama? Time sucks? Hey, you don't need a membership fee for those. We can find them on blogs-it's part of the appeal.

    Ain’t THAT the truth! :-) In just the first few weeks of January, my drama and procrastination needs were met for the whole year, and all for free!

  63. Angela James
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 21:20:17

    Jackie said:

    But heh, the bloggers getting kinda kicked out of RWA nats puts them in good company with folks like Angela James (who is I think a class act kind of internet person).

    Thank you for the compliment :)

    Kalen Hughes said: Given the new publisher guidelines, I highly doubt any small print pubs (or ePubs) will be compted either. Or at least that's my understanding from reading them over.

    No, we won’t be comped. We have to pay the same fee as the attending author members, but we won’t be doing (I’m not sure if I should say won’t be doing or say aren’t allowed to do because we probably would if we could) editor appointments or a publisher spotlight. I am doing a workshop with two authors, however.

    I understand RWA’s decisions in these things, though I don’t always agree with them, and I do know I wouldn’t want to be the one setting the policy. I help do that for Samhain and it doesn’t always make me popular to be the “bad guy”. It’s happened a few times recently. Yuck.

    Sure, it does discourage me at times, some of these choices because I see the local chapters as well as the organizations in countries like New Zealand and Australia embracing us and I’d love for RWA nationals to do the same (because really, I’m totally embraceable) , but I know there are voices on the board like Stefanie, who are trying to do what’s best for the forest, not just the trees. I may not like it, may not love it, but I can respect it for as long as I know the board (whoever they may be at any given time) is always reexamining, listening to and hearing the needs of the members.

    I think this is a good thing, though, discussions like this on Dear Author because maybe it can help bring to light things the board hadn’t thought of, in their decision not to issue blogs press passes. Like someone pointed out, where else are we going to get our romance news but from blogs like DA and Smart Bitches?

    Does this decision include Romance Novel TV?

  64. Poison Ivy
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 21:31:03

    The problem is that the RWA doesn’t discuss its business with the membership, either. The board has an officious, frequently patronizing attitude towards the members, and practices a maddening lack of transparency. That said, I am aware that individual board members work hard–to make decisions on my behalf without consulting me.

    And, oh please, do not tell me that it would cost the RWA $50,000 to poll the membership on a policy question because all questions must be mailed, not e-mailed. If RWA bylaws require snail mail, then change the bylaws. It’s only a poll, anyway. Ask my opinion, dammit.

    RWA members are not even allowed to know who we are, something that doesn’t exist in any other writers’ association I’ve ever heard of. The board knows the names of the 9,500 members. The rest of us do not. We are allowed to know the names of the members in the chapters we join. And no one else who isn’t actually mentioned in some RWA communication. It’s plain weird.

    So if an organization this strange decides that independent bloggers aren’t to be comped at the conference, well, I guess I, as a longtime RWA member, don’t need to apologize. Because it was in no part my decision. If it were up to me, we’d hold a party for you. With plenty of $85 coffee.

  65. Jane
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 21:35:25

    I think that there are some decisions that the RWA makes that affect the greater romance community simply because of its size and meaning for many romance authors. I.e., the RWA definition of romance is referential for many. I think that the RWA’s deciding who is subsidiary publisher and who is not is also one that has impact beyond its membership.

    Remember Barbara Samuels’ call for greater reader respect for the RITAs? To the extent that RWA members want validity for its awards, it opens itself up to scrutiny to some extent.

  66. Sherry Lewis
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 22:09:18

    RWA members are not even allowed to know who we are, something that doesn't exist in any other writers' association I've ever heard of. The board knows the names of the 9,500 members.

    I’m probably going to kick myself for jumping into this discussion, but I just had to respond to this — but please note that I’m speaking ONLY as an individual writer who happens to be a member of RWA, happens to attend the occasional board meeting, and happens to be scrolling through blogland to avoid a whole list of things. This not an official statement. Okay? Want to be clear on that before I open my mouth.

    Okay, so with that clear understanding, I have to say that the recurring decision not to make the member directory public to other members is NOT a decision the Board has made to be secretive or mysterious or uncommunicative. This decision has been made at the request of a large section of its members, which the Board — year after year, every time this question is brought up by the board and revisited — has decided to honor. No strange agenda. No secretive intentions.

