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Guest Poe Von Page

Your favorite thing(s) about PI/RWA membership?

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Guest Poe Von Page

Hi there,

I'm not a Passionate Ink or RWA member, but I'm fortunate to currently be taking the Designed to Sell workshop. Since I'll be a guest on these boards for the next few weeks I'd like to take the opportunity to ask anyone who's willing to answer...

  • What's the best part of being a PI &/or RWA member?

  • What's your favorite benefit or perk?

  • What do you get out of it?

  • In what ways does your membership help make you a better writer? How have you grown as an author since joining?

  • What prompts you to renew your membership year after year?

I'm considering membership and any feedback you Passionate Inkers could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your time and allowing me to poke around on these boards.

Cheers!

Poe Von Page

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Guest Ember Case

Hi Poe,

I hope you're enjoying your workshop. Sharon, our workshop coordinator, has done a wonderful job getting some talented instructors on the schedule, and I love seeing all the new faces (ok, names :P ) around the forums during the lessons.

RWA has taught me more about the writing business than I ever knew there was to learn. When I started writing, I thought it was easy - you just sat down and you wrote, right? :wink_smile:

And erotic romance, that had to be easy too. You just sat down and wrote really hot sex. Right?

Yeah, I had a lot to learn. :wallbash:

I still do. The business of writing doesn't stand still. The market changes, and RWA is a fantastic resource for staying in touch of the changes in market, technology, "who's who" in romance writing overall. PI offers a more focused look at just the erotic romance spectrum.

I learn things from our members that I wouldn't learn anywhere else. I can ask specific and often explicit questions here that I can't ask in other chapters without putting a "don't read this if you don't want to talk about explicit xxx" warnings at the top of the message.

I became published after joining PI. I can't tie my sale directly to membership, but my first sale was a novella I entered in a PI contest. Feedback from that contest did contribute a lot to the polish I put on it before submitting it to the editor that bought it.

I renew because I just can't imagine writing erotic romance and not being a member of PI. I sent in my application for PI the day I got my RWA confirmation and could join. And as much as I enjoy being a member of the large organization, to me the chapter offers a much stronger personal connection. Being part of this community has given me ideas and perspective that I never would have had if I hadn't joined.

Benefits - besides networking (we've got some amazing talent here, both published and not-yet published) and workshops, there's :

- a great yearly event at National if you can make it to conference;

- a info-packed newsletter that comes out quarterly

- members-only industry Q&A's and workshops

- members-only rates for our regular workshops

Whatever you decide about memberships, I hope you enjoy your workshop, and keep writing.

Hi there,

I'm not a Passionate Ink or RWA member, but I'm fortunate to currently be taking the Designed to Sell workshop. Since I'll be a guest on these boards for the next few weeks I'd like to take the opportunity to ask anyone who's willing to answer...

  • What's the best part of being a PI &/or RWA member?

  • What's your favorite benefit or perk?

  • What do you get out of it?

  • In what ways does your membership help make you a better writer? How have you grown as an author since joining?

  • What prompts you to renew your membership year after year?

I'm considering membership and any feedback you Passionate Inkers could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your time and allowing me to poke around on these boards.

Cheers!

Poe Von Page

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Welcome, Poe!

Everything Ember said. :P

But I can tie my first sale directly to PI. Until I joined, I'd never heard of e-publishers or Ellora's Cave. I was trying to write a book for Blaze, and I wrote 50K on it in less than 7 weeks, but it was too hot and I didn't know where else to try to sell it. I knew there were other things wrong with it that I just couldn't put my finger on, so I tacked a hurried The End on it and filed it away, not to be looked at again for another year. I absolutely HATED it. But I'd accomplished my goal of "finishing" a book, so I treated myself to an RWA membership, and I found PI pretty soon thereafter.

