Is a Writers’ Association Right For You?

I’m happy to welcome writer S.E. White to the blog today, who is taking a look at the value of writing associations. One of the best things about my job as a presenter is getting to work with the amazing organizers of different writing groups, and I see first hand how much good they can do for a writer needing some extra support. Please read on and see if an association might just be the tool you need for your writer’s toolbox!

Why Join a Writers’ Association?

Writing a book is hard. All of us on this website know it and have struggled with some aspect of our prose, pacing, or plotting. And once the work of writing, getting critiques, editing, and polishing is over, we find out that publishing is even harder.

As I encountered different obstacles on my path to becoming a published author, I started to feel the need for a support structure. I wanted help to turn my idea into a coherently structured story. Finding readers to look over my story and catch my mistakes was difficult (thanks for trying though, Mom!) and I had no idea how to get that finished work out in front of readers who would (hopefully) pay for it. Like raising a child, creating a career as an author takes a village…but where was I going to find my village? When I heard about writers’ associations I decided to join one in my genre and it has turned out to be a great decision for me.

A Writers’ Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping writers develop their writing, and then assist them as they work toward publication. Most have a fee to cover certain costs. Here are some of the most well known associations out there, and the cost to join:

Horror Writers Association (HWA): Active members $69 a year.

Mystery Writers of America (MWA): $115 per year.

Poets and Writers (PW): Free, although they do encourage a $35 donation.

Romance Writers of America (RWA): $124 a year.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA): Associate members are $90$, Active members $100 a year.

Society of American Travel Writers (SATW): $100 new member fee, $155 a year after that.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI): $95 your first year, $80 renewal fee thereafter.

Western Writers of America (WWA): Active members $75 a year, Sustaining members $150.

Wait, come back! I see you backing away slowly gripping your wallet. I know the costs might seem high for some, but these associations don’t just take your money and leave you stranded. In return for your membership fee they offer you many different types of support, depending on what you need. A breakdown:

Networking and Connection

Joining gives you access to local and online chapters of your association. You’ll be able to find mentors, critique partners, and reach out to other writers for brainstorming, moral support, and general advice. In addition to chapter meetings, some groups write and publish anthologies together, host their own contests, and hold writing classes. Could you find a group to give you all of this on your own?

Access to Workshops and Conferences

Most associations have their own big conventions (the tickets cost money, to warn you) where you can make friends, listen to keynote talks by agents, publishers, editors and best-selling authors, participate in pitch contests, advertise your work, and just generally immerse yourself in a world of writing. It’s a little like the Oscars for your genre.

People who might be just a byline on a website become people you know. In some cases they can become a friend, and a source of help in your own journey. You can also pitch to agents and editors at conferences, and gain great insider advice.

In fact, when you ask writers what they love best about their memberships, most say the friends and connections they’ve made through their writers’ association events.

Up-to-date Industry Information

One of the best parts of an association is the access to shifting trends and news, the lists of vetted publishers and agents in your genre, and staying current on best practices for publishing. There are usually online classes (or in-person ones) not only on the nuts and bolts of writing, but often also on querying, self-publishing, and marketing. Many associations have a database of places to go for reviews, resources, or to find help with specific legal things like contracts and copyright law.

Each association offers its own mix of information and you’ll want to research what yours can give you before you join, but they will likely have information for you that you may not be able to hunt down alone. Remember, it takes a village to get that book published.

Marketing and Visibility Help

Most associations have a newsletter that allows for contributions or advertising if you are published. This can be a way to get your name and book cover in front of potential readers. Also, there’s usually a section on their website full of marketing links, like lists of book bloggers, information on ads and book discounting, and tips on  how to get your work out there for people to read.

You could find this stuff out by searching it up online, but it would eat up a lot of time. One terrific aspect of a writers’ association is they stay on top of the ways to help their writers, and have their finger firmly on the pulse of the industry for you.

Final Thoughts

If you feel at this point in your writing career you might need a large community of fellow authors to support, inform, and advocate for you, joining a professional association is an investment that I consider worth it. If you have found your own village and are already well-invested in your career, you may not need to add an association.  If you are on the fence, reach out to current members and ask them if they are getting the help they need.  And for more information on  major writer’s organizations, check out this link from Writers and Editors.com.

S.E. White is an author writing from Carson City, Nevada with a few finished manuscripts looking for a home. She is a regular contributor to the site Books Rock My World, poking some fun at the romance genre she writes in, as well as a guest poster for various other websites.

A full time mom by day and a reader/writer at night, her three kids, husband and cat keep her running. Follow along as her query letters are rejected and find encouragement for your own author journey at www.sewhitebooks.wordpress.com

Do you belong to a writers’ association (or several)? Do you find you get strong value from it? Let us know in the comments!

 

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Agents, Critique Groups, Guest Post, Publishing and Self Publishing, The Business of Writing, Time Management, Uncategorized, Writer's Attitude, Writing Resources. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Is a Writers’ Association Right For You?

