Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

RWA Wants Associate Members Who Foster Relationships Between Readers and Authors

I received a letter today from RWA indicating that I would not be able to renew my membership when it expires at the end of the month. I have posted the letter for you all to read it. While it says that I am a General Member, this is an error that RWA has consistently made. I’ve signed up an associate member for the three years that I have paid my dues. I want to state at the outset there there is absolutely nothing in the letter that is not true except for one thing.

Dear Ms. Litte,

On November 30, 2009 your General membership with Romance Writers of America will expire. We are unable to renew General membership for individuals who have indicated in writing that they are not in serious pursuit of a career in romance writing.

General membership in RWA is open to all persons “seriously pursuing a romance fiction writing career” (Section 4.1.1 RWA Restated Bylaws 2007). On September 11, 2009, you wrote, “I have not written a book nor do I have plans to write a book…” Staff is unable to allow renewal of General membership for individuals who publish statements such as the one cited above.

In most instances, we are able to offer Associate membership to individuals who do not qualify for General membership. However, Associate membership is offered to individuals, “who support the organization and its purposes but do not meet the requirements for General membership” (Section 4.1.2 RWA Restated Bylaws 2007). We have been made aware of numerous posts on your blog and on the “romfail” thread on Twitter that indicate you do not support RWA or romance authors.

This decision is not one that we would have chosen. We feel that authors’ and readers’ interests are closely related and that both have much to gain by a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship. In light of the evidence on file, RWA is not offering you the option to renew.

It is true that I have publicly stated I have no aspirations to write. (See blog post referenced in letter here). It is also true that I make fun of bad books (or what I consider to be bad books). Examples can be seen here.

It is also true that I have been critical of RWA and its inability to provide its members full information on the panoply of ways that publishing is changing for the membership.

It is also true that I have been critical of authors.

I do find it interesting that the justification for blackballing me from RWA is because of my blog posts and #romfail thread on Twitter indicate that I do not support RWA or romance authors. I have supported RWA but I have also been extremely critical of them. I don’t support romance authors individually, but I do support the romance authors in general; and, of course, I support the romance genre and romance books.

I actually had not planned to renew my membership. I joined because it gave you a discount for the RWA conference and you received the RWR but over the past three years, I’ve read the RWR only a couple of times and I decided that this year I would go to RomCon instead of RWA.

I have had a lot of supportive emails sent to me over this. I hope that none of you jeopardize your own membership or standing or position in RWA or with your fellow authors over this issue because I do not want to be the cause of any more disharmony for authors. And I can apparently still be an RWA member if I choose to publicly state that I am seriously pursuing a writing career.

Anyone who reads this blog will know that RWA’s actions will not change my conviction that true advocacy requires a conversation among many different — often contrary and conflicting — views. I will never believe that bad books are a necessity about which we must remain quiet, nor will I relinquish my critical views of a genre I love and an industry in which I have taken an active interest. Hopefully authors know that whatever they get here at Dear Author is candid, honest, and a product of my faith in good books and the readers who love them.

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

269 Comments

  1. katiebabs
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:11:22

    I look at it this way, they need you more then you need them. Who made them aware I wonder.

    ReplyReply

  2. Miss Kitty
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:19:06

    You are consistently vicious toward what you consider “bad” books. Don’t tear down so-called bad authors, build up good ones. You have a form of power here that you always seem to use poorly. So, try niceness for a change. Not snark and back biting.

    ReplyReply

  3. Elyssa Papa
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:20:47

    As a RWA member, an agented writer, and a longtime reader of DA, I am disgusted and frustrated at what RWA did. Bad, bad move, RWA. Bad move.

    Jane has been the most supportive person to me, on my path from unagented to agented, offering me help and feedback along the way with so many things that it still leaves me in awe. I cannot begin to tell anyone how much it means to me what Jane Litte has done for me, and how much I appreciate her. Jane Litte is a huge supporter of the romance genre; to say otherwise is beyond insulting. I’m sorry, Jane, that this happened to you.

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  4. bestest
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:23:07

    Jane, can you tell us how they came across this quote? Do you think there’s someone in the office who actually reads blogs and notes things down and checks to see if this is an RWA member? It seems sort of weird. But you know, I run a little (I mean, minor) list for RWA members, but it’s just a writing-support list that happens to be all RWA members. (Not an RWA list.) Anyway, someone from the RWA office tried to join it. It would have been fine, I guess, if this person wanted to join for the support, but it was pretty obviously more about checking up on the list to see — I don’t know. I guess maybe to see if we were pretending to be official (which we never did).

    I think it’s sort of funny, but really– don’t they have actual work to do?

    ReplyReply

  5. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:23:31

    @Miss Kitty I’m sure you aren’t alone in your opinions and I appreciate that you feel comfortable stating this opinion. We definitely encourage all view points here.

    ReplyReply

  6. gwen hayes
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:23:34

    I can’t believe it. You got Chachblocked.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:24:14

    @gwen hayes HA!!! I think you are right.

    ReplyReply

  8. Karen Scott
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:24:25

    One step forward, ten steps back. I am so not surprised by this.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:24:46

    @bestest I don’t know how they got the quote. It just was in the letter. I assume someone from the Board or RWA read it? Maybe they read the blog closely? I have no idea.

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  10. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:26:03

    We have been made aware of numerous posts on your blog and on the “romfail” thread on Twitter that indicate you do not support RWA or romance authors.

    Well, I’m disappointed… so you don’t love every romance you read. That doesn’t mean you don’t support the genre. You’ve got authors and readers interacting here all the time.. that’s a good thing.

    ReplyReply

  11. katiebabs
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:28:11

    tweeting the romfail book about having sex in a canoe was your downfall.

    ReplyReply

  12. Alessia Brio
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:32:00

    Wow. Okay, they’re only going to play with people who agree with them, conform to their standards, and don’t speak their truths. Is Dick Cheney on the RWA board these days?

    ReplyReply

  13. Karen Scott
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:34:05

    So, try niceness for a change. Not snark and back biting.

    That’s your pearl of wisdom? Try being nice? Honey, RomLand is brimming with ‘nice’.

    I’ll take honesty over nice all day long. Urrggggghh. Jesus.

    ReplyReply

  14. library addict
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:38:19

    We have been made aware of numerous posts on your blog and on the “romfail” thread on Twitter that indicate you do not support RWA or romance authors.

    So they were made aware of the romfail tweets (which I’ll admit I don’t read) and what someone obviously considered unsupportive blog posts, but they evidently do not read Dear Author regularly or they would know that you do support the romance genre and its authors.

    Just wow!

    I'm curious to know if this was one person's decision or something the board actually voted on.

    ReplyReply

  15. Miss Kitty
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:38:34

    Nice goes much farther than you might think. Mean gets you nowhere.

    ReplyReply

  16. Emma Petersen
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:38:54

    We have been made aware of numerous posts on your blog and on the “romfail” thread on Twitter that indicate you do not support RWA or romance authors.

    You review romance novels. And with those reviews you give free publicity and increase the sales of the authors you review. Is that not supporting romance writers?

    I will not accuse RWA doing this because it is a way of censoring you but it sure does smack of it.

    And seriously, who went and whined like a little 3rd grade girl to RWA? Jane hurt my feelings. Jane doesn’t support me. Come on.

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  17. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:39:42

    @Miss Kitty: Miss Kitty, I’ve gotta disagree. When Jane doesn’t like a book, yes, it’s clear.

    But when she LOVES a book? That’s also clear. And she’s got quite a few listed that’s she enjoyed.

    ReplyReply

  18. Emma Petersen
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:41:18

    @gwen hayes:

    OMG! ROFLMAO. No you didn’t!

    ReplyReply

  19. Lori
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:43:33

    I’ve bought more romance novels and tried more new authors because of Dear Author. It has nothing to do with nice or mean. It has to do with honesty and supporting good work.

    ReplyReply

  20. rebyj
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:44:10

    Does the rejection of RWA cause you to consider stopping Romfail or changing the way you review books here at dear author?

    ReplyReply

  21. Caligi
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:45:34

    What the hell does RWA even do?

    The Rita awards are a joke, they ignore epublishing for no good reason and there’s a embarrassment of riches online for publishing info for anyone who needs it.

    So far as I can tell, the only useful thing they do is host an annual convention.

    They seem a holdover from pre-internet days, from when communities were hard to foster, instead of easily found everywhere.

    Please don’t change or stop #romfail. My husband and I both love romfail especially. (And if these people think you’re mean, the Smart Bitches must give them heart palpitations.)

    ReplyReply

  22. Robin
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:46:21

    I was thinking recently about how far the Romance community had come, in that we finally seemed to be moving away from the “how can anyone who loves the genre be critical of its books and authors?” refrain. Apparently that was a premature assessment.

    ReplyReply

  23. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:46:52

    @rebyj Oh no. Business as usual.

    ReplyReply

  24. tricia
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:47:30

    I think there are many other associate members of RWA who are just as pointed as you are when they review books. And to say that you do not support authors–hell, that is just not true. And even General members of RWA still have the right to be critical of that organization.

    I know it’s an org for writers and I’ve never really seen the point of associate membership for people who aren’t writing. Still, this was a tacky move on their part, and to me, it reeks of people who think you’re a mean girl, who obviously have nothing better to do than to cause drama and chose to do it this way.

    To anyone who felt they needed to run to the teacher to turn Jane in, I say Write a better book and she won’t have much to criticize.

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  25. rebyj
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:48:49

    Oh no. Business as usual.

    That’s all I needed to know!

    ReplyReply

  26. Missy Lyons
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:49:44

    It seems like RWA is hanging onto their rules for dear life lately, but if they don’t consider you qualified for an Associate membership, is there another membership level you would qualify for?

    ReplyReply

  27. Chrissy
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:54:25

    After this week in romance… I want out.

    I’m disgusted. Harlequin is an embarassment. RWA has always been one, and seems determined to look like a sorority on crack. It’s humiliating.

    Sticking to YA. I’d rather not be involved in the industry til it grows up.

    ReplyReply

  28. Riley
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:57:02

    LMAO. What did you expect?

    ReplyReply

  29. Julie James
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:58:39

    As Shiloh said, not liking some books doesn’t mean you don’t support the genre. Discourse, even when critical, is a good thing. It gets people talking about books.

    ReplyReply

  30. A Reader
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 20:59:41

    What a douche bag move–and for what? Idiots.

    ReplyReply

  31. Carolyn
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:04:36

    I can only reiterate what Lori at #19 said: I’ve tried more books and discovered more authors since I discovered DA.

    Thank you Jane et al. You’ve broadened my horizons and I have no complaints.

    Carolyn

    ReplyReply

  32. DS
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:05:17

    Not a member of RWA, never going to be a member, but I’m shocked at their graceless behavior. I wonder if there is anyone else they are going to take a potshot at this month? One step forward and two steps back.

    ReplyReply

  33. Janine
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:09:19

    Wow. That sucks. I wonder if they will revoke my membership too? I have a general membership but I am pursuing writing a book. If they revoke my membership, I will be in great company.

    ReplyReply

  34. Bonnie
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:11:37

    Jesus H. Caviezel.

    What the hell kind of a nazi organization is RWA? It’s kind of creepy, really.

    Do they realize how the readers have come to count on the honest reviews and romance news that come from this site??? Do they realize that sites like this have given romance more respectability? And sales? I know I wouldn’t have bought many of the books I read this past year without visiting DA to get the reviews I’ve come to trust.

    WTF, indeed.

    ReplyReply

  35. jmc
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:13:57

    @katiebabs: There was a romfail with sex in a canoe? How’d I miss that? Clearly I’m not reading as closely as RWA is.

    ReplyReply

  36. Raine
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:16:49

    Huh. Interesting.
    So, exactly how deep does this run? Does it mean that anyone who’s posted something critical of RWA is to be Associate-blackballed?

    And this?
    In light of the evidence on file…

    They’re keeping FILES on people? Wtf??

    ReplyReply

  37. Arianna Skye
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:17:48

    Apparently you are only supposed to review the books you like, eh? So much for straight forward, honest reviews. Doesn’t reviewing a book, whether it be bad or good, help strengthen author/reader relations? You review it. The readers buy the book and authors get publicity. Heck, I’ve even bought books Jane gave bad reviews to (as well as good, of course). As for romfail, well, I’ve even bought a couple of those books as well.

    When an author puts his or her work out there, they need to remember to put on their brass panties. Not everyone is going to like your work. Different people have different tastes. Some are more honest and blunt when they review. I’d rather have an honest review than one sugar coated and drizzled with caramel.

    My 2 (not so shiny) cents.

    ReplyReply

  38. Bonnie
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:19:10

    They're keeping FILES on people? Wtf??

    Right?! Like I said, creepy.

    ReplyReply

  39. Saranna
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:29:32

    “In light of everything on file…”

    That’s not as uncommon as you might think. Employers are checking Twitter/Facebook/MySpace…etc. So are publishers and agents. It’s like a free background check.

    Everything you say on the ‘net is in the public view. Sounds very Big Brother, but if you put it out there, someone is going to look. And they will form their opinions about what you say just as it is your right to say it.