What I learned here set my imagination on fire. I was so excited! I wrote my next book, Alien Overnight, specifically to enter it into the Stroke of Midnight contest. I used the Yahoo crit loop to help hone my entry, and the critiques I received, as well as the crits I did for others, helped me hone my craft even more. The book placed second, and though the editor didn't buy it, she gave me very encouraging feedback. She said she just personally didn't care for sci-fi but she was sure someone else would pick it up. So I entered it in another contest, it won, and the final judge, Heather Osborn, snapped it up six days after I submitted the requested full.

Then I took that first book that I'd written back to the crit loop and got invaluable feedback on it. The ladies there helped me to realize my weaknesses as a writer (ahem, the incredible disappearing plot :wink_smile: ), which is every bit as important as knowing your strengths. I submitted it to Laura Bradford because she was a member here and I felt she'd be less mean to me than others might -- a comforting illusion to cling to, LOL! But she was very nice and told me exactly what wasn't working for her. I made the changes she suggested and submitted it again, but she told me in a handwritten note that she LOVED the characters but the plot didn't set her world on fire -- which was no surprise. I subbed it to another agent who said the plot was appealing but the characterization needed help. :wallbash: Really?!

I disregarded that last agent's comments because every single critter and contest judge (and Laura Bradford!) had told me that the characters were excellent but the plot needed shoring up. I also disregarded the contest judges who said I needed to get rid of the prologue and work the hero's inciting childhood incident in as back story. That's another thing being a member here helped me to do -- learn when to listen to my own gut about my stories. I learned that just because something is a trend in the industry doesn't mean that every trend fits or will improve my story. I tried entering the book in a couple of contests without the prologue and without exception, the judges HATED the hero.

Then I submitted the book to my then-current editor, who said she loved the story and offered me a contract on the condition I write out a certain plot element, which she said readers did not care for in erotic romance. I agonized for days, but ultimately, I had to turn down the contract. I told her I thought eliminating that element would weaken both h/h's character arcs. She was very pleasant about it and told me she was sure I'd have no trouble selling it elsewhere. I would never have had the courage to turn down a contract if I weren't a member of RWA and PI, with the writers here telling me it was MY story and I needed to go with my gut. (Incidentally, that editor left shortly thereafter and my new editor agreed that the story would have been weaker without that plot element. She bought it [with prologue] without a single change.)

Several of the workshops I've taken here have helped me firm up weak areas in my writing. I've learned that I need a visible representation of my books (like a plot board or a bullet list of scenes -- anything that boils it down so I can see the whole book at a glance) to really round them out fully. Shelley Bradley's workshop about storyboarding was a huge EUREKA! moment for me, and it helped me to rescue another manuscript I'd disgorged very quickly and put away for almost a year. (50K in 26 days for NaNoWriMo -- I'll never do THAT again!) There came a certain point where I didn't need it anymore to finish the book, but it really helped me to sort and flesh out all the crap I'd spewed in those 26 days.

So, long story short (NOT), RWA and PI are great places to find education, encouragement and support, which you need just as much after publication as before.

Edited by Robin L. Rotham

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Guest Ashlyn Chase

Okay, I apologize in advance if this upsets anyone, but I'm a happy PI member, yet could do without RWA national. Unfortunately, you must belong to the national organization to belong to any of its chapters. IMHO, that's how RWA "gets ya". Many people I've spoken with feel the same way. If not for their contacts and friends in their local chapter, specialty chapter etc. they'd have left long ago.

I'm nearing the end of my presidency in my local chapter. I may never get involved in the "politics" of RWA on any level again. Certain frustrations tested my patience to the breaking point. Another person might have dealt with the occasional "challenges" better. I don't know. At least I never got booted off the president's loop for speaking my mind. LOL.

PI exists because RWA wasn't showing the love to erotic romance writers. In fact, we took some heavy criticism both overtly and covertly. I remember feeling the daggers in my back from some individuals. Now they couldn't care less. It's odd.

RWA has also been anti-epub for as long as I've been a member. Now, they're finally coming around--sort of. I'm the pragmatic sort, so I never understood why our national organization felt the need to separate us and treat us like we were less than "real" authors. The Brits and Aussies didn't have to put up with that. Their romance organizations treat published authors as published authors. RWAmerica lost a lot of members because of that.