  1. Pingback: 1 Good Tip to Get Viewers to Your New Blog – S.E. White Author

  2. Pingback: Writing Links 4/17/17 – Where Genres Collide

  3. Iola says:

    I live in New Zealand, which means local meetings aren’t able to get the high-profile speakers I see some US groups getting. But we do our best!

    If you are Down Under, I recommend Romance Writers of New Zealand and/or Romance Writers of Australia. The two often coordinate their annual conferences so they can bring out top US speakers such as Angela Ackerman, James Scott Bell, Michael Hauge, Margie Lawson, and Kristen Lamb (no, not all in the same year!).

    Romance Writers of Australia also offer online classes. I haven’t taken any yet, but they look awesome (I’m still working my way through Lawson Writer’s Academy, and I’m not actually a RWA member).

    I have found that the more I put in to any writing organisation, the more I get out of it.

  4. Carol S says:

    I belong to RWA and Savvy Authors. I’ve taken workshops from both and they are very helpful and I have learned a great deal. On the “support” side. I can’t say I reached out. Part of it is I don’t know what I don’t know.

    I need a one on one about getting around in twitter and facebook. Building a website or blog. I have some knowledge enough to be dangerous, but I also lack knowledge.

    I do recommend an organization. If nothing else, it gives you a sense that you belong in the world of writing. You’re checking out the neighborhood before you move in.

  5. Naomi Musch says:

    Cost is always a drag, yet I think belonging to an association (or two!) is important. I’ve jumped around over the years, learning what suits me best. Right now I belong to ACFW, the Lake Superior Writers, and the Wisconsin Writers’ Association (on which I also serve as a board member). Aside from these associations, I encourage everyone to be meet with a local writers’ group if they can. For me that’s the Upper St. Croix Writers’ group. Regular critique and brainstorming is critical!

  6. Cost is also a problem for me as well as if I go the Indie route, will I be accepted?

  7. Jo Sandhu says:

    I also highly recommend SCBWI. As an international organisation, I know I am welcome at any meetings, conferences or social events any where in the world. I’m a member of SCBWI Australia and have found their advice and their networking opportunities invaluable.

  8. I would love to join the Mystery Writer’s Association but I have a couple of issues. The big one is the price. I am on a limited income and the cost is prohibitive. I also wonder about the chapters in my area. I don’t think there are any nearby and again, it would not be possible for me to travel to attend the events they may have. Then, the membership is biased. Members can only get to be regular or associate members if they are traditionally published. Self-publishing doesn’t count. That seems so outdated for the current publishing industry.

    • S.E. White says:

      Some associations offer help paying for the membership fee, and RWA offers online only chapters. I’m not sure if MWA does any of that, or if they’ve updated their guidelines for joining. It might be worth looking at. It’s good to be cautious and do what’s right for you.

    • Margery Flax says:

      Hi Rebecca – Please visit the following link on how to join MWA: http://mysterywriters.org/how-to-become-a-member-of-mwa/ and please see our guidelines for active status membership – self-published authors qualify for active status membership (published): http://mysterywriters.org/how-to-become-a-member-of-mwa/

      Please note that your membership dues includes the chapter membership as well – we do not charge extra for that.

      As I do not know where you live, I cannot help with a chapter nearby but here is the list of all our chapters: http://mysterywriters.org/about-mwa/regional-chapters/

      Even if it is difficult to get to a meeting, all chapters are very active online – via yahoogroup lists, emails, Facebook pages, etc. Many chapters either record or livestream their meetings.

      Lastly, member benefits – even if you do not qualify for active status membership, just about all our benefits are for all membership levels: http://mysterywriters.org/how-to-become-a-member-of-mwa/benefits-of-membership/

      If you have any other comments, please use the contact us form on our website.

      And, because our membership term is July 1st through June 30th, anyone joining now will be paid through June 30, 2018.

      Hope this helps.

      Margery Flax
      Administrative Director
      Mystery Writers of America

      • Thank you so much, Margery–really appreciate you bringing all this information by!

        • Rhonda Lane says:

          I’m a member of both MWA and Sisters in Crime. If MWA is beyond your budget, look at Sisters in Crime and then join the all-online Guppies chapter. Designed for those who have yet to publish, Guppies also includes published authors who stay because of the supportive atmosphere. The quarterly newsletter is an excellent value. Good luck!

  9. RWA membership is only $124 for a brand new member. The renewal rate is $99. It also includes a monthly magazine that’s excellent.

  10. I think for me one of the biggies is how active the association is at the local level. I know ones that have been, and ones that haven’t. I much prefer those that are, bringing in speakers, having meet ups and events, etc., I think because writing can feel isolating at times. Also, because many writers are introverted, meeting up with people face-to-face is a difficult hurdle, but really necessary to learn how to get comfortable with if we are to succeed as authors.

    Thanks for the breakdown on what writers can get out of an association!

  11. :Donna says:

    I can personally account for the MANY benefits of joining the SCBWI! Not just for the workshops, but especially for the joy and opportunities of networking with fellow authors, illustrators and industry professionals. I can’t imagine not being a member!

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