    ReplyReply

  40. Edie
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:33:59

    Seriously RWA makes me laugh…

    ReplyReply

  41. Bonnie
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:36:43

    That's not as uncommon as you might think. Employers are checking Twitter/Facebook/MySpace…etc. So are publishers and agents. It's like a free background check.

    Yeah, except Jane isn’t employed by RWA.

    ReplyReply

  42. Sarah Frantz
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:41:33

    As a Dear Author reviewer (of books they don’t recognize as “real” romances, I might add) and as an Associate Member AND as President of the International Association of the Study of Popular Romance, I think this is a completely boneheaded move on their part. I vaguely understand where they’re coming from, but I think they’re clinging to their rules to satisfy some People Who’ve Complained. Which is just wrong. I will continue to write for Dear Author and continue to be an RWA Associate Member, as long as both organizations allow that. And I will continue to be an academic, analyzing the books and the industry as I see fit.

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  43. Jill D.
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:42:33

    Why would they bite the hand that feeds them? So to speak, what do they care whether or not you plan to write a book? You are a paying member of their organization, interested in what they are interested in. That seems good enought to me.

    Personally, this is just assinine. Your check didn’t bounce?

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  44. Arianna Skye
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:45:20

    That's not as uncommon as you might think. Employers are checking Twitter/Facebook/MySpace…etc. So are publishers and agents. It's like a free background check.

    I always wondered how employers can check twitter… etc… especially if their employees use handles other than their real name. My employer would never find me (unless they know my pen name.. LOL)

    Arianna (Obviously not my real name)

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  45. Blue Tyson
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:45:59

    Ha.

    First publishers don’t want to sell us books. Now writing organisations don’t want members.

    This 21st century marketing stuff from publishing types is sheer genius, I tell ya.

    ReplyReply

  46. Miss Kitty
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:50:32

    Every thing you put on the internet can be used against you. Professional behavior gets you further than bitchiness. I’m not saying that I can’t be a bitch but I prefer to be pleasant even when I don’t want to. So the point I’m trying to make is the RWA has every right to not renew a membership if they feel the member has been a poor representative.

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  47. katiebabs
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:50:48

    JMC: if you have sex in a canoe, you can’t get pregnant. That was from one of the early rom fails.

    ReplyReply

  48. Patricia Briggs
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:51:05

    Things that make me go hmmm.

    Blackmail? If you don’t say happy-happy things about everyone we’ll pull your membership because, romance writers aren’t supposed to write good books? Or we aren’t supposed to notice when they don’t? Or we are supposed to say we like all the books we read?

    Do you suppose this is a result of the Cassie Edwards plagerism issue? Or the games she who will not be named (and her cowed pals) played with the amazon reviews? Or the e-publisher who consistently produced poor quality books, while saying “of course, I would never read a romance”? Sounds personal to me. Also sounds like some people have too much to

    Yes, this makes RWA look really grown up. And professional. Thank goodness for SFWA (Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America) who are generally professional, smart — and seldom TSTL. We have our squabbily moments, too, of course. But being a “mean girl” is sort of . . . well, expected.

    ReplyReply

  49. Saranna
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:51:20

    @Bonnie

    Right. But the information is still there and you can’t control how people use it. Just the same as you can’t control what people say.

    ReplyReply

  50. Melissa
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:53:53

    If they refused you associate membership based on your F reviews, that would be one thing. It would put every reviewer at risk.

    However, if it’s about not supporting RWA then they have every right to refuse you. I’ve been employed by several not-for-profit members-only organizations and it’s the same in every place. To become a member of an organization that does not have an open membership, whether you pay dues or not, means you have to support that organization and its other members. Disagreements can and will take place and are usually resolved. Issues should first be taken to the organization and only when there are unsatisfactory results internally is it necessary to criticize as an outsider. There are some instances in which the organization has to take a stand when it comes to certain members. There is a grapevine in every org and they have no choice but to investigate complaints. Usually they deal with the matter privately but in your case, I believe the RWA felt as though they had little choice.

    I highly doubt that your F reviews had anything to do with their decision. A number of issues have come up in the last few months that have devolved into author vs reader (Romfail & piracy, to name a few) and this site has been ground zero. Before you posted your criticisms did you at any point go to the RWA directly? Before you posted this, did you contact them to discuss the letter further? When was the last time you took an issue to the organization itself before you posted?

    And let’s not even begin to discuss your very public twitter stream …

    Call the RWA whatever you want – denying membership to one single person based on valid reasons is small change compared to the other issues that the RWA should be dealing with.

    Edit: *sigh* I’ve been informed that – of course – my comment about contacting the RWA was taken out of context. To clarify – as a PAYING MEMBER of RWA, you can actually contact them with grievances. I didn’t mean that Jane or anyone else had to run bad reviews past them.

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  51. Saranna
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:54:32

    @Ariana

    Depends on what email address you use on your resume or application.

    And you know, those bright bulbs that talk about getting trashed on Friday night and call in Saturday morning when co-workers are on their f-lists.

    ReplyReply

  52. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 21:58:05

    @Bonnie:

    What the hell kind of a nazi organization is RWA? It's kind of creepy, really.

    Bonnie, I’m going to do down on record for voicing my disapproval in how Jane was treated. I personally think she’s one of the best advocates the romance genre has-she’s intelligent, eloquent, and honest in her views. Basically, I think this sucks.

    My gut feeling (but I could be wrong) is that this decision was made a few individuals. I’ll freely state I think it was a bad decision.

    However, the bad decision of a few doesn’t mean RWA is a nazi organization.

    ReplyReply

  53. Tracey
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:03:38

    I’ll take an honest assessment of a poorly written book over the Cult of Nice any day of the week.

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  54. Arianna Skye
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:05:02

    @Saranna:

    And you know, those bright bulbs that talk about getting trashed on Friday night and call in Saturday morning when co-workers are on their f-lists.

    LOL. Well if you’re going to be that dumb… Might as well call in sick from the bar (which I’ve seen people do)

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  55. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:07:23

    Although I don’t agree with RWA’s action here, I do want to suggest that it might not be the PRACTICE of roasting bad books on Twitter that incurred RWA’s wrath but rather the TERM romfail. The word does imply, doesn’t it, that ALL romance is a “fail,” doesn’t it?

    Just a thought. I now await the wrath of the Internetz…

    ETA: It would have been nice if the letter had been more specific. What about romfail is an issue? Which posts on Dear Author are unsupportive? As it is now, we can only speculate.

    ReplyReply

  56. Riley
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:10:15

    Borders. Take note.

    ReplyReply

  57. Saranna
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:11:20

    @Arianna Skye:

    Hehee. I have too. Guys that were due in at 6 and were still too hammered to breathe. Then they look across the bar and see the Lt.’s brother looking right at them.

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  58. Larisa
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:17:34

    Wow! Seems like RWA is going for shock value lately. Two times in one week they’ve laid down high profile edicts. I dropped my membership after they allowed me to enter my POD book in the Rita, then the next year they decided I wasn’t really published after all. Jane, you are definitely an advocate for romance, so I have to wonder what their point is for all this. Makes me wonder who and what’s next, too.

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  59. Sherry Thomas
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:18:18

    Wow, has RWA ever denied membership before? Are you setting precedents again, Jane?

    The boat, she is rocking all the time these days.

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  60. Amanda
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:33:05

    I am a reader and aspiring writer of romance. I have purchased and enjoyed many excellent books and authors recommended on this site. I have been buoyed by the “My First Sale” stories, and kept well informed by your coverage of everything from the publishing business, to emerging technologies and sub-genres. Additionally, I found the plagiarism panel at the San Francisco conference to be entertaining and informative.

    RWA will be a less interesting and less intellectually diverse organization without you.

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  61. SonomaLass
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:38:01

    @ Sherry Thomas: I am curious about that too. Specifically, I wonder if RWA has previously granted associate member status to others and then told them they couldn’t renew because they were “unsupportive.” Who knows, Jane, you might be in some excellent company!

    As for the term “romfail,” anyone who bothers to ask or investigate even a little would see that it is anything but an attack on the genre. It is the opposite, in fact; it is an attempt to defend the genre, by identifying some things that are labeled romance but aren’t really, or aren’t to some of us. Doormat heroines, ridiculous unsexy sex, bizarre anatomy, yep. I know lots of people don’t like that we do it, don’t like the tone or the idea or the particular books we pick [on], but it seems ludicrous to me that anyone would equate making fun of seriously MOCKABLE elements as a condemnation of the genre that Jane obviously loves and to which she dedicates a whole lot of time, energy and money.

    Organizations that dismiss dissenting voices are asking for what they get, IMO. And we’re going to have a blast in Denver!

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  62. nine
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:41:58

    I somehow doubt this is about book reviews but rather the suggestion HQ sue RWA. You’ve been doing reviews far too long and the timing is pretty exact. Putting ideas of lawsuits out there while RWA tries to protect its authors was an issue for me. Fair but tough review –respected

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  63. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:43:42

    @nine: I’ve often commented on the legality of things. It’s common for me to do so. But, for the record, the letter was dated November 18, 2009. My blogpost questioning the legality of RWA’s actions was on the 21st.

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  64. nine
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:48:02

    I know you have commented on legal issues but this one was raw and career changing for a lot of authors. You have board members standing up to their own publishers who help feed their families. That’s raw BUT if the letter was after the post I’m baffled. There are plenty of tough reviews out there. Maybe other posts regarding the HQ issue?

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  65. Jane
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:52:20

    @nine: I guess it’s possible but my other posts on the HQ issue never mentioned RWA except to say that I heard RWA was investigating whether Harlequin should be a recognized publisher. I’m guessing it’s the reviews and romfail because I haven’t said anything critical of RWA since 2007 (I looked at my archives).

    edited: I take that back! I criticized Diane Pershing’s stance on digital publishing. Her president’s letter was really insulting to digital presses, in my opinion. And I somewhat criticized (although understood) RWA’s decision to consider bloggers as not legitimate press folks in 2008. That concludes my criticisms of RWA in the last two years.

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  66. nine
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 22:56:27

    Well the reviews thing is just…odd. It would have been nice for them to give specifics. How would anyone else know if they are doing the same thing?

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  67. MaryK
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:02:54

    Whoa! Romance Police!

    It’s not like I’ve ever bought the not-used books of new-to-me authors based solely on a DA review or your handselling tweets. Nope, never happened – that box on the floor there does not count(!).

    Yes, you are clearly not fostering a beneficial relationship.

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  68. Kerry
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:04:43

    This decision is not one that we would have chosen.

    I love this sentence. Because they did make a choice, but in a cowardly fashion are blaming Jane for their own decision. Love the passive-aggressive dodge there. Classic.

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  69. (Jān)
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:15:18

    This decision is not one that we would have chosen.

    Uh, it was the one you chose, Carol. Yet more proof that RWA =/= common sense.

    Jane, I may not have been around much lately, but I couldn’t care less about what a bunch of hanky-waving old ladies says about you. I’ve seen how hard you work for the industry and the fans and authors, trying to get ebook authors and new authors exposure, pushing the books you love, getting information about technology, law, and anything related to books to the people to whom it does the most good. That’s a hell of a lot more than RWA does for its members.

    And above all I’ve seen your honesty and that of the other reviewers here raise the standard on romance writing. When I want to introduce people to romance novels, I send them here and tell them they can trust the reviews they read, because you call ‘em like you see ‘em. Keep up the good work.

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  70. Ron Hogan
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:29:14

    Actually, I think it’s been quite obvious from the moment Jane started “romfail” that the books she was skewering failed (in her eyes, at least) to live up to the standards of romance. For starters, they were actually erotica.

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  71. MaryK
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:35:41

    a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship.

    In other words, give us your money and don’t give us any backtalk. Buy our books but don’t criticize them.

    @katiebabs: Well, I’m thinking someone into reporting “evidence” to The Board wouldn’t be able to resist showing up for the fallout so the party will probably show up in the comments sooner or later. BTW, I wonder how many other “files” they have “on file.”

    And all those people scoffed at DA’s caution over the FTC rules. There was clearly nothing to worry about.

    P.S. – I'm amazed at how bitter I feel about this considering I have nothing to do with writing except that I read it. There should be a Romance Readers Association where squee-ing and snarking are equally tolerated.

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  72. Suze
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:36:08

    This is really disappointing. This site is one of THE best sources of romance and publishing news, useful reviews, and the first page and pimp your book posts–all of which equals wild author support.

    If I had to guess, I’d say it was because of the response to the Diane Pershing Letter (The Case of the Lack of Vision), in which Jane essentially says why waste time changing the RWA from within? Ditch ‘em.

    Which they really should have responded to on a more timely fashion. And, um, more coherently. “Both have much to gain from … a mutually beneficial relationship”?

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  73. SonomaLass
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:43:20

    @Ron Hogan: I can’t remember a single romfail book that was “erotica.” They were all tagged “romance,” many (but not all) of them “erotic romance.” In my experience Jane has pretty definite ideas about the difference between erotica and erotic romance, and she would never hold the one up to the standards she holds for the other. If we “skewer” the sex in the books, it’s usually because it is not sexy for some reason.

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  74. Tracey
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:46:39

    @MaryK: P.S. – I'm amazed at how bitter I feel about this considering I have nothing to do with writing except that I read it. There should be a Romance Readers Association where squee-ing and snarking are equally tolerated.

