To be upfront right from the start: RWA seemed like too much trouble for many years. I put off spending the money for it for various reasons, but I have now joined and I will do my best as a new member to outline the various good and bad things about RWA for you in case you are trying to decide for yourself whether or not to jump in.
Lets start with the cons:
Money money y’all (amounts are in U.S. dollars).
Membership costs around 99$ a year (plus a 13$ one-time fee when you first sign up.) It costs more if you want to join as a professional published author.
RWA offers classes for members (both in-person workshops and online) that range from 25-55$ a class.
If you want a group of writers to meet with, you can join a local chapter of RWA-these cost an additional membership fee which can be anywhere from 50-100$ a year. (There are smaller chapters that have 0-20$ fees. It really depends on where you live and how big the chapter is.)
Different local chapters offer contests where you submit your manuscript and it gets judged by at least two people, possibly an editor or agent if it makes it to the final round. Contest entry fees cost anywhere from 10-30$.
You can attend a Regional RWA conference anywhere from 80-200$ a ticket for a weekend of speakers, classes, giveaways and assorted fun.
Or the big RWA National Conference once a year; starting around 200$ for the entrance ticket to the four day event and that doesn’t even count airfare and hotel rooms or food while you’re there. At the event you will find speakers, classes, marketing help, awards ceremonies for the big manuscript and book contests (this is like the Oscars, only with better writing) pitch contests with actual editors and agents right there in front of you, giveaways, raffles and assorted other goodies, all in the company of fellow romance authors. My budget doesn’t extend to the conference yet, so when it does I’ll write up a post about whether or not the conference is worth it.
By this point, your eyes have turned into two round dollar signs and you are backing away slowly, clutching your wallet to you in case RWA starts charging for breathing air. I feel you. I’ve been there.
2. You may get lost in the sheer amount of members.
There are roughly 10,250 members in RWA. If you just send off your money and join, and then sit back and never engage in any more activity online you will fall through the cracks. I’m sorry, but you will. Only join if you are feeling ready to stand up and shout for some attention to build your career.
Take a class or two. Shell out the additional money to join a local chapter, if it’s feasible. Volunteer to be a critique reader. Utilize the resources. Don’t waste that membership fee by just sitting there hoping RWA will do the legwork for you.
3. RWA is all about the romance.
I write Sci-Fi crime space operas, you might wail. Where is the money-sucking writer’s community for me? Well, not at RWA. It’s in the first letter of the acronym, helpfully provided in full as the title of this post. If you’re not interested in articles about the literary function of sex in a scene, this association may not be for you. There are other writer’s associations for different genres, I provide a link to a list of them in the next post.
Why is all of this worth it? That will be covered next (because otherwise this was going to be over 1,000 words and ain’t nobody got time for that much reading on a blog.) Find the pros article here