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

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