    Also to Tonni, whose friend (I believe) is upset because she has to be a member of RWA to enter the contests — both the Golden Heart and RITA contests are open to members of RWA as well as non-members. Individual chapters may have different rules for their contests, but the national contests are open to non-members.

    And now, I’m scurrying back into my deep, dark hole which includes a jar of Vicks VapoRub and a box of tissue.

  67. DS
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 22:11:21

    RWA members are not even allowed to know who we are, something that doesn't exist in any other writers' association I've ever heard of. The board knows the names of the 9,500 members. The rest of us do not. We are allowed to know the names of the members in the chapters we join. And no one else who isn't actually mentioned in some RWA communication. It's plain weird.

    Is there a rationale for this?

  68. Jane
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 22:15:13

    Here’s my guess – there are people who don’t want to be known as romance writers and don’t want their real life identities linked to their nom de plume.

  69. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 22:31:45

    It varies as to reasons. Some writers worry about their personal info being ‘out there’. Some are uncomfortable having their address and telephone number available to 9500 people.

  70. Robin
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 23:01:33

    Where does RWA draw the line? Wherever they draw it, there'll be people complaining that *they* should have been included.

    Absolutely. And I can really understand how, perhaps, they just didn’t want to a) have to sort through blogger requests, and b) want to have bloggers complaining about who did and didn’t get a pass, etc. Plus, of course, the authors who cannot afford to attend and might feel a bit ticked at blogger readers getting comped.

    Big time journalists can offer something of value to the memberships, in press coverage that will pay off in the long term in better exposure and thus sales for the genre. Bluntly, small time journalism isn't going to give enough value in advertising to cover the cost of giving them free membership, especially if a need to cap the number of people attending for hotel capacity reasons means that paying members end up excluded.

    I see this a bit differently. Sure, national media like the NY Times might have a bigger audience, but is their coverage inherently “better” than that of online media like AAR and SBTB and DA — that is, is a piece in the NY Times going to provide “better” coverage than those who are already fans of the genre? I think the value of the coverage is different, and that you could make an argument that it’s a really good thing to have bloggers and sites like AAR at the convention, ESPECIALLY because there was so much positive coverage of Nationals last year by bloggers who attended.

    Remember Barbara Samuels' call for greater reader respect for the RITAs? To the extent that RWA members want validity for its awards, it opens itself up to scrutiny to some extent.

    This is definitely a point of tension, IMO, in the argument that the RWA is all about pubbed and aspiring authors. There’s quite an extensive readers page on the RWA national website, as well, and even the idea that national media will provide good coverage of the RWA and reach potential Romance readers reveals the importance of cultivating reader respect for Romance as part of the RWA, whether it’s an explicit goal of their charter or not. While I have no doubt that the central focus of the RWA is on the professional development of authors, it’s clearly concerned with other constituencies, namely readers. And IMO, one of the best ways of raising reader consciousness and reader support for the genre is through the kind of publicity the RWA and various authors got last year via readers blogging from and about Nationals. I would think that publishers, especially, might appreciate this type of good publicity because of how easily it can translate into sales.

  71. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 23:21:53

    RWA is a writer’s org–and published writers have readers. And want more of them.

    I do agree that…~one of the best ways of raising reader consciousness and reader support for the genre is through the kind of publicity the RWA and various authors got last year via readers blogging from and about Nationals. I would think that publishers, especially, might appreciate this type of good publicity because of how easily it can translate into sales.~

    And I’d love to see RWA find a way in the future to offer some sort of discounted conference fee to bloggers–and to determine a fair and realistic criteria for who qualifies for that discounted rate. Because there will be some from I Heart Romance And Puppies with blogs far from the quality or reach of this one who’ll want the chance to come and hang out with a break on the fee.

    And it’s NOT a con–as Jane explained earlier, so everybody who blogs simply couldn’t qualify for that discounted rate. To figure out that determination is bound to take some time, and considerable diplomacy–if the board entertains the idea.

    And still, no matter what they do, someone’s going to think it’s wrong or unfair.

  72. Nora Roberts
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 23:26:37

    ~Some writers worry about their personal info being ‘out there'. Some are uncomfortable having their address and telephone number available to 9500 people.~

    That would be mine, if anyone asked me.

    Frankly, I don’t want some stranger to have my info just because we’re members of the same organization. A lot of writers with a/k/a’s have their actual membership in their legal name. They may not wish to share that legal name with several thousand others.