    I like that idea! Why don’t we found an Online Romance Readers’ Association–an all-inclusive one, for fans for m/f, m/m and f/f romances and erotica–which allows squee and snark alike? ORRA for short. No dues necessary, just participation.

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  75. Lynne Simpson
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:46:45

    Here’s a guess about what happened. No idea if it’s remotely accurate or not, but I’ve seen similar things happen in Corporate America and in non-profit membership organizations, hence the guess. Here goes:

    1. Complaints come in to RWA about #romfail. 2. Enough complaints eventually come in, perhaps from very influential people, that the permanent RWA staff look into it. 3. Along the way, staff members discover Jane is a member of RWA. 4. Since Jane doesn’t qualify as a general member, per her public statements that she doesn’t intend to pursue a career as a romance writer, and since she also doesn’t qualify as an associate member **, then RWA feels they have grounds to decline to renew her membership, and out goes the letter.

    ** The description on the Associate Member section of the RWA web site says this category is open to publishing industry professionals and to writers pursuing careers in genres other than romance. I have no idea if RWA would include in that category reviewers who aren’t earning money for their reviews.

    I think it’s pretty rare for RWA to refuse membership to someone, but then again, maybe we don’t hear about most occurrences. Tough to know, really.

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  76. MaryK
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:49:33

    @Melissa:

    *sigh* I've been informed that – of course – my comment about contacting the RWA was taken out of context. To clarify –

    Who cares? I would never support an organization that gags its members. “RWA, will you please give an opinion on this so I can be sure to follow the party line?” “RWA, can I write this blog post criticizing whosit?” I Don’t Think So.

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  77. J.
    Nov 23, 2009 @ 23:59:05

    Honestly disgusted. I check DA as regularly as I check my email. Besides the awesome reviews (good and bad) there’s always something new and interesting. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn’t have tried any of the new authors that I love now if it weren’t for DA, especially Patricia Briggs. She’s not an author I would’ve typically gone to but after reading the reviews, I’m an avid Alpha and Omega fan. I am forever grateful for all the reviews posted here at DA. Although I can’t tell for sure whether or not its a personal attack to you Jane (I wonder if anyone else received the same kind of letter), it sure feels like one. Keep your opinions to yourself (unless it’s to praise us on what a good job we’re doing) or risk losing your membership? If that’s how RWA sees it then it’s definitely not an organization I would like to be part of. However, will you be following up on it with RWA even though you had no plans to renew your membership?

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  78. Keishon
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 00:32:47

    Hey, rock on with your bad self.

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  79. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 00:35:08

    @tricia:

    to me, it reeks of people who think you're a mean girl, who obviously have nothing better to do than to cause drama and chose to do it this way.

    What an interesting comment. The drama I’m witnessing is on this thread, and this thread was not orchestrated by the RWA. The RWA contacted a member via private correspondence and that member is currently addressing that private correspondence in the member’s blog….um….for what reason beyond instigating drama?

    Jane, if it’s any comfort to you, you are not the only person to ever “buck” against an organization or community with whom you disagreed and found yourself facing censure or other penalties for stating your honest opinion. Good luck to you.

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  80. brooksse
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 01:05:14

    I’m not a writer or a member of RWA, but…

    My guess is it wasn’t #ROMFAIL so much as #RWAFAIL and trying to change their digital publishing stance.

    #RWAFAIL probably rocked the boat a little too much. They probably prefer their associate members to be good little non boat-rockers.

    Just a guess.

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  81. Nonny
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 01:10:17

    Jane,

    This is bullshit.

    While there have been comments made that I could accept as being “unsupportive of RWA”, none of these were cited. “Numerous posts” is pretty damn vague, and as for #romfail — wtf, are we now supposed to shit sunshine and daisies?

    I’m disturbed as to the precedent this sets. Who decides what is supportive of RWA and romance authors? The point of a review is to inform readers as to the reviewer’s opinion, and that’s just it — an opinion. I didn’t personally partake in #romfail since I don’t care much for Twitter, but I think it’s well within your right to post your express dislike of a book in however much detail you please.

    Apparently, #romfail negates the good you’ve done in the romance community? Dear Author has been one of the front-line blogs for information pertaining to e-publishing and author related news. How about all the posts informing authors and readers about dishonest publications, piracy issues, sweeping changes in the publishing industry, book trends, new publication calls, Nationals news… I could go on and on, seriously. Any time something BIG happens in Romanceland, you’re reporting on it.

    That is all completely aside from promoting authors and their works via reviews and hell, even #romfail. I’m sure as hell that people have bought books based on #romfail, if only just to see if it really is that bad. Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I don’t care how people get to my work. While great reviews are good for my ego, it’s been the bad/funny ones that seem to have sold books. My ego can take the beating. I wish more authors would realize that it’s not the end of the fucking world if someone on the Internet doesn’t like their book.

    I don’t see how anybody can argue that you haven’t supported the romance community, even if they don’t agree with everything you’ve said. I wonder if this is more a question of RWA not liking criticism — and if that’s the case, then they’ll have a bit of trouble on their hands, because you are hardly the only person to criticize them.

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  82. Sigh Worthy
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 01:13:49

    There have been many times when I wondered about Jane’s real purpose. Whether or not she liked to instigate certain situations . BUT, I never thought she didn’t didn’t love the romance genre. It’s why I read the blog. I know at the very least I can get the up to date news about what’s going on.

    And, it’s beside the point if she supports RWA, which supports authors. Jane has said she is for the readers, not the authors. I remember not too long ago she wished authors had less of a presence on her blog–again through her twitter. She apparently didn’t want to be a member. She wanted a discount to the conference. *An aside, the 85 bucks she would have spent could go towards the fee anyway.* It’s not like she’d been waiting, breath abated to be a member.

    Even with this viewpoint, RWA, come on. Seriously? How many current members have denounced you? How many members participated in romfail? And then I have to wonder how many of those authors have a file? Dear Lord of Mount Zion, really?

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  83. Marina
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 01:18:41

    That’s …. odd. Don’t you think it a bit strange when an organization like RWA takes a sharp, pointy stick and deliberately pokes it in the eye of a blogger with a large, loyal following? Particularly when the blogger in question seems to spend all day, every day promoting the work of romance writers.

    There’s something decidedly wrongo over there, Jane, if they thought that was a sane and sensible letter. You’re doing well to be shut of them, so ignore it and carry on doing what you do so well. We’ll carry on reading anything you write or write about.

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  84. Melissa
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 02:00:16

    @MaryK: No, that’s not what I’m saying. They aren’t gagging their members and I’m not suggesting anyone sign up for an org that would do this.

    What I am suggesting is that as a member who pays dues, you do have the opportunity to work with RWA for change. As a paying member, you are free to contact the administration and address your concerns, make suggestions, etc., etc. In most professional organizations this is encouraged as it is an opportunity for new voices to emerge and for the whole to progress.

    Did Jane take advantage of this any point? Only she can say, but I suspect not. From what I can tell any grievance she had with RWA was taken to this blog or to twitter, thus antagonizing RWA and its members.

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  85. Likari
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 02:04:22

    I am the future of romance.

    Okay, maybe that’s not true. But I’m part of it. I am one of the great hordes of aspiring novelists out here conceiving worlds, heroines, heroes, villains, secondary characters. Happy endings.

    Entering the razzafrazza query quest.

    It’s horrible. Why do I do it? Well, there’s all that I write because I must crap, but there’s also a side to the romance life that isn’t so horrible and isn’t so borne of existential necessity.

    And Jane Litte is a huge piece of that side of things. The fun side. The learning side. The celebratory side — and yes, the joker side.

    Let’s face it, Romance is by definition a world where the outrageous is encouraged, gloried in — something ridiculous is bound to show up on a consistent basis in Romancelandia. Ridicule is the best response. I think #romfail is a tacking mechanism. In its way, it helps keep the genre from veering too far toward the ridiculous.

    For the learning side, my goodness! Dear Author is a cornucopia of all things Romance, even down to the technical developments. Where else can we find such in depth explorations of eReader technology in all its permutations?

    Then there’s the If You Like X Then You’ll Like Y feature for finding new-to-me authors to try.

    Then there’s First Page Saturdays. I submitted a page. The generous criticism I received was invaluable to my book and to my writing generally. And when I give critiques on Saturdays, that helps just as much. It’s a free workshop every week. And Jane organizes it as a public service to the writing community, though this site is for readers and her interest is in reading.

    And I could go on. I could mention the fact that Dear Author is a huge part of my continuing education as a romance writer, yet I have never been to an RWA meeting of any kind. Not saying I won’t. Just saying that up to this point, my writing has benefited from Dear Author and it has not benefited from RWA.

    I don’t agree with Jane on everything. I’m still not convinced that DRM-free is as good for the writer as it is for the reader, for instance. But I am 100 percent of the belief that Jane’s contribution to romance is positive, generous, and generative.

    I could mention other things Dear Author contributes on a daily basis to the phenomenon of Romance, but I’ll just mention two words. Two words that symbolize the orgy of celebration of the genre that so many of us now look forward to every year:

    DA BWAHA!

    My goodness. DA BWAHA alone should earn Jane some kind of Romance Lifetime Achievement Award from somebody.

    If RWA looks at Jane and sees persona non grata, well, I think that says more about RWA than it does Jane.

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  86. Evangeline
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 02:12:16

    Looks to me Jane got the boot not only because she’s rightly critical of the genre (as a reader), but also because she uncovers and debates issues RWA should be on top of–namely the Harlequin Horizons debacle and the Thomas Nelson/Westbow issue. The gloves are officially off.

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  87. Likari
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 02:26:23

    @Jackie Barbosa:

    Jackie, I’ve never thought of #romfail as suggesting that all romance was a fail, but rather that the book being skewered had failed romance.

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  88. Elyssa Papa
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 02:54:53

    @Likari:

    I, too, also got a great feedback and critique when I was on First Page Saturdays, too. Perhaps we need to form a club? :-) It was perhaps the first time I actually believed I would get an agent and sell this manuscript. I’ve said to numerous people that my decision to do First Page Saturday was one of the wisest I’ve made in my career. Also, I agree with you on your definition about #romfail, Likari, and pretty much with everything else you wrote in your post.

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  89. MaryK
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 03:02:44

    @Melissa:

    No, that's not what I'm saying. They aren't gagging their members

    They specifically cite “romfail” as an “unsupportive” activity. Should she have asked permission to do “romfail”? Because otherwise the only objection is “You’re being too mean. Our members can’t be mean.”

    @Melissa:

    A number of issues have come up in the last few months that have devolved into author vs reader (Romfail & piracy, to name a few) and this site has been ground zero. Before you posted your criticisms did you at any point go to the RWA directly? Before you posted this, did you contact them to discuss the letter further? When was the last time you took an issue to the organization itself before you posted?

    Why should she have approached RWA about “romfail” and piracy? Why should she approach RWA about ebooks? What does RWA have to do with her personal stance on these topics other than to approve or disapprove? Do RWA members have to get permission to address issues before posting publicly?

    Suppose someone does go to RWA directly about an issue and no agreement is reached. Is there some code of silence that prevents them from sharing that disagreement with others?

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  90. Kaetrin
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 03:06:04

    But Jane – couldn’t you be a general member if you wanted to? After all, weren’t you writing a book about a Were-Gerbil? I definitely remember seeing something about it in April….

    *g*

    Seriously, life’s too short to worry about this stuff. There’s plenty of love for you – you don’t need ‘em!

    Keep up the great work Jane & DA.

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  91. Evangeline
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 04:08:13

    @Elyssa Papa: I’ll join the club! It was the First Page/Query Letter Saturday that made me realize I was a terrible query letter writer! I’m getting better, but DA’s opening gave me some much-needed feedback.

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  92. Ember
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 05:33:32

    Jane, I’m glad you’re handling this with such poise. RWA is losing a great member in refusing your application.

    Should everyone who used the #romfail tag be watching their mailbox for a letter when renewal time comes around?

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  93. Nora Roberts
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 05:39:59

    Jane, I’m really sorry about this.

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  94. Mireya
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 05:44:17

    This is kinda ironic because, to be brutally honest, I always found this blog to be pro-author, pro-industry and pro-writing more than pro-reader, to the point in which a lot of the discussions here go so deep, that an average reader like me can’t grasp half of what is being discussed and simply either lurks, or walks away for a bit in search of something “lighter” until a new review is posted or a different topic is posted about. And I don’t mean this as criticism at all, I’ve learned a lot reading this blog.

    Either way, no loss for you. I don’t think the majority of readers like me that come here, have a high opinion of the RWA anyway. Many authors have benefited from it, but I find the RWA suffers of corporatism, meaning, they are too big, and too set in their ways.

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  95. Sheryl Nantus
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 05:49:25

    all this tells me is that someone at RWA has WAY too much free time on his/her hands if they’re surfing around to find blogs critical of what *they* approve of.

    tres Epic Fail.

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  96. SarahT
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 05:53:44

    Jane, I’m sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, I’m not all that surprised. If RWA received complaints from a number of members over the years, I can understand why they acted as they did. I think it’s one of those circumstances where the majority opinion rules, even if I disagree with it.