You'd think that now that I've "made it" and have a 3 book mass market deal and a NY agent I'd be all rah rah RWA. I don't know why I'm not. Or maybe I do.

The only RWA convention I attended would have been my first time signing my first trade paperback. Then my publisher (Ellora's Cave) was disinvited and naturally decided not to contribute their books for free. I couldn't afford to buy all my books, take them with me to San Francisco, and look forward to being treated differently--yet again.

So I got involved in order to make changes. And change has happened--sort-of. I'm not feeling victorious yet. Sorry for the rant down memory lane. You don't need to worry about a lot of that because of those who went before you.

I'm actually thinking of leaving RWA. What would I miss? The camaraderie of my fellow authors. Maybe inclusion in a few contests and workshops. That's about it. There's a group in RI that isn't RWA affiliated but runs much the same way. I'm thinking of crossing two state lines and attending that group. Many old members left before me. I stuck it out thinking I'd try to make a difference. It's hard to say if I did or not. It's harder to say if it's been worth it or not.

Membership in nationals is pricey. If you can afford it and need support of other authors going the route you want to go, it's worth considering. If it's a financial hardship, I'd guess it might be a hard decision. It all depends on your individual circumstances.

Ash

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Ashlyn makes some very good points, and there have been times over the past few years when I thought about leaving RWA just to take a stand against the National board's attitudes. I came closest a year or so ago after they quietly changed the RITA contest rules to exclude print books from virtually every epublisher and small press, and refused to refund the entry fees of those who'd already entered. After they announced the changes, they were inundated with questions because the new guidelines were subject to broad interpretation and NO ONE had any idea who qualified and who didn't. Even after the board released more explicit guidelines (well after they began accepting entries), their own contest workers didn't understand which books qualified. Some EC books made it into the contest and were judged while others were disqualified. Samhain books were apparently blanket-accepted, although most of them probably didn't meet the standards specified. In light of all the confusion, they should have erred on the side of caution and refunded the fees of everyone disqualified.

I did, in fact, withdraw from judging the competition and sent them back their box of books. It was a very hard decision for me to make, and if they'd simply refunded fees to those who were disqualified because of the rule changes, I'd have judged my entries as agreed even though I was dissatisfied with the contest. The guidelines have since been changed to be more inclusive.

I've also written lengthy letters to almost every board seated since I joined, offering both protests and solutions. Two of the presidents were very nice and responded with long, considerate replies. The other... Well, I can't say anything without being as unprofessional as she was, so I'll say nothing.

But I've always been very much a joiner, and I'm so isolated here in rural Nebraska that my opportunities to interact with other writers outside of RWA are practically nil. I'm a member of Romance Divas, a free online writers' group that's been every bit as beneficial to me as RWA in its own way. But RD doesn't focus on erotic, and I only get to see my RD friends face-to-face at RWA and Romantic Times conventions.

So for me, membership in RWA is just a given. I get what I need from it even if their proudly self-proclaimed "turtle" approach to change gets my goat sometimes.

Robin L. Rotham, MIGS

Edited by Robin L. Rotham

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Guest RenegadeHeart

Ember, Robin and Ash have said what I would have said, only much better.

I, too, am really in conflict with RWA. Yes, there's a lot of value there, especially on the biz end of things. There are great resources if you can overlook certain prejudices.

However, I ultimately have ask this question as weird as it may sound to some. Does RWA support my soul and my soul as a writer? More and more, the answer, overall, is no.

Why am I paying dues to basically be treated as a second class citizen despite my accomplishments as an author?

Of course, the only reason I've continued with RWA is because of PI.

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Guest Poe Von Page

I want to thank each of you for your candor. I was a bit nervous asking for uncensored feedback about membership. Particularly as a guest. I'm sure many of the cited issues have been discussed at great length and I very much appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation.

