Don’t run away! I see you backing away slowly. We’ve gone through the cons together, now it’s time for the pros. And there are a lot. There are enough, I think, to justify spending that initial 124$ to join RWA.
All opinions are just that, my personal thoughts, and should not be taken as a sales pitch to join RWA. I’ve discovered the ups and downs of the process and I’d like to share them with you so you can inform your own decision before you shell out your money. That’s all.
So lets jump in with the benefits of membership. If you missed part 1 of this series, you can find it here to read all about the downsides of joining RWA.
1. The fee for joining RWA comes with a lot of supports that you can’t find on your own.
Once you have spent that 120$ to become a member, you are part of their online community and that means you get goodies that the average Joe clicking around their website does not.
You get a monthly newsletter, with lots of helpful articles and information. Resources, information, mentoring, networking, it’s all there for you as a member.
In one place online you can find all of the classes offered, lists of vetted publishers and agents for romance, a Writer’s Toolkit with explanations of all the picky little contract legal details you might run into, information about all of the chapters you can join (there are online only chapters too, in case you are not located in a big city and can’t make it to physical chapter meetings), help paying your RWA membership dues, chapter contests, conventions, meetings and any other way to connect you with fellow authors you can think of.
You will find links to articles or classes on writing, marketing, selling, market trends, querying and self-publishing (these can be free articles, or classes that cost $).
Best of all, from my point of view, every member who joins can list themselves on the site as volunteer critique partners and most of them do. It’s an entire library of people you can contact and ask to become your beta reader, and it doesn’t cost additional money beyond joining RWA in the first place.
I’ve had nothing but good experiences from reaching out to ask for readers. They have all answered my pleading email within a week, politely said yes or no, and then proceeded to be incredibly helpful. And kind. Did I mention kind? No one stomps on your dreams here. Add that to your local chapter of RWA-another group of resources just sitting there waiting for you to show up to meetings, and the amount of help you’re getting to write your book is amazing.
2. Spending the initial money to join RWA is the one and only part of the process that there’s no way around if you want all the perks that go with it.
After that you can make your own choices about what to pay money for. Don’t want to take their classes? No problem. Would rather not spend on entering RWA chapter contests? OK.
To put my two cents in, I look at it as an investment. There’s no way I could find so many great beta readers alone, for example. How much does a creative writing class cost from your local community college or an online writer’s website? The RWA classes might be cheaper. It’s definitely cheaper than spending upwards of 10 cents a word for a professional editing service. I like the rigorous critique available from the RWA chapter contests, and I’ve entered four different ones (still cheaper than a freelance editor). But if you don’t see the need for spending 25$ a contest, you don’t have to.
3. RWA is all about supporting the romance.
As I said before, if you’re a horror writer looking for career advice RWA is probably not for you. But if you write romance, there is no better place for you than this association that boasts over 10,000 active members. It’s kind of refreshing to find a big group of other people who recognize the difficulty of finding synonyms for ‘moist’ that haven’t been used to death, and don’t mind yet another conversation about it. Hazard of the genre.
If you’re looking for a similar community for your own genre, may I suggest this comprehensive list of writer’s associations from Writers and Editors.com.
To summarize two fairly long posts:
If you feel the need at this point in your writing career to find a large community of fellow authors to support, inform, and advocate for you, RWA is worth it. The membership fee can be seen as an investment and being a member helps to make you look serious about your professional career. The help is there, if you reach out for it.
If you are doing great on your own, self-publishing or querying like a boss and building a platform of support out of groups you’ve found already, you don’t have to add RWA in just because you feel like it’s expected. Think carefully about the pros and cons I’ve outlined and then do some more research on other websites before you decide.
Photo courtesy: Stocksnap.io by Bonnie Kittle