  73. Jules Jones
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 03:27:17

    Me, I’m not a member for other reasons, but if the organisation insisted on giving my name and address to every other member, that by itself would stop me joining. I’m *glad* they don’t hand out members’ details. There’s nothing weird about protecting the privacy of members, at least from my perspective as a citizen of a country with a Data Protection Act.

  74. DS
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 07:34:08

    I belong to several professional organizations (non-writer) and I was just surprised that there would be a rule about names. Addresses, yes, those could be a problem since most writers would not have a separate work address.

    I guess it’s comparable to the people well known in other fields who wrote mysteries in the early/mid part of the 20th century under a pseudonym, e.g., Cecil Day Lewis/ Nicholas Blake or Robert Bruce Montgomery/Edmund Crispin. By the time I got around to reading these guys it was no big deal if everyone knew who they were.

  75. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 08:27:56

    Add me to the list of people who’d rather their personal deets not get shared.

    I chose to write under a pen name for a reason and if my details are viewable by almost ten thousand people, then that kind of negates my desire for privacy.

  76. My Way or the Highway?!? : The Good, The Bad and The Unread
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 09:20:54

    [...] – even the small minded-my way-or no way types – have the right to their opinion… well as Jane posted RWA doesn’t feel it can ‘give’ press passes to internet media unless it is “affiliated with a nationally distributed [...]

  77. Janet W
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 10:34:21

    Is RWA not going to “grandfather” any blogs? Personally, I don’t even regard AAR as a blog ~ I see it as more an online service provider, a portal between readers*authors*information … just to use one example.

    A friend thought making this decision six months before the event was a bit surprising. One wonders if there isn’t more to it.

    And couldn’t there be a way to examine readership/advertising revenue/number of reviews … I’m just thinking out loud but this seems like such a sweeping decision.

  78. azteclady
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 10:46:24

    As a complete outsider, all I can say is that I wouldn’t want to be a board member for RWA if they paid me good money–there’s no decision that won’t be second guessed and scrutinized and picked apart by members and non-members alike, and in all justice, it’s not as if they could (nor should) publish the minutes of their meetings for people to follow their rationale.

    They get fire from every quarter, as it were.

  79. emily
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 11:03:13

    Indeed, but after an attempt or two to define romance as straight-only and publishing as paper-only they don’t get as much benefit of the doubt as they used to in some quarters.

    funny that.

    I am a member of many large associations–some dealing with *way* more controversial stuff than genre romance–and none of them feel the need to cock up their PR as regularly as RWA does–it’s like they have it on their annual ‘to do’ list.

  80. Candy
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 12:38:09

    I used to belong to RWA but it got to expensive in this economy when you are single, one income household with and without children that is trying to work, pay bills and live above the poverty line and not declare bankruptcy.

    Yes it is only $75 to join. But then there are the additional fees for each chapter. And addt’l fees for each contest or workshop. The fees add it.

    RWA isn’t for everyone. That part I agree with. But it’s easy for those with money to come and say it’s only such and such amount like it’s only $5 without realizing what that $5 or whatever amount is going to cost said author – prepubbed or not.

    I have books published via e-pub but according to RWA I’m still not an “published author”. That stings. I take the time, put the same effort, get edits, go through submission process as other ny pubbed authors but I’m not recognized. Everyone’s first call story I’ve read, not that I’ve seen them all, is about NY or print published. Why is that? Does e-publishing not count?

    The contests are good and so are the workshops but I think a point Tonni may have been trying to make is – why not open the playing field for all romance writers – even if they don’t belong to RWA – maybe make it so they can enter a contest or take a workshop but place a higher fee on it. Maybe RWA members cost $15 if they belong to that chapter, $20 if they don’t and are RWA members but maybe $25 or $30 if they aren’t RWA members – and have the stipulation if they final they have to join RWA. That way it is win win. Some may balk at it. But I think it could work.

    And another thing, RWA does have an inclusive, exclusive feel to it, even when I was a part of it. But that could be cause of the genre I write in.

    As far as the “guru of Romance” people generally tell up and coming writers, pre-pubbed writers that they “should”, “must” or “have to” join RWA. Why? I know it’s a good org. And you get out what you put in. But the question I think is, is there anything else outside of RWA.

    And I’ve been “scolded” and told I “wasn’t a serious author” or “weren’t seriously pursuing my writing/publishing career” because I don’t belong to RWA.