Many of the benefits you named are exactly the things that draw me to RWA. However, I've been going back and forth about joining for quite some time and, to be frank, many of your concerns are the very things that have prevented me from doing so.

As an outsider, it seems as though RWA is undoubtedly beneficial to new authors. The various chapters provide encouragement, networking, community, accountability, education, mentorship... all the things a newbie like me is looking for. But other than the obvious weight RWA carries within the industry, are there still membership advantages for authors that have been successful under the traditional publishing model?

And what about those who work with non-traditional publishers (e-pub, small press, etc.)? Is there something that RWA could or should be doing to better support you? What benefits, if any, do traditionally published authors receive from RWA that others do not? And if there is a discrepancy between the two, how might you suggest RWA promote and support non-traditional publishers and their authors? And do you see that change happening?

More than one of you have given me the impression that were it not for PI, there would be no desire or need for membership in RWA. Is there something you think RWA could be doing differently that would make national membership as appealing as chapter membership?

My hesitation to join in the past has centered around these issues, perceived in-fighting and the organization's overall opinion and treatment of those who choose to write erotica or erotic romance. (I witnessed the latter first hand at a local chapter meeting a few years ago.) Again, as an outsider, it seems as though these issues are being addressed and that change is happening. RWA seems to be in a state of flux. The existence of this chapter, for example, is very encouraging. Though the annual RWA membership fee of $85 plus the $25 processing fee isn't a huge investment, it's not an amount I can afford to spend without serious consideration, particularly when coupled with all of the above. My questions boil down to this: I want to know what I'm paying for - what sort of star to which I'd be hitching my writerly wagon.

Anyway, that's my piece. Again, my perceptions and opinions have been formed from RWA drama that has spilled out onto the interwebs and from the feedback I've received here in The Lounge. If anyone believes they can clarify things for me so I have a more accurate idea of what I might be getting myself into, please share. I'm here as a humble and appreciative guest to learn via the workshop I'm currently taking and to have an unmuddied conversation about the benefits and potential issues surrounding RWA/PI membership. I know all my questions may not have clear answers, but they are important issues to me and, from what it sounds like, to many of you as well.

Thanks for your time, patience & understanding. :)

Poe Von Page

Edited by Poe Von Page

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Guest RenegadeHeart

Hi Poe, currently I don't have the inside track on the RWA because I choose to stay out of the loop. For one reason, I need to write rather than hit the ole noggin against a brick wall.

My most pressing issue with the RWA is that they are not fair in their treatment of small print/e-published authors. This lack of regard is not based on how much an author actually earns compared to a traditionally published author, but on several factors that, hey, get over it... you know what, things change. The romance novel industry changes. And is, in fact, in the middle of a huge transition.

As the BIG BOY publishers lose business in this economy and tighten their belts while attempting to change their business models, many of the small publishers are gaining good ground and, therefore, can offer authors even more.

If you're looking to go the traditional route definitely join RWA. If you're looking to go a non-traditional route, the RWA still has great info and resources. At the same time, there's a lot of info and resources that are available in regards to electronic and small press publishing that could be found elsewhere.

Really, it's a personal matter. And has to do with your goals and needs as an aspiring author.

How soon RWA will change? Right now, I have NO CLUE whatsoever... and I'm not banking on it.

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Guest Ember Case

Hi Poe,

you ask some very good questions. Don't be afraid to ask more :)

Looking at this from my epublishing background, I believe RWA has come quite a large step from where it was even just a few years ago in how they treat epublishing / small press publishing. I don't think they are all the way there yet, but I do think they're working to get there. They've just chosen a slower road for the trip than I would have picked.

RWA still has a strong preference for the advance against royalties business model in publishing. While that way of doing business is historically a successful and profitable one for publishers and some authors, it has not translated well into digital publishing. And it isn't the "best" model for all authors, any more than it is for all publishers.

However - every year, RWA educates itself a bit more on how publishing is changing. The pace of the education isn't fast enough for some members, but it IS happening.