    If this means I never get to meet you in person at the annual conference, that’s a real shame. I hope for you and for all the other bloggers who are not RWA members that this new RomCon proves to be a positive alternative.

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  97. MicheleKS
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 06:58:41

    Jane, I’m really sorry about this. Is there any way you can appeal this decision? Because I really think they need to reconsider this. Being critical of books is not being unsupportive of authors and the genre as a whole.

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  98. Magdalen
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 07:01:56

    When I woke up this spring from a long reverie and realized I’d missed more than 15 years of new authors (and in some cases entire sub-genres), I found Dear Author to be a wonderful source of names and titles to try. I think I read a book a day for more than a month — all from DA’s reviews.

    I’d say that qualifies as supporting the industry, and specifically authors! I wonder if this move shows RWA to be petty or weak (if Lynne Simpson’s speculation about complaints from RWA members is close to the truth). Either way, it’s a bad move on their part — shortsighted and nasty.

    I wish authors knew just how powerful positive reviews on the Internet, and particularly on DA, can be for some readers. We do actually buy more books by more authors when we know they’re out there & they’re good.

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  99. S. W. Vaughn
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 07:24:23

    I’m not quite as eloquent as lots of people upthread (probably cuz I haven’t had enough coffee yet), so I’ll just keep it simple like Nora did.

    This stinks. I’m sorry to hear about it, Jane.

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  100. Kati
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 07:28:04

    I am really sorry to hear about this. I fall into the “just a reader” category, but what bothers me is the lack of concrete evidence cited in the letter. It’s certainly their prerogative to deny membership to anyone they want, but to give someone the boot, and to do so without specific examples is just wrong.

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus of those who rely heavily on Dear Author, and most particularly for me at least, Jane (her tastes best coincide with mine) for reading recommendations.

    This is just a real shame.

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  101. Anna
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 07:34:31

    So actions have consequences, eh? Who knew?

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  102. Maili
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 07:43:38

    Bwaha! This is still so funny.

    The RWA obviously feels it has valid reasons for declining to renew Jane’s membership and a few RWA members will probably support their decision, fair enough, but I do feel there’s a cock-up in there somewhere.

    They clearly state in their letter they decided not to renew Jane’s General membership (which Jane says she didn’t apply for) because of her statement somewhere (the Weregerbil post, probably, as this was on 11 Sept?) that she has no plans to write. If Jane were supposed to be an Associate member, the RWA shouldn’t be concerned about whether she writes or not?

    In any case, I’m particularly interested in this:

    “who support the organization and its purposes but do not meet the requirements for General membership” (Section 4.1.2 RWA Restated Bylaws 2007).

    I wonder what is their definition of ‘support the organisation and its purposes’?

    Since the RWA is all about supporting career-minded authors, Jane clearly supports many of those authors, through Dear Author, by bringing attention to certain issues that could affect authors’ careers, such as Google Books, copyright issues, ebook issues, royalties, RWA’s handling of certain issues, and many more.

    The biggest difference between the likes of Jane and the RWA is, IMO, readers. RWA’s primary concern is for its RWA authors without readers in mind while the likes of Jane’s primary concern is for readers.

    Whatever may affect those authors will – in long run – affect readers, which is I believe why Jane (and other bloggers) raised those issues in the first place. I don’t believe their actions were done for the RWA, authors or romance industry. It’s about looking out for most authors in order to protect readers’ rights to best options and materials in all possible channels. I’m not sure if I make sense here, but I hope it does! :D

    I also wonder – is the RWA saying that all RWA members should support the RWA’s current stance on digital publishers, ebook-only authors and the new changes in publishing? I mean, it’s common knowledge that the RWA hasn’t been quite sympathetic towards some of its own members – some certain types of romance authors, so I’m sceptical about their use of ‘romance authors’ in their letter.

    Furthermore, there are some editors, agents, librarians and booksellers – some are Associate and Affiliate members – that openly criticised some of the RWA’s actions (and behaving-badly authors and some aspects of the romance industry). Does this mean they should have their membership applications rejected as well?

    I do think it’s a shame the RWA chose to take this action, but hey, whatever rocks their boat.

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  103. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 07:59:28

    The first reason is enough, the bit about stating in writing that you don’t intend to write a book. That’s straightforward and fairly uncontroversial.
    So why put the second reason in? They must know you’d make this public. A warning? I review on another site, and not all my reviews are favorable, but I make clear, as you do, that the review is about the book, not the author or the organisation she might belong to. I gave one author a D- and an A for different books this year.
    I think the ulterior motive is to ensure that the RWA gets support, but it could be something else entirely. I don’t think timing is an issue – the Board met this weekend about the Harl Ho incident, so they might have done some other business while they were at it, so this could have been tabled for some time, pending the next meeting.
    Not a member of the RWA for geographical reasons, but this step does surprise me somewhat.

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  104. sallahdog
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:26:14

    miss kitty says…by Miss Kitty November 23rd, 2009 at 9:50 pm
    Every thing you put on the internet can be used against you. Professional behavior gets you further than bitchiness. I'm not saying that I can't be a bitch but I prefer to be pleasant even when I don't want to. So the point I'm trying to make is the RWA has every right to not renew a membership if they feel the member has been a poor representative

    this is about the 3rd post from you counseling others on niceness and not being bitchy… err… which comes off bitchy and not very nice…. Dude, we got your point already, just not everyone agrees with it… Of course I am both bitchy and often not nice…

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  105. Jill Sorenson
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:49:27

    I’m not a big fan of #romfail, but I feel that Jane’s criticisms, in general, give her praise more weight. I’ve found a lot of great books and interesting new authors on this site. If honest reviews and high standards don’t foster the reader/author relationship, I don’t know what does.

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  106. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:51:02

    The first reason is enough, the bit about stating in writing that you don't intend to write a book. That's straightforward and fairly uncontroversial.
    So why put the second reason in?

    Lynne, maybe I’ve misunderstood what you’re referring to as the “first reason” and the “second reason” but as I read the letter, the “first reason” was that Jane had said “I have not written a book nor do I have plans to write a book…” This reason only excludes Jane from General membership (“open to all persons ‘seriously pursuing a romance fiction writing career’”).

    RWA needed to give further reasons if they were also going to exclude her from Associate Membership because, as stated in the letter,

    In most instances, we are able to offer Associate membership to individuals who do not qualify for General membership. However, Associate membership is offered to individuals, “who support the organization and its purposes but do not meet the requirements for General membership” (Section 4.1.2 RWA Restated Bylaws 2007).

    The “second reason,” namely that

    We have been made aware of numerous posts on your blog and on the “romfail” thread on Twitter that indicate you do not support RWA or romance authors

    would, in their opinion, make Jane ineligible for Associate membership on the grounds that she does not “support the organization.”

    It’s not clear that the “numerous posts” actually include any reviews at Dear Author. As Jane suggests in comment 65, it could be that the posts being referred to are opinion pieces Jane has written.

    Perhaps they weren’t expecting Jane to make the letter public, but now that she has, the lack of specificity about which of Jane’s posts were deemed “unsupportive” does seem to be raising concern about whether RWA objects to negative reviews.

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  107. Jaci Burton
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:51:48

    As I said on Twitter last night Jane, I can’t think of anyone who loves and supports the romance genre more than you. Hello–Save the Contemporary? You’ve gone above and beyond pushing romance books.

    I’ve bought many books because of the recommendations I’ve found here. And even bought books that the reviewers here didn’t like, but sounded intriguing to me.

    I’m sorry for this, Jane. It isn’t fair that someone who supports the romance genre so much is blackballed by an organization that needs people like you. Criticism is good for the genre. It keeps us on our toes and makes us work harder to produce a better product.

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  108. Jonquil
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:52:08

    Wow. And RWA goes from hero to clown in one week.

    You’re right, that column you linked to was pretty angry and incisive; I think that’s a pretext, but not an excuse. It is not true that pointing out an organization’s deficiencies, in public or otherwise, is in conflict with “supporting the organization”.

    Sorry RWA leadership has descended to Those Mean Girls In High School (TM Snacky) behavior. They should be ashamed.

  109. Christine Rimmer
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 08:56:19

    I just want to scream. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I get why you would not want to rejoin, Jane, and stay on the consumer end. I have no clue why they would decide to refuse you membership–and not even the membership you had in the first place. You are a tireless advocate for the genre and you call them as you read them.

    Just when RWA does something difficult and true, they turn around and do something thoughtless and short-sighted.

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  110. Scott Edelman
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 09:02:54

    If SFWA kicked out every member who was critical of its practices or of individual books … well … let’s just say it would have no members left.

    What a dumb move.

    I wish you luck in continuing to speak truth to power.

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  111. Shannon Stacey
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 09:11:43

    It’s nice that there’s a writers’ organization that supports romance authors and the industry.

    Whether it’s an informative analysis of the Google Books settlement or an in-depth look at plagiarism, authors are given the tools they need to inform themselves about issues affecting their careers.

    Oh, wait…that was Jane.

    Keeping on top of the changing landscape of publishing and reporting on the industry’s movers & shakers, tracking and sharing market statistics, and linking to relevant news articles.

    Oh, wait…that was Jane.

    Comprehensive coverage of digital publishing, from supporting digital publishers to covering technological news in a way that educates authors and readers alike, whether it be highlighting devices or offering commentary on formats and DRM in such a way to grow the digital readership.

    Definitely Jane.

    Encouraging excellence in the romance industry by highlighting the best books in the genre and those that aren’t the best, holding the industry to a high standard, whether or not it hurts.

    Also Jane.

    I could go on and on—First Page Saturdays, the inspiring First Sale feature, The DABWAHA, Save the Contemporary—but the gist is that this decision was unfair, inexplicable and totally sucks.

    I and countless others appreciate Dear Author’s support of the romance industry, including readers and authors.

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  112. Sonita
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 09:33:09

    As others have said, I can’t think of anyone who supports the romance industry more than Jane. I come here everyday, five times a day and not only have I bought books that were recommended here, but have felt a sense of community with my fellow romance lovers.

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  113. Poison Ivy
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 09:50:05

    The unofficial RWA motto:

    “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all…”

    Oh, please.

    This action is petty. The excuses used are ridiculously vague. Clearly, you are being singled out because you are a well-known voice for romance.

    Once again, RWA doesn’t get it.

    *headdesk*

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  114. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 09:55:04

    @Laura Vivanco:
    aha! Thanks for that, Laura, I didn’t understand that part. As I said, I’m not a member so I didn’t get that bit. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
    Still rum, though, isn’t it?
    Talking to members, most of them cite the local chapters and activities as a reason why they are and remain members. Many, it seems, don’t go beyond that. Many of my colleagues who have left RWA are joining NInc, which I know even less about, but they seem happy there.

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  115. Joyce D
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:04:20

    Color me confused. I guess I don’t understand why it even matters to Jane whether she’s a member of RWA.

    What difference does it make? Business as usual, like you said.

    Who cares if you’re not in an organization for writers? It’s not going to stop you from blogging and reviewing the way you always have.

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  116. Natasha Fondren
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:13:22

    Jane,

    That’s awful. I’m sorry. I quit RWA a couple years ago because of all the judgmental drama and segregation going on at the National level. I do miss the friendships, and was thinking of rejoining, but then this HH thing exploded and now this.

    I just wish there was a romance organization where they treated all members equally and with respect, and (this may be naive) were all about love and support.

    Reviewers should be allowed to be associate members, and they should be allowed to say what they like. You always have had romance’s best interests at heart.

    Natasha :-)

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  117. Donna Lea Simpson
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:16:57

    Hard to be a Cordelia in an organization that prefers the Regans and Gonerils!

    I’ve never belonged to RWA. I’ve heard nothing that has ever changed my mind.

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  118. Heather Massey
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:19:37

    I’m very dismayed to hear this news. DA is such a valuable resource I can’t even begin to articulate the ways. Jane, keep up the great work.

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  119. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:26:41

    @Lynne Connolly:

    I’m not a member either, but I feel I very, very indirectly have a stake in the matter because I wonder if there are some criteria underpinning this decision which might also affect decisions about the RWA’s academic research grant. I haven’t applied for it, and there’s nothing that I can see in the description or guidelines for it to suggest that candidates have to be supportive of RWA/romance authors/the romance genre but, one of the objectives of the grant is “To encourage a well-informed public discourse about genre romance texts and literacy practices.” I imagine there might be some wiggle-room around the word “well-informed.”

    “Still rum, though, isn't it?”

    The letter sent to Jane is certainly very vague in some respects. It states that there are

    numerous posts on your blog and on the “romfail” thread on Twitter that indicate you do not support RWA or romance authors.

    By which criteria should “support” for “romance authors” be judged? Does RWA think it’s acceptable to criticise some authors, or particular types of actions which might have been taken by certain authors? For example, I’m assuming that RWA wouldn’t be in favour of “supporting” romance authors who plagiarised other romance authors. And shouldn’t a certain amount of lack of “support” for some authors be balanced out by a huge amount of “support” for many others and for the genre as a whole? And what constitutes a lack of “support”? Critique groups, for example, might well be critical of an individual author’s work, but the ultimate aim is to improve the author’s writing and so overall this criticism can be considered supportive.