    And when the question is asked about “road to publication” on blogs and author websites RWA or joining RWA is often mentioned. I think that’s where the mystique of being the “guru of romance” comes in. Because RWA was the only and probably still is the only writing org that is dedicated to romance, even if some think the boards ideas and ruling are behind the times and antiquated.

    I’ve been looked down upon because it’s not financially feasible for me to join RWA right now. Which to me is sad.

    and for azteclady who said “Perhaps Tonni's friend is not all that familiar with what the RWA actually is?” – Romance Writers of America is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.

    That is what it says on the page but from what I’ve read, witnessed and been a part of its not necessarily true. Take the e-publishing and erotic romance and romantic elements debate to name a few.

  81. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 12:38:47

    Indeed, but after an attempt or two to define romance as straight-only and publishing as paper-only they don't get as much benefit of the doubt as they used to in some quarters.

    Last I checked, there was ONE attempt and we voted down the whole “between a man and a woman” definition. The currently agreed upon definition ON THE WEBSITE for all to see says: “Central Love Story -’ In a romance novel, the main plot centers around two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the relationship conflict is the main focus of the story.”

    And there is no “paper-only” rule. This is simply a completely false statement. The rule RWA adopted to define its published members is: “(1) earned at least $1,000 in the form of an advance on a single romance novel or novella published by a non-subsidy, non-vanity publisher; or (2) who has earned at least $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published romance novel or novella published by a non-subsidy, non-vanity publisher.” Nothing in there about paper.

    It should be noted that these guidelines are in keeping with the guidelines of most other writers' associations (only their even easier to meet!), so it's hard to argue that they are unreasonable, unless you want to say that all of the groups are discriminating unfairly against their potential membership. You are, of course, you're free to do so, but so far I haven't seen you calling out all the other writer's organizations (none of which take unpublished members as RWA does!).

    SFWA requires a $2000 advance/earning on a novel/la.

    HWA requires a $2000-$5000 advance for a novel/la.

    Novelist's Inc. requires you to have sold 2 books to a non-vanity/non/subsidy publisher who pays a minimum of a $1000 advance for every book it publishes.

  82. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 12:41:27

    they’re they’re

    Why can’t I type today?

  83. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 12:51:20

    The contests are good and so are the workshops but I think a point Tonni may have been trying to make is – why not open the playing field for all romance writers – even if they don't belong to RWA – maybe make it so they can enter a contest or take a workshop but place a higher fee on it. Maybe RWA members cost $15 if they belong to that chapter, $20 if they don't and are RWA members but maybe $25 or $30 if they aren't RWA members – and have the stipulation if they final they have to join RWA. That way it is win win. Some may balk at it. But I think it could work.

    Except for the rule about having to join RWA if you final that is how some contests (including the Golden Heart and the RITA) are already run. The conference (and all of its workshops and such) has been open to non-members for a higher fee, just as you suggest, for as long as I can remember.

    I guess I just don't see that any organization has a responsibility to be inclusive of non-members. The entire POINT of having an organization is that it's primary purpose is to serve the needs of its MEMBERSHIP.

    IMO, RWA's biggest problem is that it failed at its inception to define its core membership clearly enough. The needs of unpublished writers and published writers are not always the same, and with the arrival on the scene of ePublishers, a whole new group, with their own needs has popped up.

  84. stephanie feagan
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 12:55:43

    Sooo, we send an email to those bloggers who received press passes last year, as a courtesy, to tell them of the change in policy during the first week of registration so that if they want to register and pay the fee they have the opportunity to do so, answer questions from those bloggers as asked, then find the association, once again, in the hot seat for trying to squash all digital media, yada, yada.

    And some wonder why board members stay out of discussions. It’s part discussion and part wienie roast. I’m always happy to answer a question, if there is a question, and if the answer won’t get me or RWA sued. I can’t really speak to comments about the organization and what a piece of shit it is. Say RWA blows for ‘fill in the blank’ reason, and I say everyone’s entitled to their opinion, even if based on erroneous information and misconceptions.

  85. Nora Roberts
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 13:06:37

    ~I guess I just don't see that any organization has a responsibility to be inclusive of non-members. The entire POINT of having an organization is that it's primary purpose is to serve the needs of its MEMBERSHIP!

    Seems pretty simple, straight-forward and sensible, doesn’t it?

