You are thinking of your writing as a career, aren’t you? Writing a novel is a lot of work and I’m assuming you are doing so because you want to get it published and make money as a published author. And many of you are already published authors.
If this is the case, then you are aspiring or already are a professional writer. Congratulations!
With that title comes a degree of responsibility to present yourself as a professional writer. As a Christian, you want to present yourself as a godly professional writer.
So what does that look like? Let’s grab a cup of tea since its National Hot Tea month. I have a delicious assortment of Teavana Teas, so please help yourself. (We are cyber dreaming of course because I can’t really afford those exorbitant prices ha ha) And if you really need coffee (raising my hand) then I also have a pot of Chocolate Velvet. Since it is chilly most evenings and mornings, we also have hot chocolate with whipped cream.
Now back to the topic at hand. And readers, we need your input also. After all, you are the people we need to impress. Smile
What are the activities and/or things we want to do to be professional in our business?
A. Develop Your Craft
B. Network and share knowledge with other writers.
C. Meet and engage with your readers
D. Encourage and motivate your fellow authors
E. Celebrate publication and success
F. Join and stay active in professional organizations.
This sounds like a tall order, but it can be accomplished by joining Romance Writers of America. Within its parameters, you find all the elements listed above.
Most professionals belong to associations that act to keep track of the interests of their members. Romance Writers of America has been doing that for the romance genre since 1979. You can read about how it came about on their webpage here.
The added benefit included in the philosophy of Romance Writers of America is their stated goal to help others. This quote is from their webpage:
RWA's founders instilled in the organization the value of sharing of knowledge and openness and encouragement that romance writers are hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
This is so true. I have belonged to other writing organizations in other genres and there is not the camaraderie and focus on helping other writers. They act more in competition with each other. I remember it being said at a conference years ago that the precepts of RWA to help writers, raises the bar of their craft. By raising the bar, they write better novels and by doing that, the romance genre becomes more in demand so publishers need more writers to supply the demand.
The American Christian Fiction Writers accomplished this very same phenomenon when they started their organization. Most of the founding members belonged to RWA and they followed their example to educate and inform their upcoming authors. When they started, there were very few publishers publishing Christian fiction. By raising the bar and growing up all these authors, the market has boomed. There are hundreds of Christian fiction options out there now and really great Christian fiction to read.
Before the Internet, these organizations were the only means of communication and information sharing open to writers. The Internet has broadened the knowledge base and accessibility so you might be wondering why do you need to pay for an organization when you can get so much information for free.
RWA has been a strong advocate for the rights of authors. They are watchdogs that keep their eye out for legal issues, contract issues, and keep you informed as to what is happening in the business end of the publishing market. They provide fabulous workshops, articles and promote local chapters. The national conference is a venue where authors can meet other professionals in the writing business. Editors, Publishers, agents, librarians and many other important people in the industry come together to network and fellowship.
There are over 10,000 members worldwide and over 145 chapters. This means that in most major metropolitan areas there are local chapters of RWA. These chapters usually have monthly meetings that provide fellowship with other writers. Many conduct workshops at each meeting and/or have speakers talking about different aspects of being an author. Most chapters allow two non-member visits per year. So you can go to a couple meetings to see if you think the group will benefit you as a writer.
Local chapters often put on local conferences and at these they invite editors, agents and speakers from out of the area. My local chapter, Desert Rose RWA is having their bi-annual Desert Dreams Conference this April 7-10th.
|From Desert Rose Website|
You’ve heard Debby and Missy talk about the Moonlight and Magnolia Conference.
|From Georgia Romance Writers website|
If you look at the conference offered by your local RWA, you will see how all the editors and agents attend and it is a marvelous opportunity to meet these people face to face.
Local chapters also sponsor contests. And we all know the importance of these contests. Most editors and agents know the power of RWA and they respect the professionalism offered by these groups. Because of this, we have accessibility to editors and agents through conferences and contests.
There are also special interest groups within RWA. Because these cut across the general membership, they are mostly online communities. Faith, Hope and Love is the Christian Inspirational chapter. (I am treasurer this year. Our Missy has been the president in the past) Faith Hope and Love sponsor the Inspirational Readers Choice Award for published authors. And they sponsor the Touched By Love contest for unpublished authors.
Both of those contests are accepting submissions at this time so check it out.
Besides local and special interest conferences, RWA holds a national conference in a different city each year. This year’s national conference is in San Diego, July 13-16th. Anyone else besides me, heading for the California coast? What a fabulous place to be. I hope some of you are coming and will let me know. I grew up in Southern California so know it well. I’d be happy to show you around town. (The beaches are the best part-smile) Come in time for the FHL meeting on Wednesday and we can arrange some sightseeing before the conference begins.
|From Marriott San Diego Hotel Photo Gallery|
Most publishers want to know their members belong to RWA. It shows them that you are a professional, are interested in developing craft and knowledgeable about professional guidelines. If you are with a traditional publisher, your name is associated with their house. They want to know that they are contracting with a person who is knowledgeable about the business and pursues his/her craft.
As Christian authors, we need to also represent our Christian values in the marketplace. There are many elements that conflict with our values and we don’t want them to predominate in our profession. If we drop out because of those elements, we are taking Christ out of the organization.
I am delighted to see that the inspirational category remained in the contests. I love that we have a wonderful Christian chapter in Faith, Hope and Love. It pleases me to know that we can impact the romance genre by the professionalism we show.
To show how important I think it is to belong to a professional organization like RWA, I am offering a commenter reimbursement for membership. It costs $99 for dues. It costs an additional $25 for a new member set up fee so I will pay that also. If the winner is already a member and simply renewing, I will put the $25.00 toward FHL membership which is $24.00 per year. Just to clarify, reimbursement means you will have to show proof of RWA and /or FHL membership. So be certain you want to join before stating you want in the drawing.
Readers, we welcome your comments also so I will draw a name of a reader for a surprise treat from See's Candy to enjoy while you are reading a book. (A Seeker book of course- smile)
|Deep Dark Chocolate Truffle from See's Candy website|
Be sure and mention in the comment if you are interested in being in the drawing and specify which drawing you want to be in. Writer prize or reader prize. The photos with writer friends were taken at the RWA National Conference in Anaheim in 2012 (the last time they were on the west coast). Do you recognize anyone? smile
Our orange trees are loaded so I filled a bowl of sliced navels. For a festive flair, I added chopped pecans and coconut. You will love this combo. Its my way of sharing a bit of Arizona sunshine with all of you.
Sandra Leesmith writes sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. You can find Sandra's books here on Amazon. Three of Sandra's most popular books are also audio books at Audible. You can read more of Sandra's posts here.