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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Lainey Bancroft

An Exclusive Club

For me, it is that time of year again. I opened the mailbox and there sat my little renewal package from the Romance Writers of America. This time last year I was waffling about renewing with RWA. I’d entered the San Antonio Romance Authors 2008 Merritt “Magic Moment” Contest and the very week my renewal was due I heard I’d finalled.

Hmm. I didn’t think I could win an RWA sponsored contest if I’d relinquished my membership so I went ahead and renewed. (My manuscript The Trouble With Tessa won the single title category. Yay! Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press)

This year, I am less sure than ever about the benefits of membership. My RWA chapter contest days are behind me. The feedback can be terrific, but it can also be mixed and confusing, and time and time again I’ve seen that a contest win in no way guarantees a book contract. And then I have to look at the big contests. According to recent changes in rules, as a multi-published e-book and print author with several small presses, I am too published to be eligible to enter the Golden Heart.

Okay, I get that. The rules clearly state that the Golden Heart is for unpublished authors. Except the contest geared toward published authors, The Rita, has closed the doors to authors who are not contracted with a large enough publisher for a specified print run. (I have no idea how many books this actually is. One thousand? Ten Thousand? If anyone knows, please feel free to leave it in comments and help get the information out there.)

So, here I am, writing my little heart out and working my (not so little) butt off to build my writing career. Anyone who knows me, both online or off, knows that I am “seriously pursuing a romance fiction writing career,” which is straight from the RWA renewals form as a prerequisite for general membership. I pay the same fee as everyone else—matter of fact, I pay a bit more for living in Canada. Yet an association supposedly devoted to helping all authors and aspiring authors get the most out of membership appears to be going out of their way to say e-book and small press published authors ‘don’t count’ in the grand scheme of things.

Remind me, what are the benefits of membership? The RWA does maintain an up-to-date website with publisher and agent listing. But that is all information I can find on the Internet. I know a lot of my writer pals have terrific experiences with local chapter meetings. I’m two hours away from the nearest chapter. Not a benefit I can reap. The Romance Writers Report often contains informative and entertaining articles, but if that’s all I’m getting for membership, $95.00 is a darn expensive magazine subscription.

There, you’ve convinced me. Hear that? It’s the sound of me tearing up my Dues Renewal letter. Anyone “seriously pursuing a romance fiction writing career” knows that promotion is an important part of the path. Ninety-five bucks will buy me a lot of advertising right here on The Long and Short of It!

So what say you? RWA member, or not?


Kathleen O said...

It could also buy you a lot of books too!!!
Good luck with your writing Lainey.. I know you will get that big contract... and then RWA will be begging you to come back and be a featured speaker at their annual get together each July..

Lindsay Townsend said...

Lainey - I feel for you. This whole Rita/Golden Heart situation seems very unfair.

Francesca Prescott said...

Lainey, I just renewed my RWA subscription... $ 121.- because I live in Europe. As far as I'm concerned (and as you said), it's a very expensive magazine.

I don't think there's a Swiss chapter (if there is, I haven't found it), and I can't enter the Rita. Bit silly, isn't it!

Sandy James said...

This is such a hot issue right now! I'm one of those in "no man's land," and I'll have to think long and hard when that renewal notice comes.

lainey bancroft said...

Kathleen, you're so sweet! I'd love to attend one of the big RWA conferences some day--not to speak though. Eek! My nerves. :0

It is unfair, Lindsay. Hopefully with the outcry from the latest changes they will see a different approach is needed.

Francesca, you should be the charter member of the Swiss chapter! Not silly at all. I understand the need to 'feel a part' of the writing community and it wasn't easy to let the membership go.

I hear ya, Sandy. If I'd had ties to a local chapter, the friends, the meetings etc, I probably would have renewed, despite the current 'you're not worthy' atmosphere.

Kytaira said...

I'm a reader only so it isn't an issue for me. I do have to say that it doesn't sound fair to me. So many of the authors cross over from smaller presses to the bigger presses BECAUSE they sold books with the smaller presses.

I recently started back with ebooks. I did have ebooks from years ago and noticed that a number of those authors are now in print with the big companies. Lora Leigh, Shiloh Walker, Anya Bast, Deliah Devlin, Christine Warren, Autumn Dawn, Allyson James, Shelly Laurenston,Rosemary Laurey... Those are just authors that I know of.

BTW, hasn't RWA heard of ebook readers? I'm buying one in a couple of days. Why? i'm switching to more ebooks. And i'm not talking the big name authors either. I can get those books cheaper at Wal-Mart than I can purchase the ebook for. The ebooks I'm buying are from smaller presses.