Because so many of our members are digitally published, Passionate Ink members tend to be more aware than many RWA members are of how non-traditional publishing models operate - and often our knowledge comes from our own first hand dealings with multiple publishers and their ways of conducting business. Having this experience makes the frustration at the pace of change on the national level higher, especially when it sometimes seems like our own experiences are either in conflict with or at least very different from the ideas that RWA has about how its membership should be educated and supported.

Everyone will have a different answer for what the biggest benefits they could or do receive from national are. The "If it weren't for my chapter, I wouldn't be a member of RWA" feeling is something I've heard at every chapter I've been a member of, not just PI or other online chapters. The thing is, it's really hard to make personal connections on the national level. It's a 10,000 member organization, and other than at the annual conference, interaction with other members is mostly limited to messages on various Yahoo groups. But within the chapters you'll find the sort of support that can make your writing flourish. And you *can* make connections on the national level. One of the best ways to do that is to get involved in the organization as a volunteer, either on a committee or as a loop moderator. The more involved members become, the more they start finding benefits they didn't know were there. (This is true on the national level AND the chapter level ;) )

In the end, everyone has to decide whether they are finding the support they need from RWA, or any other organization. For me, the answer with RWA has been yes.

I want to thank each of you for your candor. I was a bit nervous asking for uncensored feedback about membership. Particularly as a guest. I'm sure many of the cited issues have been discussed at great length and I very much appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation.

Many of the benefits you named are exactly the things that draw me to RWA. However, I've been going back and forth about joining for quite some time and, to be frank, many of your concerns are the very things that have prevented me from doing so.

As an outsider, it seems as though RWA is undoubtedly beneficial to new authors. The various chapters provide encouragement, networking, community, accountability, education, mentorship... all the things a newbie like me is looking for. But other than the obvious weight RWA carries within the industry, are there still membership advantages for authors that have been successful under the traditional publishing model?

And what about those who work with non-traditional publishers (e-pub, small press, etc.)? Is there something that RWA could or should be doing to better support you? What benefits, if any, do traditionally published authors receive from RWA that others do not? And if there is a discrepancy between the two, how might you suggest RWA promote and support non-traditional publishers and their authors? And do you see that change happening?

More than one of you have given me the impression that were it not for PI, there would be no desire or need for membership in RWA. Is there something you think RWA could be doing differently that would make national membership as appealing as chapter membership?

My hesitation to join in the past has centered around these issues, perceived in-fighting and the organization's overall opinion and treatment of those who choose to write erotica or erotic romance. (I witnessed the latter first hand at a local chapter meeting a few years ago.) Again, as an outsider, it seems as though these issues are being addressed and that change is happening. RWA seems to be in a state of flux. The existence of this chapter, for example, is very encouraging. Though the annual RWA membership fee of $85 plus the $25 processing fee isn't a huge investment, it's not an amount I can afford to spend without serious consideration, particularly when coupled with all of the above. My questions boil down to this: I want to know what I'm paying for - what sort of star to which I'd be hitching my writerly wagon.

Anyway, that's my piece. Again, my perceptions and opinions have been formed from RWA drama that has spilled out onto the interwebs and from the feedback I've received here in The Lounge. If anyone believes they can clarify things for me so I have a more accurate idea of what I might be getting myself into, please share. I'm here as a humble and appreciative guest to learn via the workshop I'm currently taking and to have an unmuddied conversation about the benefits and potential issues surrounding RWA/PI membership. I know all my questions may not have clear answers, but they are important issues to me and, from what it sounds like, to many of you as well.

Thanks for your time, patience & understanding. :)

Poe Von Page

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Guest Poe Von Page

Thanks so much for the continued feedback. I appreciate the information and sentiments you've shared with me and feel more up to speed with regard to membership benefits and areas for improvement. If anyone else comes across this and has something to add, please feel free to do so. I probably won't be making my decision for several weeks and will at least be on these boards for the month of June during my workshop. Otherwise, I'd be happy to discuss things via email.

Gratitude,

Poe

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