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  120. Kalen Hughes
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:30:30

    I think this is a completely boneheaded move on their part.

    Seconded!

    This whole thing simply reassures me that I’m not missing a damn thing by avoiding twitter.

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  121. SK
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:53:10

    Looks like it’s time to write a book!

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  122. Nora Roberts
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:54:08

    I’m not commenting on this decision, as I just don’t know enough about it to understand it. But there’s no reference to reviews in the letter Jane posted. There is, however, a direct reference to romfail. I don’t Twitter, and I don’t know all that much about romfail either–other than what I’ve read on the boards in reference to it.

    It seems most likely, just from my read of the letter, and my understanding of considerable objection to romfail by writers, that there were many complaints in this area made to RWA, and this is the most likely reason for denying Jane the option of renewing her membership.

    And please, I’m not saying this was the right decision–this is not an opinion on that. Just an opinion on the root cause, justified or not.

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  123. Karenmc
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 10:58:17

    Woah, Nelly. I can’t think of another place on the internets that has broadened my romance reading more than DA. I get to exercise my brain, challenge my perceptions and discover new authors, all without leaving the comfort of my desk. I’ve developed a sense of belonging at DA (and SBTS and several other sites) and dipped into comment threads. I’ve found subjects to think about that are completely separate from the rest of my day, and that’s good.

    It’s a shame someone at RWA has their knickers in a knot, but life is life. As Dorie says, “Just keep swimming.”

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  124. CourtneyLee
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:03:11

    #romfail or no #romfail, if RWA finds Jane, of all people, not to be supportive of the genre, I question their ability to separate reality from the nice fantasy world they seem to inhabit.

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  125. SarahT
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:06:54

    @Nora Roberts Yes! That’s exactly what I was attempting to express, but you put it more eloquently.

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  126. Leslie Dicken
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:16:40

    @ShannonStacey, you said exactly what I was thinking. When I first saw this, my mouth dropped open. Yes – there is the romfail and her opinion on various topics in RWA (not that those are even reasons to refuse her membership) — but what Jane has supported FAR OUTWEIGHS all the negatives. Did anyone see THAT?

    WTF?!

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  127. KG
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:23:03

    I’m sorry you seem to be irritated by RWA’s choice, but I, for one, support it. You do not intend to write a romance novel, so general membership is out. That’s a no brainer. As for associate membership, IMO, you support what you call “READER’S RIGHTS” over author rights. That disqualifies you for benefits as an associate member of Romance WRITERS of America.

    RWA is an advocacy organization that advocates romance author rights. Why should it allow the benefits of membership to someone who so loudly advocates readers rights over author rights?

    Fortunately, as you’ve stated, you didn’t intend to renew your membership. So it seems to be a mutual agreement to distance from each other.

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  128. Emmy
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:24:51

    I’m with the people who are wondering why this matters.

    You’re not a writer, so why belong to a writing organization? And you had already decided not to renew your membership, so why does it matter if they remove the option that you had no intention of availing yourself of?

    Sort of an odd “you can’t fire me, I was already going to quit!” post.

    If anything, start a Romance Readers of America group and join that.

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  129. gwen hayes
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:27:14

    I am almost certain that Nora is correct.

    People complained about Romfail, other people looked into it. The letter does not state that Jane is unsupportive of the genre–but she has taken shots at the association and some of its members.

    Do I think that they handled it it correctly? No. Romfail is mean. I agree.

    Do you know what else is mean to authors? “Professionally” editing a book and allowing the hero’s name to be spelled differently depending on what page you are on.

    Another example of mean? Telling a significant portion of your membership that the epublishing model is not valid, thus their work is not eligible to be entered into your big contest–while at the same time arguing that those members are “too” published to enter the other. And then making them feel like they are fighting the system to be heard in the community that is supposedly set up to protect their interest.

    I have never, ever heard of a professional association kicking someone out for being too snarky. I have heard of professionals sending letters to members warning them that there have been complaints regarding a certain action, giving the member a chance to address the complaint.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter. Jane is a mean, mean girl and she wasn’t planning on rejoining anyway. Somebody’s agenda has been met.

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  130. Nora Roberts
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:37:55

    @CourtneyLee:

    Courtney, as I stated pretty clearly I wasn’t taking a right or wrong, good or bad position here. There have been several comments either saying or speculating this was about the reviews on DA, and that maybe RWA would now go after other review sites.

    I don’t think this is, in any way, about the reviews on DA which are certainly critical, but fair and well-thought out–and have been posted on this site for years. The letter never mentioned reviews. It did mention romfail, which I believe, is a fairly new thing.

    I’m not even commenting on romfail as I don’t Twitter and I don’t participate.

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  131. KristieJ
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:38:03

    I’ll admit I am quite uncomfortable with #romfail and only *sat in* for one. To read and pick apart a book, detail by detail, struck me as just a bit too mean spirited and bullying for me.

    BUT

    To say you and the rest of the DA group don’t support authors is ludicrous!! You tell it like it is. And look at all the support you give do give authors

    My First Sale
    Author Have you Say
    First page Saturday
    Industry News
    If You Like
    Recommended Books

    and so on and so on. It really seems as if they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater with this short sighted decision.

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  132. Sonita
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:39:07

    @Emmy: “Sort of an odd “you can't fire me, I was already going to quit!” post.

    If anything, start a Romance Readers of America group and join that.”

    Completely…….. missing…… the point…………

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  133. Poison Ivy
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:44:43

    All right, let’s get this straight. You are morally and technically eligible to join RWA as long as on the day you send in your check you have the vague plan to write a romance novel.

    You don’t have to write one. You don’t even have to be a writer. You don’t have to continue to have plans to write a novel of any kind. You just have to keep sending in your checks every year.

    Please understand that many members of RWA are not actively writing romance novels. And so far, the RWA thought police have not caught up with them.

    But Jane of Dear Author is so prominent a blogger that 1) she made enemies, and 2) even the usually blind, deaf, money-hungry RWA noticed.

    RWA as a professional writing organization is a joke and always has been. Now that its requirements for being published go directly against epublishing reality, it is even more so.

    And yet…all you have to do is say you plan to write a romance novel. That’s all. And you, too, can be a member.

    Until the RWA thought police come for you.

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  134. Sandra Cormier
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:45:55

    “You can’t get pregnant if you do it in a canoe,” was a facetious remark made by one of the characters in the book in question.

    I have nothing against negative reviews, or even failing reviews. They are designed to point out the weak points of a book and they have their place in the critic community.

    If I ever received one (I never have), I’d take what I needed from the criticism and move on. That being said, #romfail was not intended to be a review. I’m sure RWA is aware of that. DA is not being targeted, just Jane herself.

    Nora succinctly illustrated the distinction between the two. #romfail is simply a bunch of people having shits and giggles over books they don’t like. It may be fun, but it certainly isn’t professional.

    How many people get fired over casual remarks on MyTwitFace? Plenty, I’m sure. It’s not fair, it stinks, but it is reality.

    My personal romfail experience was months ago. At first I was devastated, but subsequent great reviews helped me put the awful experience behind me.

    I don’t deny that Jane has been a valuable asset to the romance community – I consulted her site many times while I was a beginning writer.

    Jane, I am honestly sorry this happened to you, but I’m sure you’re not particularly surprised or dismayed at the outcome of your actions. Personally, I’ve never been a member of RWA and I have no intention of joining.

    That’s the sticking word: intention. I may not intend to join, but I might change my mind in the future. You might not intend to write a book, but perhaps someday you will and RWA will take you back if you wish.

    BTW, sex in a canoe is really fun.

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  135. maddie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:47:14

    Wow the “THOUGHT POLICE” has struck again, this is getting kind of scary, being called out (or shunned) if you do not bend to the rules or give a difference of opinion, your Black Balled.

    Every time something like this happens I think of that Man in China facing down the government tanks, really think about it, Jane is being punished because she states her mind on some of the stuff that are what labeled as romance when it not?

    Bad books that we the reader should know or hear about, Jane has introduced a lot of authors that otherwise I would have passed by in the book store (Beth Kery being one, who is now an autobuy for me).

    The list of Rakes from earlier this month had me running to my local library looking up authors that I did not know of or was not interested in at the time.

    Series romance authors that I did a look see, passed up and went out or ordered their books from a review she has given .

    I booked marked a lot of E-Book authors for me to go back and order their books because of Jane’s review.

    Not sure what is up at RWA but they are looking more like (the local School Board)and not some one who is looking towards the future of an organization, that is supposed to be looking out for it’s members.

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  136. Sara Thacker
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:49:50

    I am surprised that anyone is surprised that RWA kicked you out. Not that you did anything really wrong Jane, it’s just RWA’s normal antics. I’m only surprised they didn’t do it earlier. I think I met you in San Francisco. You really are a supporter of the genre and don’t let this make you stop loving the romance genre.

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  137. CourtneyLee
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 11:52:52

    @KG: You’re implying that Jane can’t support both authors and readers simultaneously, which isn’t true.

    If RWA feels that Jane doesn’t fit their idea of a member, that’s fine. It’s their right to feel that way and act accordingly. But the letter stated “We feel that authors' and readers' interests are closely related and that both have much to gain by a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship.” DA brings authors and readers together to mutual benefit every day. It’s primarily for readers, yes, but what happens all the time here is an open conversation that includes everybody.

    Jane said once that she wished authors had less of a presence on her blog, but she hasn’t asked them to stop commenting or moderated their comments when they are here. Dear Author was started for readers, but it grew into an all-inclusive community. It seems to me like RWA is giving lipservice to the author-reader relationship while excluding a supportive non-author from even peripheral memberships based on complaints about a single Twitter thread and a few critical posts. Jane and Dear Author put their words into action when it comes to author-reader interaction.

    Maybe it wasn’t the original purpose of DA, but I feel like the Ja(y)nes have gone with the flow in such a way that is a credit to them, their readers, and the romance genre in general.

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  138. CourtneyLee
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 12:00:16

    @Nora Roberts: I wasn’t commenting directly on your comment, Nora. I was just making a general statement. I do agree that RWA can do what it feels is appropriate in response to member complaints. :)

    edited to add: I totally had a fangirl squee moment when I saw you comment on my comment. LOL

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  139. Anonymous
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 12:11:15

    @Shannon Stacey: What an excellent summary of the ways in which Jane and Dear Author are supportive of romance.

    It is incredible to me that RWA would choose to assess whether a member is “unsupportive” of the organization based on such a selective reading of that person’s contributions to romance. Censorship can be the only intended consequence when expression of personal opinion (whether through #romfail or the criticism of RWA policies) is the basis for determining that a person is “unsupportive” of an organization. This type of reasoning should require RWA to decline the memberships of all associate members who do nothing–those persons who merely sit at the sidelines and make no affirmative effort in connection with the organization. (Likewise, RWA’s reasoning makes me wonder if it would grant me a refund for the three years of my general membership when I sat around on my ass thinking about writing instead of actually writing anything. What is the “pursuit” of writing, really?)

    Somewhat naively, I’ve always believed that RWA is an organization that thoughtfully seeks to promote the best interests of its members. While in many cases I believe RWA does meet this goal, the narrow-minded analysis and seemingly petty nature of the objections embodied in Jane’s non-renewal letter smack of a profound inability to engage in any reasoned, mature self-evaluation of the criticisms Jane raises.

    Given that forums such as Dear Author and Twitter will only have an increasing impact on romance reading and publishing, the ability to engage productively with such criticism will be necessary for RWA to maintain its influence within the industry and its remaining credibility among members of the romance community.

    RWA must resist the calls of members (or any of its own urges) to indulge in McCarthyistic witch hunts for Mean Girls or it will inevitably fail in its own goal of promoting the best interests of romance writers.

    Echoing the sentiments of so many other posters on this thread, I want to thank Jane and all the other contributors here at Dear Author. You guys rock, and I appreciate (on a daily basis) all that you do for romance.

    P.S. RWA, please take note of the fact that I have published this comment ANONYMOUSLY. I considered publishing it under my real name (as so many other, braver writers, have on this thread), but I am currently seeking publication, and I don’t want to be Chachblocked for making these criticisms. I hope it satisfies you to see a member engaging in self-censorship based on the belief that RWA might not support a writer who wishes to express a dissenting view of its actions.

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  140. Amber
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 12:15:11

    Wow. Just wow.

    So is everyone who posts negative reviews about books online going to be banned as well?

    No organization should be afraid of healthy debate and criticism. If they are, it just reveals how truly weak and ineffectual they have become.

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  141. SonomaLass
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 12:45:58

    It’s probably not, as Nora Roberts says, about reviews. That’s true. But if it is just #romfail, then the letter is lying. Because the letter says “numerous posts on your blog,” and that drags DA into it. It seems extremely short-sighted to look at Jane’s body of commentary here on Dear Author and conclude that she does not support authors or encourage a “mutually beneficial” relationship between authors and readers.

    Of course RWA has the right to do this, but authors who are members of RWA have the right to disagree as well. I’m not one, but I can read here that there are some who appreciate Jane’s support of their work and of the genre, even if it is not what the RWA considers support for it and its members.