    Some will keep hammering the ONE attempt by ONE former president to define romance her way–that was quashed so quickly by the membership it barely got a chance to squeak. If this, and the perception that RWA rejects all digital media, is how someone feels, I don’t understand why RWA remains on her radar. Toss it out. It’s very clearly not for you.

  86. Jules Jones
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 13:07:23

    Candy @80

    I’ve just gone and looked at the rules for the RITAs and the Golden Heart.

    The contests are both open to non-members, who have to pay a higher entry fee, but are not required to join RWA. I can’t tell you what that higher fee is, because the contest is currently closed — but I don’t remember thinking that the difference was outrageous when I looked at the RITA rules a few months back.

    (What I *do* object to is a rule that in practice excludes a book that has only been published in ebook format and doesn’t have a print edition.)

    I was looking at the rules for a couple of the special interest chapters’ contests earlier this week. They have a higher entry fee for people who aren’t members of the chapter, but I see nothing excluding people who aren’t members of RWA. I’m going to email to double-check on that, because I want to enter one of them and I’m not an RWA member, but I’d be surprised if they did exclude people who aren’t members of RWA. They don’t exclude ebooks. One of them doesn’t even require print galleys. That one will cost $15 for chapter members and $25 for everyone else; another is $25/$30.

    Kalen @81: the change in rules earlier this year had a decidedly strange definition of vanity press that included any publisher that was primarily an epublisher. Yes, they’ve fixed it. But only after a *lot* of shouting. That’s the latest in a long string of unfortunate occurrences.

    As mentioned above, the RITA rules include one that effectively excludes a book that is only published in ebook format and not in print format. The excuse I’ve seen offered for this is pretty damned insulting — epubbed authors can’t be trusted not to rewrite the book to make it better before printing galleys. I can be a member of PAN on the royalties from Dolphin Dreams (it earned that amount in the first month, and probably in the first week it was out), but I can’t enter it for the RITAs, because of that rule. Now, I don’t actually hold out much hope for an m/m/m menage with two dolphin shapeshifters and some explicit if mild D/s to final, but I’d like to have the choice to enter it.

  87. Candy
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 13:25:03

    Julie – thanks. I haven’t gone and looked at all the contests but I know some are. I wasn’t aware the Ritas or GH were open to non-members. And the whole e-publishing thing is what stings and why I let my membership lapsed. I was always pro-RWA and so gung ho for it until that. It was like a slap in the face. Granted, I am just starting out in e-publishing, but it made me take a good hard look at RWA and what it would have to offer.

    Kalen – I know some are but a lot aren’t open to non-members of RWA. Cause I’ve asked. Some have stated in the rules as such because they require an RWA number, hence the suggested stipulation I mentioned. But RWA can’t be everything to everyone, which I think has been part of the problem, people expect it and that it is open to “pre-pubbed”. And I’m not saying it has to be “inclusive of non-members” it’s a suggestion or a compromise if you will.

    Mrs Roberts – I just can’t call you Nora perhaps Mrs Nora, but I digress. I admire you and your advice and your words of wisdom I have read in interviews and around the blogosphere in comments. And I don’t want to repeat myself. But I was offering an alternative, though I do know some chapters are open to non-members. And I believe you, forgive me if I have misquoted you, have said it as I stated as well, RWA isn’t for everyone and everyone doesn’t have to join.

    But the sentiment I have gotten has been disheartening to say the least in regards to RWA and me not being serious if I don’t join and me not being a “pubbed author” cause I’m “only” (there’s that word again) an e-pubbed author.

    But I don’t see anything wrong with a healthy, open, non-flaming discussion. I love these discussions because you get to see every side of the argument and so many different views.

    I may even re-join RWA in the future when finances warrent. But as a romance writer, published (whether it is recognized by RWA or others), I follow RWA news because it affects me because of the genre I write in. I believe others may follow it for the same reason. Though some may only follow it because of the “drama” attached. But it still stings that though I have a possible deal in the work by a NY publisher, it’s not until that deal goes through, if it does, that I will be considered “published” as if all my other efforts didn’t and don’t count.

  88. Nora Roberts
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 13:40:03

    ~But the sentiment I have gotten has been disheartening to say the least in regards to RWA and me not being serious if I don't join~

    I think that’s a shame if some are saying that to you. There are multitudes of serious writers who don’t belong to any organization. The organization doesn’t make them serious writers. Writing does.

