RWA Does NOT Represent All Romance Writers

Is RWA being lobbied by the Big Six?

 That question has been tossed around over the past year by those of us who are “indie” published. Or as RWA rules dictate, “self-published”. We’re published. Okay. Published. P-U-B-L-I-S-H-E-D.

 RWA’s mission statement reads:

 “The mission of Romance Writers of America is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. RWA works to support the efforts of its members to earn a living, to make a full-time career out of writing romance—or a part-time one that generously supplements his/her main income.”

 So please tell me why an indie published author does not fall into this description? I know MANY…let me emphasize MANY authors who have independently published through the Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s programs (which incidentally, does not cost a dime)  and have been able to leave their day job to write full time. After one month of having two titles listed at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords, I’ve earned more in royalties than many debut authors will see as advance for a traditionally published book. And guess what, I’ve already surpassed what I did in the first half of December and it’s only the first week of January.

 When does RWA start working for us? We’re career focused romance writers, and everyone knows romance is the single most downloaded genre of e-books. Why is it so difficult for RWA to recognize our accomplishments?

 I honestly believe it goes back to the Big Six. They’re scared and rightfully so. I recently had an opportunity to publish with a small publisher – an opportunity I would have jumped at a year ago. But this time I didn’t. I can earn more money on my own and still maintain rights to my novel/backlist.

 When I recently asked RWA if I was PAN eligible, which means I’ve earned at least $1000 on a single title as advance or royalty, they responded with a resounding “NO”. I’m considered part of that ugly, unmentionable blight called “self-published” authors. Yet I did not pay for any part of my publishing process. I created my own cover art. I formatted and edited my own works with the help of beta readers and critique partners. I didn’t  pay myself for my time…the sign of a true entrepreneur. I’ve met the income requirement and did it in a single month. My debut month.

 Why is this organization not supporting me? And why should I support them? What’s in it for me?

 RWA has some great chapters who are independently (damn, I love that word) recognizing chapter members for their indie publishing accomplishments. I’ve even noticed a few contests that now offer an entry category for indie books. Good for them.  They obviously have chapter leadership who understands the changing times. I applaud these visionary presidents and will support their conferences. The others can go jump in a pile of dog poop.

 If RWA does not perform some fancy footwork over 2012 to change their attitude, I will be forced to join countless others who have said “adios”. And then, like the good Romance writer I am, I’ll ride off into the sunset . . . with my saddlebags packed full of money and my own version of snobbery and discrimination.

“Oh, you’re print published? They own your backlist? The net figures said you didn’t earn any royalties? It’s going to be TWO years before your book is out?”

 “I’m sorry. Let me buy you lunch, poor thing.”

Yeah, that was snarky. I’m not courting a big publisher so I guess it gives me license to be a big mouth. And if this blog made you think twice about RWA’s mission statement and how they pick and choose who falls into the  “career-focused” category of Romance writers, then I’ve done my job. Pat me on the back. Right before you kick me in the ass.

Pain is good. No…wait…that’s erotica.

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About Debra S. Sanders

Debra is an RV nomad, traveling full time with her husband, dog and cat. She writes, hikes, star gazes and explores myth, lore and curiosities from America's back roads. She also indulges in colorful sunsets and good wine.

12 Responses

  1. Way to Deb. I’m an e-pubbed author and Indie author and can’t stand the fact that RWA does not truly support epub authors. When I started out as an epub author for my romance about five years ago my publisher fought with RWA to get recognized. I would agree with you – it’s the big publishers and even the agents that cultivate this “we are the best and only with our representation” are you truly published. I fully support you and like you when I got offered a deal from a small press I declined.

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  2. Way to go, Deb! I haven’t been as successful as you (yet), but my first romance novel is going to reach 3,000 copies sold next week. And I’ve made that magical $1,000.00 off it. RWA told me NO!!!!, too, when I asked about PAN membership. It will be real interesting to see what changes come about in 2012.

    Gretchen Rix
    The Cowboy’s Baby
    Arroyo
    When Gymkhana Smiles
    The Taking of Rhinoceros 456

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  3. Deb, great post. While I’m a far way off from that $1000 royalties I would need to be PAN eligible I’m happy with my decision to try Indie. I sold 4 times the amount of books in 3 months that I sold at my epublisher in almost a year. I’m not putting down the epublisher either. I’m proud of my book with them and will be submitting more, but Indie publishing is a lot of fun at times. 🙂

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  4. RWA will only see the $$$ of the big 6 or what they consider published. Not that indie authors are not making money, but as a small press author I’ve faced this issue for years. While I was finally able to qualify for PAN, I still can’t sign my books at National because they’re e-book only. I’m as career focused as the indie and big 6 authors are, I just chose another path. RWA needs to accept small presses, e-author only and indie authors all together.

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  5. I gave up my RWA membership a couple of years ago. It does nothing for me as an Indie author. I miss my chapter, yes, but not enough to pay the yearly membership fee. You’d think an author who sells 30,000 books a month would qualify for PAN, but no…I’m evidently not career focused enough for them, even though I probably make more on my book sales than the RWA president.

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  6. Mitzi

    Deb:
    I loved the post. I’ll be retiring from day-job and writing full time. I will probably follow Pepper and let RWA know what I’m earning and how…
    Mitzi

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  7. Once I make the money, I intend to tell RWA monthly of my income. I believe this is one subject that the Board is tackling this year.

    They need to. Some self-published writers are making more money than some traditionally published dream of…

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  8. Loved your post, Deb! As you may or may not know, we tried to create a Self-Published Chapter within RWA (and had more than 100 members who wanted to join) but RWA turned us down. They have now created a task force to look at Self-Publishing. Hopefully, they will come around and realize what a wonderful, dynamic force self-published authors are and how much we can add to the organization.

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