    I am another reader who knows more about the industry and the genre from this one source than from any other, so to the extent that I have a “harmonious” relationship with authors of romance, it is thanks to Jane. I have no doubt that she will keep on doing what she does, and a bunch of us will go on appreciating it. (That’s probably going to earn me another “mindless minion” badge to go with my “mean girl” t-shirt, but whatever.)

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  142. Nita Wick
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 13:00:56

    @Likari:

    “If RWA looks at Jane and sees persona non grata, well, I think that says more about RWA than it does Jane.”

    Amen to that. Associate members are little more than cheerleaders for the romance authors and/or publishing industry professionals who want to maintain a relationship with authors and aspiring authors as well as receive news from RWA. Associate members can’t vote and therefore do little more with their membership fees than SHOW THEIR SUPPORT OF RWA AND ROMANCE AUTHORS by joining.

    This letter? WTF? If Jane isn’t a supporter of the romance genre, tell me who is?

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  143. Anonymous
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 13:27:26

    If it’s about #romfail, then RWA should be more specific with that. Most the blog posts I’ve seen over the couple of years I’ve followed DA have been nothing BUT supportive of the romance genre and its authors. As many others have asked, are they going to target the authors who participate in #romfail?

    Since I participated a few times and have just gotten a letter to renew my membership, I can assume not. Then again, who knows next year. Hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot.

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  144. just another hysterical author
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 13:35:20

    I am an author, not an RWA member, but they have, for me, hit the ball out of the park twice this month. I may have to join.

    Despite there being a number of authors Jane may have chosen to support directly, her stance on important issues affecting authors quite often comes across as completely opposed to the interest of authors. Moreover, should an author have an equally strong opinion on the issue – how are their opinions welcomed by Jane?

    Well, here is the most recent example – http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/10/28/piracy-is-bad/

    First, Dear Author is not a blog devoted to authors or author causes or author issues. We are a reader blog and our focus is for the readers, from the reviews, to the giveaways, to the opinion pieces. We are not author advocates and yes, often our reader interest is at odds with the authors. We do not exist to advance any author position nor any particular author. If it appears that we do, it is because we have an interest in an author topic or a particular author, not because we exist to do service on behalf of authors and their self interests. To state it more bluntly, we at Dear Author owe you, the author, nothing.

    Yes, it is true that DA owes authors nothing. But to have so boldly and publicly proclaimed that fact, in a post authored by Jane, certainly leaves little room to complain once denied renewal by an organization that is supposed to be all about supporting writers/authors.

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  145. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 13:45:43

    @CourtneyLee:

    Jane said once that she wished authors had less of a presence on her blog, but she hasn't asked them to stop commenting or moderated their comments when they are here.

    This is not correct.

    Dear Author was started for readers, but it grew into an all-inclusive community.

    This, and other comments like it, amaze me. How can multiple people claiming to be “readers” and “lovers of the romance (or any) genre” be clueless to the fact that most, if not all, writers are also readers?

    If Dear Author is truly a pro-reader site and is open to all readers, then all readers should be welcome, whether or not those readers happen to be writers shouldn’t matter.

    The above quoted statement is an example of the “us versus them” mentality I frequently observe nurtured on Dear Author.

    I am a reader. I’ve a “to be read” stack of books beside my reading chair right now…Twenty-one books. I’ve a book in my tote bag, a bookshelf in my bedroom crammed with double-stacked favorites alongside my writer’s reference books. My ebook collection’s a tad more modest, but I do own some and I do read them.

    I am a reader. If this is truly a reader’s website, I should be welcome here minus a giant yellow “A” for “author” sewn onto my clothes to differentiate me from other readers.

    Maybe Jane ought to specify this is actually a “non-author’s site” as opposed to a “reader’s site.”

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  146. gwen hayes
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 13:47:36

    @just another hysterical author: That is a very valid point. However, other associate members are allowed in despite the fact that their primary focus is their publishing house, their literary agency, their bookstore, their magazine, or their library.

    But you are right–she did say that and she did meant that.

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  147. Robin
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:03:54

    Having taken a little time to process this, I now wonder whether the “this is not a choice we would have made” line was made on behalf of the corporate staff who wrote the letter, I assume at the behest of the BOD?

    Regardless of who made the decision, however, IMO it makes the RWA, as an organization, look weak and insecure.

    Maybe the BOD took some proportion of complaints (someone convince me that the “majority” of RWA’s HUGE membership complained) and overrode common sense, the spirit of diversity, and any value of free expression (which, while not a First Amendment issue here, is certainly core to any organization that supports artistic freedom). So many of the objections to romfail are the same ones I see aimed at negative reviews: ‘oh, the genre is already so picked on, why are you making it look worse by writing negative reviews?’ Because, of course, its the *reviews* (and roasts like romfail) that are the problem, not books that don’t meet the standard of professional-quality work. I’d think an org like RWA, that casts itself as a public voice of Romance fiction, would, especially, understand and appreciate the difference there.

    Or maybe a majority of the BOD already disliked Jane and were looking for a reason to oust her. Which doesn’t strike me as a particularly professional move on their part, regardless of the reasons.

    If an organization the size of RWA cannot withstand the challenges Jane puts to it, what does it really stand for?

    Bottom line, though, I personally suspect the ouster was meant to accomplish (at least) three things:

    1. to scare/warn/silence any others from participating in romfail or otherwise making any negative comments about the RWA or about Romance. Because Big Brother may be watching (and thanks to the commenter who recognized the validity of our fears about the FTC guidelines!).

    2. to stem an outlet through which the RWA’s member-only information/policies/actions is publicly posted and discussed. My sense is that the RWA leadership really hates it when they are publicly scrutinized. Never mind that they hold themselves out as Romance genre ambassadors and therefore implicate authors, publishers, editors, readers, etc. in their actions.

    3. to delegitimate Jane. And I think this was the biggie (and the thing that’s going to backfire most spectacularly). Perhaps it’s an official objection to the way Jane is listened to — by authors, readers, and industry professionals inside and outside Romance. Perhaps it’s an objection to the rogue digital seminar. Whatever it is, I think there was a message here that Jane is somehow *not* a person of interest in the eyes of the RWA. Which, to anyone who knows how well-respected she is for her analyses/views/understanding/vision of the industry is a sad commentary on the BOD’s currency and security in their own vision/goals/power/authority. Not to mention a gross overreaction; after all, if she’s insignificant, why try to keep her out?

    Oh, and as for whether or not Jane wants to be a member anymore, it’s irrelevant, IMO, because she was qualified and should have been allowed to make that choice for herself either way.

    I’m not an uncritical fan of the RWA leadership, but for the most part I’ve thought they were acting in what they thought was the best interest of the organization. If I were to apply that standard to this decision, the image of the organization that would need to oust Jane is not particularly strong. I say this not only because of what Jane’s efforts offer authors, readers, the genre, the online community, and the industry, but also because I think any organization that purports to support writers should be particularly protective of free expression, *especially* when it’s unpopular.

    ETA: forgot to say that I found comments by Likari and Shannon Stacey especially persuasive and insightful.

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  148. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:13:37

    @Robin:

    3. to delegitimate Jane. And I think this was the biggie (and the thing that's going to backfire most spectacularly). Perhaps it's an official objection to the way Jane is listened to -’ by authors, readers, and industry professionals inside and outside Romance. Perhaps it's an objection to the rogue digital seminar. Whatever it is, I think there was a message here that Jane is somehow *not* a person of interest in the eyes of the RWA. Which, to anyone who knows how well-respected she is for her analyses/views/understanding/vision of the industry is a sad commentary on the BOD's currency and security in their own vision/goals/power/authority. Not to mention a gross overreaction; after all, if she's insignificant, why try to keep her out?

    A decree from RWA is not required to achieve this.

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  149. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:19:59

    @Emmy:

    I'm with the people who are wondering why this matters.

    You're not a writer, so why belong to a writing organization? And you had already decided not to renew your membership, so why does it matter if they remove the option that you had no intention of availing yourself of?

    Sort of an odd “you can't fire me, I was already going to quit!” post.

    If anything, start a Romance Readers of America group and join that.

    *thumbs up*

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  150. Robin
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:24:09

    @gwen hayes: I think some of the comments here (the vast minority) illustrate clearly that there are some who will latch on to anything that feeds their dislike of Jane and/or DA. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that Jane is *pro books,* *pro genre,* and *pro genre success.* That doesn’t mean she supports things that aren’t smart in her opinion, or that she feels obligated to authors (because *books* are different from *authors) as more entitled than anyone else, or that she will be satisfied with low standards for books, publisher labeling shenanigans, or the like. But those who hate Jane and/or DA aren’t interested in that — they’re just going to read things in a way that supports their dislike, whether or not the blog as a whole supports that interpretation.

    @A: There are *many* instances where authors come to DA without their reader hat on (I hate that expression, btw, but it’s the one people seem to use). In other words, they come to the blog *as authors,* either straight out or in pseud/anonymous disguise. When authors come to the blog *as readers,* I rarely see conflict, but I also believe that authors have to be especially conscious of establishing their appearance as that of author as reader as opposed to author as author. IMO the problems arise when that distinction has not been made.

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  151. Julia Sullivan
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:29:02

    I think that this is a crazy and inappropriate decision. Jane has been a member of the organization, and she has offered pointed critiques of decisions by the organization—how does that translate into “not being supportive” of the organization? I tell the people I love when I think they’re making mistakes, and I tell the organizations I belong to (which don’t include RWA in my case) when I think they’re making mistakes.

    Ew.

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  152. Janine
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:29:43

    @A:

    A decree from RWA is not required to achieve this.

    LOL. If that’s true, why do you come here? Methinks it’s wishful thinking on your part.

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  153. rebyj
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:33:06

    Shannon Stacey’s comment number 111 for the win!

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  154. Maria
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:33:52

    And on the bright side, I had never heard of DA. Now I found a new review site (found the site after reading the galleycat article.)

    Woot!

    Maria

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  155. just another hysterical author
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:41:19

    Robin –

    But those who hate Jane and/or DA aren't interested in that -’ they're just going to read things in a way that supports their dislike, whether or not the blog as a whole supports that interpretation.

    This is how opposing views are frequently dealt with here – whether by DA owners or (admittedly more frequently the case) by regular audience members. Dissent is very often labeled “sour grapes.” It would be amusing if not so very sad at the same time, that many regular posters today are complaining that RWA’s actions are nothing more than an attempt to squash dissent or delegitimize Jane.

    I cannot pride myself on not being a hypocrit because I am a hypocrit on a not infrequent basis. But I recognize it in my words and actions. Sometimes I even admit certain instances of it. I don’t see that quality of self-recognition evident in your posts, Robin. But don’t let my saying so bother you. I am, after all, just a gutless anonymous poster. (That is the next level of discussion, isn’t it?)

    Now, I will try to bow out. Try really hard. I may fail. But I don’t think blog owners should have to put up with *#(% on their own blogs – and I don’t think I can sham up any more civility when I see the same posters with the same unpersuasive, illogical arguments over and over.

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  156. Karen Scott
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:48:42

    @CourtneyLee:

    #romfail or no #romfail, if RWA finds Jane, of all people, not to be supportive of the genre, I question their ability to separate reality from the nice fantasy world they seem to inhabit.

    What she said.

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  157. Terrio
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:49:50

    I’m not a frequent visitor over here, but this is the place for the lively discussions.

    I just wanted to point out a couple of things. I don’t see how this is “black balling” Jane since I see nothing in that letter remotely close to “You’ll never work in this town again.” I also don’t see how this could be intended as a warning to others or to delegitimize Jane since it was a private letter RWA did not post in a public forum. Jane chose to post it, which is her right.

    RWA is an organization that like most businesses, has the right to refuse service or membership to whomever they choose. As long as they aren’t discriminating in the legal sense of things. (I’m NO lawyer so there’s probably a better way to say that but I’m sure you know what I mean.) This does not make them nazies or crazy or a joke. They stated reasons for their action and were even somewhat nice about it. I don’t read a hate message in that letter, could be just me as all are entitled to their opinions.

    I don’t know a thing about #romfail as I’ve never seen it or followed it, and I, like Ms. Roberts, am making no judgment as to whether this is a right or wrong decision. It just seems to me keeping the facts front and center and taking assumptions and unsubstantiated conclusions out of the discussion would help.

    Grant it, those conclusions could be seen as opinions and this is just mine. Don’t mean to light a fire under anyone, though there seem to be plenty of bonfires going already. :)

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  158. Karen Scott
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:52:09

    @KG:

    IMO, you support what you call “READER'S RIGHTS” over author rights. That disqualifies you for benefits as an associate member of Romance WRITERS of America.

    So readers have nothing to do with supporting The Romance WRITERS of America? No? Really?

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  159. Anunn
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:52:14

    This is Craziness.

    IMO, DA and the Ja(y)nes have done more to push the romance genre into respectability than has the RWA. It’s nice to know that romance novels aren’t like Cheetos, one indistinguishable frem the other. DA reviewers have high standards, and RWA has a problem with this?

    I’ve been waffling about whether or not to join RWA. This issue has made up my mind for me.

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  160. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:58:52

    @Janine:

    LOL. If that's true, why do you come here? Methinks it's wishful thinking on your part.