    ~But I don't see anything wrong with a healthy, open, non-flaming discussion.~

    Neither do I. I object, as Stephanie said, to the part of the discussion which strikes me as weenie roast. I didn’t see any of your comments that struck me that way.

  89. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 13:48:32

    And some wonder why board members stay out of discussions.

    Stephanie, no matter what, you’re going to be fighting a losing battle with some. It’s impossible to please all members and be everything for all writers.

    But I don’t think you wasted your breath speaking up. At least people can actually see a ‘name’ and not just some nefarious, faceless “board.”

    that I will be considered “published” as if all my other efforts didn't and don't count.

    Candy, one thing I figured out early on is that I can’t let others ‘define’ what I am. I started out in epublishing and I still put out books with my epubs. I’ve had to face slights from a few fronts, but not all the members are like that. Most of the chapters are wonderful and welcome epublished authors as easily as they do print pubbed.

    But the guidelines are there for a reason. They serve as a ‘guide’ for authors looking to submit. If every publisher that claimed to be a romance publisher got accepted just at request, RWA really isn’t looking out for the members they represent. How many epubs have gone belly up in under a year? A couple of them have caused serious issues for their authors.

    I think RWA’s perfectly entitled to set guidelines for who is to be recognized and who isn’t as far as publishers go. I won’t say I agree with the current guidelines, but I do understand the need. My opinion is that they need to take more time and make sure they understand all issues, including the epubs, before making the final decision…and yes, I don’t believe epubs are always afforded the respect a print pub does. But this whole ‘RWA is against epubs’ mindset, I don’t see it. Yes, there are some.

    But just because some are doesn’t mean everybody feels as they do.

  90. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 14:06:17

    (What I *do* object to is a rule that in practice excludes a book that has only been published in ebook format and doesn't have a print edition.)

    I’m with you on this one. I’ve never even heard the thing about an author rewriting the book as a reason for an ARC not being accepted. Seems to me that something SIMPLE could be put into place (like maybe saying the ARCS sent have to be printed directly from a pdf of the ebook and an electronic copy has to be included for verification; or the ARCs have to have a signed statement from the editor & author that the ARC is identical to the eBook?). This is the sort of thing that I think people should be lobbying the board about (and I believe they are). EBooks are a whole new deal, and it's a shame that it's going to take time for people to figure out how to best address them, but the issue is being given serious thought as far as I know (and since I have friends who own an ePub I do try and stay up on this).

    the change in rules earlier this year had a decidedly strange definition of vanity press that included any publisher that was primarily an epublisher. Yes, they've fixed it. But only after a *lot* of shouting. That's the latest in a long string of unfortunate occurrences.

    I don't remember that. I remember that there was a LOT of grousing about the $2K requirement, and that it was quickly dialed back to $1K. And I remember there being a lot of confusion about the whole concept of RWA “approved” publishers going away (as well as the idea that any sale to such a pub = PAN membership). Some people thought this meant that all ePubs were being lumped in with the vanity presses, but that was not the case (though it is true that ePubs that don't pay the $1K advance aren't eligible to take appts and hold panels and such at RWA's national conference; I'm curious to see if this rule holds though, in the face of the overwhelming number of members who have published with houses such as Ellora's Cave, Loose-Id, etc.).

  91. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 14:08:44

    and now I can’t seem to close my tags. *sheesh*

  92. Angela James
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 14:22:21

    the change in rules earlier this year had a decidedly strange definition of vanity press that included any publisher that was primarily an epublisher. Yes, they've fixed it. But only after a *lot* of shouting. That's the latest in a long string of unfortunate occurrences.

    I don't remember that.

    Here you are, Kalen, some links about the redefining of vanity press:

    The original change to vanity press definition:
    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2007/07/11/rwa-change-for-publisher-recognition/

    The follow-up change after member complaints:
    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2007/07/28/rwa-redefines-publisher-definitions/

  93. Jules Jones
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 14:36:28

    No, the problem wasn’t getting rid of publisher recognition, it was because the original definition of vanity publisher they put out as part of the revised rules included the clause “publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site;” which would cover any epublisher, simply because of the way epublishers do business. When the epublishers protested at conference, the board said that it wasn’t meant to cover legitimate epublishers; but the way it was worded, legitimate epublishers would have had to be explicitly excluded from vanity press definition on a named publisher basis. And what one board can give by fiat, another can take away a year later. :-(

    One of the special interest chapters I mentioned above requires print copies along with one copy of the publisher’s issue version of the ebook, to make life easier for judges who don’t get on well with ebooks (which I have every sympathy with, because, oh irony, *I* don’t get on with ebooks). But they simply require bound galleys/ARCs and a signed statement from the author, i.e. things that are easy for the author to provide without having to go back to the publisher.