    LOL. Think again.

    For the record…I like DA for the most part. The site itself is an ambitious project and clearly represents hard work from all the “Ja(y)nes” and other associates. There are things I dislike about it, but I think the good outweighs the bad.

    Sad to say, the reviews lost any lasting “legitimacy” or credibility for me probably the second time I ever visited DA. Sorry, I would not credit a professional critic’s opinion on a movie s/he did not view, why should I credit an amateur reviewer’s opinion regarding a partially read book? Add the amateur reviwer admits bias against the author/publishing industry in favor of “readers’ rights”…

    I respect Jane’s work and, at times, I think she is dead on the nose when it comes to particular issues. That said, I have at times recognized tone and manner that do not credit her or her blog. I’m not going to pretend not to see it just because of her hard work. I’m sure Jane can respect that since she entertains comparable philosophy towards authors and she is surely not so hypocritical she would expect to merit different treatment than from what she distributes to others.

    Once again, no RWA exclusion was required for me to evaluate DA and find it lacking. DA does an excellent job on its own.

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  161. Michelle Moran
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:59:32

    I’ve purchased many, many romance novels because of what I’ve read on here – novels I wouldn’t otherwise have purchased.

    What a shame.

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  162. hapalochlaena
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:07:01

    @A:

    In your case, the giant yellow “A” also stands for “arsehole” and you sewed it there yourself. Voluntarily. The evidence is in your performance in the reader/copyrights thread, the piracy thread, and the shortcuts thread — and by the way, weren’t you parading your I’m-an-author-and-authors-are-special schtick in the latter?

    It was DA and SBTB that convinced me that romance had much more to offer than I ever expected, and it was on the basis of a DA review that I bought a straight romance for the first time ever, earlier this week.

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  163. Anonymous
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:16:19

    @A:
    And yet here you are commenting on a blog which you have in your own words found lacking. How sad and pathetic your life actually is that you have to spend time trolling on blogs you dont even like.

    R

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  164. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:17:30

    @hapalochlaena:

    @A:

    In your case, the giant yellow “A” also stands for “arsehole” and you sewed it there yourself. Voluntarily. The evidence is in your performance in the reader/copyrights thread, the piracy thread, and the shortcuts thread -’ and by the way, weren't you parading your I'm-an-author-and-authors-are-special schtick in the latter?

    I believe you mistake me. The real “arseholes” would be criminals justifying copyright infringement and piracy of copyrighted works. I defended authors’ copyrights.

    And yes, writing is a very special profession, requiring a lot of focus, skill, dedication, and hard work. If comprehension of that reality makes one an “arsehole…”

    It was DA and SBTB that convinced me that romance had much more to offer than I ever expected, and it was on the basis of a DA review that I bought a straight romance for the first time ever, earlier this week.

    Remarkable. You’re very brave to admit this. I cannot recall the last time I required another person’s opinion to decide upon purchasing a book. Probably when my grandfather bought me a collection of Dickens when I was eleven years old or so.

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  165. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:19:05

    @Anonymous:

    @A:
    And yet here you are commenting on a blog which you have in your own words found lacking. How sad and pathetic your life actually is that you have to spend time trolling on blogs you dont even like.

    R

    Repeat for the reading/comprehension impaired:

    I like DA for the most part. The site itself is an ambitious project and clearly represents hard work from all the “Ja(y)nes” and other associates. There are things I dislike about it, but I think the good outweighs the bad.

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  166. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:25:09

    @Terrio:

    I just wanted to point out a couple of things. I don't see how this is “black balling” Jane since I see nothing in that letter remotely close to “You'll never work in this town again.”

    I’m not an expert on the details of blackballing in Regency clubs and I suppose that this situation may not be exactly parallel to the members of White’s or Boodle’s choosing to reject a candidate who wished to join those clubs, since Jane was already a member and she’s been told that she cannot renew her membership but other than that, it seems to me that this is very much the kind of situation to which the word “blackballing” refers:

    blackball

    • verb reject or vote against (a candidate applying to become a member of a private club).

    -’ ORIGIN from the practice of registering an adverse vote by placing a black ball in a ballot box. (Online Compact Oxford English Dictionary)

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  167. JulieB
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:26:09

    I’d tried to post something earlier and I think I clicked the wrong button by mistake. That’s what I get for commenting before the morning coffee kicked in.

    First to Jane: Sorry to hear about this. Others have said the same thing before and after I tried to comment before, so I’ll just stop at “me too.”

    Next, a response to some of the comments. I know this blog is geared to readers, but believe me, authors and readers needs intersect more often than you think. The quality of work my publisher produces reflects on me for good or bad. It’s in your best interest as much as mine to seek out the best fit for my manuscript. Reader “buzz” helps me in that respect.

    Jane’s take on some of the issues that face us all (like plagiarism and her series on defamation) is what brought me here, and the amazing community she and the other DA-ers have built up is why the feed is in my RSS reader.

    So yes, Jane supports authors by being an advocate for readers and allowing all of us (hey, I’m also a reader!) an important forum. Sorry the RWA thinks otherwise.

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  168. JulieB
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:33:56

    @A:

    I cannot recall the last time I required another person's opinion to decide upon purchasing a book. Probably when my grandfather bought me a collection of Dickens when I was eleven years old or so.

    With respect, one thing a good review does for me is to go beyond the cover. Solid, thoughtful reviews have persuaded me to try a book I had replaced on the bookstore shelf because the cover copy didn’t appeal to me. A review that tells me more in-depth what the book is about (without giving anything away) can help sway me one way or the other in the direction of a purchase.

    A reviewer does not tell me what to buy, but rather helps me make an informed decision.

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  169. Terrio
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:43:10

    @Laura Vivanco:

    Blackball also means “To shut out from social or commercial participation; ostracize or boycott” according to the American English Dictionary of the English Language. This is the meaning I took when reading blackball in a comment.

    When we hear of an actor being blackballed in Hollywood, I’d venture to say we all know what that means. I’m simply suggesting RWA has not taken further public action to discredit Jane or this site and, as far as I know (and I’m a member so I’d get the email) has not recommended their members boycott this site. In fact, if Jane had not posted the letter, we never would have known their opinion of her.

    Not that she shouldn’t have posted it, just pointing out a fact.

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  170. Bonnie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:49:08

    But RWA did blackball Jane from RWA.

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  171. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:51:30

    @JulieB:

    With respect, one thing a good review does for me is to go beyond the cover. Solid, thoughtful reviews have persuaded me to try a book I had replaced on the bookstore shelf because the cover copy didn't appeal to me. A review that tells me more in-depth what the book is about (without giving anything away) can help sway me one way or the other in the direction of a purchase.

    Hi JulieB.

    Thank you for your civil, constructive response.

    I admit, I appreciate a recommendation from a trustworthy source, but I tend to “scan” books pretty thoroughly (i.e., read the blurbs, page through the book itself.) Even if someone else insisted the book was a fabulous read and I found its style not to my taste, I wouldn’t go back for it.

    That said, if someone came up to me and told me, “This book stinks! I loathed this, that, and the other in it! I wasted my time/money, it was so lousy I didn’t even bother to finish it! Don’t buy this book, I’m gonna go home and compose structured poetry about what drek this book its….” I’m not going to find that very credible.

    In other words, if you read a book, liked it, told me you liked it and why, your opinion might or might not influence my opting to read the book. If you told me the book was awful, however, I’m less likely to credit your opinion (especially if I think the book might be interesting to my taste) because I perceive bias (dislike, for whatever reason, of the book.) And if it was so “bad” or “boring” you didn’t even finish the read, how can you offer a constructive opinion on the book’s substance (apart from explaining the read did not suit you?)

    Just as it’s not someone else’s place to tell me what to think or what to write, it’s not my place to tell Jane or anyone else what to think or what to write. I do reserve the right to value the opinion, take it with a grain of salt, or to reject it.

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  172. kerry
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:54:50

    I’m sorry that “A” and some of the other authors who are being snide and snotty are too chicken to sign their real names, so I can add them to my “do not buy” list.

    I’m just a reader, and from what I see, Jane does a lot to support the author community by bringing their work to other readers–thereby leading readers to BUY said authors’ works, and thereby generating FINANCIAL support for authors. In addition to the other things here like the query letters where authors can receive feedback. I daresay financial support of authors (a benefit from this site) is as important as the “benefits” that authors receive from RWA.

    Even just as a reader who usually skims over the RWA stories here and elsewhere, their benefits (at least on a national level) seem kind of dubious to me. An organization that changes their mind to exclude and include authors and publishers, who tries to shame and intimidate bloggers with “banning” them from membership, and who inconsistently applies its rules and bylaws…well, their public image isn’t pretty. If that were my professional organization, I’d be kind of embarrassed.

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  173. Terrio
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:54:59

    I guess I missed the letter saying RWA made sure Jane is refused membership to every other writing association.

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  174. RStewie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:57:15

    It seems a lot of people are missing the point. What I’m taking from RWA’s rejection letter to Jane is this:

    1. Harsh criticism of romance novels is not acceptable. –No one can deny that #romfail = harsh criticism. It is not, however, related to the DA site, and is Jane’s personal Twitter account. Following DA does NOT include you in the #romfail thread.

    2. Questioning or criticizing RWA is not acceptable. –Any posts related to this on DA are linking in Jane’s comment above.

    Inferring from these two points, I have to say:

    1. Literary criticism should be welcomed. I personally ripped The Scarlet Letter to shreds in my English Lit class. My cousin is an English Lit professor, and she regularly rips into the various Literary Classics in the course of teaching them. Shouldn’t it be the goal of Romance to reach the same stature and standing in the literary community? If so, “nice” shouldn’t have any part in it, and if the RWA meant what they said, they would understand that part of the equation, too.

    2. The RWA shows a particular interest in Jane’s personal and “professional” life (as a blogger). As an organization, they are allowed, of course, to determine who is and who is not a member, however it appears they are setting a precedent here that may be more than they intended:

    Will authors that follow and participate in #romfail also be “held accountable” by RWA? Where is the line between personal and professional opinions? Will RWA be ejecting other members based on the content of their blogs, twitter accounts, facebook status updates, and MySpace comments? At what point is a bad review outweighed by positive support of authors?

    To those that don’t understand the uproar, I say, “You’re missing the point.”

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  175. Joanna Bourne
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 15:57:19

    Hell.
    I’m really disappointed in RWA.

    To paraphrase Fouche, this is not just a perversion of the intent of RWA’s rules … it’s a mistake.

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  176. Julia Sullivan
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:32:19

    @Terrio: Terrio, I think you’re confusing ‘blackball’ (whose primary meaning is, indeed, “to deny someone membership in an organization”) with ‘blacklist’ (whose primary meaning is “to attempt to shut someone out of a field of endeavor.”)

    Jane is being blackballed from RWA; they are not threatening her with being blacklisted in the industry.

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  177. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:34:11

    @kerry:

    I'm sorry that “A” and some of the other authors who are being snide and snotty are too chicken to sign their real names, so I can add them to my “do not buy” list.

    What’s your name, dear? Where do you work? What do you do for a living? If you’re unemployed, what does your husband or significant other do for a living and where? Who are all your immediate family, their full names, the type of business they do, and their workplaces?

    I’m put off with your comments and I don’t want to put one nickel in your/their pockets as of this moment.

    You should not have the right to say what you please in a blog without my being able to penalize you in some way if it offends me.

    Think that sounds a bit stupid? Listen to yourself.

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  178. Nora Roberts
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:43:55

    I just want to say, I’ve seen very little snide and snotty comments from authors on this thread. Why does someone always need to trot this one out with the do-not-buy list attached?

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  179. JamieB
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:50:21

    Like many other sites, the content at D/A ranges from bad to “meh” and all the way to really good. Some of the conversations here have been useful and productive.

    It’s important for site owners to realize that the content is often much better than they would’ve been capable of on their own, because visitors are themselves providing material by commenting. The caliber of people and conversations initially attracted to SBTB was a huge part of that site’s success, and a similar thing happened at D/A.

    Unfortunately, the popularity of such sites often goes to the founders’ heads, and the vibe and quality of content go downhill thereafter. It takes careful tending to keep a garden from being overrun with weeds.

    RE: Jane’s disinvitation to RWA membership, any author who whined to RWA about a bad review needs to put on her big girl undies and get over it. RWA cannot and should not protect its authors from the everyday realities of the publishing world. But what RWA can do is set a minimum standard of conduct for its members, and recreationally pillorying authors on Twitter for one’s own aggrandizement, amusement, or what-the-hell-ever crosses that line. Reading those tweets was like watching some peckerwood kid pulling the legs off a bug.

    Although RWA could’ve hardly have been more clumsy about it, they were correct to withdraw membership.

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  180. Bonnie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 16:52:33

    Why does someone always need to trot this one out with the do-not-buy list attached?

    I don’t like this either.

    But what’s worse is that inevitably, every single time there’s a controversial subject, it’s always “Authors vs. Readers”. I think that’s sad.

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  181. Nora Roberts
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:04:31

    @Bonnie:

    I completely agree.

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  182. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:06:56

    Why does someone always need to trot this one out with the do-not-buy list attached?