  94. emily
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 15:15:36

    Indeed Jules. To be utterly fair RWA normally come up with something reasonable at the end. But plan A tend to read like “no poofters” “No titty on the covers” “no ebooks” “no blogs” etc etc rolly eyes etc. How can one take that seriously when other national romance associations wouldn’t for a second even come up with that kind of nonsense.

  95. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 16:00:37

    No, the problem wasn't getting rid of publisher recognition, it was because the original definition of vanity publisher they put out as part of the revised rules included the clause “publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site;” which would cover any epublisher, simply because of the way epublishers do business.

    And the way I remember this going down was that the idea that this was aimed at legitimate ePubs was a misinterpretation (and not the intent), so the board clarified their intention. The sticking point was the word “primarily”. And I totally agree that it was badly worded. As most legitimate ePubs also sell their books on places like Fictionwise, Amazon, etc. the board thought it was clear that they were not included.

    I had a really long discussion about his with several of the board members and one of the Loose-Id publishers over drinks right when the kafuffle happened.

  96. Jules Jones
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 16:13:37

    Given the phrasing they used, it was rather hard for those being labelled vanity published to interpret it in any other way, I’m afraid. If you come out with something that very, very clearly includes any epublisher, simply because of the nature of epublishing, you can’t really say that people are being silly when they read it the way it’s written. Epublishers *do* primarily distribute through their own websites, legitimate and vanity alike. And it’s standard for print vanity presses to distribute through Amazon — it’s one of the “services” they offer their authors, for a fee of course — so saying “well, the legitimate publishers distribute through Amazon, so obviously we didn’t mean *them*” doesn’t really cut it as an excuse.

  97. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 16:44:07

    Do you think this might come down to ePubbed authors seeing something (intentions) there that the rest of us don’t? Clearly you (and many others) feel that RWA was out to get the ePubs, that there was some kind of agenda to boot ePublishers and ePubed authors, but from what the board said, what their clarified intent was, and what the end result is, I just don’t see it. Maybe I’m more gullible than most, but I believe the board when they said that wasn't their intent.

  98. emily
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 16:51:28

    I think there is a point where it doesn’t matter if this multi-year long pattern of behavior is based on not liking e-,small press,non-hereosexual,erotic etc types of romance, or just neither knowing nor caring about them (which is rather more likely). The feeling of being disdained and ignored is not strikingly different from the feeling of being actively disliked, for me anyway.

    It is rather like my feeling about the American Kennel Clubs half-hearted new program for mixed-breed owners (e.g. we want your money but not your mutts).

  99. Nora Roberts
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 16:54:35

    I guess I’m gullible, too.

    Poorly worded–no question. Quickly clarified.

    I don’t think anyone was silly for interpreting the initial statement the way most did. But I also think it was refined very fast.

    I think it’s fair to call somebody on a mistake–and fair to credit them when that mistake is rectified.

  100. Nora Roberts
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 16:57:27

    ~non-hereosexual~

    I’ll repeat: ONE former president’s agenda–and imo–bias.

    ONE person. Not a pattern of behavior.

  101. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 17:18:08

    The feeling of being disdained and ignored is not strikingly different from the feeling of being actively disliked, for me anyway.

    The whole world of ePubs is still in its infancy, and it's going to take time for the world (and RWA) to adapt and figure out just how to incorporate this new aspect of publishing into a system that simply isn't set up to mesh with it. The way I see it, you can either be part of the solution, or you can grouse in the corner about being excluded. I'd rather do something proactive and work to change the system from the inside, but that's me . . .

  102. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 17:24:04

    I'd rather do something proactive and work to change the system from the inside, but that's me . . .

    In most cases, that’s how change works best, from within.

  103. stephanie feagan
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 17:37:05

    I think there is a point where it doesn't matter if this multi-year long pattern of behavior is based on not liking e-,small press,non-hereosexual,erotic etc types of romance, or just neither knowing nor caring about them (which is rather more likely).

    What does it serve to make it personal? You don’t know me from Adam, have no idea of what I like and don’t like, or what my motivation was in voting yes to the changes in how members qualify to be in RWA’s Published Author’s Network. You also have no clue what I’ve done in the past year in an effort to educate myself so that I can help other writers learn more about e-publishing, to help them make more informed decisions. You don’t know mine or my family’s sexual leanings. In short, you know nothing at all about me as a human being.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I take offense to you proclaiming in a public venue that I don’t like certain subgenres of romance, certain methods of publishing books, or that I choose not to know about them.

  104. Candy
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 17:45:22

    I like that the RWA clarified it statement. And if I had the opportunity I would rejoin right now.

    In most cases, that's how change works best, from within

    I think the RWA has it’s good/great points but it’s not everything for everyone. There are things I would like to do, chapter wise and have ideas of one I would like to start (unless someone-else beats me to it before I can rejoin).

    Candy, one thing I figured out early on is that I can't let others ‘define' what I am. I started out in epublishing and I still put out books with my epubs. I've had to face slights from a few fronts, but not all the members are like that. Most of the chapters are wonderful and welcome epublished authors as easily as they do print pubbed.

    That’s good advice. I’m still “new” and learning and that’s a lesson that I’m glad I learned. I’ve experienced a mix of both while in RWA – about 60/40 or 65/35 maybe as a best estimate with the higher number being more positive. And then there’s the ones whose just completely disregarded me, those I ignore.

    I think that's a shame if some are saying that to you. There are multitudes of serious writers who don't belong to any organization. The organization doesn't make them serious writers. Writing does.

    My sentiments exactly. I’ve learned or am learning to let my writing speak for itself. But again, I balk at the idea that I “have to” do anything, which is why I resisted the re-join (finances not withstanding). And the attitude surprised me and put me on the defensive I guess. But the ones I’ve met in the blogosphere and on-line world have (mostly) been great. And support amazing.

    It’s why I write to reach people, to maybe help, to show someone like me can make a change in their life for the positive and so girls who grew up like me who devoured romance books, any books they could get their hands on would see similar characters reflected back at them (which was sadly missing while I grew up). It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be – a pubbed author. And I am, whether it’s “recognized” by anyone else. I put the time and effort into creating my novellas. And have the product to show for it.

    It’s a great feeling.

  105. stephanie feagan
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 17:48:21

    Candy, you go girl. That’s about as inspiring a speech as I’ve ever heard. Thanks.

    Stef

  106. stephanie feagan
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 18:02:42

    On that note, I’m bowing out of this discussion. I should be working instead of yakking it up in BlogLand. Thanks again for listening to my explanation of this year’s new policy of no press passes for bloggers. I appreciate all the suggestions of ways to include bloggers in future years and will certainly look at some options. No guarantees, of course – I’m only one voice – but I will do some analyzing. I’ll also see if a question can be incorporated into the member survey asking members how they feel about bloggers at conference. Like Kalen, I heard some who were not so happy about it. But I also heard some who were delighted.

    Peace out-
    Stef

  107. Sela Carsen
    Jan 25, 2008 @ 22:26:44

    Do you think this might come down to ePubbed authors seeing something (intentions) there that the rest of us don't? Clearly you (and many others) feel that RWA was out to get the ePubs, that there was some kind of agenda to boot ePublishers and ePubed authors, but from what the board said, what their clarified intent was, and what the end result is, I just don't see it. Maybe I'm more gullible than most, but I believe the board when they said that wasn't their intent.

    Perhaps it wasn’t the Board’s intent. I’m perfectly willing to accept that. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who was at the AGM when the president — and I hold her solely responsible, not the Board at large — told us that because our advances weren’t high enough, we hadn’t written a book.

    You can see where e-published authors might get a little tetchy.

    I'd rather do something proactive and work to change the system from the inside, but that's me . . .

    And that’s why I’m still a member…of the Loyal Opposition. It’s nothing personal when I say that I don’t like some of RWAs work. I want RWA to succeed in their mission:

    Romance Writers of America is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy.

    So I’m willing to stick with them until they find a way to accept that as an e-published author, I’m a professional, career-focused romance writer, too.

  108. No Such Thing As A Free Ride part I : The Good, The Bad and The Unread
    Jan 28, 2008 @ 06:52:25

    [...] RWA, what is does for the writer or brings to the genre isn’t the point or my issue with the new policy. No where does RWA state “No bloggers allowed” or even “fans”, they are [...]

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