    It provides the poster with a false sense of empowerment. Not much different from RWA’s disinvitation of Jane.

    Evidently, Jane should be free to say whatever she pleases in whatever tone she chooses, and not be excluded from an orgranization viewing her expression as counterproductive to the organization’s best interest. Jane’s supporters object to that, but some have a problem with professional authors doing the exact same thing. Interesting.

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  183. Courtney Milan
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:21:07

    @NoraRoberts: I agree with your analysis as to how this shook down: Author complaints about #romfail lead to investigation lead to letter.

    But I do think that if this is what happened, and I suspect it is, it illustrates a huge flaw in the procedures (a flaw that I am not attributing to Nora): Nobody will ever write to RWA in support of someone who’s doing something positive, because there’s nothing to be gained by reporting positives. That means that the “file” in question used for decision-making will be composed of only negative things without any counterbalancing weight. How can anyone make an informed decision with an underlying record that only includes the negative viewpoint? It’s not possible; you’re going to have a bias in your selection of viewpoints to include. Under those circumstances, I don’t think a good decision can be made, because the underlying file simply won’t contain all the evidence.

    Regardless of what you might think of the merits of Jane’s particular case, I hope everyone can agree that a process that by its nature disproportionately impacts those who are polarizing in effect is not a good way to measure true support.

    I also disapprove of content-based exclusion from RWA, because that is just squicky.

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  184. RStewie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:23:13

    @A: I don’t think it’s “all Jane’s supporters” per se…I see Nora herself as a supporter of this site, and Jane, and I don’t think she agrees with you. I see myself as a supporter, and I don’t agree with you.

    I think what is being objected to is the fact that the RWA is negating all the positive things Jane has contributed to Romance as a genre, and Romance authors in particular, effectively because they don’t approve of her #romfail tweets and any random blog posts she did in the past.

    So the question remains: how much “good” would outweigh this “bad”? And how is the RWA going to maintain this balance for all its members in the future? And how is the “bad” to be determined? Snark is not allowed? Bad reviews are not allowed? Discourse on the pros and cons of RWA’s stance toward ePublishing is not allowed? Blog posts about the double standard applied to ePublished authors is not allowed? Where is the line?

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  185. Bonnie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:30:01

    I think what is being objected to is the fact that the RWA is negating all the positive things Jane has contributed to Romance as a genre, and Romance authors in particular, effectively because they don't approve of her #romfail tweets and any random blog posts she did in the past.

    Right. That’s it.

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  186. handyhunter
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:33:51

    @Nora Roberts: Why does someone always need to trot this one out with the do-not-buy list attached?

    Why not? If an author’s viewpoints are so wrong different from my own (see racefail, for example), I think there’s a good chance their perspective is going to show up in their books, even unintentionally. Plus, having a list, like Santa, makes it easier to keep track of Do Not Buy/Read authors, if for no other reason than authors one might like to try (especially if names are hard to remember or similar sounding) don’t end up on that non-shelf. I don’t see why announcing one has a list is all that different from keeping a list in one’s head.

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  187. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:38:22

    @RStewie:

    @A: I don't think it's “all Jane's supporters” per se…I see Nora herself as a supporter of this site, and Jane, and I don't think she agrees with you. I see myself as a supporter, and I don't agree with you.

    I don’t see your angle. The question asked was:

    Why does someone always need to trot this one out with the do-not-buy list attached?

    I responded that threatening an author with not buying/reading the author’s books is a threat all too frequently abused on this site any time an alleged reader decides s/he dislikes an author’s attitude or opinion. I pointed out further that RWA is basically “spanking” Jane/DA/romfail for the same reason (RWA dislikes Jane’s attitude/opinion.) So why bash the RWA for doing the same thing bloggers do at DA every day?

    It has nothing to do with who agrees with whom. I don’t always agree with Jane, but for that matter I don’t always disagree with Jane.

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  188. Jane
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:38:37

    For the record, we are not tearing down any author on twitter. #romfail is nothing more sinister than a live review of a poorly written book. Examples of #romfail books include Jamaica Layne’s Knight Moves, The Claiming by Trinity Blacio (you know, the “rapid dog” book), Pleasure 2035 by Cameo Brown (where the heroine’s left nipple is cut off & she puts it in a box shaped necklace that her mentally challenged male friend wears around his neck), Nicholas by Elizabeth Amber where the hero has two dicks and a snake that comes out from under his sac to clean out and “heal” the heroine’s orifices so she can have more double penetration, and the most recent book wherein the first 4 chapters are pretty much sex scenes between the “hero” and the “villain” who is described as brown skinned. At one point the hero’s friends express amazement that he was once attracted to a brown skinned woman. The story also contains lines like “His cock spent, but still turgid, returned to a meaty human size, filling, but not too many calories.”

    Yes, I do make fun of these books because they are poorly written, poorly edited, and they are a poor representation of the romance genre.

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  189. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:41:16

    @handyhunter:

    Why not? If an author's viewpoints are so wrong different from my own (see racefail, for example), I think there's a good chance their perspective is going to show up in their books, even unintentionally. Plus, having a list, like Santa, makes it easier to keep track of Do Not Buy/Read authors, if for no other reason than authors one might like to try (especially if names are hard to remember or similar sounding) don't end up on that non-shelf. I don't see why announcing one has a list is all that different from keeping a list in one's head.

    And by the same token, these reasders ought to declare themselves to their “banned authors” so those authors have the option of boycotting their businesses, places of employment, etc. After all, if you own a restaurant and we can’t agree with each other on a blog, your food’s probably lousy and I don’t want to pay you for it.

    Makes the same amount of sense, IMHO.

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  190. katiebabs
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:41:17

    Jane: Perhaps making fun of a hermaphrodite heroine and a hero with two dicks did go a bit too far. Imagine if you made fun of the tree sex erotic romance I love to mention? People would come at you with pitch forks then!

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  191. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:42:30

    @Courtney Milan:

    Just to play devil’s advocate for a second (because I am pretty much the poster child for Monty Python’s Argument sketch), I’d like to agree with pretty much everything you said except this:

    I also disapprove of content-based exclusion from RWA, because that is just squicky.

    I think that proposition sounds quite reasonable on its surface, but in practice…maybe not so much.

    Please keep in mind that what I propose here is purely a hypothetical case, and doesn’t in any way relate to Jane, Dear Author, or any other people/blogs that review romance novels.

    Now, with that out of the way, imagine for a moment that Bertha starts a blog she calls “Romance Is Trash,” wherein she skewers every romance she reviews and otherwise maligns the genre. Yet, she decides to join RWA as an Associate Member, perhaps to attend the conference at a cut rate where she wil take notes and photos to post on her blog and use to further lambaste authors and the romance genre.

    Would RWA be justified in refusing to renew Bertha’s membership when it comes up for renewal?

    In my opinion, the answer is “Yes.” The application clearly states that Associate Members must support the organization and its purposes. One of those purposes is to present a positive image of romance. And since Bertha blatantly and vocally fails to do that, RWA has a right, based on content, to exclude her from membership. She isn’t helping either RWA or the genre; if anything, she’s actively attempting to destroy them.

    Having said that, I reiterate, this isn’t remotely to say Jane is anything like Bertha or Romance Is Trash is anything like Dear Author. Never the twain shall meet, as the saying goes.

    But I do think RWA could be justified in refusing an ASSOCIATE member renewal based upon their actions/statements. Just not in this case, especially not without very clear statements of exactly WHICH content is responsible for the member’s loss of privileges. That, IMO, is a huge fail.

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  192. Bonnie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:43:40

    where the hero has two dicks and a snake that comes out from under his sac to clean out and “heal” the heroine's orifices so she can have more double penetration, and the most recent book wherein the first 4 chapters are pretty much sex scenes between the “hero” and the “villain” who is described as brown skinned. At one point the hero's friends express amazement that he was once attracted to a brown skinned woman. The story also contains lines like “His cock spent, but still turgid, returned to a meaty human size, filling, but not too many calories.”

    I need to read these books to stay on my diet. Ugh.

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  193. Terrio
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:44:30

    @Julia Sullivan:

    Yes, Julia, that is what I meant. I stand corrected!

    And I may be a Pollyanna type (I am, I know this), but I don’t think this is a reason to start freaking that RWA will now start throwing members out because of dissenting comments. If something happens to prove me wrong, I’ll be the first to stand up and say so, but I have a hard time believing this will set some new, worrisome precedent.

    I also hate to think RWA made this decision without looking into the matter further than a few complaints. The organization is known for making bonehead moves from time to time, but I want to believe they sought out and weighed more information before making this decision.

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  194. Jane
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:47:58

    @katiebabs There was a black lace book, wasn’t there, that featured tree sex?

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  195. Bonnie
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:49:38

    @Terrio:

    Ahh… yes, that was what you meant. I didn’t think of it myself.

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  196. handyhunter
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 17:52:42

    @A: After all, if you own a restaurant and we can't agree with each other on a blog, your food's probably lousy and I don't want to pay you for it.

    That makes no sense to me. If I know from an author’s *writing* (in a blog or comments or books) that they don’t think certain issues are a problem or that they want to hold onto using a problematic (to me) word, I don’t see why deciding not to buy their books is not allowed or a big deal; I personally am not calling for a boycott of the author, I’m just stating I’d rather not read or pay for those stories. I’m not sure, however, how this applies to food (you can’t taste it online??). On the other hand, if a restaurant posts their recipes or menu online and it’s not to your taste, I don’t see why you would have to eat there. Ditto if a restaurant owner posts something bigoted or whatever that you don’t agree with: you don’t have to eat at their restaurant either, regardless of the quality of food.

    That said, there are some authors whose books I like but whose blogs I don’t. I tend to keep reading their books, and sometimes it depends on how much I like their stories versus how much fail they create or are a part of.

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  197. A
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 18:02:24

    @handyhunter:

    by handyhunter November 24th, 2009 at 5:52 pm
    @A: After all, if you own a restaurant and we can't agree with each other on a blog, your food's probably lousy and I don't want to pay you for it.

    That makes no sense to me. If I know from an author's *writing* (in a blog or comments or books) that they don't think certain issues are a problem or that they want to hold onto using a problematic (to me) word, I don't see why deciding not to buy their books is not allowed or a big deal; I personally am not calling for a boycott of the author, I'm just stating I'd rather not read or pay for those stories. I'm not sure, however, how this applies to food. On the other hand, if a restaurant posts their recipes or menu online and it's not to your taste, I don't see why one would have to eat there.

    Everyone is free to buy or not buy any goods and services they choose, with good cause, bad cause, or no cause.

    If you’re a physician, and you find my writing or my attitude in my blog posts not to your liking and opt to boycott my books, should I not also have the right to decline employing you in my medical treatment? I mean, if our communication is so unpalatable you’re convinced you’d loathe my stories, how can I have any faith in you to discharge your duty to safeguard my health and do no harm? You’re being a competent physician has nothing to do with it. Right?

    P.S. — it’s not supposed to make sense.

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  198. Courtney Milan
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 18:03:33

    @Jackie Barbosa: I agree that within the language of the bylaws this is allowable. I don’t like the language of the bylaws, and wish they were written to include content-neutral standards.

    I would have no problem excluding Jane from RWA if Associate Membership were specifically limited to people who are immediate and direct auxiliaries in the publication process: editors and agents, booksellers, librarians, perhaps people in marketing; all people who have a direct financial or professional stake in the success of romance.

    But my definition would exclude Bertha Hates Romance. It would also exclude Susy Loves Romance, and Joanne Takes the Middle Road. It would do so on a content-neutral basis.

    That’s not the way the Associate Membership bylaws are written and that’s why I’m getting squicked out here. I don’t like a standard that allows the Board to evaluate the flavor-of-the-month for correctness. Regardless of what anyone thinks about this choice for flavor-of-the-month, I get antsy when there’s an unreviewable determination based on undisclosed criteria. That just strikes me as bad process.

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  199. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 18:10:51

    @Courtney Milan:

    That's not the way the Associate Membership bylaws are written and that's why I'm getting squicked out here. I don't like a standard that allows the Board to evaluate the flavor-of-the-month for correctness. Regardless of what anyone thinks about this choice for flavor-of-the-month, I get antsy when there's an unreviewable determination based on undisclosed criteria. That just strikes me as bad process.

    On this, we agree.

    However, under the current bylaws, Bertha, Susy, and Joanne are allowed to join as associates provided they support RWA and its purpose. Shifty evaluation of what qualifies as support notwithstanding, these are the rules under which Associates are currently evaluated.

    I can definitely get behind the idea of changing the descriptions, but pretty much any set of rules we might come up with for Associate Members that would be less fuzzy would probably exclude book reviewers/bloggers (unless, of course, they’re writing their own romance novel, in which case, general member rules apply).

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  200. MaryK
    Nov 24, 2009 @ 18:17:26

    @RStewie: Exactly.

    As a reader, I couldn’t care less about RWA or whether or not Jane is a member of RWA.

    As a reader, I strongly object to an extremely useful resource, which has parted me from quite a bit of money, being labeled unsupportive to authors. Because it’s not true. Unless authors don’t appreciate my money.

    As an opinionated person, when a group talks about “a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship,” I start looking for the enforcers.

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